How to start PC with command prompt without opening windows?

By craigjunkmail ·

I accidentally renamed a csrss.exe file in my windows/system32 folder & then shut down the computer. I need to get into a command prompt to rename the file BEFORE windows tries to open.

I hit F8 & try to open windows in safe mode with a command prompt, but then it immediately tries opening the drivers from the System32 folder and crashes before I get a chance to see a prompt.

I tried using last good config, but since windows shut down successfully with the renamed file, that won't work either.

Does anyone know how I can get to the command prompt without involving windows? I'm an idiot that didn't back up my hard drive, so I'd prefer solutions that wouldn't erase my desktop/My Documents folder.


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Boot with a LiveCD

by Bizzo In reply to How to start PC with comm ...

Create a LiveCD, I generally use Knoppix.
And boot with this, you will get a linux desktop, but will also have access you your hdd, and should be able to rename the file back.

Here's a list of other LiveCDs you may find useful:

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Start PC with command prompt .....

I have put a list below. I hope all works out for you.

If Windows appears to work properly in Safe Mode, you can safely assume that there?s no problem with the basic services. Use Device Manager and Event Viewer to try to figure out where the trouble lies. If you suspect that a newly installed device or program is the cause of the problem, you can remove the offending software from Safe Mode. Use Device Manager to uninstall or roll back a hardware driver; try the Add Or Remove Programs option in Control Panel to remove a program. Then try restarting the system normally to see whether that resolved the problem.

For more details about working with device drivers, see "Managing Installed Drivers." For advice on the right way to remove a Windows program, see "Uninstalling Programs."
If you need access to network connections, choose the Safe Mode With Networking option, which loads the base set of Safe Mode files and adds drivers and services required to start Windows networking. Note that this option will do you no good on a portable computer with a PCMCIA (PC Card) network adapter, because PCMCIA peripherals are disabled in Safe Mode.

The third Safe Mode option, Safe Mode With Command Prompt, loads the same stripped-down set of services as in Safe Mode, but uses the Windows XP command interpreter (Cmd.exe) as a shell instead of the graphical Windows Explorer (Explorer.exe). This option is recommended only for diehard command-line aficionados.

tip - Put Safe Mode on the menu


If you routinely test hardware, software, and drivers that require you to switch into Safe Mode, you don?t have to go through the hassle of pressing F8 at precisely the right time and choosing from the startup menu. Instead, add one or more Safe Mode options to the list of available operating systems that Windows displays at startup.

To install this option, follow these steps:

Right-click My Computer on the Start menu and choose Properties.
On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
In the Startup And Recovery dialog box, click the Edit button to open Boot.ini in Notepad.
Under [Operating Systems], select the entire line that contains the set- tings for your default operating system choice and copy it to the bottom of the list.
Append the following set of switches to the end of the newly copied line:

/safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog

(Replace minimal with network if you want the shortcut to start Windows in Safe Mode with networking.)

Change the description in quotation marks to "Windows XP Safe Mode" and then save the file.
Restoring the Last Known Good Configuration
Every time you successfully start Windows in normal mode, the operating system makes a record of all currently installed drivers and the contents of the registry key HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet. This record comes in handy if you install a driver or make a hardware configuration change that causes your system to hang at startup. When Windows displays the Startup Recovery menu, you can choose the Last Known Good Configuration option. This menu choice restores the previous, working registry key, effectively removing the changes that are causing the problem.

In general, System Restore is a more reliable alternative than the Last Known Good Configuration menu choice, because it restores all Windows system files and the entire registry rather than just a single key.


Ifyou suspect that a driver change is causing system problems and you don?t have a recent System Restore point to go back to, don?t log on in normal mode. As soon as you log on in normal mode, Windows resets the Last Known Good Configuration information, effectively removing your safety net. If you suspect problems, start Windows in Safe Mode and do basic troubleshooting first. Logging on in Safe Mode does not update the Last Known Good Configuration information, so you can safely roll back to the Last Known Good Configuration if Safe Mode troubleshooting is unsuccessful.
Other Startup Options
Four additional choices on the Advanced Options menu are of use in specialized circumstances:

Enable Boot Logging. When you select this option, Windows starts up normally and creates a log file that lists the names and status of all drivers loaded into memory. To view the contents of this file, look for Ntbtlog.txt in the %SystemRoot% folder. If your system is hanging because of a faulty driver, the last entry in this log file may identify the culprit.
Enable VGA Mode. This option starts the computer in standard VGA mode using the current video driver (not the plain-vanilla Vga.sys driver used in Safe Mode). Use this option to recover from video problems that are caused not by a faulty driver but by incorrect settings, such as an improper resolution or refresh rate.
Directory Services Restore Mode. Although this option appears on the Advanced Options menu for Windows XP Professional, it is only used with domain controllers running Windows 2000 Server or Windows .NET Server. Ignore it.
Debugging Mode. This choice starts Windows XP in kernel debug mode. To take advantage of this capability, you must connect the system to another computer using a serial connection on COM2. The other computer must run a compatible debugger to perform troubleshooting and system analysis.

Please post back if you have anymore problems or questions.

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