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Windows XP boot issues

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Hello! I'm a bit new here, but not new to the fixing of computers (We used to have Windows 98 and 3.1, if that tells you anything :) ). Well, I've spent the better part of a day on this issue, and seeing as every attempt I make at repair has thus far been thwarted, I figure it's time for some outside suggestions.

Anywho, I'll start off with some information:

The System

OS: Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (up from Windows XP Professional)
Model etc: Dell Inspirion 6000 (laptop...ouch)
HD: 60 GB (approx 7 GB free...slightly less than. As such, it will not defrag; I was working to remedy this issue)
Memory: 2 GB (2x Centon 1 GB PC2-4200 DDR2)

I also have a Western Digital 160 GB external HD, to which I was (slowly) starting to transfer data and free up some HD space on the laptop. Oh well...

The Problem #1

I was on the computer one day, when I got a stop error message. I'm fairly sure it was a 0x0000008e message, but unfortunately i didn't document it, so I do not have any specifics. In any case, I rebooted the computer, but after the BIOS and HD startup screens, while trying to boot Windows, it came with the error:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing/corrupt: windows\system\vgaoem.fon

As a consequence, every attempt to boot the computer (normal, safe mode, "last known good", etc) all fail and bring up the above error message. The odd thing is, I've had this computer since Dec 27, 2005, and it has never had a boot issue during its entire working life...which makes me suspect that the circumstances for this error are tied directly into the specifics of my (sadly) undocumented stop error. Doh!

What I have already tried:
(to save you some time. I did these in the order they appear here)

1) Attempted alternate boot modes: safe mode, "last known good configuration", etc...anything that came up after pressing F8. As I said above, none of them worked, and the same error was displayed, telling me there's something wrong with the OS itself.

2) Quick Diagnostics

3) Full hardware diagnostics
As precaution; neither diagnostic came up with any errors. Evidently, all hardware is working perfectly fine, which is a relief.

4) backup data...failed. As I haven't backed up most of what is in my My Documents etc. folders since...I believe it's been two years now (ouch), I wanted to see if I could pull the data from my computer to the computer I am using now by connecting USB to USB (apparently, it's somehow possible). Unfortunately, it didn't work. Perhaps it's because this is a Vista, and my computer is an XP, but I wouldn't think this was an issue, because I'd only be dealing with the data on the disk, not accessing the OS. This told me that I either did it wrong, or some bigger problem than just the OS is at play.

5) Repair from Windows CD
Okay, being fairly certain that the issue lies with my OS, I tried the repair option from the Windows Setup CD I recently received from Dell. I worked through it, effectively following this guide (http://www.geekstogo...ws-XP-t138.html), which I checked to make sure I was doing it right...unfortunately, I had the problem like so many others, where the option to pick the OS never came up, instead going to a "choose the partition on which you want to instal the OS" (or something of the sort) screen, where it showed my different FAT16, C:\ NTFS, and E:\ FAT32 HD partitions (my external is not attached at the moment, so it did not display).

Thinking I might need to choose where to repair, I chose my NTFS C drive, the one I know has the dirty OS. It them came up with three options that essentially boiled down to:
-Format NTFS and install (quick)
-Format NTFS and install
-Install without formatting

Not wanting to either mess up my computer more, or risk losing my data, I exited.

6) Repair from Windows CD using Recovery Console
Now, I'm no stranger to DOS prompts, so I have no issue using the Recovery Console. However, I immediately became worried when it never even asked for me to log-in as administrator...which kinda confirms to me that this issue is more than just a missing system file. To be safe, I tried logon...and nothing happened.

Anywho, to make sure I had everything I needed, I did map. Yep, all three partitions were there, as well as the D:\ setup CD. Good.

Still working to try every avenue, I did the usual expand drive:\i386\vgaoem.fo_ drive:\windows\system command to bring the file from the setup disk to the HD using the D:\ and C:\ drives, exactly like Microsoft tells us to do (http://support.micro...om/?kbid=315338). That didn't work; instead it spat back at me something like "the specified path is invalid/does not exist" or somehting similar...which is crock, because I know for a fact that both were correct.

I did the same, substituting the setup disk for the E:\ partition on my HD, where the setup files were mirrored on the initial installation. Still no dice; same message as last try.

Irritated, I decided that, okay, maybe it's coming back with the error because the system files are read-only. I decided to make sure, using dir to check the paths and files I was using. Oddly, while the input dir e:\i386\vgaoem.fo_ found the file and gave me its information, all instances of doing the same with c:\windows\system, c:\windows\system\vgaoem.fon, and e:\i386\vgaoem.fo_ came back with the response "the specified path is invalid/does not exist" or something similar.

I thought this was because I was not logged in as an administrator (because, you know, it doesn't give me that option), but if that were the case, then it should come back with an "access denied" message instead of a "DNE" message.

Now confuzzled as well, I decided to try chkdsk /r. It seemed to be fine for about ten seconds until it got to 3% complete, before stopping and spitting back something like
"There are one or more unrecoverable errors." Great, just what I needed to hear...

The Problem #2

Not wanting to mess with any more commands than I must until I am able to find a way to backup my data, I exited out and decided to go back to the Setup CD (back to following this again: http://www.geekstogo...ws-XP-t138.html ) However, when I got to the part that had previously shown my partitions, instead of showing all three, it came back only showing the amount of used space on my HD, along with a message like "Setup cannot read hard drive information" or something similar. I don't know exactly what it said, for I did not get a good look; I tried pressing the arrow keys, to see if I could navigate, and the following stop error popped up:

*** STOP: 0x0000008e (0xC0000005, 0xF7414E54, 0xF6E56788, 0x00000000)

*** setupdd.sys - Address F7414E54 base at F73EC000, DateStamp 41107c8f

Unfortunately, I don't know what that one means, and I couldn't find anything on Google.

So, my question is:

1) Is there anything else I can try that doesn't involve reformatting and losing my data? I cannot download/install anything on this current computer...it is not mine, and I have no permissions.

2) I am able to do ASR, but I haven't yet because I don't know exactly how it works, even after reading the Microsoft descriptions (which only says what it does, and not how it works, savvy?) Will I lose my data if I use it?

3) I think I read somewhere that, so long as I don't reformat the HD during installation, my data should still be safe. Is that true? How about data saved directly to the desktop?

The key here being getting my computer up and running without losing the data...I could care less about Program Files and the like, it's the data that's important. :)

Thank you for your time and help!


Alright, so apparently, after giving the computer a rest, I went back to work, retracing my steps and following previous instructions to see if there's anything I missed. After leaving the Recovery Console this one last time and restarting the computer, it won't even read the HD anymore, and upon going through the normal routes of selecting a place on my hard drive to reinstall Windows, instead of my three partitions...there's just one massive unpartitioned space.

I have a feeling I've lost everything anyway...and I have no idea why. :)

Edited by powerhousejp, 07 July 2009 - 07:15 PM.

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Hi powerhousejp...welcome to Geeks To Go... :)
the drive sounds like it died...
you can remove the drive and slave it to a working system to try and get your data...

or you can try puppy linux...
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...

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...
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 your data to cd/dvds
you can also use it to backup your data to usb flash drives or a external usb hard drive..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..

this guide is for using usb flash drives but if you have a external hard drive just subsitute your external drive where it says flash drive

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 ...about half the width of the screen...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 tabout half the width of the screen...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 contains 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 16GB 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

Edited by happyrock, 08 July 2009 - 10:30 AM.

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will i lose my data if i use repair in recovery console
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Hi and welcome to Geeks to Go! :)

Please don't resurrect old posts. Instead, please start your own post in the appropriate forum. A volunteer will be along to help you shortly.

But to answer your question, it's unlikely. But it's always important to back up your data before making any drastic changes to your system.
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