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XP won't boot, gives blinking cursor after BIOS loads


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#1
stupac2

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I know this topic has been done before, (for example, I've read through this thread), and the advice is always to start your own thread to get the most customized advice. I'll run through the problem and what I've done really quick.

I have a DELL XPS Gen 2, running XP Pro, 1 Gig RAM and a 250 GB HD I just installed a month and a half ago.

XP isn't loading at all, once it runs through the BIOS all I get is the blinking underscore in the upper-left corner. I have an external HD enclosure that I got for my old 100 GB HD, I put the new misbehaving one into it and it works on every computer I've plugged it into, the files are all viewable and I even backed some up. My friend even got the HD to mount under Ubuntu 7.10. We even ran a Memory check, and everything was fine.

I've tried Repairing using a XP Pro install disk, I've tried running fixmbs and fixboot, and I'm currently going through the "continuously run "CHKDSK /R" in the repair console. The last time I did it it reset from ~70% done to 50% twice (that I noticed), and this run-through I don't think it have (though it may have, I'm not sure).

At this point I feel pretty confident that there's some kind of corruption on the HD, but if anyone has any last-ditch ideas I'll give them a shot. I'm especially interested in being able to get my programs off the disk, I've already backed up pretty much every important document, and since I can access the disk at will getting the rest won't be difficult. But there are some things that I have installed that I might not be able to reinstall, and it would be nice to not have to reinstall every single program (already did that, twice, when I got the new HD).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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#2
xucphra

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When you boot up; does the hdd light blink more than once?
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#3
123Runner

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Can you boot it up in safe mode?
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#4
stupac2

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123Runner, I can't do anything after BIOS, I just get the blinking cursor. As far as I can tell, my only options are F2 for the BIOS menu and F12 for the boot menu.
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#5
stupac2

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Honestly, at this point I feel resigned to a fresh install. I just want to know if there's any way to save my installed programs and settings if I can access the hard drive as an external.

My other worry is if the boot sector has gone bad once, will it be prone to happening again?
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#6
Ztruker

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Do you have a XP CD? If so, boot the Recovery Console by entering R the at the first opportunity.

From the command prompt, can you see the C: drive by entering dir c:

If so, type chkdsk /r and press Enter

Wait for it to complete. This can take awhile on a large drive so be patient.

Type fixboot and press Enter

Reboot and see if XP will boot correctly now.
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#7
happyrock

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get puppy linux...Get puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso download it and burn it to cd ...if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files go here and get burncdcc ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...make sure in the bios the cd drive is the first boot device....put the cd in the cd drive..boot your computer....puppy will boot and run totally in ram...if your hardware is is good working order you will know...
after you get it running and your at the desktop...you take the puppy linux cd out and then you can use the burner to copy all yor data to cd/dvds
you can also use it to backup your data to a external usb harddrive..just have it hooked to the computer when you boot up with puppy...
==========================
quick guide for saving data...music..files on a system that will not boot using puppy Linux..


after you get to puppy desktop..
click on the drives icon...looks like a flash drive...top row..it will list all the drives connected to

your computer...

click on the red icon for the drive you want to mount...in this case its a flash drive ...puppy will

mount the drive..the drive icon turns green when its mounted...
minimize the drives mounter window..you will need it again in a few minutes..
drag the right edge of it sideways to shrink it to its narrowest size...then drag the window to the
right edge of the screen...

now click on the icon that looks like a filing cabinet (kind of yellow) on the main drive...it should
already be green..
you will see a list of all the folders on the main drive Usually your C: drive..shrink that window to

the narrowest you can..drag that window to the left side of the screen...
at this point you should have 2 windows open on your desktop..the flash drive on the right side..
go back to the folders on the C: drive...click on the documents and settings folder...then your user
name or all users..find the folders that has your data..
drag and drop the folder with the data you want to make copies of to the flash drive window...

your options are to move ..copy ect...JUST COPY..if its to big you will have to open the folder and
drag and drop individual files until the flash drive is full...(I have a 120 GB external USB drive for
big data recovery jobs and a 4 GB flash drive for the smaller jobs)..after you get the files copied to
the flash drive...
Click on the drives mounter you minimized earlier
UNMOUNT THE FLASH DRIVE by clicking on the green icon..you will once in awhile get error messages when
unmouting the drive..ignore them..when the flash drive icon turns red again its safe to remove the
flash drive..trot on over (stroll if you want to look cool) to another computer and plug in the flash

drive and copy all the data files ( I drag and drop) to the other computer..
make sure the other computer can read them...

now delete the data on the flash drive...take it back to the misbehaving computer and plug it in

again..click on the drives icon again and repeat until you have all your data transferred to the working
system..
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#8
wannabe1

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Hello stupac2...

The blinking cursor usually indicates bad blocks on the HDD in which files required to start Windows are stored. Sometimes there are circumstances the

Let's see if we can put a parallel installation on there to get your data.

Parallel Installation of Windows XP

Boot to the Windows XP installation cd by pressing a key when the "Press any key to boot from cd" prompt appears at the top of the screen.
  • At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press Enter to set up Windows XP.
  • Accept the License Agreement by pressing F8
  • With your current installation selected in the box, press Esc
  • Select C: Partition1 [NTFS] in the box and press Enter
  • To continue setup using this partition, press C
  • Now you should see formatting options...choose the last one, Leave the current file system intact (no changes), and press Enter
  • To use a different folder, press Esc
  • Name the folder WINDOWS0 (just type a 0 (zero)) and press Enter
The Windows installation should begin. This will install Windows to a new folder, leaving your data intact. Any programs installed on the old directory will have to be reinstalled to the new one. Device drivers will also have to be installed for all the hardware to work as it should.

The data will be located in the Documents and Settings folder (C:\Documents and Settings) under your old user account name...so when you set up the new installation, give yourself a slightly different user account name.

wannabe1
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#9
wannabe1

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Think you have enough help? :)

Something in there oughta work..........
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#10
stupac2

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wannabe1, yeah, there sure are plenty of options. I'll try that parallel install after this current chkdsk finishes running (it's still resetting back to 50% at least once per run).

So the parallel install doesn't recover programs? I back up fairly regularly, and I already have pretty much everything in My Docs saved. I have enough room on my externals that I was going to move the entire HD over to one of them, that way I'd be able to access every little file I needed. If there's another point to the parallel installation that I'm missing, I'd love to hear it, but I'll do ahead and give it a shot anyway.
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#11
wannabe1

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A parallel install will give you a working operating system with which we can have a look at the nonworking one and recover your data. Depending on what programs you have, we may be able to salvage some of them, too.
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#12
stupac2

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Nope, I did the parallel installation exactly like you said, it still just gives me a blinking cursor after BIOS.
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#13
wannabe1

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I'd suggest trying Ztruker's suggestion next...it may be a bad boot sector.
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#14
stupac2

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I've done both of those things before, but not in that order. Given that this whole thing seems like witchcraft anyway, I'll give that a shot. Should take about an hour for chkdsk to run, will report back after that.

Thanks in advance for all the help, it's great that you guys do this, and for free.
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#15
Ztruker

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If you've already done chkdsk then there is no need to do it again, just run the fixboot command then try it.

Edited by Ztruker, 03 February 2008 - 03:44 PM.

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