Windows XP / Beginners

Restarting with the last known good configuration

When you install a new device driver, you change Windows XP's configuration. The next time you restart your computer, Windows XP tries to use the new configuration. If it succeeds, it discards the old configuration and makes the new one current.

Sometimes you install a new device driver, and everything goes to heck in a handbasket. If that happens to you, you need to restart Windows XP and tell it to use the "last known good configuration" - which is to say, Windows should ignore the changes you made that screwed everything up and return to the state it was in the last time it started. That effectively removes the new driver from Windows XP.

To start Windows with the last known good configuration, follow these steps:

  1. If your computer is operating, choose Start?Turn Off Computer. Windows XP opens the Turn Off Computer dialog box. Click the Restart button. Then skip to Step 3.
  2. If your computer isn't operating at all, press the power button to turn it off.
    If that doesn't work, try pressing the button again and holding it in for several seconds. If that doesn't work either, pull the power cord out of the back of the computer; wait a few seconds, and then plug it in again. If you're working with a portable, you may have to remove the battery.
    Yes, it happens.
    Press the power button again to turn the computer back on.
  3. Watch the display while your computer restarts. When the message Please select the operating system to start appears, press F8.
    Windows XP displays a menu of special start-up options that you can choose.
  4. Use the up-arrow and down-arrow keys to move the menu's highlight to Last Known Good Configuration, and then press Enter.
  5. Finish the start-up procedure as usual.

If this procedure restarts your computer successfully, Windows XP discards the "new" screwed-up configuration and returns permanently to the last known good configuration.

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