How to clean boot your Windows 11 computer

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Troubleshooting a problematic computer requires patience, know-how, and lots of trial and error. Starting your PC in a clean configuration can help automate the process.

Trying to figure out the exact reason why your Windows 11 personal computer is not booting properly can be downright frustrating. Troubleshooting the problematic application or misbehaving driver requires patience, courage, and more than a little trial and error. But there are a few tips and tricks we can use to make troubleshooting a PC that won’t boot properly a little more efficient.

SEE: Windows, Linux, and Mac Commands Everyone Should Know (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Using a few internal Windows 11 tools and apps, a user looking for a solution to a problematic PC can systematically test for faulty drivers and apps that load or run during the boot process. The key is to start your iterations from a properly booted PC, running only the bare minimum of apps, then adding apps to the process until you find your culprit.

How to clean boot your Windows 11 computer

To put our Windows 11 PC into clean boot mode, type msconfig in the desktop finder and select the system setup application. Select the Services tab to reach a screen like Figure A.

Figure A

There are dozens of services running on our example PC.

Check the Hide all Microsoft services box at the bottom of the screen to show only third-party services, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

There are still dozens of services. For our clean start, we will click on 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.

Figure C

In the Startup tab of Task Manager, we will disable all currently enabled applications and services.

To make things easier, click on the Status column header to sort apps as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

When you have disabled all apps and services, quit Task Manager, then click OK in the System Settings app, which will also quit the app. Now reboot your Windows 11 PC into its minimalistic Clean Boot Environment.

This is where the troubleshooting begins. If your computer now boots without a problem, congratulations, you have reduced the problem to a manageable level. Reopen the System Settings app and consistently enable the apps and services you disabled until you find the problematic one.

If there are only a few services, you can do this one at a time. If there are many, divide them into halves, thirds or quarters. For example, activate the first tier and restart – if there is no problem, activate the next tier. Eventually, you should find a bundle containing the misbehaving app, and then you can start systematically eliminating those apps and services. With patience and perseverance, you will find the cause of your frustrations.

Although this process may seem tedious, it is the most foolproof method we have for troubleshooting personal computers. However, you may be able to further restrict the process by following one of the main axioms of troubleshooting, which is the last in, first out rule. If a problem occurs after installing new software or hardware, this should be the first place you look for a solution.

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