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My PC gets past the BIOS part of the boot process and loads the operating system, but is unable to boot Windows 95

Explanation: You are experiencing boot problems trying to start up Windows 95 when you start up the PC. The boot process proceeds beyond the BIOS self-test and the system begins loading the operating system (you see "Starting Windows 95...") but the system hangs or crashes with an error without loading properly.

Diagnosis: There are zillions of reasons why Windows 95 may not boot properly, ranging from hardware problems, to viruses, to corrupted hard disks, to network settings to bad software. I could not possibly begin to list even a good portion of them, and since this site's focus is hardware I will therefore limit myself to looking at these problems in general terms.

Recommendation: I would strongly recommend checking at Microsoft's web site or using other software-specific on-line or off-line resources to resolve your problem. However, you may find the following general advice to be of some assistance:

  • If Windows 95 is starting up in "Safe Mode", see this section for some possible solutions.
  • Scan the system for viruses.
  • If you have recently worked inside the PC or added any new hardware to it, that is likely the cause of the problem, even if it seems unrelated.
  • If you just added any new software to the system, it could be causing the problem. In particular, any software that includes items that are automatically loaded when Windows starts should probably be considered suspect.
  • If you just installed Windows 95, and you installed it over top of a previous installation of Windows 3.x, there may be a conflict or problem being caused by settings inherited from the old installation. I (and most others) recommend only installing Windows 95 clean to a new hard disk or directory.
  • Check your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files for extraneous programs or drivers being loaded. Disable anything being referenced there that you do not absolutely definitely need.
  • Check the file system of the boot drive for errors. File system errors in the wrong part of the hard disk can cause the system to not boot.
  • The Windows 95 registry may be corrupted. Rebooting using the backup copy of the registry may help (but be careful before mucking around with the registry).
  • There could be a bad driver on the system. Try updating or changing to a system-standard driver and see if this helps.
  • Double-check your BIOS settings. Make sure they are not set too aggressively. Try resetting to default settings after making a record of the current settings.

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