Typical Windows XP Installation Problems

Before you start

Objectives: familiarize yourself with typical Windows XP installation problems and how to deal with them.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: installation, windows, switch, xp, system, bios, command, debug, default, file, information


Sometimes the issues will be caused by the settings in the BIOS. Well, we may find that the BIOS sees Windows XP as a virus. In order to correct this we can simply go into the BIOS and disable the virus protection before we continue with the installation. When we experience a problem during installation of Windows XP, the installation process will try to continue with the installation from where it stopped when we restart the computer. This automatic feature is built in into the system. In addition to that we can also try using the Recovery Console to recover the installation process.

When troubleshooting installation, it is great to see what is actually going on during installation. In order to see additional information about the installation we can use the “/debug” switch with the “winnt32” command. The full command would be: winnt32 /debuglevel:logfile. This will create a log of installation actions. The default log file is C:%systemroot%Winnt32.log. We can use five different levels (from 0 to 4) with the /debug switch. Level 0 will display the least amount of information, while with level 4 we will get the most detailed information. The default debug level is 2.

If our installation is unstable we can use the System File Checker (Sfc.exe) to verify the integrity of protected system files. With the Sfc command we can use several switches. The /Scannow switch will perform a scan immediately. The /Scanboot switch will perform a scan every time the operating system boots. The /Revert switch will reset the scan behavior to the default. With the “/Cachesize = size ” switch we can determine how much disk space can be used to store cached versions of protected system files.

Dual-boot Problems

If we want to utilize dual-boot environment on our machine, we have to ensure that we have the most current version of our boot files (NTLOADER and NTDETECT.com). Also, we have to be carefull in which order we install Windows versions. Remember that newer operating system should always be installed last. For example, if we want to have Windows ME and Windows XP on one machine, we should install Windows ME first, and then Windows XP.

Uninstalling Windows Components

If we have problems with the Service Packs that were installed on our Windows XP machine, we can run the “spuninst.exe” command from the service pack or hot fix uninstall folder. With spuninst we can also use several switches. The -u switch will use unattended mode. The -f switch will force other applications to close at shutdown. With -z switch our computer will not reboot when complete. The -q switch enables quiet mode, meaning no user interaction. To isolate a driver causing our installation to fail, we can add the /Sos switch to the Boot.ini file. This loads the drivers individually, allowing us to isolate the bad driver.