I can't find a general tech support sub-forum here, so I'll post in the XP section for now.
Everytime I try to boot up my computer, it keeps crashing after the windows logo screen. I see a blue screen just before it restarts but its passes too quickly for me to glean any information. I vaguely recall Avast giving me a malware message just before it happened, not sure if it was the cause or not, since I have never encountered a virus quite like this.
I'd like it if you guys could rule out other causes like heat (already checked CPU temp from BIOS - it's at 28degrees), bad sectors on the HDD, faulty memory, or a corrupt windows registry.
I'd like to try to avoid having to reinstall windows, so I want to make sure that its necessary before I go about doing it. Tommorow I'll try to use another HDD to boot up windows with, see if I can't pin down the problem like that.
So what do you guys think is the most likely cause?
Try restarting and booting into Safe Mode with Networking by tapping Function 8 before Windows loads. If that fails, select Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure" from the Advance Boot menu - same F8 method - and note the details fromt eh blue screen.
To force a boot from another disk, go into BIOS and look for Boot Sequence or Order.
I tried safe mode, safe mode with networking, and last known good configuration. Nothing works. This led me to believe it was more than a simple virus. Have you narrowed the problem down to a specific reason by any chance?
I remember seeing the option to disable automatic restart earlier, but going to the boot menu now, I can't find it. I just get the 3 safe mode option, system restore and normal start.
Haven't tried the last option yet, will update post when able.
Okay so I'm told I can't edit my previous post, moving on.
I tried what you said about boot priority, it still doesnt boot. This time though I dont even get the windows logo screen, it dies just before that.
I'm guessing then, that this has nothing to do with windows,viruses of a faulty HDD. What could it be? CPU temps are fine, and the RAM seems fine given that the PC still POSTS (I think this is relevant).
For some reason, only the Quick Edit button lets you change a post and post it - the full Edit facility doesn't let you put the changed post back. It's going to fixed in the site upgrade any time now.
To see the extended Advanced Boot menu, you need to press Function 8 more than once and that will include the Disable automatic facility.
I think you may have a malware problem and that's why you need Safe with Networking so you can download and install MalwareBytes from http://www.malwarebytes.com and run it in Safe Mode for best effect.
However, you may also have a hard disk problem and you can address that using Checkdisk in the Command Prompt in Safe Mode by typing chkdsk /f (including the space) to find an dfix any errors.
Already have malwarebytes (doubt its the most recent version however), been through this routine before; I've just never been unable to boot up in safe mode before.
A HDD problem is what I thought of first but adding another hard drive in an attempt to sidestep this issue leads to the same result, so I wonder if there really is anything wrong with the HDDs. Temps were around high 30s last I checked, as they always have been. Too high? Without logging in, I can't run HWmonitor to see if anythings changed.
If you have an XP CD and if you can get the BIOS to look in the CD ROM first for a bootable device, you might get away with running Checkdisk so long as the system can mount the device. Sometimes it can even if the installation cannot - as your situation is at the moment.
Alternatively, if you download a version of Linux and run it as a LiveCD, that can mount Windows disks far more often than Windows can in these circumstances. If it can, you can use that system to retrieve your personal files to flash drives or another type of external in case the XP system is on its way out. My personal favourite is PCLinuxOS from http://www.pclinuxos.com but lots of others are available - sometimes on magazine covers - and they're all free.
The clue was in the code - it frequently but not exclusively refers to hard disk mounting problems but it could still be a motherboard problem or one of the hard disk controllers. When you took both disks out, did you fire up the machine to see how BIOS behaved? Have you checked the cable connection at the board end?
You can definitely boot from the CD and go to the first Repair option without endangering your personal files. If they're still in there at the moment, they won't be lost by running Checkdisk and possible FIXMBR and FIXBOOT.
Okay so I got to the recovery console only to be greeted with another problem: I need the administrator password. Surprise surprise, I didn't know it. Wasn't the first time this had come up too: I needed to run something as an admin a while ago and faced this problem then. Decided to just forget about it for the time being.
In fact I recall seeing a page about a year earlier that said that I would be required to know what it is if I ever needed to use the recovery console, which I reckoned, would never happen to me
So I used a password cracker to solve that mess and then typed in the commands you told me to.
1. chkdsk - Said that everything looked fine
2. chkdsk /f - Nothing happened
3. chkdsk /p - Found one or more errors
4. FIXMBR - Said I had a non-standard or invalid MBR and that it might delete partition tables. I didn't proceed
5. FIXBOOT - Said it wanted to create a boot sector or somesuch. I didn't proceed any further.
So I need re-assurance before I go forward. Will this be harmful, I mean, the warning I got couldn't be much clearer. And also some question: which of these commands do I need to run. Both? In what order? You said earlier that my files would be safe, so what is the boot sector going to occupy? If it was perfectly fine, I reason that it wouldn't have asked for confirmation.
Also, I'd like to know what these commands are actually doing and why they need to be done. Just to sate my curiosity.
When I posted to use chkdsk /f I was referring to runing Checkdisk in the Shell. The switch to use outside the Shell but in Command Line is /r so try that one and a five stage process will run as against the three stages /f runs inside the GUI.
On the FIXMBR and FIXBOOT commands, you need to bite the bullet and go for the replacement because it will be the normal options where your present ones may have been modified to the point where they don't work. The warning is the stark type of words M$ offers you whenever you attempt to change things - their assumption being that they and only they know what's best for you.
Also ran both FIXMBR and FIXBOOT. In that order. I still cant log in. I guessing I should unhook one of the HDDs, given that I have 2 XP installations and fixing one isn't going to solve the problem. I read a little about a MBR virus, and that it can jump from 1 HDD to another?
Forgot about boot priority, I loaded the HDD I hadn't run the fixes on, and I'm guessing removing any effect either of them had.
EDIT: I disconnected the recently installed drive. Did both FIXMBR and FIXBOOT, managed to log in under safe mode with networking. Can't update malwarebytes, I guess because I connect wirelessly and it won't load the drivers. Running a full scan now. When it's finished I'll haul it downstairs and connect via ethernet, update, and scan again.
So will I have to do this again for the new HDD, but disconnecting the older 2 drives?
EDIT: Oh and the admim password seems to have reset to nothing. Normal?
EDIT: Updated Malwarebytes, ran the scan. Turns out I had a rootkit on my system, bad news. I've heard rootkits are damned difficult to remove, has malwarebytes taken care of it or should I do something more? I also ran a full scan using avast. It has a boot time scan option, should I use that as well? No harm in trying right?
So now I'm wondering how this got onto my system in the first place and what precautions I can take to stop this happening in the future.