Data Centers

Editing your server's Boot.ini file

John Sheesley recently explained what the Boot.ini is for. In this Daily Feature, he shows you how to make changes to it.

In the Daily Feature entitled “What does the Boot.ini file do?” we showed you what the Boot.ini system file is for. But how do you make changes to the file? In this Daily Feature, we’ll show you how.
Be very careful when working with your server’s Boot.ini file. If you accidentally make a change in this file or make a change without knowing its impact, you may render your server unbootable. Make sure you have full system backups of your server before making any changes to this or any system files.
Making the changes
The Boot.ini file is a hidden, read-only, system file. Before you can make any changes to it, you must find it and change its file attributes. To do so, open a command prompt. Change directories to the root of your server’s partition. Normally, this will be C:.

At the command line, type attrib boot.ini –h –s – r and press [Enter]. Windows won’t respond with anything other than another command prompt. You can then edit the Boot.ini file with any text editor. I prefer just using the built-in Edit command by typing edit boot.ini and pressing [Enter].

You can then make any changes you want to the Boot.ini file. Probably the only ones you’ll make will change the default= line or the timeout= line. You may also want to eliminate boot choices entirely by removing lines from the [operating system] section. Finally, add boot choices to the [operating system] section using the switches mentioned in the previous article.

Be very careful with whatever changes you make here. If you goof something up, you may render your system unbootable. Recovering from that will require a visit to Windows 2000’s Recovery Console at best, or a complete reinstallation at worst.

When you’re done making your changes, save them and exit your editing program. You must then reapply the file attributes you removed earlier. To do so, type attrib boot.ini +h +s +r and press [Enter]. Again, Windows will reply with another command prompt.

You can double-check to make sure you set the attributes properly by typing dir boot.ini and pressing [Enter]. Don’t panic if Windows says File Not Found. That means you did it properly. Restart your server, and you’ll see the changes you’ve made appear when the server presents the NT boot menu.

Going GUI
You may have been reading this article shouting, “You don’t need to go to the command line to do some of this stuff, dummy!” You’re right. Some of these changes, especially the timeout and default values, can be changed within Windows.

You can change the default and timeout values from Control Panel. Open Control Panel and double-click System. When the System Properties screen appears, click the Advanced tab. Next, click the Startup And Recovery button.

You’ll then see the Startup And Recovery window. In the System Startup box, you’ll see the Default Operating System list box. You can select which operating system you want to boot by default by picking one from the list box. This has the same effect as editing Boot.ini and changing the default= line.

You can also make changes similar to those in the timeout= line of Boot.ini by changing the values in the Display List Of Operating Systems check box. Deselecting the check box turns off the boot menu completely. It’s the same as setting timeout=0. If you leave the check box selected, you can change the default time by changing the value of the seconds field.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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