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Windows XP Pro failure to boot


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#1
briantrich

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Hi all!

I joined because I found some valuable information for an error that recently took place on my wife's computer, but the problem isn't resolved so I wanted to get custom help, if possible.

Here's the details:

Dell Inspiron 6000, 2gb ram, brand new 160gb seagate momentus hard drive, 1.5ghz processor, Windows XP Pro

Apparently while my wife was at work, the computer tried to go into standby mode while she was in the middle of something. she rebooted it and once it gets past the initial Dell bios screen, it goes to a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner.

I have checked the bios setup and it is detecting all of the hardware just fine. But F8 doesn't work - no safe mode, restore point or last good configuration options. The only options are F2 (bios setup, nothing helps there) and F12 (one-time boot menu).

I booted the computer with the Windows XP Pro CD and went to the recovery console. I tried fixboot by itself, fixmbr by itself, fixboot and fixmbr at the same time, nothing works!

I have even gone all the way to repair install of XP Pro and after it goes through the entire file copying process and gets to the reboot phase, as soon as it reboots it goes to the black blinking cursor screen and we're back to square one.

This computer had similar problems almost immediately after we purchased it, and since then we have replaced the RAM with entirely new sticks, we replaced the hard drive with an entirely new drive and we have even installed a different operating system (it had windows xp home by default but when we installed the new hard drive we put XP Pro on it with a different windows disk). So basically a lot of the hardware and even the OS are new but we're still having the same problems we had almost two years ago.

The one thing that is causing me to not lose hope is that it did boot up successfully, just once, in the middle of all of this chaos. I was able to back up everything she needed - which of course includes 15gb in digital photos and two years of her final coursework from college. Phew.

But when I went to reboot the computer and see if the problem was fixed, it went back to the black screen and since then, nothing has changed. I have done repair installations, I have replaced ntdetect.com and ntldr files from the XP pro disk, I've tried fixboot and fixmbr in every possible combination, I've gone through the bootcfg menu, nothing is making any difference!

If anyone can help that would be amazing. I'm a fairly advanced computer user so I'll be able to keep up with any technical tips.

Thanks so much!
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#2
briantrich

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I should also add that this computer now has three operating system installations on it (ugh) because of past repair tries. It worked just fine with two operating systems until it crashed yesterday, I would just have to select which one I wanted to boot up after POST and it booted up fine. The third OS is a result of something I tried yesterday, but either way the computer isn't even getting to the OS boot list. Maybe I need to find a way to delete the two unneeded OS installations?
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#3
briantrich

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I just downloaded SeaTools for DOS from Seagate and it's running the "long test" on the PC's hard drive. It is 86 percent done and is taking a while; we'll see if that does anything.
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#4
wannabe1

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Hello briantrich...

After the Seagate check ios complete, try the following...

Boot from the Windows XP installation CD.

At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press R to start Recovery Console. Choose the installation to be repaired by number (usually 1) and press "Enter".

When you are asked for the Administrator password, leave it blank and press "Enter".

At the command prompt, type chkdsk /r and press "Enter". (Note the space before /r) The disk check operation will start.

This will be a very thorough check of the hard drive and the file system...be patient and let it complete. It may appear to hang or even back up a few times...this is normal. 60 to 90 minutes is not unusual for this check...it may take longer in some cases.

Once the check completes and you are back at the command prompt, type exit and press "Enter". Let your computer boot normally to Windows.

wannabe1
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#5
briantrich

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Hey Wannabe, thanks for the help.

I actually found your recommendation to do that on another post and did it last night. The process took a while but it finished and when it rebooted, still the same problem. Now if I run chkdsk /r it says "The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems" and doesn't do anything else. Bear in mind it doesn't run chkdsk again, it just goes right to that message along with some other meaningless information.
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#6
briantrich

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Oh, and all of the Seagate tests passed without any errors.
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#7
wannabe1

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Boot to the XP installation cd.

At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press R to start Recovery Console. Choose the installation to be repaired by number (usually 1) and press "Enter".

When you are asked for the Administrator password, leave it blank and press "Enter".

At the command prompt, type bootcfg /list and press "Enter" to show the current entries in the BOOT.INI file. At this point you may get a message telling you that the boot.ini file does not exist. The next step will correct this error.

Type bootcfg /rebuild and press "Enter" to repair it. This will scan your hard dives for installations of Windows XP, 2000 or NT and display the results. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your Windows installations to the boot.ini file. Those step will be:

  • Total Identified Windows Installs: 1
    (1) C:\Windows
    Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All)...type Y and press "Enter".
  • At the "Enter Load Identifier" prompt, type the name of your operating system...Microsoft Windows XP Professional and press "Enter".
  • At the "Enter OS Load options" prompt, type /fastdetect, and then press "Enter".
Note: The instructions that appear on your screen may be different, depending on the configuration of your computer.

Take out the cd, type exit, and press "Enter". The machine should try to boot to the Windows installation you chose.
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#8
briantrich

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Hi Wannabe,

I followed your steps and everything went perfectly as you predicted, but when I removed the CD and rebooted the system, back to the black screen with the evil cursor.

This exact version of Windows XP (same disk) is installed on another PC and has been for more than a year and it has been tough as nails, not one single crash, not one single error. This PC has new RAM, a new hard drive...I just don't get what the [bleep] is going on! The OS should be fine, the RAM passes all of its tests and diagnostics, the hard drive passes all of Seagate's tests...it makes no sense. I've gone through the repair installation process a dozen times and every time there's no change. There's only one partition on this 160gb drive and it is more than 2/3 free space.

Any other ideas? Thank you so much for your help so far, it really does mean a lot to me and my wife (her computer).
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