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Unknown hardware/mobo error corrupts XP

Last response: in Systems
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December 16, 2007 4:05:10 PM

Hi,
I have an ASUS CUBX-E mainboard in my PC. For the past three weeks I am facing a strange problem : The registry of windows xp is getting corrupted quite frequently. I have re-formatted and re-installed windows xp pro several times but its registry is getting corrupted frequently, and I get the following error :

1. "Windows could not start because the file c:\windows\system32\config\system is corrupt or missing."
2. "Error : \system root\system32\hal.dll missing"

I have tried repairing the windows installation and the registry using recovery console from the windows xp cd but the errors reappears. Sometimes I get the error within few minutes after windows installation completes. However, I would like to emphasize here that windows xp installs everytime without error. Also Windows XP Pro with SP2 has all the drivers for my PC, so I never have to install any other drivers. So that rules out a driver clash or mismatch.

My complete PC specs are :

1. ASUS CUBX-E motherboard with P-III 750 Mhz and 256 MB PC-133 SDRAM [PCI REV. 2.2]
[Windows xp pro with sp2.]
2. Hitachi 80 GB HDD as master on promise ATA-100 controller.
3. LG 52x CD-RW drive GCE-8527B as secondary slave on 440BX IDE
4. Sapphire ATI Radeon 7000 DDR AGP with 64 MB VRAM (IRQ 11)
5. Compex RE100ATX Lan card (IRQ 12)
6. Pctel 56k softmodem (IRQ 5)
7. Yamaha soundcard (IRQ 10)
8. Onboard Promise ATA-100 CONTROLLER (PDC-20265) (IRQ 10)
9. USB ports and hub (IRQ 5)

I have observed/tried the following :

1. The problem begins after the installation.
2. Error 1 is much more common and as per microsoft is related to corrupt registry.
3. I have also tried using different XP CD but it did not help.
4. I have low-level formatted the hdd but it did not help.
5. I have changed the IDE cables but that also did not help.
6. the hdd has no bad sectors and I have tried using both NTFS and FAT32 install. No help.
7. The error/errors may appear after the first restart or after a few days. But they DO return.
8. I have RUN memory diagnostics Memdiag (by microsoft); DocMemory and Memtest86+ (1.70)
BUT NO ERRORS.
9. TESTCPU program shows no errors in processor, and Sandra2002 benchmarks are OK.
10. HDD diagnostic DFT v4.05 and v4.06 show NO ERROR in my Hitachi HDD (80 GB).
11. chkdsk /r sometimes helps (windows is able to start) but it reports NO BAD SECTORS either.
12. when the PC is running I am able to install my programs (MS-office 2003, Acrobat reader, winrar, etc.) and I get no errors installing or running them.
13. I have scanned the PC for viruses using Norton 2008 and Mcafee 2008 (Eval. versions) with latest definitions but they found no viruses.
14. I do get BSODs i XP like : 8E,50,7F,0A,77,24, etc... but anyone who runs windows knows that they are a part of everyday computing.
But RAM tests show no errors.

I have been using this configuration with XP Pro for the last three years without any problems. I am unable to locate any error in the PC RAM, hdd, add-in cards, processor, yet I am repeatedly getting this problem.
The frequent crashes and BSODs indicate a RAM problem but then why do Memdiag ; Memtest86+ and DocMemory show no error ?????

Could it be a PSU issue ??? Ambient temps in winter here is about 10-12 degC w/o heating. With heating it is 18-20 degC.
Years ago had a PSU (on a P-I 200MMX) whose fan wouldn't budge at low temps and PC would beep strangely on boot. But there a reset after 30 secs would take care and the PC would boot.
Now this system boots up but the regular registry corruption indicates hardware error but nothing has turned up so far. Even benchmarks in Sandra 2002 standard are OK & agree with sample systems values.

I am totally baffled !!! Can anyone help on this?
Any advise/suggestion would be useful.

December 17, 2007 1:59:20 PM

Hey guys I need some input on this one !! Anybody ever faced such a problem before.
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December 17, 2007 2:57:41 PM

It sounds like you're having issues loading files (for both errors). I would look for an issue with your hard drive, drive controller, or other device interferring when writes are being processed to the disk (causing the corruption). Try pulling all non essential cards (like sound card, usb devices, etc) and see if this changes the symptoms.
December 17, 2007 3:05:18 PM

Could also be a bad IDE cable. Try swapping it out and see. i agree with firemist ^^^ sounds like it is an issue with HD or HD controller (even though it passes all HD tests).

the other possibility would be PSU (since you eliminated everything else---or atleast it seems)
December 17, 2007 4:00:47 PM

Already changed the ide cables. ALL OF THEM. No help.
Is it possible that the hdd and controller pass DFT (hitachi hdd) quicktest, advanced test, low-level format the hdd, install XP without any hitches (and also Win Me, the worst of all windows......) and still be faulty ????? I don't think so.
PSU... well yes, I agree. Its old and its fan sometimes locks up and prevents POST.
Also today my CMOS battery died. Could be that the CMOS data was getting fudged (but would that allow XP to install with all drivers....)
Must be the PSU.
a c 104 B Homebuilt system
December 17, 2007 6:11:57 PM

I remember having a hal.dll error message on a used athlon XP machine I bought for my son many years ago. I first thought it was the harddrive, bought him a new one and that did not solve the problem he lived with it for a couple of weeks and then we upgraded his ram with one 512 stick and took the old 256 out to put in another machine and all his troubles vent away. That was when I learned to use memtest. Check your ram!
December 23, 2007 5:00:42 PM

Sorry, I was unable to reply as this problem is giving me a real headache. My PC is virtually holding me to ransom.
Already tested RAM by Memtest86; Memtest86+; Memdiag and DocMemory. NO ERRORS!!!

Well, I do seem to be getting corrupt files when moving them from one partition to another. In fact in the past week windows has twice reported that FAT on C: is corrupt.
However, I am able to repartition [fdisk] and re-format the hdd with no errors. windows install goes smooth and so do programs.
It seems errors are somehow related to Windows only.
If I boot to DOS (use a WinMe boot-disk) and then re-boot to Windows , guess what : NO REGISTRY ERRORS !!!!!!!!!!!
Seems the PSU is acting up on a cold-boot. The problems are very rare on hot reboots.
Any suggestions ???? Am I right about the PSU or is it something else ???
!