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Computer cyles thru XP splash then nothing

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I'm helping a friend with his computer, he has a Dell running Windows XP. Upon bootup, we get a screen giving us a choice of booting up in so many seconds, the last know bootable configuration, safe mode, etc. If I let it boot up in the normal mode, it will cyle though the XP splash screen twice, then go to a black screen - but the computer stays on. If I start up in the safe mode, it will display a lot of text twice, then just freeze up? Is it a virus or is there a simple way of reseting the computer to it's good boot up settings? Thanks for any info.
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