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WINDOWS PROTECTION ERRORS & WIN9X/Me VxD ERRORS

Last reviewed:

Advanced Users & Intermediate Users

Troubleshooting this area is really outside the scope of this site. The many queries received demand some response from THPC.

WPE and VxD errors are most commonly associated with hardware conflicts, physical RAM, poorly written or conflicting device drivers, or a damaged Registry. However they can be caused by almost anything - any hardware, software, overheating; a full list would appear nearly endless.

The following list is not complete. It will point many users in the correct direction, and solve the problem for most. There is no particular priority to the list, though the more frequently occurring are towards the top.

  • The principles addressed on this page apply to all versions of Windows. However this page was originally created for Windows 95, 98, SE, and Millennium. Therefore a few references, like C:\Bootlog.txt or Command.com, apply only to the earlier versions of Windows.
Just browse through the list and see if anything seems to fit your situation.
  • Do a full reboot (cold) EVERY time you make ANY change.
  • When appropriate, backup files or data first.
  • Many changes are best made in Safe Mode
    - press the F8 or CTRL key repeatedly during bootup, and select Safe Mode.
Don't rush to make changes. Think it through first.

#1 First steps, Drivers & Files

FIRST: Startup, and shut down, your computer in Safe mode. This forces a bootup using only a basic set of drivers. If the error disappears then you are probably dealing with a driver/file problem of some sort. Remember it's very often a driver problem.

GRAPHICS ACCELERATION: Reduce Graphics Acceleration (Device Manager > Performance > Graphics). A PC system under stress can produce a large variety of different types of faults, including Blue Screens, mouse problems, etc. Check this early in your troubleshooting.

VERSION: If you are ever reinstalling any files from your Windows CD, MAKE SURE the CD contains EXACTLY the same version of Windows as that on your hard disk - Murphy's Law applies more to computers than anything else in life!

Driver: There may be a conflict between a real-mode driver and a protected-mode driver. A protected-mode driver may load from the System.ini file but the driver may ALREADY be initialized (you may get an indication from Bootlog.txt).

Driver: Drivers often become corrupt. Identify the driver involved, uninstall and then reinstall it. Be careful installing any software, especially drivers. Close all software first (you can use the free EndItAll utility). Follow driver instructions EXACTLY. If reinstalling a video driver, uninstall the old driver first (use VGA mode). Sometimes more than one driver is required, such as a device driver AND a motherboard driver.

Command.com (Win9x/Me): Corruption of command.com (root directory) is not infrequent and can cause a large variety of bizarre problems. Reinstall command.com (from Win9x CD; or from Windows\Options\Precopy1.cab for WinME)

Win.com (Win9x/Me): Win.com in the Windows directory could be damaged. Replace it.

Bootlog.txt: This is an installation log file in the root directory (may require enabling in Windows). It records the components and drivers loaded and initialized, and the status of each. A VxD that's causing an error message can be either a default VxD that 's installed by Windows, or a third-party driver that's loaded from System.ini. If you do not know which driver is causing the error message, look in Bootlog.txt. Look for 'Failures'. If the bootup was not complete correctly, check to see which driver was the last one to be initialized - that should be the driver causing the problem. You can also use "Win.com /b" to create a boot log when running WIN.COM from the command line to isolate configuration problems.

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#2 VxD Errors (Win9x/Me)

VMM32.VXD: Files with a .vxd extension are driver-type files for Windows. Many users report a substantial elimination of VXD-type faults by (re)installing specific VXDs from the Windows installation CD (or from Windows\Options\Precopy1.cab for WinME). Please read VMM32.VXD first.

VMM32.VXD: Locate where VMM32.VXD is in your Windows. Enter that path in Autoexec.bat (e.g. path=c:\windows\system\vmm32.vxd). Remove that line if not successful.

VMM32.VXD: Reinstall the specific VXD file linked to the error - often corrects that error:
(Accessories, System Tools, and click System Information.
Click on Tools, and then System File Checker
Select "Extract One File From Installation Disk", and type in the file name, ...
The VXD installs to \system\vmm32\ where it takes priority over any occurrence in VMM32.VXD

VMM32.VXD: If all else fails, you must rename the file (to Vmm32.old) in the C:\Windows\System folder, and then reinstall Windows to re-create this file.

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#3 Registry, Conflicts, Updates, Mouse, BIOS/CMOS, USB

Registry: It may be corrupt - so reinstall it. From DOS mode type SCANREG /RESTORE. Select a registry backup from some time previously and restore.

Conflicts: Check in Device Manager for any conflicts (I/O address conflict or a RAM address conflict)

Windows Updates: Use Windows' Update Manager to update all your Windows drivers.

Driver updates: Get all updated drivers for your version of Windows & hardware. Individual manufacturer's drivers are probably more recent and better than Microsoft's. However, use Microsoft first if you are unsure which driver(s) to update.

Mouse: If you develop a mouse problem, you should first Remove the mouse in Device Manager and reboot - Windows will recreate the mouse (and driver). If problems persist, then try the VxD fix. You can always use CuteMouse while troubleshoot!

BIOS/CMOS: Appropriate options may be incorrectly setup - check all documentation. In particular, check for incorrect settings for a built-in peripheral device (cache settings, CPU timing, hard disks, etc).

BIOS/CMOS: Update your BIOS from the manufacturer's Web site (essential for some users).

USB drivers: Update USB drivers for your motherboard and USB to PCI adapter (especially if using a VIA USB chipset, allegedly).

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#4 Memory, L2 Cache, Heat, APM, AGP

Memory: Main memory may be faulty. Remove modules, first one, then another. Or use a memory-testing utility.

L2 Cache With a few motherboards the CPU (L2) cache may, incorrectly, be cleared during bootup. Disable L2 cache in CMOS. Contact manufacturer if error disappears and look for a BIOS upgrade.

L2 Cache: CPU (L2) cache may be faulty. Disable L2 cache. Contact the manufacturer if error disappears and look for a BIOS upgrade.

Heat: Your CPU may be getting excessively hot (especially non-Intel CPUs). Check the CPU placement in relation to the power unit and/or a hot AGP. A good and larger heat sink may be required and, perhaps, an extra case fan. If under clocking, or disabling L2 cache, or running with the PC case cover removed solves the problem, then that problem is likely to be heat related (but see L2 above).

APM: The Advanced Power Management setting in the BIOS may be incorrect. Check the Force APM 1.0 mode check box (Control Panel/System/System Properties/Device Manager tab/System devices).

AGP: AGP cards require two driver types: display driver, and motherboard drivers which enable AGP chipset function. Make sure both are present and correct (look in Device Manager). Contact the card manufacturer and look for a BIOS upgrade.

AGP: Windows 95 does not support items such as AGP!

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#5 Various

UMAX scanner: The Umaxis11.386 driver file is being loaded from the System.ini file. There is a patch to correct this problem available on the UMAX Web site at: http://www.umax.com/support/knowledge/solutionsSC.cfm?docs=SC00049 or, to disable it, place a semicolon (;) at the start of the line in System.ini that contains Umaxis11.386

Genius scanner: The Smis11.386 driver file is being loaded from the System.ini file. There is a patch to correct this problem available on the Genius Web site at: http://www.genius-kye.com/

Plug and Play: The BIOS may not be handling P&P correctly. Reinstall Windows to a new directory using setup /p I

Virus: Run anti-viral software. And don't forget that BIOS!

Motherboard: If you change your motherboard you should reinstall Windows!

Motherboard: Is it malfunctioning? (check your warrantee!)

Novell Client 32 software: Some Web comments suggest you should remove it, and install Microsoft Client for Novell Networks instead!

Windows: Install a clean copy of Windows in a new (empty) folder and see if the problem still exists when booting/running the new Windows.

Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown: Win98SE may stop responding (a hang) when you Shut down or Restart in MS-DOS mode. Get the fix at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/downloads/corporate.asp (Win98 Second Edition ONLY)

Regretfully, the above only scratches the surface of WPEs and VxD errors!

  • More causes will be added here over time.
  • Let's help each other. Why not send THPC your own suggestion!

Various suggestions like shutting off all power management (BIOS and Control Panel), or disabling USBs, should not be necessary if you execute a cure by updating drivers and flashing the BIOS.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2015 thpc@mail.com