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XP Problems, system is FUBAR


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#1
JBCalander

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;)
HP Pavillion 761n, XP Home, Athlon 1.67, 512 RAM, 80 GB hard drive, ATI Radeon 9200 GPU - 128 PCI

Its my brothers computer, Im no computer expert by any means but I know alot more than he does. This computer has not been maintained at all except for when I've had to try and fix problems. Had lots of games installed, and I had to deal with some hardware conflicts after installing a different graphics card. The integrated GPU would not permanently disable.

As you can imagine, the registry got FUBAR'd. The problems were steadily getting worse and I was trying to diagnose over the phone with him ( he lives 250 miles away). Long story short several System Restore attempts were tried after Norton Utilities was unable to solve all the problems.

Eventually it progressed to the point that Windows would no longer load. The boot process would start, hang, and then an error message appeared saying that Windows could not load. It gives these options:

Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Safe Mode with Networking
Start Windows with previous configuration that worked
Start Windows Normally

None of these options works and it returns to the same screen. I went into setup, enabled the diagnostic screen and disabled Quick Boot. Memory test checks out ok and some other processes complete before it returns to the error screen again. It happens so fast I cannot tell what the last few commands are before it fails to boot.

HP made a genius move and did not provide any recovery discs with the computer, and instead relies on a hidden recovery partition on the hard drive. I was unable to use this with the state the system was in, so I had to get some recovery discs mailed to me. I went ahead and reformatted using the 8 System Recovery discs provided by HP, which utilize the Recovery Console. Everything went smoothly and the system booted normally afterwards. I had it up and running for about 10 minutes, loaded the drivers for the ATI graphics cardwas changing some display properties and the computer just died like the power went out. It automatically tried to reboot, but the same error screen appeared.

Thinking since I was changing display properties, maybe its the graphics card. Removed it and reformatted again. Same problem, up and running, then it dies. The only way to get it up and running again is to use the Recovery discs. Which btw, takes about an hour each time. ;)

Went through this a few more times, talked to some people, and came to the conclusion it was bad boot sectors on the hard drive. Replaced it with a new Western Digital unit, formatted, booted up. 15 minutes later, dead again.

Talked to some more people, decided the BIOS needed updating. Hooked up my computer again and downloaded the BIOS update from HP.

This is what the label reads on the BIOS chip:
Phoenix BIOS
D686 BIOS
056368583

This is the previous BIOS config. before I updated:
Award Medallion V6.00PG
BIOS Core: V6.0
BIOS Revision: 3.02 03/05/2002

The update I downloaded from HP is version 3.06. Release date: 05/15/2002

Installed it, booted and got the same screen. Formatted again and seemingly I had the problem fixed. Used the computer for a few hours. Installed all the necessary programs, removed all the junk, setup Internet connection and used it, updated drivers. Everything was running great and I had gone through numerous restart sequences. Ran LiveUpdate on Norton SystemWorks and downloaded everything. Had to reboot for changes to take effect.

Want to take a guess what happened then? Same error screen, cant get Windows to load. Several hours of work down the drain. Ready to beat this thing "Office Space" style.

Any ideas on where to go from here? Sorry for the long post. :tazz: Im just trying to give you all the info I can, so you can get a good idea of what I've done to try and fix this.

Thank you very much for any help you can give in this matter.

If you need more info I will do my best to provide it. Im a novice at best and this is the first time I have really dug into a problem like this. Its been an incredible, and incredibly frustrating, learning experience so far.
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#2
JBCalander

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Anyone have ANY ideas? I dont have a clue on where to go next. :tazz:
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#3
goladith

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go linux.......sorry couldn't help myself, but really, try installing a verson of linux and see if it screws up too, when in install rpcess of linus, format the HD, and stuff, and see if that works, it will clear out any windeows stuff, and see how it goes from there, onlything i can think of for now
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#4
JBCalander

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I know absolutely NOTHING about Linux...the extent of my knowledge is that it is an OS with an open source code. Thats literally it.

Can I run Windows programs on it? How is the user friendliness? What version would you recommend and how much?

My other thought is that using the Recovery console is not allowing whatever problems that exist to be wiped clean. So I see why you're recommending Linux. Im wondering if I'd be better off with a fresh copy of Windows.

Am I on the right track?

Thanks!
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#5
JBCalander

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bump :tazz:
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#6
JBCalander

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C'mon...throw me a friggen bone here. Nobody has any ideas? ;)

:tazz:
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#7
JBCalander

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Allright...couple things I thought of.

When I first started working on this computer, I noticed while in Setup that the system date and time was off considerably. I have no idea what could cause that to happen, or if it has anything to do with this. I corrected it and it is still correct.

If I spend an hour to get it up and running again, and manage to get Hijack This! downloaded and running...would you be able to tell anything by looking at the log?

Im suspicious that another problem could be the HP recovery CD's and the inability to just do a full NTFS format and clean install of XP. When using the HP CD's it doesnt spend much time "formatting," but seems to spend most of the time installing all the programs and other junk they include with their computers.

When I reformatted my Dell (spyware problems and registry issues about 6 months ago), I was able to do a full format and clean install of XP because it has one CD for just that purpose.

Is there any way I can use that CD on my brother's HP? And then restore the drivers/programs at a later time with the recovery discs?
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#8
cozmicrain

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Since your considering it,

You can borrow an XP cd. (will give you 30 days to activate it) This will at least let you wipe the Hard drive and get rid of any trash left on it from HP. IF this happens to fix the problem and the pc is running ok that way after you do manual updates, then go buy a copy of Win XP of your own so that you can again reformat install the new copy and REG it to you. Microsoft wont allow multiple registrations of win xp and have a pretty good way of blocking multiple users from it. So if it does fix your problem you will have at least 30 days to get your own copy of it so you can register it.

If it isnt activated in 30 days windows won't boot.
ie why you need your own copy with cd key.

Sounds like a pretty good idea really since no one has come up with an alternative. And on the bright side you wont have all the garbage files and apps on there that HP, Compaq, Gateway and Dell like to install :tazz:
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