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Messed Up Windows XP (Help!)

Last response: in Windows XP
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July 30, 2005 7:27:54 PM

My neighbor's computer recently contracted a serious case of spyware and viruses so I formatted the machine and reinstalled Windows XP Pro. I installed AVG antivirus, Spybot, and Office. They also play party poker on their machine a lot so they installed it after I left.

This morning (the next day) I got a call from them saying that their machine wouldn't boot up. This is where it gets tricky and very, very confusing.

The first time I tried to boot up getting past the BIOS took like 2 minutes while it "Autodetected." After it autodetected it booted up fine. I shut the machine down and tried to turn it on again. This time it flew through the BIOS and gave me a "Insert valid system disk." error before launching Windows (as if it couldn't find the harddisk). I tried simply rebooting a couple times to see if I could get back into Window$.

While rebooting it gave me a few of the ol', "DISK BOOT FAILURE" errors. A couple times it started loading Windows but gave me an error saying Windows couldn't start because hal.dll (or something of that nature) was corrupted or missing. Once, it got into Windows but promptly after logging in I got a blue screen of death.

In short, what is going on? Is the hard disk bad? Is the memory bad? Did the BIOS improperly reconfigure itself? Before the machine got blasted with spyware it worked great.

Should I even bother trying to reinstall Windows? If anybody could shed some light on this I would really appreciate it. I can't pinpoint anything that would cause this behavior with the exception of hardware malfunction. Thanks in advance, - Jeff Jensen

http://www.jeffreyljensen.com

More about : messed windows

July 30, 2005 10:02:17 PM

Sounds like the harddrive - but first download a program called memtest86 and see if the RAM checks out.

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July 30, 2005 11:16:29 PM

I wouldn't bother with the memory; I just had a similar problem that with reformatting a heavily used hard drive. Here's my advice, replace the drive, and only do the thorough formatting once. All subsequent formattings should be done on "quick". This will greatly increase the life span of the drives, or at least it won't greatly decrease it's life span.

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July 31, 2005 12:21:11 AM

Quote:
The first time I tried to boot up getting past the BIOS took like 2 minutes while it "Autodetected." After it autodetected it booted up fine. I shut the machine down and tried to turn it on again. This time it flew through the BIOS and gave me a "Insert valid system disk." error before launching Windows (as if it couldn't find the harddisk). I tried simply rebooting a couple times to see if I could get back into Window$.

I had the same problem like yours on my brother's computer a month ago. Turned out it had a loose power cable and since then it works fine.
July 31, 2005 12:57:58 AM

Also make sure there isn't a floppy in the A drive...my daughter used to do that before I took all the diskettes away from her.

....WW (5.1)
August 1, 2005 2:41:58 PM

Gateway has a little known program on their website called GWSCAN.exe.

Download it, it's like 200k. Use a bootdisk, run the program. You can scan the drive to make sure it's ok, and if it checks out ok, you have an option to Write Zeros to Hard drive, basically making it completely wiped clean.

It's good for completely wiping info off the hard drive and starting a new install.

But it looks like the hard drive is going bad, or the motherboard might be having problems. You could try switching the IDE or SATA connections over to Sec. IDE or SATA2 to see if the error keeps coming up.
August 1, 2005 8:29:15 PM

So since I posted I ran memtest86 and it ran for 30 hours without any errors. After doing that, I ran spinrite (I heard it detected bad sectors or fixed something or other) because I suspected it could be the hard disk. If spinrite is supposed to find errors of some kind, it didn't.

So right now Windows XP is installing again. I havn't tried that Gateway program yet. Should I?

I looked for loose cables, particularly around the hard disk, and nothing was loose. My current plan is to recommend replacing the hard drive if windows xp crashes and burns as it did before. Does this sound like a plan?

http://www.jeffreyljensen.com
August 1, 2005 9:10:37 PM

Run the install... if you have problems and the hard drive isn't making any noises, etc, I wouldn't replace the drive yet.

I would start looking at a motherboard problem.

How old is the CD-ROM? That might be the cause also..
August 1, 2005 9:12:46 PM

Unplug the IDE cable from the CD-ROM and keep restarting.. see if it hangs at all on the POST.

If it doesn't, plug the CD-ROM back in, unplug the hard drive. Restart a few times to see if it hangs on the POST.

Which ever one is plugged in and it hangs will be your problem.

I noticed my refurbished motherboard hangs everyone one in a great while and I'm debating if I want to return it for another one.. it'll hang for 30 seconds then either find, or not find, the hard drive or cd-rom. In my case, it's a motherboard problem.
August 2, 2005 5:07:02 AM

Wierd thing is that it isn't hanging anymore. Whatever the problem is, I can't recreate it. They're all setup now so I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping that it lasts.

http://www.jeffreyljensen.com
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