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Can't boot XP, freezes when choosing start-up mode


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#1
wingnutfish

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Hi guys,

I'm running Windows XP SP2 on an HP Pavilion zx5000 notebook from 2004. The system was working great when I went to bed last night, but this morning when I brought it out of hibernation and started opening applications I got a blue screen of death. It rebooted automatically, so I didn't get to see what the screen said. The system automatically restarted several times in a row after that, only once or twice getting far enough for me to see the XP desktop.

Now every time I try to boot I get the "We apologize for the inconvenience, but windows did not start successfully" screen, and then, and here's the relatively unique part, as soon as I choose any of the options (start up normally, safe mode, etc.), the screen freezes. The "We apologize" screen complete with choices remains, and even the "Seconds until Windows starts" countdown freezes. The hard drive light is stuck on solid.

I ran my BIOS's HDD self test (short and long versions), which passed both times. I also tried taking out and reinserting my hard drive and memory, because that's solved some problems I've had before. But no luck this time.

Does anyone know offhand what might cause this specific problem? And how might I proceed from here?

Ninety percent of my files were either backed up or on a separate hard drive, but I do have a few important ones I don't want to lose. I don't have a Windows install CD.

Thanks so much.
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#2
Ztruker

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Disable automatic restart so you can see what the BSOD error is: How to disable automatic restart in XP
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#3
wingnutfish

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I'll try that for next time, but actually when I posted this I wasn't able to even get far enough to get a BSOD anymore anyway.

I've just found out I have a RAM problem. I have two sticks of RAM, one 256MB and one 1GB (the latter was an upgrade using the laptop's easy access memory slot. When I run Memtest86 with both sticks in, it comes up with thousands of errors. When I ran it with just the 256MB stick, it passed three times over about an hour, with no errors reported. I haven't tried booting Windows on just the 256MB of RAM yet, because I'm backing up all my files through Puppy Linux before I do anything else. But it seems like the problem may be just that one stick of RAM.

Is there any way for me to tell from the Memtest86 results whether the problem is with the RAM itself or with the slot? I don't have any extra RAM sticks to test it with, and I'm not sure whether I can remove the 256MB one that's buried somewhere inside the laptop.
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#4
123Runner

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Memtest 86 needs to be tested on each stick separately. There is no way to determine which stick is faulty unless you test them separately.
It does sound like the 1gb is bad. To be sure, you need to test it by itself.
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#5
wingnutfish

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Will the laptop still run if I take out the "primary memory module" and only run it with memory in the expansion slot?
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#6
wingnutfish

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In case anyone's wondering, it did turn out to be a memory failure. I replaced the 1GB stick of RAM, and then I also had to run a disk check from the Windows XP Recovery Console CD before I could successfully boot up. But after that, no more problems. And I didn't have to mess with the boot record specifically, I could just boot again no problem after the RC disk check.
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#7
phillpower2

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Glad you got it sorted and thanks for the follow up wingnutfish :thumbsup:
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