Build your own boot floppy
In the event of a problem with Windows 2000, some administrators prepare an emergency boot disk designed to bring the system up. You don't have to do this; you could boot the CD to get to the Recovery Console. But if the problem is limited to one of the startup files, the floppy can be used to bypass them and start the system directly, saving you some time getting back on the air.
Here's how to build your own boot floppy. First, in Explorer, make sure you are able to see hidden and system files. You can do this by opening Explorer, selecting Tools | Folder Options, clicking on View, and then making sure "Show hidden files and folders" is selected and "Hide protected operating system files" is unchecked. Without this you won't be able to see the files you need to copy.
Once you have this set, format a floppy disk from the command line with the FORMAT A: command. It's important that you format the disk from within Windows 2000 itself.
Once the disk is formatted, copy the following files from the root of your system drive to the floppy: BOOT.INI, NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM, and (if they are present) NTBOOTDD.SYS, ARCLDR.EXE and ARCSETUP.EXE, as well as any files with a .DOS extension. (The .DOS files are used to provide a DOS boot sector if you dual-boot to Windows 9x or even DOS itself.)
Note that the above procedure assumes that the system is already working properly. If any of the above files are damaged, they will not work on the floppy. It is best to do this when your system is healthy.
Once the files are copied, try booting with the floppy in the drive to see if it brings up Windows 2000 -- and to make sure that your system attempts to use your floppy drive as a boot drive in the first place. (If it doesn't, check your system's boot options in BIOS to remedy this.)
You may experience problems if you have an LS-120 drive, or "SuperDisk", as your primary floppy drive. The problem does not appear to be consistent among all machines that have one, but it is something to be aware of. Test it before you have to use it in an emergency.
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.
This was first published in January 2002