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Boot Menu Loop: Hardware or Software Issue?


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#1
Curious D

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Hi. I'm trying to determine if the problem I am encountering is a hardware issue or a software issue. For a little background, I recently tried to help my brother-in-law with his computer. Apparently, he had accidentally downloaded a virus that was sent to his email. The virus was detected by Norton, but did not get removed. Instead, the computer was caught in a logon logoff loop. After removing the hard drive, I removed the viruses and trojans on the computer (5 total) by placing in an external enclosure. It was still caught in the logon logoff loop and after searching on the web, I found that the computer no longer had a userinit.exe file. I was able to get the computer to logon correctly after placing my own computer's userinit.exe file into his hard drive (which was in my own computer). But when I returned the hard drive to his computer, it was caught in a boot menu loop (the boot menu asking if a user wishes to start in safe mode or regular mode). I tried to repair the copy of Windows with the XP disc, but I get a BSOD before I can get to the recovery console. Sometimes, the computer is unable to recognize that the XP disc was in the DVD-ROM drive. I tested the RAM a last week and there were no errors. Since I was able to boot the hard drive up on my own computer, I guessing that this might be a hardware issue. However, I am at a loss as to what exactly is the problem and to what the solution may be.

The computer is a Dell Dimension 9200 (my computer is a Dimension 8400). The hard drive is a Samsung drive. I performed a SpinRite scan which revealed an unrecoverable sector on the drive. An attempt to CHKDSK revealed a problem with the disc, but I was unable to CHKDSK /F or CHKDSK /R /F the drive. This still did not prevent me from being able to boot up XP from the hard drive while it was in my own computer. The Dimension 9200 has 1 GB of RAM running Windows XP SP3. It had Norton 360 as its security software.

I would like to preserve the data on the hard drive. While I think I have downloaded all of their important data on to a portable hard drive, I am not certain. Having the computer running as it did before may serve as a visual cue to any other programs with databases my in-laws find important. Thanks for any assistance provided.
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#2
123Runner

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The fact that you are able to boot your computer with his hard drive points towards a hardware failure in his computer.
Is the XP disc you are using a retail version or is it a recovery disk?
You did not say whether it was XP home or XP pro. You need to use the same version to boot to the recovery console.
Have you tried going into safe mode? If you can, that would pretty much eliminate the custom drivers because safemode uses the basic drivers.
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#3
Curious D

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The XP Home SP2 disc came with the computer from Dell. I know that is a disc that can install a full copy of XP Home SP2 onto a new hard drive. I have tried to load onto Safe Mode and continue to get the boot menu loop. If it is a hardware issue, how can I determine which hardware is causing the problem? Can I relate it to anything that might have occurred earlier two weeks ago with the viral infection?
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#4
123Runner

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Have you re-seated all of the data and power cables in the computer?
Have you removed and re-seated any PCI cards that might be in the comp?
I have seen loose graphics cards be an issue.
Also re-seat the ram chips. If more than 1, only use 1.

Disconnect what you can that would not be needed for bootup. That would be floppy drive, CD/DVD drives, extra hard drives, and any USB connected devices. Remove any extra PCI cards that you do not need.
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#5
Curious D

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Thanks again for the reply. The cycle did not change as I have reseated the video card, audio card, and modem card. There are no other cards in the computer. The RAM removal did not change things except now I see a very quick flash of the BSOD before it recycles. I can't even read the error message.

One thing I should point out is that in safe mode, it never passes the system32 drivers folder and seems to hang at or just after the MUP.sys file. Does this given any indication as to the device that might be causing the problem? I'm still not thinking this problem to be software related even though the boot up got stuck at the MUP.sys file. I'm not sure how that would also relate to the problem of repairing XP or why the hard drive boots on my computer.

I performed an internet search for this particular problem and found a myriad of problems can cause a hang at this point. I'm curious to know how one can easily tell where the problem is. If it is a video card problem, how can one tell without buying a card? If it is a motherboard problem, how can one tell?

Edited by Curious D, 10 June 2009 - 09:26 AM.

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#6
Curious D

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Well, my final attempt to figure out what was wrong failed. I placed my own video card into the problem computer and found the same problem. The computer continues to go in a boot cycle. This cycle appears to be stuck at MUP.sys (as seen in safe mode) before it cycles back. Can anyone help me find and solve the problem? Thanks.
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#7
rshaffer61

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Mup.sys is one of the hardest issues to resolve. In 99% of the cases the only way to resolve it is to format and reinstall you OS.

Since you probably need to save data I would suggest the following steps to do so.

Get Puppy Linux Download this file:
puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso
and burn it to cd
..
if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files get burncdcc from my signature below ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....in this case its puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start


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 in 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..You must have it hooked to the computer when you boot up with puppy.
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#8
Curious D

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Thanks for the reply. The data is already backed up. I tried to reinstall XP, but got the BSOD even before reaching the recovery panel. I tried another hard drive, another video card, scanned the RAM and still came up with the same error at the same point. I didn't think to install Linux into the drive. I'll give that a try, but I'm suspecting that my problem is a hardware issue. I'm beginning to think that it is a motherboard issue, but I understand that it may be cable issue as well. How can I narrow the problematic cable if I don't have extra cables? There was a suggestion to disable the USB ports on the BIOS, but I'm not quite sure how to do it.

Any further insights available? Thanks. I'll let you know how the Linux thing works out.
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#9
rshaffer61

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If you follow my instructions for Puppy and the system boots with the cd and it gets to your desktop then it's not a hard drive or cable problem.
If it still won't boot to the cdrom then it is probably a MOBO issue.
Make sure you get into the bios and change boot order or the cd won't boot.
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#10
Curious D

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Puppy Linux runs on the computer without any problems. I didn't need to save data since it was already done. What is the next step to determine the source of the problem? Thanks.
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#11
Curious D

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Puppy Linux runs on the computer without any problems. I didn't need to save data since it was already done. What is the next step to determine the source of the problem? Thanks.
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#12
rshaffer61

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As I said before the Mup.sys is probably one of the most difficult issues to try and resolve. it has been our experience to better advise to just format and reinstall everything. :)
There is no real known way to fix this problem as the error only indicates that the driver loading after Mup.sys is the problem.
The only sure way to resolve the problem is to Format and Reinstall windows
I can provide you instructions for doing that if you like and I am sorry there is no other way around the issue.
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#13
Curious D

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In post #8, I ineffectively mentioned that I tried to install XP on another formatted hard drive. I had another 160GB drive I was using for storage. I formatted the drive and placed it into the computer to see if I could install XP onto that drive with that computer. I got a BSOD even before I reached the EULA screen. This was a similar result when I tried to reinstall XP on the original hard drive. This is why I didn't suspect the hard drive to be the problem. I tried several times and still could not pass the BSOD. I don't recall the error message, but I will be happy to try again if that will help. Thanks for your continued help.
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#14
rshaffer61

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Let's check your memory and make sure there is no issue with it. Download memtest86 from the link in my signature below.


Get the file that is named Download - The one you want is "Download - Pre-compiled Bootable ISO (.zip). When it downloads, it will be labeled memtest86+2.11.iso.zip
Unzip the file once you download it. You should have a .iso file in the unzipped directory. It will look like a zip file in some cases but the file name will now be memtest86+2.11.iso

if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files get burncdcc in my signature below.

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....in this case its memtest86.iso
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start

Make sure the bios is set for the cd drive as the first boot device
Put the cd in the cd drive and then boot your computer.

Running the Diagnostic Program:

The basic diagnostic screen has five main sections of relevant information. Three at the top which are labeled, PASS %, TEST %, and TEST #. This will basically show you the total progress of the current test, the overall progress of the diagnostic test, and the test number is currently performing.

On the middle left hand side of the of the program interface there is a “Wall Time” section that will keep track of how long the diagnostic test has been running for. This just gives you an idea if you are not attending the testing process.

The main section to look for is the lower half of the screen which is usually blank. As long as the memory testing is going ok with no errors this section of the screen should remain blank. If the diagnostic program finds any serious faults in the memory you will see it display a memory dump of address’s in this section. This is similar to what is displayed on your screen when you encounter a blue screen of death.

You now have most everything you need to know about setting up and testing your memory with diagnostic programs. This guide should help you get to the source of any intermittent problems related to your memory.


Run memtest for at least 2 hours
If it starts showing any errors during that time then you will have to replace the memory
If there are no errors after 2 hours press Esc and that will end the tests
We will then try other options
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#15
Curious D

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Again, sorry for the lack of details on post #8, but I did use memtest86 to scan the RAM. That particular test came back without error.

UPDATE: I tried to install Windows XP from an external CD-R drive. The process proceeded through farther than with the on board DVD ROM and DVD+RW drive. Whereas the on board drives would only progress to "loading Windows" message on the bottom of the screen before hitting the BSOD, the external drive was able to progress all the way to the recovery vs. new install menu. However, when I tried to reinstall Windows, the setup did not detect any hard drive even though the BIOS setting recognizes the hard drive in place. Then I used my spare formatted hard drive and tried the same (except attempted a fresh installation). Again, the Windows setup failed to detect a hard drive even though the BIOS detected the switched hard drive (name of each hard drive displayed).

To summarize:

1. Computer having Boot Menu Loop problem. Restarts to menu option for safe mode and stuck at MUP.sys during Safe Mode.

2. Attempt to reinstall Windows from on board optical drives failed with BSOD after windows files loading, but before the recovery vs new installation menu option appears.

3. Attempt to reinstall (and fresh install) Windows from external USB optical drive failed with inability to detect hard drive even though hard drive recognized in BIOS. Unlike on board optical drives, it was able to reach the recovery vs new installation menu.

Earlier efforts to detect problem revealed:

4. Memtest 86 reveals RAM okay.

5. Original hard drive boots correctly in my other computer and is free of viruses (probably).

6. Disabling USB ports did not help. Disabling optical drives with cable detachment did not help. Computer still stuck in boot menu loop.

7. Switching out video card did not help. Same boot errors and installation errors.

I almost get the feeling that there's a problem with the optical drives as well as the hard drive. I'm hoping that the newest update will help determine the source of the problem. Thanks again for all your help.

Edited by Curious D, 17 June 2009 - 05:27 PM.

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