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Vista Black Screen Boot Failure


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#1
Doug

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I currently have a friend's Acer180-UD360A (AMD 64x2 3600+, with 1gb DDR2) on my desk.
Running Vista Home Premium.
He complained of failing to boot in either SAFE or Normal mode.
Black Screen only with mouse cursor arrow moveable but no functions, no icons, no task bar, ... just stuck.

I ran the Quick StartUp Repair using the Vista DVD (and followed BleepingComputer's tutorial for Vista Repair) but to no avail.
http://www.bleepingc...8.html#overview
Or so I thought.
No benefit occurred from the Quick StartUp Repair.
I was able to access System Restore, but each of several Restore Points failed with 0x800015 or 0x8000B7 errors.

So I ran MS Windows Memory Test -- No errors detected....
But lo and behold, the darn machine booted Normally and is fully functional now.
It simply automatically booted after Memory Test.
I've been able to restart 3 or 4 times
... No idea why it's working now, and not before!

Puzzle:
There is one item in MSCONFIG - StartUps that is written in Chinese Language Characters... Unknown.
(But this is an Acer - manufactured in China... so it easily could be legit.

I've installed and run ATF-Cleaner, AVG AntVirus, AVG AntiSpyware.... Nothing bad showing.
AVG AntiSpyware removed a ton of Cookies... That's all.

So the darn machine is now running fine now, and I feel lucky.

Trouble is... I don't like "feeling lucky" when it comes to Vista problems mysteriously resolving themselves.

There are no warnings in Device Manager.
There "was" an IE Cache overflow.... 74mb on a 50mb limit
The hard drive needs defragging.
Nothing else prominent that I can see.

Your ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Doug
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#2
RjBass

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Well it sounds more like Vista was booting the main screen to another monitor. Did the owner possibly connect a 2nd monitor to the machine or a docking station that Vista might have been looking for?
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#3
Doug

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RjBass,

Thanks for the reply.
No this is a simple Desktop with one Monitor.
Onboard Graphics VGA connection
Relatively newbie user with one account.
Does use iTunes and downloads from a paid subscription.
Has a Canon Digital Camera to upload pics, but no fancy editing work.... Just family snapshots.
The machine has two external USB HDs for backup.

I particularly suspected USB device problems when I was anticipating getting the machine onto my desk to look at it.
But no new Software or hardware and no USB conflicts that I can see.

No hardware additions inside the case......
(though you can see that this machine would sure run more briskly with an upgrade to 2gb RAM) which I will recommend.)

My "thinking list" was:
Maybe some boot file corruption.
Maybe malware
maybe Graphics Processor failure
maybe HD failure
maybe RAM failure

So far, none of the above.
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#4
Doug

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I'm beginning to suspect RAM Memory again.

Here's the PCPitstop Full Tests Results....
shows RAM at 52% of expected performance.

http://www.pcpitstop.com/techexpress.asp?id=HFMVHWQVPDVS44MG

Sorry... Wrong Tech Express link.
Here's the correct one:
http://www.pcpitstop...1TASWP4XZGSP3MG

I'll go run Windows Memory Diagnostic again.

Anyone have experience with MemTest86 on a Vista machine.
I suppose it will run just fine from a CD since it is a pre-windows function?
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#5
hfcg

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Hello Doug,
I get the same error if I try to boot with any kind of flash memory USB device connected.
Even my Kodak camera causes this.
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#6
Doug

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Ran Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
3 times multi-passes of all 6 patterns

No Problem identified.

I suppose the PCPitstop Full Test could be faulty.
I have inquired with staff over there. Nothing yet.
Pit Test still shows 52% of expected RAM function (speed rating)
the pit test is also showing Windows identifies 767mb of 1024 installed.
I suppose the difference could be "borrowed RAM" for the onboard Graphics Adapter.
But that is an odd Number --->257mb ??

The machine seems to be functioning "adequately".
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#7
Jacee

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Doug, is this a Vista upgrade with a Windows XP Home SP2 dual boot?
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#8
Doug

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Thanks HFCG,

I don't have any of the USB devices connected at this time.
It may occur that the problem will resume whenever the owner uses various of the USB devices again.
Bummer!

May have to "wait and see".
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#9
hfcg

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But that is an odd Number --->257mb ??

With my computer being set for best appearance, this is about what my shared RAM is.
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#10
RjBass

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Thanks HFCG,

I don't have any of the USB devices connected at this time.
It may occur that the problem will resume whenever the owner uses various of the USB devices again.
Bummer!

May have to "wait and see".


Actually I have a customer who very recently had that problem but with an XP machine. She purchased a brand new machine from me and after building it, everything tested out ok in PC Check. After only having the machine plugged in for a week she started getting random boot failures. When I brought the machine back to my shop and plugged it in it booted just fine. I held onto it for a couple days and still no problems. But as soon as I plugged it into her office again it started having boot issues. Turns out it was one of her two HP printers connected via USB. After i figured out which one it was, I changed out the USB cable and now everything is working just fine.
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#11
Doug

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Hi Jacee,

No.
This is a 6month old Acer AST180-UD360A
With Vista Home Premium pre-installed when new.

I'm not familiar enough with Vista to know whether there is a Recovery Partition.
If there were one, it would be D:\ <-- which is 112GB of entirely empty space.
Fortunately, the machine did come with Vista DVD

Acer has a ton of propriatary "back-up" utilities.
I don't think my friend has ever used any of them, (pretty much a "newbie" himself)
Happily, he does regularly back up his data and media to an external HD and sometimes to DVD/CD

But the external USB HD "may" be involved in the problem?
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#12
Doug

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RjBass,

hmmmm. The USB connector cable itself?
Interesting.
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#13
Jacee

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Is your pitstop link correct, 'cause this is what I'm seeing:

Subsystem Status Description
System Intel Celeron, 2800 MHz
Memory 191MB RAM
Disk Drive C
Video ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9000/9100 IGP
Internet MSIE 6.0; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322
Windows Windows XP Home SP2
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#14
Doug

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Here it is again, from a fresh copy/paste
http://www.pcpitstop...1TASWP4XZGSP3MG

Hope I didn't screw up and post the wrong one earlier.......... senior moment maybe? :)

Yep. Thanks Jacee.
I had clicked on an old test link just below the correct one.
I've edited the link now. And the one posted here is correct.
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#15
Doug

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HFCG,

I had a look at Visual Settings.
The machine was already set for Best Performance.
(all the Visual Effects were un-checkmarked)

Still wondering about that 257mb number.
256, I could attribute to shared membory.
But the "7" suggests a 256mb chunk plus 1mb ???
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