Basic Microsoft Windows XP troubleshooting

Updated: 05/05/2017 by Computer Hope

Error messages encountered during boot before Windows loads

Before following the steps below, if you are getting an error make sure to search our site for the error message first and look through our Windows XP Q&A.

  1. Ensure that your computer BIOS settings are correctly configured to the hardware that is installed in your computer. Improper settings in the BIOS may cause various errors when first booting an IBM compatible computer. These errors often occur as the computer is first booting and may stop the load process of the computer.

Error messages while Windows is loading

Errors that occur while Windows XP is loading or prevent Windows XP from loading are likely being caused by a configuration error in the Registry.

  1. If you have recently changed or installed something that could have caused Normal Windows to stop loading, try loading the last known good configuration.
  2. If you are unable to start Normal Windows, try booting the computer into Windows XP Safe Mode.
  3. If your computer has worked fine in the past but recently has been experiencing the issue you're encountering, run the System Restore option to restore the computer to an earlier date.

Other error messages that occur while Windows is loading or after Windows is loaded

  1. If errors occur but Microsoft Windows still loads, verify no issues or conflicts exist in Device Manager. If errors are found, read through our Device Manager page for steps on resolving issues.
  2. Ensure that if programs are loading automatically, the errors are not associated with these programs. Many times utilities such as virus programs may load when Windows first starts and cause errors. If you believe that your startup errors are associated with another program, refer to our basic software troubleshooting.
  3. Make sure Windows XP is up to date.
  4. If your computer has a virus protection program installed, make sure it is up-to-date and that no viruses are being detected. If your computer does not have a virus protection program, you may want to consider installing an antivirus program to make sure no viruses are causing your problems.
  5. If your computer has worked fine in the past but recently has been experiencing this issue, run the System Restore option to restore the computer to an earlier date.

Other error messages

If you are experiencing other error messages, it is likely these errors are being caused by the software program you are running and a hardware device you are attempting to utilize. It is recommended you see the basic troubleshooting overview for your hardware device or software program.

Computer running slowly

  1. Make sure your computer has at least 500 MB of free hard drive space. If your computer has less than 500 MB free, it may cause the computer to operate more slowly. Try regaining hard drive space.
  2. Run Microsoft Scandisk and Defrag on the computer. Additional information and help with these commands can be found on our scandisk overview and our defrag overview.
  3. Close any programs that are running in the background or disable background programs from automatically loading each time your computer boots. Information about doing this can be found in document CHTSR.
  4. Click Start, Search, and click For Files or Folders. In the search window, search for files named *.tmp and make sure you are searching or looking in the local C: drive. Once search has completed, delete any files found.
  5. Ensure that no errors or conflicts exist in the Device Manager.
  6. Make sure Windows XP is up-to-date by checking Microsoft Windows update page.
  7. Delete all files in your Windows Prefetch directory. These files can lower overall system resources if loading programs no longer being used. See the prefetch definition for additional information about prefetch.
  8. Verify your computer has the latest drivers for the hardware devices installed in your computer.
  9. If your computer has a virus protection program installed, make sure it is up to date and that no viruses are being detected. If your computer does not have a virus protection program, you may want to consider installing a program to make sure no viruses are causing your problems. Information about updating your antivirus program can be found on document CH000533 and information about what antivirus programs are available can be found on document CH000514.
  10. If your computer has worked fine in the past but recently has been experiencing this issue, run the System Restore option to restore the computer to an earlier date. Information about how to do this can be found on document CH000589.

Issue with hardware device

If you are having difficulties with a hardware device, see the basic troubleshooting overview for steps that can be taken to help resolve your hardware issues.

Other

If you still have errors or are unable to resolve your issue, search Computer Hope for info, check our on-line help overview, and check our Q&A for additional help and recommendations. If after checking these locations you are still unable to resolve your issue, feel free to contact our support team.

Additional information

  • See our troubleshooting definition for further information on this term and related links.