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Windows not starting, must I reformat?


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#1
cicero

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First off, I'd like to mention what a valuable resource this site appears to be for the computer clueless like myself.
Thank you to all the Mods and staff for allowing such a forum to exist.

My problem in a nutshell, is Windows will no longer load...
My computer was in stand-by, as normal, but when I went to use it, the screen just stayed blank. Naturally, I resetted it b/c I thought it had frozen in stand-by mode or something.
When I turn it on now, I get the usual initial screen with the memory test, and the little energy star logo. The next screen stays on; it starts with 2 columns of system specs such as Diskettes, Master/Slave Drives, etc.
Next, midway down the screen, it says "PCI device listing..." and under that, there are a bunch of colums with different numbers and stuff like IDE Cntrlr, USB Host Cntrlr, etc.
Finally, at the bottom of the page, it says, "Verifying DMI Pool Data..." "Boot from CD: " "BOOT DISK FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER".
When I do press enter, I get a screen starting with "MSCDEX Version 2.25"
Then, there are four options in a "Windows XP Installation Menu" to do with FDISK.EXE, FORMAT.COM, install with default settings, and exit.
I stopped there.

That being said, I downloaded BitTorrent 3 days ago, and was downloading a torrent. I dont know if if put some kind of virus on my computer or not, b/c since then, I noticed a monit problem with shutting down the computer, there were some windows that I had to say yes to or end task or something before it would shut off, but it was working fine before it went on stand-by, and now, it wont work at all.

I should also mention, when turning it on, it now makes these strange clicking sonds inside which it's never done before.

My main question is, is it possible to salvage the documents on the hard drive??

Any help getting this machine working again would be much appreciated.
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#2
wannabe1

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Hi cicero...

Some system specs would be handy about now... :whistling: Laptop? Desktop? Make and model?

Have you tried all the Safe Mode options...or can you even get far enough to try?

wannabe1

Edited by wannabe1, 22 August 2006 - 12:50 AM.

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#3
cicero

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Hi,

K, it's a desktop computer, Cicero brand (Future Shop's house brand) It's about 4 yrs old now. Windows XP with P 4 processor 1.5 Ghz, Drummond 845 motherboard, at least 256 MB ram (we've added so I forget exactly how much is in there now), 1 CD-RW drive and another DVD-RW drive, I'm pretty sure we had a second hard disk installed also, one is C: and one is F:.

No, I havne't tried any safe modes, b/c when the computer starts up, and it kind of looks like an MS-Dos screen, lots of white printing on the black background, thats where it stays, as I described in previous post.
It doesn't start loading Windows at all...
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#4
wannabe1

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See if you can enter the BIOS Setup by tapping the F1 or Delete key during bootup. If you are able to get to BIOS, set the BIOS Defaults (usually F5, but check to be sure), save the settings (F10), and exit BIOS. See if the machine will boot to Windows. Try the Safe Mode options, too.
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#5
cicero

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Alas, when I press DEL during the boot, I get a screen titled "CMOS Setup Utility".
Options I can select on this screen include such phrases as:
"Standard CMOS Features"
"Advanced BIOS Features"
"Advanced Chipset Features"
"Integrated Peripherals"
"Power Managment Setup"
"PnP/PCI Configs."
"PC Health Status"
and in a second column:
"Frequency/VOltage Control" "Load Fail-Safe Defaults" "Load Optimized Defaults"
and then some about passwords, save and exit, and exit w/o save.

I clicked on the Advanced BIOS Features option (b/c it's the only one I see with the word BIOS in it) pressed F5, then saved and exited.
I still end up at the same screen as before where it wants me to insert the system disk and press Enter.

Also, now the clicking noises have turned into some other type of noise, and last quite a bit longer...

BTW, what are these safe mode options you speak of Wannabe1? Is that the safe mode one can enter when Windows loads, or is it something in that CMOS Setup Utility?

Thanks.
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#6
wannabe1

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It sounds like you're not booting far enought to even get to Safe Mode.

This is really sounding like a bad HDD. Does the noise you hear sound like any of the noises HERE?
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#7
cicero

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The nosies do sort of sound like the first recording on that page, though I'm not totally positive, b/c it'd heard to compare a recodrded sound to the real one.
On that note though, the computer was working fine before it went on stand-by, then stopped working, what could cause a defective HDD, if that is indeed the case?

Also, when I put in the system disk and get those 4 options, is there something I can do to get Windows working again, from there, BUT, without loosing the data on the hard drive? Is that possible at all? :whistling:

Merci
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#8
wannabe1

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Yes, it's possible, but not using that drive as the primary.

The noises you are hearing are troublesome and are usually a pretty good indicator of a physical problem in the HDD. It's been my experience that when a HDD gets noisy, failure is eminent...it may be a day or a month, but it's going to fail.

I would advise that you not use the drive any more in order to preserve the data. Get a new HDD, install it on the machine in place of the bad one, and install Windows on it. Then install the old drive as a slave and pull the data from it using the new drive. From what I can see, this is your best bet for getting the data back and fixing the machine in one fell swoop.
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#9
cicero

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Alright, That sounds pretty plausible, so it's probably a faulty drive.
That being said, when we took our comp. in to get re-formatted about 6 months ago, and had a second hard-drive installed, I suppose as a slave drive. It's now the F: drive.

I doubt that is the new drive that's having problems, therefore, could I install Windows like you say, on this F: drive and change C: to the slave? (BTW, I only have the included "operating system recovery CD", can I actually 'install' Windows with that?)

Edited by cicero, 22 August 2006 - 07:44 PM.

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#10
wannabe1

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What's on the F: drive? If you install to that drive, anything on it will be gone. But yes, you have everything you need to do this...providing you have the Windows installation cd and product key. :whistling:
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#11
cicero

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You wouldn't happen to have any idea on how I would go about doing that would you? :whistling: :blink:
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#12
wannabe1

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Indeed I would. :whistling:

Would you like it all in one "byte"?

Or would you like me to walk you through it?
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#13
cicero

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If you have the time and patience for a walk-thru, it would be most appreciated. If not, as must info. as you can give would suffice. :whistling:
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#14
wannabe1

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How about steps at first.

Disconnect everything from the back of the machine and find yourself a spot with some room to work.

Open the case (usually by removing the left side as you look at it from the front). Inside you should see some flat ribbon cables running from the motherboard to the drives. These cable have three connectors on them...for the moment we're interested in the end connectors. Locate the ribbon that connects to a hard drive using the end connector...this will be the Primary Master drive...the bad one.

Remove the ribbon and power connectors from that drive and remove the drive from the case. You may have to remove the right side of the case to access all the mounting screws. Once you have the drive out, label it some way as the bad drive. Find the make and model number of this drive and post it here for me so I can look up the specifications for it.

Then disconnect and remove the remaining Hard Drive (this one should be connected to a center connector on the ribbon) and give me information on this drive, too...unless they are the same make and model number.

Once you have done that and I have the specs in front of me, we'll get this sorted out. :whistling:

Edited by wannabe1, 22 August 2006 - 11:47 PM.

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#15
cicero

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Okay, just before I do play with the wires though, you stated earlier the drive I reinstall Windows to will lose all its data. The F: drive is actually where we've stored everything in My Documents.
Therefore, before taking out the drives, could I try instaling Windows on to the current primary master drive to just make sure that that is the one that is indeed defective?

That is what I'm not to sure what to do, When I insert the System disk at the promt screen, I get the 4 options in the "Windows XP Installation Menu". Should I select option 3, which says install with defualt settings?
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