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Advice needed - PC not booting, system files missing

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Last response: in CPUs
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March 17, 2009 2:23:29 PM

Hello,

I am not sure which forum to post this in, because I am truly having a problem that spreads through multiple issues. I want to preface this by saying I used to work in the IT field in 2002 and 2003 so please, you can use technical speak with me. I wouldn't post here unless I truly needed help.

Specs:

MB: Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 version 1.0
HD: Two 320gb SATA, set up on a RAID
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4600+ 2.4 GHz
Mem: 4 GB PC5400
PS: 550w (unsure of brand, I'm at work currently and not looking at it)
Video: 512mb nVidia 8500GT PCI-E
OS: Windows XP Professional, SP3

Last week my system would not boot into Windows XP. It simply kept trying to load at the Windows XP screen (with the blue bar moving below it), but it would not progress. I left it for about an hour, thinking maybe it would automatically run CHKDSK if there was an issue, but it didn't do anything. I reset the computer, and I get to the option to load it in safe mode. I select safe mode, and it scrolls through a bunch of startup files (I guess) that it's loading, and then it hangs. It does this repeatedly. I keep rebooting, trying safe mode again and again, with the same result.

Ultimately, I decide to start Windows normally. I receive an error during the bootup that says windows cannot load "windows/system 32/config.sys. This file may be missing or corrupt." It then tells me that I can attempt to repair the installation using the Windows XP CD by launching the recovery console.

So I do this; I load my raid drivers by pressing F6 during the setup so the console will recognize my hard drive. I finally get to the recovery console and it asks me which installation I want to repair. I tell it I want it to repair C:\Windows and it hangs. It does this another 3 times.

At this point, having an every other day backup of my personal documents (and .pst files, everything), I decide to wipe the drive clean. I was resigned that a virus had rendered files irreparable.

Last night it took me three hours to get my system from a blank slate back to a working state with all appropriate drivers installed and SP3 installed (my XP disc is an original, so it takes a long time). I was glad it was working. Then the system froze while I was installing MS Office of all things. I reboot. And the same thing happened again. The system would not boot up into windows.

I was able to get it to launch into Windows automatic CHKDSK (the one with the blue background), and it would say it was repairing literally hundreds of files. But it would never finish, it would always hang while it attempted to fix the indexes.

Now I am completely at a loss. Could my hard drives be bad? What would cause the erasure and deletion of system files (on a clean slate install), rendering the PC useless to boot up?

I'm sorry this is so long, but I felt it better if the experts had the whole picture (as opposed to: "my computer is broke, fix it" that I'm sure you're used to). Please feel free to offer any advice necessary. I'm trying to avoid buying a new PC because of our limited budget, but I have to have it, so if that's the last option, I'll have to do it.

Thanks in advance.

-Matt
a b à CPUs
March 17, 2009 2:43:13 PM

try installing windows on one hard drive, then if the problem's still there, the other. That will eliminate fualty hard drives. Outside of that it may be worth checking your RAM with memtest86+
March 17, 2009 2:46:36 PM

How would I check the RAM with memtest if I can't get the system to boot? Is this a pre-boot test?
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March 17, 2009 6:57:52 PM

Believe it or not, what looked like an absoloutely bad drive turned out to be Processor. This is probably not happening to you, but definately get another exact same model SATA to quickly rip your files into. Should this not be your issue it should be an easy return. I've been the victim of SATA death also, and have always been warned early that it was going to fail. That has me concerned.
June 8, 2009 1:09:05 PM

I noticed you said that you installed SP3. I finally figured out that when I would update to SP3 there was some kind of conflict between the latest SP and my Western Digital 500gb external hard drive that would not allow it to boot up all the way. It would get to the point of showing the windows XP logo with the blue progress bar.
Unfortunately I never found a happy medium and decided to drop back down to SP2 because I wasn't going to let my external drive sit and collect dust because of a bad SP3 update.
Hope you have better luck than I did. If so, please post your results for those of us who are still having problems.
June 8, 2009 1:22:32 PM

last time similar thing happened with my system, it was because of a failed drive. May be you should try borrowing a drive and running your system with a fresh installation of windows on it to check if the problem is really with your drives. Hope this helps.
a c 113 à CPUs
June 8, 2009 8:23:37 PM

Last Known Good Configuration?

F8 and a previous restore point?

I don't know if this applies to you or not but IIRC there is file associated with the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 6.1 client that SP3 looks for and if you are not properly patched all kinds of nasty things happen after you (unsuccessfully) install SP3.

I can't recall the file name but it's one of those listed in the 'File information' table here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/952155

June 8, 2009 8:28:12 PM

Hmm, yea, if CHKDSK was repairing files, one (or possibly both if your running RAID0) of your hard drives is preparing to bite the dust.

Memtest86 is a bootable .iso that performs a test of your RAM, worth a shot to make sure thats not causing the corruption.
!