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Windows (specifically Ntldr) uses the Boot.ini file to determine which operating system options to display during the startup (boot) process. By default, Boot.ini is flagged as a read-only system file and normally does not require any manual modification. An explanation of the syntax used in the Boot.ini file can be found in Boot.ini and ARC Path Naming Conventions and Usage. This Microsoft Software Developers Network document explains further -- Overview of the Boot.ini File.

Available Switch Options for the Boot.ini File are described in this MS article.
How do I edit my Boot.ini?
From Windows:
If you just want to Remove an Invalid Entry, you can use this method.
  • Click Start-->Run. In the Open: line type msconfig and click OK to open System Configuration Utility
  • Select the tab labeled BOOT.INI
  • Click the button labeled Check All Boot Paths. A dialog box will open detailing the location of any invalid operating system locations.
  • Confirm you want to remove the entry and reboot the system.
Using Notepad:
Before editing the Boot.ini file, you must remove the file attributes that Windows uses to protect the file from inadvertent changes. When the Boot.ini file is on an NTFS file system drive, you must be a member of the Administrators group on the computer to change its attributes. Use the following procedure to prepare the Boot.ini file for manual editing. This procedure removes the system, hidden, and read-only attributes of the file.
  1. At a command prompt, navigate to the root of the boot directory.
  2. Type the following text at the command line:

    attrib -s -h -r boot.ini

    System, hidden, and read-only attributes are removed from the file.
  3. When your editing is complete, you can restore the file attributes to protect the Boot.ini file. However, NTLDR can use the Boot.ini file with any attribute set. At a command prompt, type the following text:

    attrib +s +h +r boot.ini

    Attributes that protect the Boot.ini file are restored.
Using Recovery Tools:
Refer to this MSKB article on using bootcfg.exe to (among other things) modify the boot.ini -- Description of the BOOTCFG Command and Its Uses.
For more extensive Boot.ini editing refer to:
From MSDN:
  • Editing the Boot.ini File
  • Backing Up the Boot.ini File

    From TechNet:
  • Reviewing and Correcting Boot.ini Settings on x86-based Systems

    From MSKB:
  • HOW TO Edit the Boot.ini File in Windows XP
  • HOW TO Edit the Boot.ini File in Windows 2000

    Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
    • Editing the Boot.ini File Backing Up the Boot.ini File Reviewing and Correcting Boot.ini Settings on x86-based Systems The 3 named links above no longer go to the articles they were intended to go to. I didn't know if you knew that, but I thought I would give you a heads up.

      2008-02-13 16:18:03 (wafen See Profile)

    Expand got feedback?

    by DSmithLady See Profile edited by MSeng See Profile
    last modified: 2003-08-02 13:23:00