Jump to content

Welcome to Geeks to Go - Register now for FREE

Geeks To Go is a helpful hub, where thousands of volunteer geeks quickly serve friendly answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts. Register now to gain access to all of our features, it's FREE and only takes one minute. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more.

Create Account How it Works
Photo

XP stuck in boot loop - now on second desktop. Very persistant.


  • Please log in to reply

#1
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
Right, this might be a bit long and hard to follow as I'm not really sure what's relevant and what's not. Last month my desktop died, it was old and I'd been thinking of getting a new computer anyway so I didn't think too much of it. At the time I thought the motherboard or something was fried, even after a complete reformat and reinstall of XP it would work for a few hours then slip back into a loop. On booting it would get to the black Windows XP screen, the mouse pointer would appear for a brief second (where the blue Loading XP screen usually appears) then restart. I tried two hard drives in it and it happened to both of them.

A few days ago i got my new desktop and within 24 hours the same thing had happened. I've asked for a lot of help from various people/forums and there are two verdicts, either the electrics in my house are frying it somehow, or it's a boot sector virus of some kind. Only thing that gets me is, if it's the electrics (it's still plugged into the same wall socket), wouldn't that harm something else in it apart from the boot sector of the HD?

I still have some music/video files which I wanted to keep from my original computer. I put this HD in a USB enclosure on Friday and transfered the files I wanted to keep. There's a possibility something could have jumped over at this point. When my new one died originally on Saturday I wanted to make sure that a virus couldn't follow me again, but I still wanted to keep the files. So I booted up with the Ubuntu live CD and copied them over to a freshly formatted drive. I don't know too much about it but surely a Windows virus couldn't activate under Linux and hop over unannounced? I did a full memtest when I was booted up under linux and it returned zero errors.

After transfering the files to the fresh external drive I reformatted and reinstalled XP and before moving the files back over I installed Ninja Pendisk to stop anything autorunning. I ran multiple scans with Avira and Comodo and I was satisfied the system was clean.

On rebooting the computer tonight it got stuck in the same old loop. Last time I tried a whole bunch of commands in the recovery console and it didn't work, it seems the only thing that fixes it is a complete reformat and reinstall (a repair install doesn't work). Doing this every two days will get very draining so I'm hoping for someone to provide me with some troubleshooting steps to discover if it could indeed be an electrical problem (and if so could it have caused any permanent damage to the new desktop?) or, in the case of a virus I'd like to find it. The music/video collection I wanted to keep has been built up over many years and includes a lot of rare things that I wouldn't be able to find again so simply leaving it all behind is my last option. On top of that I find it hard to believe that a virus has managed to follow me through linux/the external drive/back on to the desktop with all the precautions I've taken.

If what I'm describing could indeed be caused by power surges or whatever in my household electrics, will i need to get yet another new pc? Is there a way to check for permanent damage? I can access the drive no problem through the linux live cd if there's anything I need to check.

Here's hoping someone out there can help :)

Edit: This time I can boot into safe mode (with my initial computer it gave me a ntldr error and on saturday it gave me a SYSTEM error when trying to boot into safe mode). Don't know if that's any help?

Edited by Skesis, 30 June 2009 - 10:04 AM.

  • 0

Advertisements


#2
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
Heh might not have made too much sense there. I'm in linux just now copying the video files I want to keep to the external drive (again). I've been advised on another forum (not a tech forum) that it can be caused by dodgy wiring in my house, can someone confirm if a regular power-surge 4-way adapter will provide enough protection against this or will I need to get a UPS? (Uninterrupted Power Supply). I'd just really like to know if it sounds like the correct solution as there's no point buying hardware for no reason. I booted into safe mode in the XP install and ran all manner of scans which all came back negative so I've pretty much ruled out a virus (had all but ruled it out anyway but thought better to be safe). Knowing next to nothing about how Windows works it just seems strange to me that only the boot sector is being fried every time, like last night it was running perfectly then I reboot and it's broke again. Also it has no problems running/booting in linux so is it safe to assume the hardware is all fine?

Any help?

Edit: Would it be any progress if I install Vista instead of XP? Is the Vista boot sector any more "secure" to these type of errors?

Edited by Skesis, 30 June 2009 - 05:18 PM.

  • 0

#3
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
Wait... this looks exactly like the problem I had at my work place. Two different computers just died. One was diagnosed with a broken hard drive (same problems as yours), the other one got its power supply fried. I also suspect the wiring or something to do with the power surges, but nothing like to your extent.
Could you elaborate more on what exactly you can do? The computer that got its HDD fried wouldn't even boot in Safe Mode, and if I would try to boot it without the "fail safe reboot option" (don't know the exact name, it's a choice with the safe mode and etc) it would tell me that some Windows' critical files are missing.
I very much want to say that the problem lies in your power supply or HDD itself, but it's an easy way out. You say that Linux is running perfectly (plus not any Linux, but Ubuntu)? You could monitor your voltages for big spikes.
When you say that you are reinstalling the Windows, are you reformatting the whole drive? Does the problem only appear when you try to back your music files?
  • 0

#4
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
I can boot into safe mode sometimes, the boot sector seems to fry in various ways. Sometimes I get a ntldr error, sometimes another error, sometimes multiple errors and today it actually let me boot into safe mode. I've followed the instructions for rebuilding the boot sector many times (each time it's happened) with no success. Each time the only solution is a complete reformat and reinstall, I've actually got it in the reinstall process just now, once it's up and running I'm not going to turn it on again until I get suitable protection. Is a regular anti-surge 4-way adapter fine for this? I used one for years but I guess it got old and died. I've been advised to buy a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) but they're expensive and it seems like overkill for one desktop.

Like I've said I don't have a clue about the Windows boot process but it just seems weird to me that it's the boot sector and the boot sector only that's dying each time. It just randomly chooses a time too, sometimes it won't boot after being off all night, sometimes it's when I reboot it just decides not to come back on. Repair installs don't work either, like I said only a complete reformat seems to work. I had Ubuntu installed on a small partition for a while and it ran with no problems, I've memtested and chkdsk'd my hard drive with no errors (chkdsk returned an error but on checking the log it was just empty space which was down as in use).

I'm going mad here because each time I think I've got it sorted it happens again a day or two later. Do you think my diagnosis of the power supply being to blame could be correct?

Edited by Skesis, 30 June 2009 - 08:39 PM.

  • 0

#5
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
Hm... Maybe you just got unlucky and something is wrong with the hard drive? If it is power, then I would look at voltages. You could download SpeedFan to see how they behave in Windows.
  • 0

#6
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
It's the exact same problem on three hard drives though, wouldn't that be extremely unlucky? I had my initial computer, then when I thought that hard drive was fried I used an old HD I had been using as backup, then there's this completely new system. Each time the freshly installed XP only lasts a day or two.

What's SpeedFan and what would I be looking for?
  • 0

#7
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
Yeah, there seem to be more of a consistency there, then a coincidence. You should really ask the virus experts about that, because infections are pretty consistent.
As for power surges:
http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
It's a tool that will display the voltages that your motherboard is supplying.

Edited by Roman Pope, 30 June 2009 - 09:10 PM.

  • 0

#8
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
I wouldn't have a clue about voltages or anything, what's a "normal" range?

I really doubt it could be a virus, this time though I'm going to leave it a few days before transfering my saved files and see if it makes a difference. It shouldn't though as I've taken a LOT of steps to rule out infection but it can't hurt.

Do you know if a regular anti-surge multiway adapter is sufficient if the wiring in my house is a bit iffy?
  • 0

#9
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
For 3.3V normal range is about 3.125 to 3.465 volts
For 5V - 4.75 to 5.25 volts
For 12V - 11.4 to 12.6 volts
Once again, if the difference with the "normal" is about 0.1-0.2 off, I wouldn't worry. The hardware can tolerate fluctuations, plus the sensors are not really accurate ones, but mere approximation (+/- 10% to begin with). Of course if the readings are off more then 1V, then maybe the problem lies there...
Only a multimeter can tell if the anti-surge adapter is sufficient. You cannot even trust the specifications.

Edited by Roman Pope, 30 June 2009 - 09:41 PM.

  • 0

#10
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
How would I know what voltage it should be? Motherboard is Foxconn G31mx-K if that helps? Just got the fresh install loaded up now so wouldn't mind checking asap.
  • 0

Advertisements


#11
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
All the voltages are pretty much "standardized". I think from the website (http://www.almico.co...andleconfig.php), you can also download a config file for your specific mother board. I doubt it can detect any sudden spikes and surges (since it is more like and average), but keep your eyes open.
If the problem seem to be related to the hard drive, I would take a closer look at the 12V mark. That voltage is responsible for "mechanical" parts of your computer such as fans, hard drives' head spinning etc.

Edited by Roman Pope, 30 June 2009 - 09:49 PM.

  • 0

#12
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
OK voltage readings are as follows:

Vcore1: 1.14V
VCore2: 1.78V
+3.3V: 3.42V
+5V: 5.05V
+12V: 12.16V
-12V: -16.72V
-5V: -5.11V
+5V: 5.00V
Vbat: 3.10V

That mean anything to you? Thanks for the help so far btw.
  • 0

#13
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
Better then mine. They seem to be good, but like I said, the software will probably not detect any surges.
  • 0

#14
Skesis

Skesis

    Member

  • Topic Starter
  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
All the temperatures are way under as well, seems the system is underclocked if anything:P. Got it all fully updated now, going to turn if off and only turn it on again with a anti-surge plug.

The files I have on my external drive, I've disabled autoplay (and installed Ninja Pendisk for good measure) so would it be safe to burn them to CD's/DVD's? Just in case one of them was infected? I wouldn't be transfering anything to the hard drive, if there is anything there it must be hidden in a mp3 file or whatever so simply burning them from the external to the burning drive should be OK?
  • 0

#15
Roman Pope

Roman Pope

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 103 posts
If it is some kind of Virus, then my guess would be as good as your guess. I would wait before hooking anything up and see if the problem persists. Maybe some kind of BIOS virus?
Other then that... try changing your socket? Try to use computer at another house? Buy a voltmeter and ask me how to poke your computer with it?
  • 0






Similar Topics

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

As Featured On:

Microsoft Yahoo BBC MSN PC Magazine Washington Post HP