System Startup Options

Some of the familiar startup options from NT 4, along with a whole range of other options that you may be familiar with from Windows 9x are now available in Windows 2000. Pressing F8 when prompted during the boot process accesses the advanced startup menu. Many of the options are useful is a system is not capable of booting correctly due to driver and service issues. The list below outlines the choices you will be presented with and their associated uses.

  • Safe Mode: Boots Windows 2000 using the minimum required system files and device drivers.
  • Safe Mode with Networking: As above, but including networking support.
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt: Same as Safe Mode, except that it boots to the command prompt instead of the GUI.
  • Enable Boot Logging: Starts all drivers and services, and logs details to a file called Ntbtlog.txt in the %systemroot% directory (this file is also created when any of the safe mode options are chosen – it can be an important source of troubleshooting information).
  • Enable VGA Mode: Boots Windows 2000 normally, but with a VGA display driver.
  • Last Known Good Configuration: Boots Windows 2000 using the last known good registry configuration, which would have been created at the last successful logon. This option should be used prior to attempting an emergency repair using the ERD.
  • Directory Services Restore Mode: For domain controllers only, this option is used to restore the Active Directory and/or the Sysvol folder.
  • Debugging Mode: Boots the system normally, but sends debugging information to another system connected via a serial cable.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.