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Stuck at cursor on boot-up(Can't boot from Windows cd)


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#1
disso

disso

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This question is for curiosity purposes. I'm not the tech support for our office, but I do like to fix things when given the opportunity. If I'm unable to fix this problem then tech support will come and fix/replace. So unfortunately if all that's left is to start swapping hardware there's not much left for me to do. That being said, I would like to know the best steps to take from this point with this problem and if there's anything more that can be done to diagnose the problem. Can't pass up a learning opportunity. Especially a frustrating one.

Computer: Compaq Presario with 256MB RAM. Windows XP installed

This is what the POST screen looks like
*************************
Phoenix BIOS 4.0 Release 6.0
Copyright 1985-2001 Phoenix Technologies
All Rights Reserved
Version 3.19

CPU = Intel Celeron CPU 2.00GHz
247M System RAM Passed
128K Cache SRAM Passed
System BIOS shadowed
Video BIOS shadowed
Fixed Disk 0: ST340015A
ATAPI CD-ROM: HL-DT-STDVD-ROM GDR8161B
Mouse Initiated
***************************

A co-worker moved her computer over the weekend. When she booted it up it got stuck at the blinking cursor. I checked boot-up options, cable connections, and the floppy and cd-drive and tried again. I tried to boot from a USB drive but got stuck at the blinking cursor again. I booted from a Clonezilla cd (that I happened to have handy) and it worked!.

OK, Easy fix I just need to get the right Windows XP cd to run recovery console. Well, the computer will not boot from either of 2 WinXP CD's(stuck at cursor). I try Hiren's Boot CD. That doesn't work either. I try an Ubuntu Live CD. It works just fine. I can run the Memory test and I boot all the way into Ubuntu. I try a Windows 7 install CD just to see what happens;it gets stuck at the blinking cursor.

I've checked the boot-up order and unplugged the computer for a couple of minutes. I can't figure out why it will boot-up with GRUB/Linux CD's, but not Windows based CDs(or hard drive). I told my co-worker that I could get to her data and back it up if need be, but I don't think working on Linux would appeal to her at the moment.

Thanks!
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#2
SRX660

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I really doubt that you will be able to get any data off the hard drive. You are stuck at the blinking curser because the bootable CD's cannot find a hard drive to store information needed to run on. The only OS that will boot is the ones that do not need a HD to boot up to. Stick a good HD in the computer as the primary drive( last connector on the cable(ide)and set to cable select. If its Sata, then at the sata 1 connector. Then you should be able to use a windows CD(dvd) to boot from. I think you will find the hard drive has died a sudden death.

SRX660
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#3
disso

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Hey thanks for the response. I hadn't thought about the possibility of Windows CD's checking the hard drive before booting into their program. I had assumed that whatever was keeping the hard drive from booting was also the same thing for the CDs. That would mean that each time the windows boot loader was working it was running into some same problem. I was guessing motherboard or memory trouble, though the memory seemed fine.

This gave me the idea to try to boot from DSLinux to try to access the hard disk to see if it would fail. Well, after trying to boot DSLinux with a couple different video parameters it didn't look like I was going to get it to boot at all. So I thought that I would try Puppy instead. It booted fine off of CD. In fact, I was able to access the hard disk drive and see and open the files on it.

It sounds like someone is coming to take a look at this computer tomorrow(probably the fastest they've ever made it down to fix something) so I probably won't get the chance to poke at it much more, but maybe I'll find out ultimately what the problem was.
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#4
SRX660

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If the first sectors of the HD have gone bad it would give the same effect as the drive dying, but it is unusual for a boot CD to not mark them as bad and continue on, using different sectors, during a install.

SRX660
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#5
disso

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Pretty close in the end I guess. The tech said it was a loose cable. The frustrating part is a took a look at them and thought they all looked fine. I guess I should have disconnected/reconnected them all. 2 days ago, I had to fix a pin on an IDE connector with a pair of tweezers that I probably bent not being careful enough plugging it back in, so I guess I wasn't in the mood to mess in this one more than necessary unless it looked like it needed it. Though I did push down on them to try to make sure they were tight. So I guess that a hard drive that cannot be booted from but can be read from using a Live CD could be failing or have a bad cable connection.
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