How to fix a corrupt boot.ini file

What is boot.ini?

Boot.ini is a text file that tells Windows XP and earlier how to load and where each Windows OS is located.  If more than one OS is installed, it prompts you to choose one each time your computer starts.

My boot.ini file is corrupted, how do I fix it?

1.  Enter the Recovery Console (instructions here).

2.  Type type C:\boot.ini (note - replace C: with the drive letter that Windows is installed on) There should be one of two results.  If your boot file is OK, it will be shown.  The screenshot shows an example of a healthy boot.ini file.

If your boot.ini file is corrupt, you should get a message like "The system cannot find the file specified."  If your file is corrupt:

  • Type bootcfg /rebuild This command scans your hard disk for installations and asks you to add them to a new boot.ini file.  It may take a little while, so be patient.
  • Choose to add the desired installations to the boot.ini file (you probably want all of them).
  • When prompted to "Enter Load Identifier" type the name of your OS.  For example, "Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition"

  • For "Enter OS Load Options," type /fastdetect and press Enter

  • Type exit to reboot yoru computer and see if it worked.