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XP Home in rough shape, any advice?

Last response: in Windows XP
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April 5, 2008 2:00:36 AM

So, I got roped into helping a family friend fix their computer. It's a Dell and the guy lost his original CD's of course. When it boots, it starts loading XP Home and then blue screens before you get to the log in. It's along the lines of "Page Fault in Non Paged Area". I did a bit of research and it the suggestions vary. Failed/failing hard drive, bad RAM, crummy driver.

I tried booting into safe mode and it locks up solid on the log in screen every time.
I ran the bootable SpinRite and looked for HDD errors, but found none.
I ran Memtest for a couple of hours and no errors.

So I warned the guy that since he doesn't have the original disks and the thing is basically in rough shape, that he might be buying a new copy of windows. He didn't seem to care since he didn't have anything important stored on it.

Now as a last ditch effort to maybe save time and possibly money, I though I'd borrow another persons dell disk to see if I could repair it. His daughter had a similar machine, so I thought why not give it a try. I know those disks are fairly specific to the system, but it was worth a shot since it wouldn't boot anyway.

No dice though. Same problem with the boot. Now when booting into safe mode, it goes through and loads files and then ends up giving errors for this dll and that dll before finally giving up. I assume that this is because the versions of XP Home didn't match.

I hate to let problems like this get the best of me. I have had pretty good success in not resorting for a fresh install. I would like to be able to fix it without having him buy a new copy of windows.

Any have any ideas on the blue screen? Any experience on repairing without the original OEM disks?

April 5, 2008 5:29:56 AM

Sheesh, I hate it when you get somebody's junk computer to work on. Not the same as having a fast machine with superior parts. Just had a problem getting RAM to cooperate with processor. No RAM voltage adjustment in BIOS. All I could do was lower the speed from 400Mhz to 333 MHz and try and get the processor to run there. Same with the processor. No FSB adjustmet on a cheap micro MB. I don't know, if you have some other RAM try it. It could be then processor or RAM or MB are faulty. GL.
April 5, 2008 12:39:28 PM

dmroeder said:
Any have any ideas on the blue screen? ?

  • sometimes repair will not work.
  • Often files can become corrupt without hardware failure (improper shutdowns, malicious software, etc..), so run a fresh install and don't even worry about it unless the same exact thing happens again.

    dmroeder said:
    Any experience on repairing without the original OEM disks?


    Yes, unfortunately I do... once upon a time, in another century I sat on my WIN98SE disk while formatting my HD and it broke... Basically I was SOL and couldn't get a replacement. I tried lots of solutions, but eventually I was able to use a W95 disk to install, then used the broken disk to "upgrade to win98se" which worked!

    Now for advice...
    I hate repairing, it is one of my pet-pieves. Go for a fresh install. The law of entropy states that "all things progress from a state of order to disorder." This is especially true concerning computers. Nothing beats giving old hardware a good reformat and a brand-spankin-new install. Forget wiping the cobwebs with a broom.. nuke the joint and start over! :-)
  • 1) sometimes the manufacturer will have a folder on the HD which you can use to reinstall the os
  • 2) try doing a fresh install with the daughter's disk and his install#
    If that doesn't work
  • go down to the local pawn shop and purchase an old pc for about $50 (with the xp install disk) and use that install disk & install#. You will have to format the old PC, or throw the HD into this guy's broken pc to avoid Copyright infringement, BUT you will get some cool old hardware to tinker with and XP for 1/2 the retail price.

    PS.
    There are other options but we can't talk about them in a public forum.

    Related resources
    April 5, 2008 5:04:28 PM

    Yeah, I already knew where this was headed, but for some reason I held out hope.

    I figured that if I could spend a couple of extra hours recovering what he has, then I would avoid all the crap over the next few weeks like: My DSL doesn't work, or I can't find this software, or this looks different than it used to...

    I guess this is the price for being a nice guy.
    April 5, 2008 8:37:00 PM

    Have you considered aproaching Dell to see if they have copy of originals you could buy?

    Download an ISO copy of Windows Preinstallation Environment CD from the net. Copy to bootable CD and boot from it on his Dell. Also copy of windows serical checker onto a disk, USB pen or any otherway of getting it onto his comp. I think you cna even take the PE CD out briefly without PE crashing. When booted into Windows PE run serical checker. Check his XP licence key and write it down. At least you now have these details. You can now use his licence key with another copy of XP home CD.
    April 5, 2008 8:48:47 PM

    Is there a recovery console on the XP home CD? If so obtain a copy of XP home from some other sources that we can't talk about. Do not worry about licency infringement you aren't actually going to install anything from it. Boot from CD and run chkdsk from recovery console. Is this a feature with XP home CD? I do not know as I have only ever used and installed Pro.
    April 5, 2008 9:22:15 PM

    Yeah there is a recovery console. I will give that a shot mafadecay. Thanks for the advice.

    Also, it's a Dell, so his serial number is stuck right to the side of case.
    April 5, 2008 9:44:31 PM

    Hopefully recovery console and chkdsk should at least get you into XP and from there you can run system file checker (SFC) or anything else to do your repair.

    I agree with MMC4587 regarding repairing is never as good as a fresh but considering your friend has no recovery disks then I think you have already gone well beyond the call of duty.

    BTW I never thought about serial being on a sticker. I would still try contacting Dell. Its worth a shot and I thought they would have storage for all their different OEM cds for support issues just like this. Even if just for the machine spacific drivers.
    April 6, 2008 12:31:29 AM

    I'm all for a fresh install too, but when I'm gonna be the guy to have to make the internet, printer, digital camera, software and on and on work, I'm a little reluctant to just jump into a fresh install.

    Not that I can't make it work, it's just I don't really want to spend the time.
    April 6, 2008 7:30:02 AM

    If it comes to having to reinstall, check with Dell first. I've heard from people that they'll charge like $10 for replacement Windows cd. That might be something to look at.

    April 6, 2008 10:18:48 PM

    Even if you use the Dell recovery you will still have to install printer drivers, broadband, Cam etc. Who set this guys equipment up in the first place? Surely if you got him a fresh XP and online he could do the rest himself. It should only take a couple of hours at most and you have spent longer than that nagging about it on here.

    Personally I would bite the bullet. Get him to a stage where he can help himself and it can be a learning excercise for him too. I said before that it seems like you have already done too much. I think fresh will be quicker and safer for you than a repair in the long run.

    Sods law the repair wont repair everything and you will get the blame for it. This way you can say to him his system was in so bad shape that he needs fresh. You got his xp cd key so just download a backup copy of xp home or better still get a copy off Dell. Their OEM XP will have all the drivers for his specific system. Get him online explain what you have done for him and wash your hands with it all. You can't be more fair than that. He might even praise you for helping him rather than blaming you for leaving him, still with a half repaired system.

    April 7, 2008 9:23:39 PM

    Quote:
    Personally I would bite the bullet. Get him to a stage where he can help himself and it can be a learning excercise for him too.
    I hear what you're saying and agree. But sadly it seems there are very few that if they don't already know something they won't bother learning it.

    I've explained many a time to a friend or family member about how to get and install drivers or software. It's almost like they don't even try. But, you ask them to show you the latest stupid video floating around youtube or what not and they're all over it. I've gotten to the point now where I usually just tell them "I don't know." It's the best statement I ever learned how to say.

    I've spent too much time, had too many headaches, and have either been blamed (even though it was toast before I ever got there) or not thanked enough times to not want to deal with it.
    April 7, 2008 10:52:26 PM

    Here here!
    April 8, 2008 10:33:05 AM

    well these guys havnt mentioned it, get a copy the "ultimate boot cd" and run the memtest to check the RAM....

    next get/download a copy of OEM windows xp home, your friend has paid for the license so its not illegal to do so, install the OEM windows with the CD Key on the side of the machine.
    April 8, 2008 12:19:04 PM

    Sorry Flakes I never said get a copy of ultimate boot CD but I did sugest Windows Preinstallation Environment boot CD and Download copy of XP Home and considering Dmroder run memtest for a couple of hours I thought we had the RAM covered.
    April 9, 2008 12:08:02 AM

    One of the first things that I did was run Memtest (as mentioned in my long winded original post).

    I ended up getting a copy of an OEM XP Home and went for the fresh install. It's up and running now.

    Thanks for all the advice peoples!
    !