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XP Recovery Disc automatically shuts down after boot

Last response: in Windows XP
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June 7, 2011 8:06:57 AM

I'm trying to save a friend's very old computer (acer travelmate 230, with a whopping 256 mb ram, running XP) that has been acting strangely. I'm fairly certain its a virus, because it didn't have an antivirus installed (dumb!), plus it does the following:

-Documents and Setting, as well as several other folders, are hidden in explorer. They can be accessed by typing in the address, but they aren't visible under C:\. I tried changing folder options to view system files, and the settings automatically revert to default.

-When I try to run chkdsk at boot, it is automatically cancelled.

-When I installed Malwarebytes, i had to change permissions for some registry keys, and once the program started, it couldn't update (running in safe mode with networking). Also the program has all of its scan options disabled unless manually changed.

Having run a few scans without any luck, I would normally just recover the important files, wipe the hard drive and reinstall. BUT, when I boot into the XP Recovery Disk, it automatically shutdowns directly after the boot. I don't get a chance to input anything, it just shuts down. So now I'm paranoid that if I boot and nuke the hard drive, I won't be able to reinstall windows. Why would the disk automatically shutdown like that? I've run two memtests, and it passed both of them, plus the hard drive seems fine give that xp will run off of it. So I'd like to think its not a hardware issue. But what else could cause the recovery disk to malfunction?

Hope somebody can help out here, because I'm at a loss...
June 7, 2011 2:35:20 PM

Get a new hard-drive, upgrade RAM to about 1 gig, try the restore again. That way you don't have to worry about files on the old disk as they are all there untouched.

XP running on a disk is not a good way to see if it's bad, Windows will run on a disk with faults (it just marks sections as bad and ignores them) until you try to do something low-level like a format or a setup or encryption. Better off with a new disk.

Not saying that it's 100% the issue, but a good place to start.
June 7, 2011 4:07:02 PM

hang-the-9 said:
Get a new hard-drive, upgrade RAM to about 1 gig, try the restore again. That way you don't have to worry about files on the old disk as they are all there untouched.

XP running on a disk is not a good way to see if it's bad, Windows will run on a disk with faults (it just marks sections as bad and ignores them) until you try to do something low-level like a format or a setup or encryption. Better off with a new disk.

Not saying that it's 100% the issue, but a good place to start.


I would try the hardware upgrade, but we're at a pretty remote site in Namibia of all places, and wont be able to get to a decent computer store for a good while. If possible, I'd like to get this thing running without tearing out the insides.

I was finally able to run chkdsk though by installing the recovery console in safe mode and then running the chkdsk /R. It found errors and fixed them, but didn't solve my problem. I also ran fixboot and fixmbr, but it didn't help.

I was finally able to glimpse (photograph, actually) the message I'm getting just before the reboot from the recovery disk: "Windows XP has not been installed on this computer. If there is a floppy disk in drive A:, remove it. To restart your computer, press ENTER." This message shows for less than a second and then goes down for a reboot. There's no floppy in drive A:. But now I'm getting a repetative beeping at POST. Its a phoenix bios, and I'm getting a code 4-4-4-4, which doesn't match any of the codes I can find online. The system boots after the beeps. Could a virus make that happen (ie can I fix this myself), or should I just give up and conclude it's hardware?
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June 8, 2011 4:01:01 PM

Ok, well I guess it must be hardware. I tried installing SuSE over the current windows install, and it fails at various places in the installation. Also, it strangely requires that I touch the touchpad, or the installation stalls until I go back to touching it. Really weird. And the XP disk still shuts down automatically despite reformatting the HD. I'm still curious why (wish somebody could say something here), but I'm officially giving up on rescuing this system.
June 8, 2011 4:46:51 PM

It's the CI.A virus. Shuts down the disk drive, and many other things.
A new hard drive may be the only way, and then I have doubts.
June 9, 2011 7:39:14 AM

Well, that's a bummer. Does it hide out in the bios? How can it persist on a formatted hard drive that doesn't even run windows anymore?
June 9, 2011 1:56:01 PM

Don't think it's a virus, it's way more likely that it's just a drive failure. Here is they way they tend to work. Windows is running fine, drive develops errors. Windows helpfully marks the bad sectors as bad and ignores them when writing data. This does not fix anything though, just hides it. A while passes, more bad sectors develop. Now Windows is running into file inconsistency that requires a checkdisk. So it tells you "run checkdisk", this only fixes the file system errors, once again, the hardware errors are not fixed (because they can't be). A bit of time goes by, the drive totally crashes, all data is lost.

The key here, which most people ignore, is to replace the drive the day you start to see odd errors. But almost all don't do that, or don't know to do that, or think because checkdisk enabled them to work again things are fine. Any drive that ends up with random errors, even if it's running at the time, will have a much higher chance of failure in the future. Even many real techs don't get this part, they just re-install Windows on the same drive, or run a defrag or something, thus leaving a little data timebomb in the system. If you look at my posts, every time there is an issue about "checkdisk wanting to run" or "takes a very long time to install Windows", or something, I always tell them the best thing to do is replace the drive.
June 9, 2011 2:15:15 PM

Fair enough. We've got all the data off the computer, so at this point I guess it'll just get used to watch movies till it crashes entirely. Thanks for the help guys!
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