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Troubleshooting Boot Problems
This section of the Troubleshooting Expert is dedicated to troubleshooting problems getting the PC to boot up, to the point where the operating system is loaded. Basically, if you get to the point where the PC displays "Starting MS-DOS" or "Starting Windows 95" or similar, the hardware is booting and this isn't the right part of the Expert for you.
I have included here two ways to diagnose a system that is failing to boot. First, you can follow the full boot process troubleshooting walkthrough. This is a comprehensive, step-by-step walkthrough of the boot process, and is most useful for diagnosing a boot problem when you are either not that familiar with what happens during booting, or when it is very hard to tell what the problem is. Second, if you want to save time by not walking through the whole boot process, and you know roughly what the problem is, you can jump into the middle of the boot process walkthough using the quick access to boot process troubleshooting.
Before starting troubleshooting the PC boot process, make sure you familiarize yourself with the system BIOS settings. You may want to refer to this procedure, which will help you to set your BIOS settings to safe values to maximize the chances of a successful boot. You should also make sure there is a clean, viable boot disk in the A: drive before starting the system up if you are planning to boot from the floppy. You may also find it useful to first review this description of the PC boot process.
Note: Due to the way in
which the boot process troubleshooter is organized, the "Up" link at the bottom
of each page does not take you back up one step in the walkthrough (the way it does
throughout the rest of the site), but rather back to the start of the walkthrough. There
wasn't any easy way to get around this; please just use your browser's "Back"
button to back up a step in the walkthrough if you need to.
Note: All PCs are different,
and it is quite possible that your PC may have a somewhat different boot sequence than the
"typical" one I describe here. Just try to follow it as well as you can.
Note: This troubleshooter is
designed around newer PCs. A much older PC, especially one with a CPU older than a
486-class chip, will have a somewhat different boot process, although the basics are still
pretty much the same.