XP won't boot after power outage

OK, lengthy post, sorry. Really getting frustrated after multiple reinstalls though and would like to actually find the causeof the problem now, so any help mucho appreciated!

Athlon 900
MSI 6167 MB
512 MB RAM (2*128 + 256)
80 GB Maxtor IDE drive
10 GB IBM Deskstar SCSI
Adaptec 2940 U2W
3Com 3x590 100 MBit ethernet
Belkin 3-port FW card
Belkin 5-port USB 2.0 card
SoundBlaster Live!
Benq 52x24x52x CD-RW
Pioneer A07 DVD+R
ATI Radeon 7000 (don't laugh! ;] )
Silentmaxx 425W PSU

Had an XP SP1 install working perfectly fine. Power outage occurred, after that could no longer boot normally - would bring up WinXP screen with running bar and then freeze shortly before the logon screen would normally come up. Last Known Good wasn't, but system would come up in Safe mode. Tried System Restore to various earlier points, no luck. <Edit>Did a scandisk both in Safe Mode and in Repair Console since I thought maybe HDD was going bad. In Repair console first scan had some errors (don't know what, didn't say?), second scan was OK, Safe Mode scan was OK, too.</Edit> Said the hell with it, reinstalled, fine for a week.

Was checking out contents of some old floppies, accidentally hit power button instead of Eject (yeah, stupid, I know... :/ ), same prob again! Again tried all kinds of stuff, looked at ntbtlog.txt (nothing written to it when I hit F8 at boot and selected write boot log - strange?), also tried repair console and repair installation, no good, reinstall again.

Reinstalled to XP SP2. Got Office 2K3 on it, had it update drivers for USB2 card that was not correctly recognized for some reason, reboot, this time doesn't shut down properly so I hit reset - hangs again on boot, same symptoms! Now I started pulling hardware. Every card except video and SCSI. Disconnected all drives, including CD-ROM and DVD-ROM and IDE drive, no good. Tested memory with Memtest86, no errors found, pulled all but one memory stick, still hangs. All the while I can still boot into safe mode no prob.

I'm thinking I've got a HW prob with either MB, CPU or video card now, but would a) like to try and prove that and b) figure out why everything works initially and only after power probs does everything go south. Seems a little odd. I've checked all connectors to see whether anything was loose.

What else can I try? How can I figure out exactly where and why WinXP boot hangs if ntbtlog.txt remains empty (only shows info from Safe Mode boots)? I'm sick and tired of reinstalling WinXP all the time - and I have not yet gotten to the point where I wanted to Ghost the install, either, but I guess next time 'round I'll do that... ;]

Thanks in advance, folks!

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by HerbCSO on 09/21/04 12:38 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
12 answers Last reply
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  1. Sounds like you might have a bad hard drive. Maybe some sectors were damaged when the power went out while running. Have you tried running scandisk while in safe mode?
  2. Yeah, sorry, forgot about that. I actually ran one scandisk in safe mode and two times from the repair console. The first scan from the repair console said it found a couple of errors (although apparently it does not report WHAT the errors are - unless I just missed it), but the second one came back clean, just like the one I did in safe mode. Forgot about that info, sorry.
  3. Have you tried to boot up using the XP install disk? If the works you've all but ruled out a hardware problem. Then try installing one component at a time and booting up. Start with the bare minimum removing whatever is not installed from the device manager. You may have bad driver for one of your components. Make sure you're installing the latest available from the manufacturer.
  4. Yes, becasue the initial install always works OK. There is one point in the install procedure where it does the device check where it hangs up the first time, but then I reboot and i runs through.

    I had already tried removing all components except for bare minimum (one RAM stick, SCSI card and Video card, no IDE drives at all neither HDD nor CD/DVD), but it still hung at boot. There seems to be something corrupted somewhere now, e.g. something out of the machine or system registry hive, or maybe a corrupt driver file, as you said. System Restore didn't fix that, unfortunately, and I can't seem to find out what it is - but would really like to! Like I said, nybtlog.txt was unhelpful - anything else out there to diagnose early boot probs like this?

    What's weird is that the same thing seems to get corrupted every time, since it's exactly the same symptom, so I'd like to try and figure out what that is - maybe it is some sort of mainboard or CPU problem as well, but before replacing anything I'd just wanna know for sure. ;]
  5. A format would have fixed any driver corruption issues.

    Scandisk would mark any bad sectors on your disk so it's probably not the HD.

    You should run a memory diagnostic program (Goldmem, etc...) to see if the RAM got damaged. That's a pretty easy first step.

    If you haven't done so yet, open up your case and inspect for scorch marks - I had big problems with my system after an electrical storm once until I opened up the case and saw that the ATX power connector was a bit charred from the surge. Replacing the power supply fixed it.

    Next guess: the graphics board. A power outage killed my GF3 back in the day, so it does happen. Borrow a card from another PC and see if the system runs normally.

    If you are still getting the errors, it could be either the mobo or the processor. In which case you might want to try a local repair shop to see if they can isolate whatever the problem is.

    After you do fix it, invest in a good surge protector or even better, a UPS.

    <b>1.4 Ghz AMD T-Bird underclocked to 1 Ghz...just to be safe!</b>
  6. Another easy step to try would be to reflash the BIOS on your motherboard. I'm not sure if the BIOS can get corrupted by a surge, but it would be an easy thing to try.

    <b>1.4 Ghz AMD T-Bird underclocked to 1 Ghz...just to be safe!</b>
  7. Good idea, worth a try - will do that tonight, thanks!
  8. I've run a memory check (memtest86) for 3.5 hours, no errors, seems to be OK.

    I had the case open, didn't notice any scorch marks, but I'll take another look. We did have some pretty hefty storms here lately, so it's possible something was fried.

    Gonna have to see if anyone still has an old AGP 1x/2x board lying around... Hate old stuff sometimes... ;]

    The system is hanging off a surge protector, although admittedly a fairly cheap little strip, so it might now be enough.

    Thanks, those were some good ideas. Will let you know whether anything pans out.
  9. If you are in an area that has frequent storms I HIGHLY recommend investing in a UPS. They are getting very cheap and they come in handy a lot. I spent a butt load on my comp and we have frequent power outtages where I live so I made a point to buy a UPS asap. It has saved my machine many times. The UPS takes power into it's battery then puts it to your computer, that makes some nice clean power. That way you are immune to spikes or drops in power.
    Just get a little 500 or 800VA Belkin or something. The 500 is about $80, the 800 is about $110, and the 1200 is about $150. I have a 1200VA Belkin on my comp and it is VERY nice. It runs my machine w/ it's 550watt psu and 22" monitor for over 30min.

    <A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A>
  10. Well, having tried a whole bunch of stuff, hardware scans, removing all drivers, etc., I finally gave up and reinstalled. This time with an XP with SP2 slipstreamed into it. Well, uess what: after initial install was done, it hung on the very first reboot! Bugger!

    On a hunch, I tried with my original XP CD and guess what: it worked perfectly fine! So, it seems as through something within SP2 is giving me grief. Given that this HW is pretty old, I guess that's not entirely surprising, although I must admit I do not fully understand it. Maybe it's the new FW drivers SP2 has? I don't know.

    In any case, I've gone back to SP1a, and everything seems happy. Thanks for all your input and help!
  11. Check for a BIOS update for your mobo as well... it's very surprising what issues a BIOS update can fix sometimes.

    <font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
  12. I would love to, but this being a Slot-A board (gasp! ;] ), MSI doesn't exactly do too many updates anymore... ;] I've already got the most recent version. Thanks for the tip, though.
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