Boot.ini is a text ﬁle stored in the root of the Windows system partition. In some editions of Windows, it may be hidden or read-only. It has been replaced in Windows 7 and Windows Vista by the Boot Conﬁguration Editor, but is used in all other NT kernel-based Windows operating systems. The Boot.ini ﬁle has two functions: to store the load paths to the operating system or systems installed on the computer, and, if there are multiple operating systems installed, to build and display the Please Select The Operating System To Start menu during the boot process. (Note that it is uncommon to boot multiple operating systems on a single computer, and therefore it is seldom necessary to edit the startup settings in Boot.ini to optimize boot performance on multi-boot systems. Currently, a more common way to host multiple operating sys- tems on a single physical system is to employ virtualization technologies such as VMware®or Microsoft Virtual PC.)
There are two sections in the Boot.ini ﬁle.
Tips: The Please Select The Operating System To Start menu is also known as the Boot Loader menu and the OS Choices menu.
- The [boot loader]section contains the timeout parameter, which determines how long the Please Select The Operating System To Start menu is displayed. The default value is 30 seconds. It also contains the default parameter, which stores the path to the default operating system, which loads if no other operating system is selected.
- The [operating systems]section lists the path to each operating system installed on the computer. Each entry includes descriptive text, which is displayed as the choice for that operating system on the Please Select The Operating System To Start menu. The path also includes any special boot switches to use for that operating system. The path to a Windows installation appears in Advanced RISC Computer (ARC) syntax, and tells the system which disk controller, disk, disk partition, and folder contains the operating system.
You can edit the Boot.ini ﬁle to change the list of operating systems that appears on the Please Select The Operating System To Start menu, adjust the amount of time the menu is displayed, change a boot switch for an operating system, or change the boot partition for an operating system.
- You can edit the ﬁle directly by opening it in Notepad.
- You can modify boot settings from the Advanced page of the System Properties dialog box. Under Startup And Recovery, click Settings.
Windows 7 and the Boot Conﬁguration Data Editor
In Windows 7, the Boot.ini ﬁle was replaced with the Boot Conﬁguration Data Editor (BCD). Instead of editing the Boot.ini ﬁle, you can now use the bcdedit.exe command-line tool. BCDedit is located in the %WINDIR%\System32 folder, and requires administrator privileges to use. For information on the bcdedit command, enter bcdedit /? in a command window.
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