Freeze During Vista Install

I began having trouble with Vista and decided to just do a complete reinstall to fix everything. However I am running into trouble when reinstalling. When I get to the screen where I type in my Windows Vista Product Key, it completely freezes. The mouse cursor is able to move around but when I click on 'Next', nothing happens. I have tried it at least 6 times now but every time I get to this screen no matter what I do, it freezes. I've done a few reinstalls of Vista before but have never had a problem or freeze. Is there a fix or work around for this?

I appreciate any and all help! Thanks
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  1. I reset my BIOS to its failsafe mode and checked my RAM sticks and everything is fine. It just continues to hang on the "Type your product Key for activation screen" (screen 3). Please someone give me an idea. I don't know what to try now? I am stuck and need to get this desktop up and running for my semester!
  2. Try it without entering a product key? You don't need to to install Vista. You will end up with a 30 day trial and you can enter the key later.

    If this does not help try installing when not connected to the Internet and after you have done a fresh format and partiton of the drive with NTFS on an XP machine.

    If at any time the installation hangs let it sit there for a LONG time before you give up. Some installs will hang at odd places for up to a half hour or so.
  3. It hangs up at any point on scree 3 (Screen where product key is entered). Whenever I hit my mouse button whether or not the product key has been entered it hangs. I don't even have to be trying to click the 'Next' button to progress to the following screen for it to freeze. I.E. clicking the mouse with the cursor in the top-right corner will cause the installation process to hang.

    How do I do a fresh format and partition of my HDD with NTFS on an XP machine? This is my only machine I have besides my laptop that I'm currently using.
  4. Just boot from an XP CD if you have one. Proceed as if you were going to install XP but stop after you have deleted whatever partitions are on it and created a new one screen shot here:

    If you don't have an XP disc to boot from you may need to use the FDISK utility found on something something like this:

    I'm not sure what your problem is. It could be the hard drive or it could be RAM or motherboard. What kind of problems were you having that made you decide to reinstall Vista? They might be a clue as to what is wrong.

    Before doing too much I would DL memtest86 and run it.

    You burn it to a CD, boot from it, and it runs automatically. It will tell you if there are memory errors, if you have errors this would indicate something amiss with your memory or perhaps your mobo..

    Also make sure your Vista disc is not damaged or dirty and if you can try another DVD drive, preferably an IDE and not a SATA.
  5. notherdude said:
    Just boot from an XP CD if you have one. Proceed as if you were going to install XP but stop after you have deleted whatever partitions are on it and created a new one screen shot here:

    If you don't have an XP disc to boot from you may need to use the FDISK utility found on something something like this:

    I'm not sure what your problem is. It could be the hard drive or it could be RAM or motherboard. What kind of problems were you having that made you decide to reinstall Vista? They might be a clue as to what is wrong.

    Before doing too much I would DL memtest86 and run it.

    You burn it to a CD, boot from it, and it runs automatically. It will tell you if there are memory errors, if you have errors this would indicate something amiss with your memory or perhaps your hard drive.

    Also make sure your Vista disc is not damaged or dirty and if you can try another DVD drive, preferably an IDE and not a SATA.

    I ran Memtest86 like you suggested and it did find an error. I'm not exactly sure how to decipher what it says, but it seems like after running it all night on Test 5, it says 3 errors and its been stuck on Test 8 with the errors running running like a stop watch beginning at 800 and then very rapidly going up to around 32000 and then it starts over again at 800ish. Not sure if that makes sense.
    It says the error confidence value is 109. Max contiguous errors is 1.

    And the top it says Walltime 5:40:53 (stoped increasing), Pass: 6, Errors: 168, ECC: Off, ECC Errs: 0

    So obviously this sounds like I have bad ram, whats the next step? Could this be causing all my troubles?
  6. EDIT: I re-read your post and edited my response after realizing how many errors memtest was reporting!

    And I have to correct my previous post. I said if you have errors in memtest this would indicate a memory issue or a 'hard drive' issue when I should have said memory or a MOTHERBOARD issue - as the hard drive is of course out of the picture during a memtest from a boot CD.

    Sure sounds like bad RAM. I can't interpret the memtest results for you, but the standard way of using memtest is to simply see if any errors arise and if they do you should assume there is something amiss. That something could be:

    1. One or more bad ram sticks. If you have multiple sticks remove all but one and test each individually until you find the bad one.

    2. RAM improperly configured in the BIOS. Go into the BIOS and manually set the voltage to mfg. spec. The spec will be written either on the chip itself and/or the package it came in. Lacking either of those you can Google the specs by entering your model and brand. You may find your RAM is rated to run at a higher voltage than the BIOS has defaulted to. Set it to the exact number even if it is only off by .1 volts.

    3. A problem on the motherboard itself will also cause memtest errors. But rule out RAM first by testing each stick and putting in a another known good stick if necessary.

    Basically at this point try to determine if you have a bad stick of RAM. You can also simply try to install Vista again with only one stick in there and if it fails try with the other stick. I am assuming you have two sticks? but you need to post your detailed specs here so we can know more about your system. If you are running four stics of RAM, for example, this poses a few new possibilities to look into.

    Is this a homebuilt or brand PC?
  7. *Edit & Update*

    I tried setting the voltage to the manf. spec with both sets of ram installed and the Vista installed still failed. I then ran memtest86 on one single stick of ram and it failed with roughly 10 or so total fail/errors. I am currently running memtest86 on the second stick. I have to run to class now and I will leave the test running and report back when I return.

    If both my sticks fail, then I am assuming that I will have to purchase new memory and that would most likely be my cure to the installation issues I have been having as well as the super slow vista desktop performance?

    My PC is a custom built. The specs...
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
    Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R w/ latest BIOS
    Corsair XMS2 CM2X 1024 - 8500C5 (2 sticks of 1 gig each = 2gig total)
    Samsung SpinPoint T Series 500gig SATA
    Samsung SATA DVD-Burner
    Lite-On SATA DVD-Rom
    EVGA GeForice 8800 GTS 640meg
    Corsair HX620w Power Supply Unit
    Buffalo Wireless-G PCI wireless network card
    *Note* I want to add that as I may have mentioned before, there is no OC taking place at this time. I have set the BIOS to fail-safe mode and its at factory default.
  8. I'm kind of suspecting and hoping that only one stick fails. Two failing simultaneously would be unlikely and might point the finger at the mobo instead of the RAM. Cross that bridge if you get to it.

    And yea, bad ram will certainly cause all sorts of problems with performance and system crashing. Vista should perform great on that system so any problems were likely related to this same hardware issue.
  9. *Sighs* ...Well I just returned from class and Memtest86 is reporting 4 errors on the eight round of tests. After reading your last post Northerdude, I'm kind of at a lost now. Not sure what the next step should be. I don't have the luxury of having any spare parts or sticks of ram I could swap out and try.


    Thanks for all your help!!!
  10. Hmmm, well unfortunately swapping in a known good stick of ram would be the next step. Either that or taking this ram out of your system and memtesting it on another motherboard. If both sticks fail on a known working motherboard this would confirm the somewhat unlikely but still possible chance that both sticks of ram are bad.

    A failed memtest only means there were errors on the memory subsystem which also includes the motherboard and even the CPU, though a CPU problem is extremely unlikely on a non-overclocked system with a working heatsink/fan.

    I would still assume you have a RAM problem until you know otherwise because the next step would be to try another motherboard.

    Couple of options:

    You could always order some new RAM from newegg, or else buy some from a local store with a liberal return policy and then return it if you still have the issues. RAM is dirt cheap these days so you could take this opportunity to upgrade to 4 gig of RAM (though on a 32 bit OS you would only realize about 3 gig of it, still 3 is better than 2. I'd go ahead and get 2, 2 gig sticks instead of trying to run 4 sticks.)


    take your RAM to a local PC shop and have them test it.
  11. A little off topic question, if I purchase new ram, should I continue to get 1066mhz ram or would 800 work fine? Basically would I recognize a speed difference and should I stick with Corsair (aren't they generally recognized as the best) or should I go another brand considering my two Corsair sticks are error prone?
  12. I'm slightly out of touch on RAM bus speed concerns but I'm about 80% sure that for your system 800 would run pretty much the same as 1066. But I'm still living in first generation of Core 2 Duo where higher rated bus speed RAM was only slightly useful in some overclocking scenarios.

    AFAIK Corsair still has a reputation for good quality. It can depend on the model and the actual memory chips they use in each. You might check at Gigabyte to see what is on their recommended list although these lists have to be taken with a grain of salt and usually most mainstream brands of quality RAM would work fine on a popular board like the one you have.

    I would also contact Corsair and see if your RAM is still under warranty, it might well be covered.
    ram list is on this page above at gbyte
  13. Alright, I just purchased some new ram via newegg. I guess the only thing I can do now is wait... :-(

    The ram I purchased was some DDR2 800 by OCZ its not listed on the gigabyte site while my Corsair was! Hopefully it works. *crosses fingers*
  14. let us know and good luck
  15. I finally received my new RAM today. I just plugged it in and tried to run the Vista DVD installer and I'm getting the same freeze! I'm really starting to get tired of this failure.

    Here is a new development, although, I don't believe it has too much to do with my main issue. After putting the Vista DVD in my DVD Burner and it begins to spin up to speed, when it's done spinning, its now making a sound like it's coming to a crashing halt inside the burner. Doesn't sound to good. (*note* I've tried running the Vista DVD in another DVD Rom besides this newly cracked out burner)

    *Update* I'm trying to run Memtest on the new sticks of ram I purchased and just installed and something weird (of course) is occurring. On the first round of test that its running when it reaches 100% complete, it automatically reverts back to about 30% and continues to rapidly increase. It is not listing each round of test results. ...Hopefully that makes sense.
  16. That's too bad but I'm not surprised, since you are still getting memtest errors it sounds unfortunately like the MOBO has issues. Not sure about that memtest reverting back to 30%.

    I get a strange vibration sound too when my DVD stops spinning, I think that is fairly normal,
  17. Since I have no spare parts to swap in and out with to troubleshoot each component, you think I should take it in to a local PC repair shop so they can take a look at it and diagnosis the issue? Any idea on how much that would cost?
  18. I suppose a PC shop might be the next step - not sure about cost - depends on how much time they put into it. I hate paying them to do what I can do myself and never knowing if the shop is even competent to really troubleshoot a problem like this but I guess that is sometimes the best we can do.

    If it were me I would not take it in, I would order up another MOBO from Newegg and use their generous RMA policy if it turns out to be something else.

    Here is exactly what I would do if it were mine:

    1. Try installing XP. If you can get XP installed and it runs flawlessly then the issue is specific to that Vista install or to some compatibility issue with your equipment and Vista. I rate this as a long shot but it's worth trying if you have or can DL an XP disk. Perhaps the memtest failure/restart is an red herring - not likely, but possible.

    2. If that fails I would take the PC apart and rebuild it outside of the case - just put the motherboard on some cardboard surface and put in the CPU, video card, 1 stick RAM and power. Unhook all drives and anything at all not needed for a simple boot to the BIOS setup. Be sure at this point the heat sink is in good contact with the CPU and the fan spins when it starts up.

    3. Go into BIOS make sure BIOS is set properly for the ram voltage and timing.

    4. Put in CD/DVD drive only, preferably a known good IDE drive and run memtest again. If the memory fails try the other sticks one by one. If all fail the memtest then we should assume it is probably a bad MOBO. If it does not fail now put in the hard drive and try an install again.

    5. There is a slight chance at that point it could be a flaky power supply or video card, the only other componants hooked up which are prone to fail (CPUs almost never go bad). To be absolutely thorough you would swap in known good PSU and video card and even another CPU before pronouncing the MOBO dead but since this is not practical I would assume it is MOBO and get a new one I could return if needed.

    Hope this helps.
  19. Thanks for the reply northerdude, I essentially feel the same way about taking the PC to a shop. The largest constraint I have is time; which is presently in short supply. One part of me out of frustration is tired of dealing with this malfunctioning PC and wants to hand it off for someone else to fix, while my other half is saying I can fix this b**** with time, patients, and parts (which I don’t have) while not paying some joe schmoe to try and diagnosis my computers problem. I think what I’ll do is tomorrow I’ll give the two local PC repair places I’ve been thinking about and talk to them on the phone about my situation and see if they can give me some sort of idea of the costs I would be looking at if I have them just try and diagnosis which component is failing and causing the freeze-ups.

    I’ll try and look into a potential motherboard to purchase tomorrow. I haven’t been following the MB scene much lately so I have to do all the research now and decide which board to choose. I’m going to dread this probably the most!

    Is it possible to download XP without having to purchase a license so I can try and install it and see if it works or not? Not to really use long term or anything since my main goal is to reinstall Vista on my system. I don’t know if there is a way to do this without having to purchase it just for testing purposes.

    How do we know it can’t be the hard drive?

    Thanks so much for all the help so far!!!
  20. you're welcome

    I know you can DL Vista on a trial basis not sure if XP is or was available like that.

    Was this PC working well at least for a time? What prompted you to reinstall Vista?
  21. I built this rig in June 2007 I believe and it's been working very well for the most part during that time. I had a couple issues arise during that time but never thought much of it as the PC would eventually start working properly again after a reboot or two. I've reinstalled Vista twice before on it with no problems ever arising.

    I decided on reinstalling Vista a 3rd time (3rd time is a charm not so much) because the computer was exhibiting some rather strange behavior that I hadn't ever seen before. It's been a while now since the initial problems occurred that I can't remember them all and in the correct sequence of order, but some of the problems were reminiscent of malware. Suddenly Vista took drastically longer to load to the desktop. I would get pop-up boxes that said "Windows Support and Help could not load, please contact system admin". My Kaspersky Internet Security suite would have numerous parts of it disabled and would have problems when I tried to enable them. My network connections was all screwed up; Vista couldn't even scan the area for nearby wireless networks. There was suddenly a whole slew of issues that popped up like this.

    All of these things that I mentioned made me believe malware had infested my computer somehow even though I am very careful with what I do. I decided to reinstall Vista and clean it out and then I began running into this...
  22. Just have a quick update/correction to make before I run off to work. I ran memtest on each individual stick for at least 6 hours a piece and both new sticks passed with flying colors. Good news for once! I at least can say my memory is not causing my problems so I've eliminated one thing!

    As for a new motherboard, I'm looking at picking up the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P. It seems to have received many favorable reviews. I'll also be picking up a IDE DVD burner. I'll try and place an order for it all tonight.
  23. hmmm, if the new memory passes by itself I'm more inclined to think you have a configuration issue. If memtest passes at all this tends to let off the hook both the memory and the motherboard because a malfunctioning motherboard will cause memtest to fail too. Of course it is possible there is a motherboard issue which affects running multiple sticks only but that would be unusual. Also try using different RAM slots, maybe you have a bad slot!

    I would very carefully check the BIOS and manually set the timings and the voltages to mfg spec and try to get memtest to pass with both sticks in at the same time. If both will pass the test together then I'm thinking the issue is with the Vista disk or the DVD drive.
  24. I set the new memory to the mfg spec and timings and ran memtest overnight. The results were all passing grades.

    I went and purchased a dvdDR (dvd scratch fixer tool) and tried to fix or polish any scratches on my Vista disc and it didn't work as the installation process got hung up on the same 3rd screen. I went and purchased and IDE dvd drive and will install that and check if it works. I'm beginning to wonder if its my Vista install disc cauising all of this trouble. If that were the root problem I would be very surprised as it doesn't look bad at all in my opinion. I've used many other cd's and dvd's in much worse shape and they've worked fine.

    I'll update when I have news of the results of the new DVD drive.
  25. I installed the new IDE DVD-Burner and gave the installation a try. Results are a failure. I tried to call MS today but they are closed so I will call on Monday to see if I am able to obtain a replacement disc.
  26. let us know how it goes
  27. I was about to order a new replacement disc from Microsoft for $30 when I realized I hadn't tried to see if the disc in question would run on my HP laptop. I popped the disc into my laptop and it opened in my laptops Vista. I could explore the contents of the disc such as looking in the folders.

    *I did not run autorun for fear of the unknown and not wanting to wipe my HP laptop's O/S and hdd data.

    The fact that my laptop was able to run autorun and I was able to view the contents of the folders on the disc, does this mean that the disc is good or still potentially bad? I kinda want to be 100% sure before I go and purchase a new CD for $30 bucks ...I also ran my little disc-scratch-remover gadget again over the disc and it looks really good now.

    ...I know I am backtracking a little bit here, but I think I will take my PC into a local shop that I think I can trust and brief them of the situation and see if they can troubleshoot the problem and let me know what needs to be fixed or replaced so that this thing can get rolling again. I'm unfortunately getting to the point where I shouldn't be purchasing spare part after part to troubleshoot. I want to be able to solve this on my own (with your help northerdude!) but its getting to the point for me where I'm fed up and just rather pay someone to fix it
  28. I spoke to the folks at the PC shop I'm going to take my rig into and the gentleman said it "sounds like you are doing everything correctly and it sounds more like a virus after what you described was occurring with current O/S installed". He asked if I had Kaspersky on a floppy or CD that I could boot from and run a scan; unfortunately I do not have that, I only have the Install CD that came with the retail package.

    It would cost approx. $70 for them to look at it at which point he said they would attempt to install the O/S and see what the problem was and then fix it. (I'm sure the final bill will be over $100 easy). At this point I'm content with that I suppose.

    One thing I am worried about is my data. I have only 1 hdd but have it partitioned with a C and D drive. C: has the O/S and D: is basically a copy&paste of all of "My Documents" (i.e. docs., movies, music, pics, etc.) Obviously I want to keep all of my irreplaceable data. The PC repair guy said that if they had to wipe the HDD clean they would first transfer over the data onto their virtual server and then transfer it back over when repairs are complete. However, during this process they would be able to view the names of my files during the transfer process, yes?

    I would like to avoid that if at all possible. Here is what I'm hoping to do...

    I realized that my laptop has an eSATA port and I could connect my HDD to my laptop via this connection. However, would connecting my HDD to my laptop to transfer over these files myself potentially expose my Laptop it this possibly virus infected HDD and infect it as well? I have Norton Internet Security 2009 installed on the laptop and not sure if that would protect it or not.

  29. So they think a virus is stopping an install off of a DVD onto a hard drive? - but nothing on the hard drive is running because you have booted from the Vista DVD, correct? Or were you running Vista and trying to install from inside the OS? If you were doing the latter than try the former.

    If you have a virus then it's always possible it could transfer over to the laptop but by this time it "should' be in Norton's definitions. It is possible though. And yea, if they choose to look they can see anything you have.

    Blaming malware is a standard answer for a PC tech who doesn't know what your problem is. If you were booting from the DVD when installing Vista I find it hard to believe that the virus propagated over to the new install all by itself. Viruses need to be either set running or already running, neither of which seems very likely if you booted from a DVD. I suppose anything is possible though.

    I really want to know what would happen if you tried to install XP on that hard drive. Can you borrow someones disk, or maybe even download Ubuntu or something?
  30. I'm really the only techish person I know. I don't know anyone with a regular XP or Vista CD laying around that I could use. I could try Ubuntu I suppose but I've never used that or even see it in person and don't have the foggiest idea where to start with that.

    This morning what I thought I would try or research doing is completing wiping my hard drive clean. I was able to transfer over the most important files I had on my Desktop to my laptop via a thumb drive.

    During my research for wiping clean a hard drive I came across two programs that seemed rather popular; Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) and Kill Disk.
    Reading each program's website I found in the FAQ section that when wiping your HDD it erases literally everything (duh!), but it also erases C: which is what I would install Vista on. This is probably a noobish question, but how would I get C: back? If I had literally a blank HDD and I popped in a Vista DVD to install, would the Windows installation create that C: to install the O/S on?

    Another item that I noticed in the FAQ was that its possible for your HDD to shrink to 137GB after wiping it clean?

    Here is the FAQ section to what I'm talking about...

    Opinion on trying this method? At this point I don't think I have much left to lose and if it is a virus then doing this should kill it and allow me to install my OS I would think.

    *I also tried today to create some A/V boot CDs but neither of the two I created worked. :-(
  31. When you erase the hard rive completely you will lose all data and the 'partitioning' of the drive, so you will lose 'c', however, the Vista install routine will offer to create a new partition for you - when you get to the screen where it asks you where you want to install Vista I think it will allow you to install to the wiped drive which will show up as 'unpartitioned space' if not you can choose 'drive options' and then 'create' which will create a new partition - after that the rest is automatic. Screenshot here:

    Those programs you are looking at are overkill, all you really need is to simply delete the existing partition but I guess they would do the job too.
  32. How do I simply delete the existing partitions then? Is there some other program I should probably be looking at instead?
  33. well, I usually use the Windows disc itself but if I recall you were freezing up before you got to that point, correct?

    I alternatively use fdisk but there is a free partitioning tool called gparted - it's the ISO first on the list - you burn it to a CD
  34. I tried the gparted partitioning tool and no such luck. The first 3 screens feel a little bit more "peppier" than before I used the tool but it still the windows installation still gets stuck on the product key activation screen. I feel like throwing my tower out the window of my 23 story condo building so it can hopefully suffer a painful fall and then get ran over by an 18 wheeler of some sort... It's time for a beer!
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