How to Enable Boot Logging in Windows

Two event log files that come in handy for troubleshooting your PC are the boot log files. These files are created when you specify boot logging as a start-up option. The files are named either ntbtlog.txt or bootlog.txt, depending on how old your PC is. These files, found in the Windows folder, list the success or failure of various pieces of Windows as it’s loaded into memory from the PC’s mass storage system.

You can enable or disable boot logging by using the MSCONFIG utility. Follow these steps in Windows 7 and Windows Vista:

  1. Press Win+R to summon the Run dialog box.

  2. Type msconfig and press Enter.

  3. In Windows Vista, type the administrator’s password or click the Continue button.

  4. Click the Boot tab.

  5. Place a check mark by the item Boot Log.

  6. Click OK.

  7. Click the Restart button to restart now. Otherwise, click Exit without Restart.

    The logging doesn’t take effect until you restart Windows, and you have no reason to do so immediately unless you really want to see the boot log.

In Windows XP, you can enable boot logging by pressing the F8 key when Windows first starts and choose the item Enable Boot Logging.

The boot log is overwritten every time you start Windows. And, the log is produced only when you turn on the boot logging option.

What can you do with the boot log? You can check for the failed installation of certain pieces of Windows or device drivers. The drivers or files are obviously flagged in the log. Because you know the filename, you can then either disable it from loading or look for an update.

  • Activating the boot log in Windows 7 or Windows Vista means that you configured your PC for a custom start-up. If that bothers you, disable the boot log after you cull whatever useful information you need from the boot log file; repeat the steps used to enable boot logging, but in Step 5, remove the check mark.

  • Traditionally, computer logs are all text files. They may have the filename extension log, or they may use txt instead.

  • You can search for log files by using the Windows Search command. Simply look for files named *log* anywhere on the hard drive, including system, hidden, and non-indexed locations.

  • Most log files are in plain text, but the text may be organized by using the XML, or Extensible Markup Language. XML is merely a way to organize information, and although XML files are readable as text, to get the most from the information, you should use an XML reader, such as the Event Viewer program.

  • If you find the file boot.ini on your Windows XP computer, you can enable boot logging by modifying the file. Open it in Notepad and look for the line that contains this text:

    Windows="Windows XP

    (That’s only a portion of the line; in the file, it’s longer). Add the text /bootlog to the end of the line. Save the file. When you restart Windows, boot logging takes place automatically.

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