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2,862 Tutorials

How to use Windows' boot.ini file

HELPROOM: don't get caught out by a rogue OS

QUESTION: I upgraded my PC with a new CPU and hard drive, copying across the contents of the old drive with the help of a disk-copying utility. When I boot up I now see a screen asking which operating system (OS) I’d like to use, but I have only one installed. Richard Perez

HELPROOM ANSWER: The imaging process has unearthed an older copy of Windows that’s been upgraded or overwritten. A hidden boot.ini file tells the computer which version of Windows to use if it finds more than one. Because it doesn’t know which OS you want to use, it needs to ask you each time.

Right-click Computer, Properties, Advanced, Startup and Recovery. Select your OS from the drop-down menu under ‘Default operating system’. Change the option next to ‘Time to display list of operating systems’ to 5 seconds. Reboot and ensure the PC starts up correctly.

Revisit the Startup and Recovery panel and untick the box next to ‘Time to display list of operating systems’. Your PC should now boot into your chosen version of Windows without prompting.

Click here for more information from Microsoft on the boot.ini file.

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See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

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