Troubleshooting weird PC problem.

Hi all - please excuse the long read, but I'm trying to give as much detail as I can since I don't have a system where to check your suggestions from after I leave work -,

I had a dual OS system with both Windows 2000 and XP installed on different Western Digital (WD) hard drives. On the smallest one, a 40gig WD, I had the Win2k partition and OS installed. The second drive, a 120gig WD, housed the XP OS. So far so good. Well, happens that few weeks ago I was doing a backup image of my entire system, both Win2k & XP partition and OSs, onto a third WD HD (250 gig) which I use to backup all my data.

For the sake of clearness, my main OSs hard drives - both the WD 40 and 120 gigs - are PARALLEL ATA, while my backup data HD and a fourth HD, a Seagate Barracuda HD (300 gig), are SERIAL ATA. I use the Barracuda as scratch drive for Premiere, Photoshop, etc. Bottom line is that the entire process of making images of my main OSs systems seemed to complete fine.

When I rebooted the system the next time, everything still seemed fine. The dual OS menu showed up as usual, asking me which OS I wanted to boot from; I have WinXP as default. So, when WinXP is booting and out of no where I get the "NTLDR is missing" error message. Immediately, I knew that something went wrong with the backing up of my Main OSs. Next, I rebooted the computer but I chose to boot in Win2k.

I was able to boot into 2k without a problem. I took the opportunity from Win2k to do a BIOS and chipset revision of all my hardware, i.e Mother Board (Intel D865PERL), Video (ATI XT1600), Sound (Integrated), without knowing all the headaches that awaited me.

Soon after I updated my bios and chipset, instead of restoring from the backup image I had done minutes earlier with Acronis True Image backup software, I decided to do a clean install for WinXP on my 120gig WD HD. So, I began the tedious installation process and this is where my frustrations began.

For some reason, the Windows setup process for WinXP would cry out loud that some files could not be read from the CD or would give me the BSOD displaying some weird problems with reading and accessing the HD where I wanted to install XP in. Furthermore, I would choose to format the drive with NTFS (no quick format) but soon after the formatting, the setup would come up to an abrupt halt giving me the same problems attemps after many, many attemps.

Let me add to this long thread that I have checked and reformatted all the hard drives with the Wester Digital Diagnostic tool. I have swaped different DVD/CD/DVD burner drives, copies of Windows XP CDs (original install cds and copies made on CD-Rs), and finally I tried to installed both Windows 2000 and XP on every single WD HD I have but to no avail. I have disconnected all the SATA and PATA drives both manually and from the BIOS. I have tried one HD at a time with only a DVD player as my boot up medium. I have two 512mb (dual channel) memory modules and have checked them to see if they are defective, so far nada! I replaced my PSU for a 500W one, NADA still.

I have gone as far as to the BIOS and under "Drive Configuration," I have chosen PATA support only, as well as different combinations of PATA and SATA support. I don't know if the BIOS revision that I downloaded and installed from the Intel support site messed up the configuration once I had with the drives. Worst, I can't go back to the previous BIOS version I had; I'm at a dead end here. Once again, my system was working 100% fine before the crash happened and did the BIOS/Chipset firmware upgrade from Win2k (Windows 2000).

I don't know if I should buy new hard drives or just replace the entire MOBO. Please any suggestions are appreciated and welcome. If you need any details, please let me know asap.

My specs are:

P4 2.8c
WD 40gig HD
WD 120gig HD
WD SATA INTERFACE 250 gig HD
SG Barracuda SATA INTERFACE 300 gig HD
Intel D865PERL Mother Board
1gig PC2700 DDR333

Thanks!
np
5 answers Last reply
More about troubleshooting weird problem
  1. sounds to me like a dodgy HD. im not an expert tho. but the 40gig sounds oldish. try a new HD with all other drives (expt DVD) disconected.
  2. 1. Test the memory with memtest86
    2. Test each hard drive, in another system - check for bad sectors, etc.
    3. If all the hardware passed the tests, blame the motherboard.
    4. If you replace the motherboard and yet the problem persists, please see your psychiatrist.
  3. What method did you use to do your backup? If you do a straight byte-level backup, some weird things can happen when you have multiple bootable devices on the system.
  4. If you have your XP cd handy.... take a look at this article
  5. Quote:
    What method did you use to do your backup? If you do a straight byte-level backup, some weird things can happen when you have multiple bootable devices on the system.

    I'd look at this, too. For example, could the SATA destination drive be *before* the PATA drives in boot order, so with your first reboot after the backup, did you actualy boot from one of the "backed-up" partitions rather than from a PATA drive as you thought?
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