XP's startup and recovery options are set by clicking the Settings button in, naturally, the Startup and Recovery section of the Advanced tab.
The options in the top section of the dialog box are only relevant if you're using a dual-boot system. With these options, you can select the default operating system used at startup time, as shown in Figure 3-2. You can also configure associated time options, such as how long to display the Recovery Options screen if needed.
Figure 3-2. Set the default OS on a dual-boot machine.
If you click on the Edit button, you open up a startup file called boot.ini, which is referenced by the bootloader program at startup time. We'll talk about the boot.ini file in just a moment.
Note that if XP is the only operating system in use on your computer, there's no need to change the default System Startup settings because you'll never see the boot loader menu when starting up.
Under most circumstances, it's not necessary to edit the boot.ini file. In fact, you should avoid editing it whenever possible because incorrect entries point the computer to a location where the operating system does not reside. You can probably guess what happens next: your system is unbootable.
At the bottom of the Startup and Recovery dialog box are the system failure options. You should review these choices to make sure that XP behaves the way you want in the event of operating system failure. There are three possibilities:
Write an event to the system log. This option writes failure information to the system log, which you can later view using the Event Viewer. Launch the Event Viewer by opening Computer Management (right-click My Computer and choose Manage, which is the first tool listed under System Tools). Some system failures, however, won't be noticed by XP, and therefore will not write an event to the system log.
Send an administrative alert. This option broadcasts a message to members of an administrative group.
Automatically restart. As the name suggests, this option causes the system to restart upon failure. If your XP system doubles as your network's file server, you probably want to ensure that this option is enabled so that access to files remains relatively uninterrupted. Conversely, if you want to capture the stop message generated at the time of system failure, disable this feature.