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2011-11-01

A+: Files to never even _think_ about messin' with

The Vista/7 boot sequence must have these files undisturbed to boot. Many, many other files are also needed for Windows to work even semi-well, but these are essential:
  • Bootmgr the OS loader needed to start the OS, replacing NTLDR
  • BCD is in \boot\bcd and is an updated-for-EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) version of boot.ini which tells the Boot Manager about the OS and which can be altered with MSCONFIG or by bcdedit.exe
  • Ntoskrnl.exe Bootmgr tells it to take over booting, which it completes doing
  • Hal.dll The Hardware Abstraction Layer, a go-between from different system hardware to Windows
  • The Registry's SYSTEM Key Defines the system configuration
  • Device drivers (many) Listed as need-to-load in the Registry
Likewise, XP has its own essentials:
  • NTLDR the OS loader needed to start the OS 
  • Boot.ini  tells the Boot Manager about the OS and how to load up; edit with notepad.exe at yr risk!
  • Ntdetect.com Detects your PC's hardware
  • Ntoskrnl.exe NTLDR tells it to take over booting, which it completes doing
  • Hal.dll The Hardware Abstraction Layer, a go-between from different system hardware to Windows
  • The Registry's SYSTEM Key Defines the system configuration
  • Device drivers (many) Listed as need-to-load in the Registry
Bootsect.dos only exists if you have other operating systems on the hard drive and defines where they are
Ntbootdd.sys is used only on old SCSI hard drives without an onboard SCSI BIOS in the host adapter

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