From: Kan Yabumoto firstname.lastname@example.org
To: XXCOPY user
Subject: A better boot diskette for WinNT/2000/XP
Date: 2005-07-16 (revised)
The previous article, XXTB #32 shows a technique to create a
quick boot disk which is convenient to start up a Win9x/ME system
when it fails to enter the Windows environment because any of the
master boot record (MBR), the boot sector, or the essential files
in the root directory is missing or damaged.
This article presents a similar technique for a Windows NT/2000/XP
system which fails to boot up into the Windows environment.
Again, the cause of the problem is typically in the MBR, the
boot sector and/or a few key files in the root directory.
When you install a Win9x/ME system on a Windows NT/2000/XP system,
the capability of dual-boot is sometimes lost. The standard
procedure for such an occasion is to use the Emergency Repair Disk
(ERD). But it requires an in-depth understanding of the operating
system environment. It is not for everybody. Besides, it is just
====== Breaking News ========================================
We have been working on a new product, called XXCLONE
in the past two years. This program allows you to make
a self-bootable clone of the Windows system disk
(for Win NT/2K/XP) with a graphic user interface (GUI)
that anyone can use.
It also has a function to create a Quick Boot Diskette (QBD)
with mouse-clicks as opposed to the command-line (DOS-bOX)
operations described in this article. The freeware package
available in the following URL supports the feature to
create a QBD.
Enter the Quick Boot Diskette:
Here's a simple procedure to create a Quick Boot diskette for
WinNT/2000/XP. It allows you to start up the Windows NT/2000/XP
system with a minimum hassle in case of bootup trouble.
Assume that you are running a healthy WinNT/2000/XP system.
Here's how to create the "Windows Quick Boot" diskette:
1. Open a DOS Box (Start > Run... > cmd).
2. FORMAT A:
3. XXCOPY16 C:\NTLDR A:\ /H
4. XXCOPY16 C:\NTDETECT.COM A:\ /H
5. XXCOPY16 C:\BOOT.INI A:\
Note: if you don't have XXCOPY16, use the standard ATTRIB
and COPY command to copy the hidden files. XXCOPY16 is a 16-bit
version of the XXCOPY freeware utility that is available at
The three files listed above (NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM, and BOOT.INI)
are all essential. Optionally, you may copy the following files
if they are present in the root directory (needed only when you
need to boot into Win9x/ME as a dual-boot system)
6. XXCOPY16 C:\BOOTSECT.DOS A:\ /H
7. XXCOPY16 C:\IO.SYS A:\ /H
8. XXCOPY16 C:\MSDOS.SYS A:\ /H
9. XXCOPY16 C:\CONFIG.SYS A:\ /H
10. XXCOPY16 C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT A:\ /H
If you have a Recovery Console entry in the menu, add the
following two files.
11. XXCOPY16 C:\CMDCONS\NTDETECT.COM A:\CMDCONS\ /H
12. XXCOPY16 C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT A:\CMDCONS\ /H
If you use a SCSI disk, you also need the SCSI driver
13. XXCOPY16 C:\NTBOOTDD.SYS A:\ /H
That is it!!!
If you are not familiar with XXCOPY16, it is available in the
XXCOPY Freeware package.
The diskette is a bootable diskette which does not rely on any
file in the root directory of the C: drive.
Caution: The FORMAT command in the Windows NT/2000/XP
looks deceptively similar to the one which comes
with a DOS/Win9x/ME system. But, the boot
sectors of the two types of diskette are different
The boot code of a DOS/Win9x/ME diskette loads
and executes the IO.SYS file whereas that of a
WinNT/2000/XP diskette is tied to the NTLDR file.
If you use a pre-formatted diskette, you must
initialize the diskette using the FORMAT command
run in the NT/2000/XP environment as described
above (don't have the absense of the /S switch
in the FORMAT command fool you). You must not
skip the FORMAT step in this procedure.
Note: The BOOTSECT.DOS and \CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT are
specific to the particlar hard disk's drive
dimension and cannot be shared with other drive.
This dependency makes the WinXP Quick Boot Diskette
specific to the drive. If you have nearly identical
disk drives on a different machine, you may use one
Win9X Quick Boot Diskette on multiple machines as
long as the BOOT.INI configurations are made
The initial bootup menu reflects the contents of the BOOT.INI
file which you can edit by NotePad. The following pages in
Microsoft's web sites explains technical details of BOOT.INI.
Contents of the boot.ini file (Q289022)
will show you how to edit the file in order to customize the
boot up procedure which is different from the disk-based bootup
The version differentiation:
If you have studied my previous article, XXTB #32, you will
find many parallels in the DOS family (DOS/Win9x/ME) boot
procedure and the NT family (WinNT/2000/XP) boot procedure.
Unfortunately, this scheme does not work with XP.
The MBR is universal whether it is for DOS, Win9x, WinNT, or
even for Linux. On the other hand, once the boot up partition
is selected the corresponding boot sector (the first sector
of the partition) supplies a specific boot code which is
either for the DOS family (DOS/Win9x/ME) or the NT family.
In the DOS family, the first file loaded will be C:\IO.SYS
which is Windows-version specific. That is, when a particular
IO.SYS is loaded, it accepts only the proper version of Windows
and fails to boot up with any other version. The next file
looked at is C:\MSDOS.SYS which supplies the location of the
Windows system directory. So, once the IO.SYS is loaded,
you cannot choose Windows versions --- this is why it is
difficult to have multiple-versions of DOS family OS to be
On the other hand, in the NT family, the first file loaded will
be NTLDR which is not version-specific. Therefore, you may select
which version within the NT family to load (WinNT4 or Win2000).
But if you mix NT versions, make sure that you use the NTLDR
module which came from the newer version. That is, Win2000's
NTLDR is good for NT4 but NT4's NTLDR cannot load Win2000.
About the Recovery Console:
The bare DOS environment is often useful in accessing files in
partitions formatted in FAT. On the other hand, files in an
NTFS partition cannot be accessed from DOS. When you have problem
in an NTFS volume, the standard method to repair the disk is
to load the Recovery Console. Even if you have a FAT-based
system disk for an NT/2000/XP system, fixing the MBR and the boot
sector needs the Recovery Console. After all, the Emergency
Repair Disk (ERD) is useful only when you establish the Recovery
Console (or the Emergency Repair Session).
It is strongly advised that you should go through the Recovery
Console at least once while your WinNT/2000/XP system is in good
health. There are three ways to enter the Recovery Console:
1. Use the set of Setup Diskettes (4 floppies).
This method is painfully slow. But, simplest to operate.
2. Use the original install CD-ROM and run /I386/WINNT.EXE (from
DOS), or /I386/WINNT32.EXE (from Windows). If the Install CD
is a bootable CD and your BIOS supports booting from the CD,
this is faster. Even if your system cannot boot from the CD,
if you have a Win9x Emergency Disk, it lets you configure
a DOS environment with CD access so that you can launch the
WINNT.EXE or WINNT32.EXE. Note, entering the Recovery Console
uses the same setup procedure which is also used for a fresh
WinNT/2000/XP install. Be assured that you will be given a
menu to enter the Recovery Console instead of re-installing
the whole OS from scratch.
3. Use the files in the C:\CMDCONS (hidden) directory which can
be set up on your hard disk (while you have a healthy
Win2000). As one of the boot options in the menu which
are shown from entries in BOOT.INI, you can simply select
the Recovery Console option at the boot up time. This is
the quickest method of all. (We have tested this technique
only with Win2000 --- but not with NT4.)
We recommend the 3rd option as the most convenient method.
Basically, all of the three alternatives use exactly the same set
of files --- the difference is where these files are loaded from.
In the third case, it consumes about 7 MB of disk space which is
not much, today. Even in rare instances where your system fails
to go far enough to show you the boot menu, you can use the Quick
Boot Diskette to load the files in the C:\CMDCONS directory.
Here's how to set up the C:\CMDCONS files.
1. Inside Windows 2000, run the following console command
from the Install CD (assume it is accessed at D:)
This will create the C:\CMDCONS (hidden) directory and saves
all the files which are neccessary for the Recovery Console.
It also modifies the BOOT.INI file with an appropriate entry
for the Recovery Console option.
2. Edit the BOOT.INI file in your Quick Boot Diskette by looking
at the newly modified C:\BOOT.INI file on your hard disk.
The line should look like the following:
C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="MS Win2000 Recovery Console" /cmdcons
Note: In the above discussion, the system volume was assumed to
be C:\ which can be another drive letter.
Once you are in the Recovery Console, it is like the DOS world
(many familiar commands such as DIR, MKDIR, CHDIR, COPY, are there).
The long filename is also supported. You can even invoke a batch
file (using a different syntax).
If your system cannot boot up using the Quick Boot Diskette
made by this technique, you still need to run the Emergency
Repair Disk which is outside the scope of this article.
The following Microsoft article may be a good starting point:
"Description of the Windows 2000 Recovery Console (Q229716)".
Let me know if you encounter problems with the techniques
described in this article.
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