Troubleshooting a problem computer requires patience, know-how, and a lot of trial and error. Booting your PC in a clean configuration can help automate the process.
Trying to pinpoint the exact reason your Windows 11 personal computer will not boot properly can be nothing short of frustrating. Troubleshooting the problem application or misbehaving driver requires patience, fortitude and more than a little bit of trial and error. But there are some tips and tricks we can employ to make troubleshooting a PC that will not boot properly a little more efficient.
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By using a few internal Windows 11 tools and apps, a user searching for a solution to a problematic PC can systematically test for malfunctioning drivers and applications loading or running during the boot process. The key is to start your iterations from a cleanly booted PC, running only the bare minimum of applications, and then adding applications back to the process until you find your culprit.
How to clean boot your Windows 11 computer
To place our Windows 11 PC into a clean boot mode, type
msconfig into the desktop search tool and select the System Configuration app. Select the Services tab to reach a screen like Figure A.
There are dozens of services currently running on our example PC.
Click the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox at the bottom of the screen to display just third-party services, as shown in Figure B.
There are still dozens of services. For our clean boot, we will click the Disable all button.
Now, click or tap the Startup tab in the System Configuration app and click the Open Task Manager link, as shown in Figure C.
From the Startup tab of the Task Manager, we will disable all the currently enabled applications and services.
To make things easier, click the Status column heading to sort the apps, as shown in Figure D.
When you have disabled all the apps and services, exit out of Task Manager, and then click OK on the System Configuration app, which will also exit the app. Now, restart your Windows 11 PC into its minimalist clean boot environment.
This is where the troubleshooting begins. If your computer now boots without a problem, congratulations, you have narrowed the trouble to a manageable level. Reopen the System Configuration app and systematically enable apps and services you disabled until you find the one causing the problem.
If there are only a few services, you can do this one at a time. If there are many, break them up into halves, thirds, or fourths. For example, enable the first third and restart — if there are no problems, enable the next third. Eventually, you should find a set that contains the misbehaving app and then you can begin to systematically eliminate those apps and services. With patience and perseverance, you will find the cause of your frustrations.
While this process may seem tedious, it is the most foolproof method we have for troubleshooting personal computers. However, you may be able to narrow the process even further by following one of the principal axioms of troubleshooting, which is the last in, first out rule. If a problem starts after installing new software or hardware, then that should be the first place you look for a solution.