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Dell Inspiron Can't Boot Windows Vista After Fresh Install

Hi there,

I'm trying to fix my aunt's Dell Inspiron. I'm not sure how old it is, but judging that it came with Vista gives a relatively small window to guess in. It recently stopped booting Vista properly. It will stick at the Windows Vista "loading bar" and never advance. I reinstalled Vista fresh using the motherboard's built-in recovery utility, but was surprised when even this yielded the same result. It never advances past the Vista loading bar, even after Vista reinstalled without any issues.

So I ran diagnostics from the boot options (an hour or so of memory tests and such), which led me to a "symptom tree" where I ran the tests under "Cannot Boot the OS." These tests took several hours to run, but all passed. They are:

L1 Cache - L1 Data Cache Pattern Test
L1 Cache - L1 Data Cache Walking Bit Test
L2 Cache - L2 Cache Pattern Test
L2 Cache - L2 Cache Walking Bit Test
L2 Cache - L2 Cache MATS Test
Realtime Clock - RTC Functionality Test
Realtime Clock - CMOS Confidence Test
System Time - Timer Functionality Test
Interrupt Controller - PIC Functionality Test
L1 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Dirty Cache Reads Test
L1 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Alternating CPU Writes Test
L1 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Random Access Thrash Test
L2 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Dirty Cache Reads Test
L2 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Alternating CPU Writes Test
L2 Cache (Multiprocessor) - Random Access Thrash Test
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Confidence Test
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Device Quick Check
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Drive self-test (Long)
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Drive self-test (Short)
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Read Test
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Seek Test
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - SMART Test
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Start unit (Idle) command
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Stop unit (Standby) command
SATA Disk S/N= 59SFT46AT - Verify Test

So all the testing the mobo can do shows no hardware failure, and a fresh install makes it hard to say it's software failure from what I can tell, but I'm no expert.

Does anyone have an idea of what to try next? It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
2 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    If you have a converter, pull the hard disk and connect it to a separate PC then run Checkdisk. Use the facility to find and fix errors - bad sectors or clusters - by running it from the Command Prompt using this syntax
    chkdsk x: /r
    where x is the drive letter assigned to the external disk. If the checker finds and fixes anything, pop the disk back into the laptop and see what happens.
  2. If you have a converter, pull the hard disk and connect it to a separate PC then run Checkdisk. Use the facility to find and fix errors - bad sectors or clusters - by running it from the Command Prompt using this syntax
    chkdsk x: /r
    where x is the drive letter assigned to the external disk. If the checker finds and fixes anything, pop the disk back into the laptop and see what happens.


    Thanks for the tip! You know? After running all these diagnostics, even though they all passed, Windows hasn't failed to boot since. I've restarted the laptop 20-ish times over a couple days to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and I've reinstalled all the Windows updates with no more issues.
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