XP stuck in infinite install loop


This is my first home-built computer. Basically, when I try to install Windows XP Pro, it goes through all the initial motions, then says it needs to restart and will finish installing afterwards. When it does restart, I am taken back to the first install screen. With the Windows disc removed, the system continues to restart itself until I intervene.

-I have attempted to install several times on a SATA drive and once on an IDE drive
-I have used all three format options at least once (NTSC, Quick, and Leave Intact)
-It beeps once upon startup
-A Windows folder is detected when I try to install it again
-All of my hardware is detected
-I am able to access all of the motherboard's menus
-I have unplugged and re-plugged everything several times
-I have tried switching the RAM slots and used each DIMM individually
-Removing nonessential hardware does not help

My hard drive is a Maxtor 200GB SATA. It will not accept any Maxblast CDs. Originally, repeated an error message (I wish I could remember), and now it brings up "Ontrack Disk Manager BIOS Checker". This says "Attempting Int13 IO to drive 80 No Response" then continues and hangs on "Attempting PM ATA Identity".

The following is my basic configuration:
-Tagan ITZ Series 700w power supply
-Core 2 Quad Q6600
-GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R motherboard
-Maxtor 200GB SATA drive
-GeForce 8800GTS 640MB
-2x2GB OCZ Gold RAM, PC26400

I've tried to check compatibility, and it doesn't seem like there are any conflicts between components. None of the manufacturer sites seem to offer any help with such an issue.

Is there any more information I can give you that might help before I cart this thing to a professional?

Thanks for any help you can offer,
16 answers Last reply
More about stuck infinite install loop
  1. Do you have a spare HD you can try. Here someone had one of the same error messages you are getting and the problem turned out to be a bad HD, apparently.

  2. I don't have a spare Maxtor drive to try MaxBlast with, but when I try an older IDE drive with the XP installer, it does the same thing that the Maxtor drive does. The SATA drive is detected, and the XP install seems to be writing to it. Could it be that both of the drives have the same problem?

    If I touch any of the cables, particularly but not limited to the one connected to the hard drive, the speaker lets out a continuous beep. It is extremely sensitive, as knocking the case could set it off. Would this be indicative of a loose/ bad connection on the drive, or are SATA components normally that sensitive? Since I haven't bought a desktop computer since 2002, I've never used SATA before.

    I bought it from Micro Center which is only a mile away, so it wouldn't be too hard to bring it in if that turns out to be the issue.
  3. Well, a few things (not sure about any of this)

    You do not need to set the jumper on a SATA HD. Leave the jumper alone for what you are trying to do, load an OS on it.

    Be sure the SATA cable is plugged into the MB SATA header on a 'common' SATA controller, not a 'special' RAID only type MB SATA connector.

    In BIOS, have you selected 'DVD' as 'first' boot device. (Just checking where you are at).

    When installing the win XP CD, after selecting 'boot from CD' the first time Windows CD will load the 'setup files'. You do not select 'boot to cd' any more after this first 'setup file' has been loaded.

    On the IDE drive that won't load either...does it do the exact same thin with the same error messages? Are you sure you have the IDE cable attached correctly. I'm only asking, because I don't know.
  4. You could have a loose connection or bad cable if your speaker beeps by just touching any cable. If your case has any sharp burs of metal or internal sharp edges a cable might be damaged causing an intermittent short. Also when you installed the motherboard did you place the spacers in the correct places. I once miscounted and accidentally installed an additional spacer. I did not realize this until I had installed the OS and found I had no audio. The extra spacer was shorting out the on board audio controller. Luckily after removing the extra spacer and remounting the motherboard I had audio.
  5. Badge, thanks for keeping an eye on my topic :P

    -I do not have the jumped on the drive
    -I have the cable on the port labeled SATAII0 but have tried others
    -RAID is disabled
    -the DVD-ROM drive is set to boot first
    -The IDE does the exact same thing as the SATA drive but only works when the SATA drive is plugged in. Unless I somehow missed it, there are no jumpers on the IDE drive.
    -I have tried booting the hard drive first after the initial load from the XP CD, but the computer just restarts itself when it tries to boot.
  6. This is a longshot, but can you try 1 DIMM RAM in slot 1 only. Then with the one DIMM in slot 1, go into BIOS and set the memory voltage to 2.0-2.1v. If you can only do +.1v, bump the memory voltage up a notch. Try loading the windows XP disk with the one, properly volted, DIMM.

    edit. I see you have tried each DIMM seperately, but have you set the memory voltage properly? Really it sounds like a bad hard drive.
  7. I have had this happen to me, i bought a new hard drive and that fixed the problem instantly so just as badge just suggested it is probably the hard drive, Fry's had a good deal $60 for a 320 GB HD.
  8. Would be worth a shot to return for replacement at Micro Center.
  9. So windows copies the install files to an 'install' folder on the HD. As soon as the HD is asked to boot from and 'work' from those install files, it fails (the HD). HD problem.
  10. I am heading out to Micro Center with the drive right now. I'll ask if they can test it for me since I don't have any SATA-equipped computers around. Thanks for all the help so far, everyone.
  11. Wish someone would help me with my past 5 Threads!
  12. When I first started building computers I had the same thing happen to me. The problem was....... you put the cd in and it does it's stuff. then comes around and asks "do you want to boot from cd" or install from cd.. ( don't remember the wording it uses )........... You select yes of course.......... it runs for a while then the computer restarts itself...... the same thing comes up...... 'press key to boot from cd"......... if you press the key you will get an infinite loop....... after the restart, when it asks you again, don't do anything. It will finish on it's own and move to the next step......... you'll know when it gets there.

    Hope this might be the solve for you. I know it can be annoying.
  13. I took the drive to Micro Center and asked them to test it for me. The guy was able to format it and copy files to it, then read the files. Of course this was not as the boot drive.

    The advice the few technicians agreed on was that I needed to add the motherboard's SATA drivers via floppy. In trying to find help elsewhere, I read that SP2 already includes proper SATA drivers, so I didn't need to try this.

    It is getting a little late to rummage around for an old disk drive, so I will attempt this (barring someone telling me not to bother) and mess around with the boot as you guys have suggested tomorrow morning.

    You continue to garner my thanks.
  14. Here's someone posting about a problem with the same error messages you are receiving (maxtor HD).


    Have you reset the CMOS jumper?

    Followup to what I posted earlier: "When installing the win XP CD, after selecting 'boot from CD' the first time Windows CD will load the 'setup files'. You do not select 'boot to cd' any more after this first 'setup file' has been loaded."

    So you are selecting 'boot from CD' ONLY once, right. After the setup files are loaded and the system reboots, DO NOT select 'boot from CD' again. Just let the system boot and run the loaded setup files.
  15. This morning, I tried installing XP on the partition the Micro Center technician formatted. I also gave it plenty of time after saying "Press any key to boot from CD . . ." after restarting. I won't be hasty in saying it's working now, but it does appear to be installing Windows correctly.

    Thanks for all your help, everyone. I'm sure I'll be back with another stupid issue for you to solve some day soon.

  16. Glad you got it working and glad we could help.
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