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Windows Fails to Start - Recent Hardware/Software Change Message

Last response: in Windows 7
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January 7, 2012 7:36:32 PM

Hi,

This is my first post here, I'm sorry if this is not in the correct forum.

I'm running Windows 7 64 bit on a gigabyte ga-x58a-ud3r

A few weeks ago, I shut down my PC completely for a regular cleaning. I do a regular cleaning once a month, this was the first time I had an issue.

After I finished, I powered up the machine, and Windows would continually fail to start - rebooting at some point while the Logo load screen was up.

After several Google searches, I tried pretty much everything I could think of or advice i came across - Nothing worked.

I could not boot from the Win7 Disk, System Repair did not work, advanced boot options did not work, etc. At this point I thought the HDD might be bad (WD Caviar Black 1 TB).

So I went and purchased a new HDD, the same model actually as it was on sale.

Windows installed fine, everything got up and running with no issue.

I then took my HDD which I had believed had failed and plugged it into a Thermaltake BlacX Docking station and I was able to locate the drive in the device manager after scanning for new hardware.

I actually was able to go into the hard drive and recover the few bits of data I hadn't backed up (mostly gaming files). The HDD was completely fine.


Fast forward a few weeks, and feel free to laugh at me here - I'm in the exact same situation with the new HDD once again after cleaning my PC case.

So, I'm not sure what is happening. I've rebooted the PC many times without issue but today was the first time that I fully powered down the PC to do a cleaning.

I suspect something is causing Windows to fail to recognize the HDD itself, but honestly this is way beyond my knowledge how to fix.

I took a risk and I removed the sata cable from the "GSata" slot on the motherboard and put it into one of the standard ICHR10 - to no effect.

I've once again exhausted every option I actually know how to safely do, advanced boot options, repair attempt from Win7 Disk, etc. Nothing is working.

I'm debating running out yet again and grabbing a cheap HDD just to get myself up and running again, but I thought I'd turn to Tom's Hardware first for some ideas - and because I don't want to be going through this issue everytime I want to give the PC case a good cleaning.

Any help will really be appreciated.
a b $ Windows 7
January 7, 2012 8:36:22 PM

Try replacing the data cables.
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January 7, 2012 8:57:35 PM

Actually I used a brand new cable when I installed the new HDD.

But just to double check, I took your advice and tried a different unused cable - but windows failed after selecting repair, after the repair loading bar went twice, windows failed pre-logo screen and went straight to reboot.
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a b $ Windows 7
January 7, 2012 10:03:10 PM

Have you tried disconnecting everything other than the essentials? like any add-in cards, usb devices, etc.

Did you try to run a "chkdsk /f" from the Recovery Console?
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January 7, 2012 11:28:08 PM

Yes I've disconnected everything except the Monitor, keyboard & mouse.


I cant get into the recovery console to run a chkdsk.


Another update: a family member took pity on me and actually bought me a new HDD to see if I can get that to work - no luck, now I cant even re-install windows on a hew HDD.


I don't know if that means its the mother board, or if the issue could still potentially be elsewhere.
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January 7, 2012 11:48:48 PM

You may have tried it but I would try a fresh install on a HDD connected to the Intel southbridge rather than that Marvell SATA controller. I would also set the BIOS to RAID instead of SATA (even though you aren't necessarily using it - but since you've got a bunch of HDDs now, maybe you will).

If you get it to install make sure you update the Intel RST driver.
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January 7, 2012 11:57:39 PM

Also - I dunno, sounds silly but if your CMOS battery has failed, then every time you completely shutdown - meaning unplug the machine (or turn off the PSU switch itself) your BIOS will be reset to default. Since you are only doing that when you clean, maybe the setting SATA, AHCI, or RAID is getting reset (from something you set it to other than its default).

I remember awhile back I took a perfectly working system and changed the BIOS setting from "SATA" to "RAID" (since I was setting up a separate new RAID-0 array) and Win 7 failed to boot and the repair disk said that my install was 'beyond repair'. It wouldn't even boot when I switched the setting back to SATA. I ended up reinstalling (with the setting at RAID so I could still setup my separate array) and everything was fine after that.
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January 8, 2012 12:10:41 AM

larkspur said:
You may have tried it but I would try a fresh install on a HDD connected to the Intel southbridge rather than that Marvell SATA controller. I would also set the BIOS to RAID instead of SATA (even though you aren't necessarily using it - but since you've got a bunch of HDDs now, maybe you will).

If you get it to install make sure you update the Intel RST driver.


Hi,

Yes I did try the newest HDD on the southbridge, and now I went and tried it after setting the BIOS to RAID as you mentioned.


Windows starts to load from the disk, and then I get two screens of the loading bar.

After that, I get to the logo screen and just as the logo starts to appear, it fails and reboots.

I appreciate all of the help so far.
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January 8, 2012 12:18:13 AM

larkspur said:
Also - I dunno, sounds silly but if your CMOS battery has failed, then every time you completely shutdown - meaning unplug the machine (or turn off the PSU switch itself) your BIOS will be reset to default. Since you are only doing that when you clean, maybe the setting SATA, AHCI, or RAID is getting reset (from something you set it to other than its default).

I remember awhile back I took a perfectly working system and changed the BIOS setting from "SATA" to "RAID" (since I was setting up a separate new RAID-0 array) and Win 7 failed to boot and the repair disk said that my install was 'beyond repair'. It wouldn't even boot when I switched the setting back to SATA. I ended up reinstalling (with the setting at RAID so I could still setup my separate array) and everything was fine after that.



Nothing sounds silly at this point.

I think thats an interesting idea, although I left most of the BIOS functions alone at default values. I know I didn't touch the default for the HDD.

You might be onto something with the CMOS battery.

My question is, how do I check if that has failed and if it has failed? I'm assuming it would become an RMA issue at that point as well.


Some other speculation on my part:
*Perhaps there are lingering issues from the first PSU I had, which had failed and died. I RMA'd it and was sent a new PSU.
*I'm going to try re-slotting the RAM. This came up a few times in my various internet searches, I've just been putting it off because its a bit of a hassle to remove the fan from the CPU cooler (which is in the way).


As a note, I've also check all my connections and sprayed for any potential excess dust that might have gotten into somewhere when I did the cleaning today. I have a hard time believing that this would have actually happened twice, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try.
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January 8, 2012 12:23:05 AM

MJ2012 said:
Hi,

Yes I did try the newest HDD on the southbridge, and now I went and tried it after setting the BIOS to RAID as you mentioned.


Windows starts to load from the disk, and then I get two screens of the loading bar.

After that, I get to the logo screen and just as the logo starts to appear, it fails and reboots.


Did you do a fresh install on the HDD on the southbridge before or after you set it to RAID? You want to do the fresh install after you've set it to RAID. Does Windows at least get through the install process?
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January 8, 2012 12:31:26 AM

MJ2012 said:
My question is, how do I check if that has failed and if it has failed? I'm assuming it would become an RMA issue at that point as well.


The clock and date in your BIOS would be getting reset. So if you had set your computer's clock (even through Windows) the clock/date in the BIOS would be getting reset back to some default start date/time.

Don't worry about it - I don't think the cmos battery is your problem, I was just trying to figure out why the cleaning would have any effect. The battery itself is usually just a little coin-shaped battery that is easy to replace and can be bought for a couple bucks at most electronics stores even probably wal-mart but unless the clock/date is getting reset, don't worry about it.
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January 8, 2012 12:34:50 AM

And I assume (though you mentioned trying advanced options) that you can't get it to boot in safe mode?
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January 8, 2012 12:40:40 AM

larkspur said:
Did you do a fresh install on the HDD on the southbridge before or after you set it to RAID? You want to do the fresh install after you've set it to RAID. Does Windows at least get through the install process?


Yes I set it to RAID, and then attempted to install windows.

I'm unable to get through the install process at this point, which is different from the first time this happened.

I go through two load screens, and then fail at the windows logo after booting from disk to install a fresh copy of windows onto the brand new HDD.


larkspur said:
The clock and date in your BIOS would be getting reset. So if you had set your computer's clock (even through Windows) the clock/date in the BIOS would be getting reset back to some default start date/time.


Ok.

I just checked, and the date in the BIOS is current and hasn't been reset.

larkspur said:
And I assume (though you mentioned trying advanced options) that you can't get it to boot in safe mode?


For the HDD that has Windows on it already, yes that's correct - I tried and was unsuccessful to get it to boot in safe mode.

I tried several other advanced boot options, all of them see fail at windows logo.
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January 8, 2012 12:58:03 AM

K well, it might be a good idea to try to clear your CMOS (reset your BIOS) - the procedure for this is in your motherboard's manual - its usually pulling a jumper or using a jumper to bridge a couple pins. Follow those instructions, that will reset everything in your BIOS to default again.

And if you want to test your RAM without pulling sticks out, you can try memtest86. It is OS independent so you don't have to be able to load Windows to use it.

I'm out of the simpler ideas for you. It could be worse, at least you know something very basic is very wrong since Win 7 isn't even installing. It seems to be a problem with your motherboard since three different HDDs are giving you the same results in a vanilla environment. Try to make that environment as vanilla as possible by clearing the CMOS and disconnecting/unplugging any add-in cards (except your video card) or devices (which I think you've tried). At this point leave the BIOS setting on SATA or whatever it defaults to.

If you have access to other components try a different video card, one stick of RAM at a time (per motherboard manual supported configs), a different PSU, etc. until you are down to just the motherboard herself (your CPU should be fine since you can get to BIOS). Something is screwing you and since its so easily repeatable, it should be diagnosable. The trouble is if its the motherboard, you end up having to go to great lengths to replace it. And if you have an OEM version of Win7, a different mobo can mean you need a new windows license... ugh! So many complications in this world!
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January 8, 2012 3:15:34 PM

larkspur said:
K well, it might be a good idea to try to clear your CMOS (reset your BIOS) - the procedure for this is in your motherboard's manual - its usually pulling a jumper or using a jumper to bridge a couple pins. Follow those instructions, that will reset everything in your BIOS to default again.


I was planning on using the Qflash utility that the mobo has after I finish running memtest86.

I'm running 1 stick at a time in memtest86, so this could take a while to get through all 6 sticks.

Could I do all 6 sticks at once? I thought it might be better to isolate each stick, but timewise if doing all 6 at once is functionally the same I'd much prefer to do that instead.



larkspur said:

I'm out of the simpler ideas for you. It could be worse, at least you know something very basic is very wrong since Win 7 isn't even installing. It seems to be a problem with your motherboard since three different HDDs are giving you the same results in a vanilla environment. Try to make that environment as vanilla as possible by clearing the CMOS and disconnecting/unplugging any add-in cards (except your video card) or devices (which I think you've tried). At this point leave the BIOS setting on SATA or whatever it defaults to.


Yeah I think you're right and that the issue is somewhere in the BIOS.

I mentioned upthread that I had a faulty PSU early in this PCs life and I'm speculating if that could have had an effect on the CMOS.

I'm hoping I won't need a new motherboard, as that's obviously a major hassle 9and expense but I guess I'll find out once I finish testing the memory and then if that is inconculsive, Qflashing.


The only consolation is that I purchased Win7 direct from MS, so I won't have an issue there.

I'll be updating my progress in this thread, thanks for all your input and help so far.
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January 8, 2012 3:39:08 PM

Set the bios setting to IDE, not RAID or AHCI... W7 does not have the RAID drivers for your motherboard, you would nee to download them.

Try with IDE setting
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January 8, 2012 7:59:34 PM

Update: Windows is back up and running.

Here's what happened.


After running memtest86 on all 6 sticks at once, I ran it for 3 passes with no errors.

I happened to get through to a friend who is much better at this kind of stuff and he suggested I try loading into windows with only 1 stick at a time.

He also mentioned that he once had a similar issue and what he did to fix it was to turn down the memory voltage as it had been set in the BIOS.

I had tried repeatedly to get into MIB tweak utility in the BIOS to lower the voltage, but MIB kept freezing every time I did.

A quick google search, and I found some similar issues that seemed to stem from the keyboard.

So, I swapped keyboards and then got right into the MIB utility with no problem.

I'm not sure when it happened, but it looks like my RAM was set to "Turbo".

I turned that back down to standard, and then turned the voltage down a touch.

With 1 stick slotted, I managed to load right into windows with no issue.

And then, I slotted the other 5 sticks and I'm back into windows again and hopefully running smooth.

Hopefully this is the last time I'll have to deal with this, but at least it didn't require ripping out the mobo.

Thanks to everyone who tried to help, I really appreciate it.
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January 16, 2012 2:56:35 PM

Best answer selected by MJ2012.
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a c 395 $ Windows 7
January 16, 2012 3:03:52 PM

This topic has been closed by Area51reopened
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