I will not assume any responsibility for problems that may
occur to your system from using any of these suggestions.
It is always prudent to backup important data before you make
any changes to your operating system.
Reboot your computer while holding down the
F8 Key. At the Advanced Options Menu select the option for
Safe Mode and press Enter.
Reboot your computer while holding down
the F8 Key. At the Advanced Options Menu select Last Known
to access the Recovery Console:
The Recovery Console is a set of tools
which run from a Command prompt. If your system is formatted
as NTFS then these tools can help you manage the partition.
You can learn more about the Recovery Console through
Help and Support or
Click here for information about the different commands
and their functions .
To run the Recovery Console from CD boot
with the Windows XP CD (or with the optional 6 floppy
disk set) and select "R" at the Welcome Screen.
The screen will switch to black and you
will be asked which installation to log on to. If you
only have one installation you will press "1".
Remember that numlock is off at this time.
Next you'll be prompted to enter your Admin
password. By default it is created blank so just press
At the C:\Windows command prompt type "Help"
for a list of commands you can use.
to Repair the Boot Sector:
If XP won't start it may be due to a damaged
boot sector or a missing or corrupt ntldr or ntdetect.com
To replace damaged ntldr and ntdetect.com
you can copy fresh files from the XP CD using the COPY command.
Boot with the XP CD and enter the Recovery Console (as above).
At the Command Prompt type the following (where "X"
is your CD-Rom drive letter) allowing the files to overwrite
the old files
COPY X:\i386\NTLDR C:
COPY X:\i386\NTDETECT.COM C:
To repair a damaged Boot Sector at the command
prompt type FIXBOOT and press Enter. Then answer "Y"
To Format using the Recovery Console :
format drive : /Q /FS:file-system
Use the above command (where /Q performs a
quick format of the drive, drive is the drive letter of
the partition to format /FS:file-system specifies the type
of file system to use [FAT, FAT32, or NTFS]) to format the
specified drive to the specified file system. For example
the following quick formats C partition as NTFS
FORMAT C: /Q /FS:NTFS
the following will do a full format of C as FAT32
FORMAT C: /FS:FAT32
*** Note: If a file system is not specified, then the
existing file system format is retained.
Type EXIT to quit the Recovery Console and
restart your Computer
Partition using the Recovery Console:
At the command prompt type DISKPART and
An interface is displayed which you can move
through with the Arrow Keys. Press "C" to create
a partition in unused space. Pressing "D" will
delete the highlighted partition.
To Exit the Recovery Console:
You can not use Ctrl+Alt+Del to quit the Recovery Console.
Instead type "EXIT" at the command prompt and
Windows will be started.
to Repair Install: ***Also removes Service Packs***
Sometimes the only way to repair XP is to reinstall. You do
not have to wipe your partition and start over. Just as with
previous versions of Windows you can install over top of an
existing setup. This has the advantage of retaining your installed
applications, data and settings. You will lose previously
saved System Restore Points but System Restore will begin
creating new restore points again immediately following the
Repair Install. You will need to reinstall SP1a and any Critical
Updates from the Windows Update Site. Be aware that a Repair
Install will leave your system vulnerable to the Blaster and
Welchia worms. Do not go on line until you have enabled XP's
firewall first. Then visit the Windows Update Site to patch
your system It is always prudent to backup important data
before you make changes to XP.
There are two approaches. The first one should be used
if you can still boot to your Windows Desktop. Simply pop
the XP CD into the CD-Rom drive and select Install->Upgrade[recommended].
This will install XP overtop of itself in the same way as
upgrading from a previous setup. However if your version
is an OEM version then you will not have this option. If
you do not see the option to Upgrade[recommended] DO NOT
choose New Install as that will either overwrite your current
setup completely or give you a dual boot setup.
If you cannot boot to the Desktop or you have an OEM version
of XP then the following should be used to complete a Repair
Boot with the Windows XP CD and at the Setup Screen press
the Enter Key
You will be taken to the Windows XP Licensing Agreement.
After reading the agreement press F8 to proceed.
The next screen gives you the option to do a fresh (clean)
install or to repair the selected Windows XP installation.
To run a Repair Install Press "R" at this time.
***CAUTION*** if you do not see the option to repair the
selected Windows XP installation DO NOT choose the option
to continue installing a fresh copy without repairing as
that will overwrite your data and cause unrecoverable data
Windows XP will copy the necessary files to your Hard Drive
to begin the installation and will then reboot. You will
see the message that informs you to "Press any key
to boot the CD". Do not press any keys this time just
wait a few seconds and the Windows Startup Screen will be
displayed. Following this you will be greeted by the Windows
XP Setup Screens.
When Setup has completed you should find all of your previously
installed apps and settings are intact.
To Determine If XP was Activated?
You installed XP and then can't remember if you activated
it. Go to Start->Run and enter the following
Product Key XP
If you have more than one system running XP you have obviously
purchased more than one copy of the Operating System. However
you may have forgotten which Product Key you used for which
system. It happens. I have 5 systems and have had all of
them running XP at times. XP does not store the Product
Key in a recognizable format in the registry.
Click this link and select "Open" and your Windows
XP Product Key will be displayed
Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product
Key. has the options to copy the key to clipboard, save
it to a text file, or print it for safekeeping. It works
on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, .NET, Office 97, and
Office XP. It even has the ability by using Mcft's own script
to change the Windows XP, 98, and ME installation key. See
the Mcft Knowledgebase article here Q328874
If your version of XP came pre-installed on your computer
the revealed Product Key could be that of an image used
by the manufacturer. If this is the case you will likely
be unable to use it to install another version of Windows
XP such as one purchased separately from the computer. Find
an alternate location for ViewKeyXP if my link is broken.
to access the Recovery Console:
Fix Switch Identities in Mcft Outlook Express After Service
HP/Compaq SP1 Notice - The System Restore feature in these
computers seriously conflicts with SP1
Cannot Start Windows XP After Installing Service Pack 1
and Then Performing a System Recovery Operation
Fix for SP1 Problems and Compaq Pressario 6330
Mcft Knowledgebase Articles Pertaining to Windows XP SP1
Setup Could Not Verify the Integrity of the File" Error
Message Occurs When You Try to Install SP1
'The Password Is Not Valid' Error Message Appears When You
Log On to Recovery Console in Windows XP