Computer Repair and PC Support across the UK

As Featured in the Guardian

Free Computer Support Forum

Software Related Issues

Topic:

XP won't boot

Posted by: Paul D.      22 Jan 2010 @ 16:19
XP won't boot

Hi Guys
Firstly thanks for all the help in the past.

PC running fully up to date XP home, not shut down switched off at the mains!!!
Will not boot further than the Windows logo screen, then restarts and continues in a similar vein forever!!!
Have tried all the ususal, reinstall does not show any XP installations do not want to lose all my documents.
Suggestions please.

Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      22 Jan 2010 @ 16:56
RE: XP won't boot

corrupt boot sector or partition table
Needs a series of scans running to try and repair it.
Booting with a WinXP CDm, then going to the repair console and running chkdsk /r MAY fix it (possibly followed by FIXBOOT and FIXMBR)
However theres a danger that doing these may well trash the drive further and make document retrieval impossible. At present the documents are - probably - still retievable given the right tools
Probably time to forgo on "do-it-yourselF" and get one of our team in to try and get them back

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Alan D. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Oakham, LE15      22 Jan 2010 @ 21:08
RE: XP won't boot

During boot, press F8 to get the Safe Mode menu, and select "Disable automatic restart on failure". This should let you see the diagnostic codes when it fails. They will give a better clue.

PS, to clear the diagnostic screen you have to power off, nothing else works.

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Clayton P. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Llanelli, SA14      23 Jan 2010 @ 06:20
RE: XP won't boot

If you`ve got an XP disk then I would do what Jon said. There is an 80 percent chance that chkdsk /r will fix it, then try fixboot and then fixmbr. However, if you do what Alan says, you`ll be able to find out what file the boot process is stopping at and maybe just replace that one with a fresh copy from the cd. But with saying that, there may be other files corrupted that`ll stop the boot process. But you never know.

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Paul D.      23 Jan 2010 @ 11:31
RE: XP won't boot

Thanks but....
Like I said I have tried all the usual including booting into Safe Mode and she won't have it!!!

Have removed the hard drive and am in the process of ripping all (hopefully!)the important files to the slaptop. So.....

Is it possible to repair the XP installation in the return manner i.e. XP disk in slaptop and copy the windows folder or any files you suggest to the offending hard drive?

Thank you

Paul

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      23 Jan 2010 @ 15:38
RE: XP won't boot

it wont boot into safe mode because the windows partition is not being recognised, almost certainly because the partition table is corrupt. Thats whI I made the suggestion of booting to the recovery console - which is NOT The same as safe mode
You will need a windows CD to do this, and its the obvious step to take given your symptoms. You say you've "tried all the usual" but have you actually tried this?
As to copying the windows folder across, there's no chance. Your options are
1) repair the drive in the way I suggested
2) reformat the drive

Simply running a repair installation is not an option because as you've already found out, theres no windwos partition there to repair. You have to restore that partition first - but if your do that, then the machine will probably work OK anyway without needed a repair installtion....

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Paul D.      23 Jan 2010 @ 17:27
RE: XP won't boot

Hi Jon
No, it's the one thing I haven't done yet due to the risk of losing the data. My ref to Safe mode was in reply to Alan d's suggestion.

Since I can access the hard drive through the slaptop can I use the error checking facility included in the hard disk properties Tools menu rather than through the dos commands in the recovery console?
Thanks
Paul

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      23 Jan 2010 @ 18:57
RE: XP won't boot

its worth a try though the windows version of chkdsk seems not to be as thorough as that available from the recovery console
what you wont able to do from within windows is the fixboot/fixmbr chencks
what I find weird though is that windows setup could not find the windows partition even though the laptop clearly can. Makes me wonder whether the windows CD does not have the correct SATA drivers for the machine
Which version of the XP CD were you using and whats the model of the failed PC?

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: David R H. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Sutton, SM1      24 Jan 2010 @ 01:44
RE: XP won't boot

Jon, not sure about this but I think a running OS will use the backup partition table whilst the boot & installer aren't that clever. However, I'd expect the running OS to tell you the disc needs to be checked, at startup.

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Paul D.      25 Jan 2010 @ 13:51
RE: XP won't boot

Well thanks all, safely returned to full (fingers crossed!) working order.

After leaving the slaptop transferring files for 18 hours I replaced the offending hard drive back in the desktop and thought I'll just fire her up and see what happens......

Well well, surprise surprise, straight into the pale blue check disk screen without any input from me! Found four corrupt files and away we went!

Have restarted a number of times to check and no problems. You were quite right Jon, very weird!!!
BTW all drives are PATA so not a problem there either.

Many thanks again all and as they say where I came from originally, 'There's nowt sa queer as folks' and now I'd add 'and compooters!!!' lol

Paul

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      25 Jan 2010 @ 20:45
RE: XP won't boot

mounting the drive in another machine has somehow kicked the registry recovery routine back into life. Seen it before, but no idea why it works
Basically its automatically what I suggest you try to do manually - restore from an old registry file

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      25 Jan 2010 @ 20:55
RE: XP won't boot

Whilst I am pleased that the computer is working again, corrupt files on your hard drive can be a sign that your hard drive is failing.

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      25 Jan 2010 @ 21:43
RE: XP won't boot

my guess in this case is that the four files are the registry SAM SOFTWARE SYSTEM & SECURITY files - and that the problem was either viral or corruption due to iffy memory. However thats pure conjecture and you're right: a thorough hard drive check AND a data backup would make a lot of sense

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post
Reply by: David R H. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Sutton, SM1      26 Jan 2010 @ 16:22
RE: XP won't boot

Corrupt registry files can be caused simply by bugs in Windows. The registry is a stunningly fragile structure! However, all 4 hives at once is a bit odd as they're usually not all open at the same time and aren't necessarily even on the same part of the disc. I suspect it was the folder that got messed up rather than the files themselves.

I'd also hazard a guess (there's a air bit of guessing here :) that the laptop fixed the MBR from the backup copy. When the disc was put back on its "own" machine, the disc management record would have shown that it was a "foreign" disc and therefore ought to be fixed, hence the disk check.

I would have a look at the Event Log every day for the next week or two & see if it shows disc errors or Machine Checks. If it shows disk errors, I'd replace the disc; if it shows Machine Checks, reseat all motherboard plugins including RAM & see if they go away. If they don't you can either replace things one at a time (starting with the cheapest, these days the RAM & PSU) or start looking at replacing the MoBo, CPU, etc.

20 of 38 people found the above post helpful
Was this post helpful?  I thought this post was helpful  I thought this post was not helpful
Report this post

Do you need computer support?