Notes on Windows XP device driver and OS tools and diagnostics

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My browser was filling up with tabs I opened in trying to diagnose a problem which I thought was related to Windows. (I'm beginning to think it's really a hardware problem.) For my reference and yours:

DevCon: A Microsoft tool to list, check status, enable, disable, and update devices and drivers from the command line. Handy for when your system is too sick to handle running the graphical Device Manager. There are versions for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions. Works with Win 2000, XP, and Server 2003.

SC, the Service Controller: Built-in command-line tool to view status of and control services and drivers. Full command details here.

Windows command-line reference: The complete list of commands and how to use them. Nice for us old-timers who grew up on VMS and Multics and Unix and DOS. Most if not all of the system management and admin tools can be manipulated from the command line.

driverquery: Another built-in command. It outputs a table of info about all the installed drivers. With a switch and redirection, you can have it produce a CSV file that you can manipulate in Excel or another spreadsheet or database program.

Windows XP Support Tools: Won't vouch for it, but this site purports to offer for download the tools that come in the "Resource Kits" for various versions of Windows.

Debugging startup hangups: Enable boot logging via msconfig or when hitting F8 on startup, then check the log in %SystemRoot%\Ntbtlog.txt. You'll see the sequence in which drivers are started, and may be able to detect a pattern.

Several issues of InformationWeek's Langa Letter have been helpful:

XP's No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option: "Fred Langa shows you how to completely rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data, and without having to reinstall user software, reformat, or otherwise destructively alter the setup." It's not easy to find this option, but it's there, and it may solve your problems.

The OS Inside The OS: "Fred Langa shows how a simple tweak turns XP's low-level Recovery Console into a complete, standalone mini-operating system--in effect, an XP DOS!"

XP's Little-Known 'Rebuild' Command: "There's an easy fix for "Missing HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," and several other fatal startup errors, Fred Langa says."

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2 Comments

you geek.

i'm not gonna go into the benefits of using Linux. nope, ain't gonna do it. :)

however, that is some really useful info for when somebody in my family jacks their computer every which way but loose...
the OS inside an OS looks really cool!

webworm Author Profile Page said:

...geeks notwithstanding, I, the WebWorm, have your solution.


Get a Mac! Be done with this drivel.......

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 2, 2008 7:50 AM.

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