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After entering XP Setup, keyboard no longer works


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#1
Jennb823

Jennb823

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I brought home my friend's son's Dell Dimension 2400 desktop PC running Windows XP Home Edition. I have no idea what he did before it stopped booting up. The AVG Rescue CD found no infections - which is why I'm posting here.

The first hurdle was the inability to type in the BIOS password. The only key on the keyboard the system would recognize was "Enter" and it told me that it was the 7th+ wrong attempt and that the system must be shut down. I resolved this by removing the password jumper on the motherboard.

The next problem was a black screen with white letters stating that "\windows\system32\config\system" is missing or corrupt. I have a Windows XP Home Edition install disk. However, when I boot from the disk to use the Windows XP Home Edition Setup, the keyboard no longer works. It is a PS2 keyboard and I've tried 2 different ones. The keyboard works just fine to open the Dell boot menu and choose and confirm to boot from the CD. As it is I cannot attempt to repair or reinstall Windows XP as I can't choose "Enter" "R" or "Esc" without the keyboard.

As an odd and perhaps unrelated note, if I set the boot order to CD first, then hard disk, the system will totally ignore the disk, even if I hit F12 and tell it to use option 3, boot from CD. It will go straight to the missing/corrupt registry error. If I keep the boot order as hard disk then CD, I can use F12 to successfully boot from the CD.

I don't know how to get past this to give this 9 year old his computer back in working order. Can anyone help?
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#2
ranchhand3

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That computer's specs are HERE.
I have worked on so many of these old units from Dell that I see them in my dreams. If you are lucky the problem is just a corrupted system. If you are unlucky something mechanical has failed, so that is where I always start. There is no point sinking money or excessive time into these old units, and replacement parts are very difficult to obtain and many times no longer available. I get these oldies that folks or companies are disposing of, clean them up so that they run and donate them to a local school who gives them to families who cannot afford a computer so the kids can at least do homework on them.
So, my suggestions are as follows:
>Reset the CMOS back to factory default. Power down and unplug the unit. Open the side and remove the small, silver CMOS batter that holds the BIOS settings. Wait 5 full minutes, snap the battery back in. There may be a jumper that you move side to side, usually located close to the BIOS chip on the motherboard, that will reset the BIOS back to default. Use the computer manual if there is one to locate it, but there may not be one on a unit that old. I suspect that will be the original battery that came with the computer. IF you have another identical battery, use that, but at this point it is up to you if you want to purchase a new one (you may be wasting your money). Power up and see if the keyboard and mouse work properly.
>Use your restore disk to nuke the old system and install a new one. If it gives you the option to reformat, definitely set a new partition and format in NTFS, then you will know there is no corrupted partition that is the problem.
>IF it baulks and will not allow a system restore, use a virtual distro such as UBCD for Windows (or I can link you to another one I like better) to delete the partition, set a new one and format. After that see if the restore disk works.
Let us know how it goes, but if you can't get that keyboard and mouse to work we are up a tree with no ladder. :lol:

Edited by ranchhand3, 08 October 2012 - 08:07 AM.

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#3
rosiesdad

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If you are using a USB Keyboard, try a old style kbd.
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#4
ranchhand3

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It is a PS2 keyboard and I've tried 2 different ones.

Conversely, if you are using an old PS2 port for the keyboard, try a USB keyboard.
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#5
Jennb823

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Thank you both for your comments and ideas. I apologize for not having come back sooner. The idea of removing and replacing the battery did the trick. I had to do a full (new) install of windows and grab the drivers from dell.com, but all in all it was a complete success. My friend's son now has his computer back in running order, with double the RAM. (I had 256k of DDR lying around in my spare parts drawer.) Now there will be no more fighting between he and his sisters for computer time. :)

Edited by Jennb823, 17 October 2012 - 05:41 PM.

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#6
ranchhand3

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HEY Jenn, good news! Enjoy your "new" computer! I always get a good feeling recycling an old machine and keeping it going.
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