There's an easy fix for "Missing HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," and several other fatal startup errors, Fred Langa says.
A version of Bootcfg can also be run from inside Windows. Type "Bootcfg /?" (minus the quotes) in the Start/Run line to see the commands available that way. Note that the /Rebuild command isn't available from inside Windows; you can only run that from within the Recovery Console. (That makes sense because you only need to totally rebuild the boot information when Windows won't start normally.)
A /List command is also available only from within Recovery Console. It simply lists the entries already in the boot list, which can be useful for checking or as a learning tool.
You can also see entries already in the boot list from within Windows. Right-click on My Computer, then select Properties/Advanced/Startup and Recovery/Settings. The entries are shown in the System Startup portion of the dialog, and you can directly edit the Boot.Ini file by clicking the Edit button there.
You can also view and edit the startup entries via the Msconfig tool. Enter "Msconfig" on the Start/Run line, and you'll see numerous options for modifying the Boot.Ini and related files. The XP help system explains each option pretty well.
But none of these "edit from within Windows" options is available when Windows won't boot, which is why the Recovery Console's little-known Bootcfg /Rebuild command is so important and useful. If you know about this command and how to use it, you can potentially save yourself literally hours and hours of manually reinstalling or rebuilding a failed operating system!
If you'd like more information on Bootcfg, or if you'd like to explore additional boot options, the following will help:
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