What You Need to Know About Bcdedit.exe

Introduction to Boot Configuration Data Editor (Bcdedit.exe)

Boot Configuration Data Editor (Bcdedit.exe) is used to make changes to the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) Store that controls how the operating system starts in Microsoft Vista and Windows Server 2008. BCD Store also contains the configuration for boot parameters for your system. You can use bcdedit.exe if you want to make changes to your Vista code. This is run in the pre-operating system environment. Using the command line tool, you can add, delete, edit and append entries in the BCD store. You can find bcdedit.exe in the \Windows\System32 directory.

The change from Boot.ini to BCD was made to give Vista the foundation of many new features. These changes include the Startup Repair tool (very handy to have in sudden crashes) and Multi-User Install shortcuts.

You can find the BCD file in the registry.  The location of the file varies depending on what system the machine is running. If the machine is a BIOS-based operating system, the file can be found in the \Boot\Bcd directory. This is part of the active partition. On Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)- based machines, you can find the registry file on the EFI system Partition.

This article is a guide about Boot Configuration Data and includes instructions on how to use bcdedit.exe to make changes to it. In order to make changes, you should have administrative privileges to the system. You also need to have some basic computer knowledge so that you can easily execute the required commands. There are risks involved when using bcdedit.exe and these risks are magnified to a certain degree if you are unfamiliar with the commands.

Warning: It is advised that you create a backup before making any changes. Instructions for creating a backup are included later in the article.

Methods to Modify BCD

  • Bcdedit.exe – A command line utility;replaces Bootcfg.exe in Windows Vista.
  • Startup and Recovery – Allows you to select the default operating system if you have more than one operating system in place. For example, if you have both XP and Vista installed in one system, this method allows you to change the value for time out. You can access this change by locating the Advanced tab in the System Properties dialog box.
  • MSConfig.exe – A more advanced tool that has different capabilities.
  • BCD WMI Provider – Management Interface using script utilities to modify BCD; this method is also the only programmatic interface available for BCD.

Steps To Edit Windows Vista Boot Menu Using BCedit.exe

  1. Click Start.
  2. Go to All Programs.
  3. Next, go to Accessories.
  4. Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.
  5. At command prompt, type in bcdedit.exe and press Enter.

As previously mentioned, you can use bcdedit.exe to make changes in the BCD store objects. Each object in the BCD store has a GUID or Globally Unique Identifier. Each and every drive or partition in your system will have a unique GUID. This could be:

  • Legacy – Describes a drive or partition with pre-Windows Vista operating system.
  • Default – Describes the drive with the current default operating system.
  • Current – Describes the drive you are currently booting to in the current session.
  • {c34b751a-ff09-11d9-9e6e-0030482375e7} – This is for another drive which has another operating system installed on it.

Common BCedit.exe Commands

Here are a few command lines you should know:

bcdedit /? – This command shows all the commands that one can use.

bcdedit.exe /? CREATESTORE – Brings up detailed information for the command.

bcdedit or bcdedit /enum all – Shows what your current boot structure is like.

If you want to create a backup or restore a previously created backup, these are the commands that you need to use:

bcdedit /export – This will create a backup in a pre-existing folder.

Example: bcdedit /export D:\BCD Backup\Bcd Backup. The pre-existing folder in this case is BCD Backup which is located in Drive D:\.

bcdedit /import – This command will restore the backup you have previously created.

Example: bcdedit /import D:\BCD Backup\Bcd Backup BCD Backup is where you created the backup in the earlier step.

Here are commands you may want to implement on your own machine’s Boot Configuration Data.

bcdedit /set {legacy} Description "Windows XP Professional SP2" - Be sure to include the quotation marks in this command, as this changes the description of the text of the Legacy OS line in the boot menu.

bcdedit /set {current} description "Windows Vista Build 5308 x86" – This command will change the text of the boot menu to the one enclosed in the quotation marks, and may be used for Vista or non-Vista installations.

bcdedit /set {5189b25c-5558-4bf2-bca4-289b11bd29e2} description "Windows Vista Build 5270 x64" - The text of the boot menu line is changed for any other Vista install. The specific GUID must be used for that installation.

bcdedit /default {current} – The current Windows installation that is booted will be set as the default boot operating system for Windows

bcdedit /default {5189b25c-5558-4bf2-bca4-289b11bd29e2} – This command will set the operating system it references as the default boot OS.

bcdedit /default {legacy} – The legacy (Windows XP SP2) OS as {default} boot item is set as the default by this command.

bcdedit /displayorder – This command sets the display order of the boot menu.

bcdedit /timeout 15 - The default 30 second timeout can be changed to any value inserted. In this case, the default has been changed to 15 instead of 30.

Changes in the hard drive or partition caused by adding or removing a partition or hard drive can be corrected if the following commands are run.

X:\>X:\boot\fixntfs.exe -lh -all – X here represents the drive where you can find the boot folder.

bcdedit /set {5189b25c-5558-4bf2-bca4-289b11bd29e2} device partition=X: – X in this case is the new drive or partition required. This must be used with the osdevice command below. In this command, the boot partition of the indicated OS is changed.

bcdedit /set {5189b25c-5558-4bf2-bca4-289b11bd29e2} osdevice partition=X: – This must be used in conjunction with the command above. X is the new drive or partition required. This will change the boot partition of the OS as indicated by the GUID.

In comparison to bcdedit.exe, msconfig.exe has limitations in its capacity to edit the BCD. It can only change the default boot operating system, delete a boot menu item, and change the timeout display.

Essentially, tweaking your computer should be done when you are perfectly comfortable with the commands and only when you have the basic knowledge necessary to work with these commands.

You should also keep your computer healthy by using quality antivirus and anti-spyware programs like Anti-Virus Plus and Spyware Cease, which can help maintain your PC’s overall health.

We also recommend regular scanning with a good registry cleaner like PC Health Boost to prevent registry bloat and to avoid the occurrence of common errors.