Monday, December 29, 2008

Stuck in Windows XP Safe Mode Loop

One day I was trying to delete one of those 'file in use' type of files so I jumped into Windows XP Safe Mode. However, instead of just hitting F8 during start up, I did the terrible mistake of running 'msconfig' then setting the /SAFEBOOT flag in the BOOT.INI tab.

Well, due to some glitch, whenever I got to the Safe Mode login prompt the system would restart leaving me in this infinite loop as I couldn't get out of it since the /SAFEBOOT flag was set in boot.ini. What a nightmare!

So here's what I had to do to fix this problem. Basically you need a way to access your drive and modify C:\boot.ini.

- Download NTFS4DOS, install it in your computer and create a bootable Floppy of CD.
- Boot from that Floppy or CD*
- Once you're at the A:\ prompt, just type this:
A:\ C:\windows\system32\edit C:\boot.ini
- Now navigate through the file with your arrow keys and move to the right. Remove (using Backspace) /SAFEBOOT:MINIMAL
- Use the Alt key to access the menu options. File->Save then File->Exit
- Remove the Floppy or CD and restart your computer (Ctrl+Alt+Del)

Welcome back to your computer!

As a last step after logging in, you should run 'msconfig' again then in the General tab select Normal Startup.

* You might need to modify your BIOS to allow botting from a floppy or CD. Restart your computer and hit F1 right after boot. When in the BIOS, just make sure that in the boot order, your floppy and/or CD comes before your HD.

You could remove your harddrive and access it from another computer with one of those USB enclosures or go the *nix route such as from an Ubuntu bootable CD and then mount the C:\ drive.

Good luck and hope this helps.

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