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Toshiba laptop hangs at boot screen

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  • Laptops
  • Boot
  • Toshiba
Last response: in Laptop Tech Support
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October 19, 2011 2:33:11 AM

Hi all,

I have a Toshiba L640/01H (small general-purpose laptop) which I bought at the beginning of this year. Besides the original Windows 7 OS, I installed a Linux system on a separate partition.

Earlier today I was using the Linux (which is what I normally use) and everything was really slow.
Eventually I force-shut-down using the power button.

Now, I've noticed an issue with the BIOS on this laptop - if I attempt to boot up when there is a USB flash drive plugged in, the boot screen just hangs. Today when I rebooted I realized that I had left a flash drive in, so I took it out and tried to boot again, a couple of times. Each time the computer would just hang indefinitely on the boot splash screen.

Eventually I gave it enough time and it got to the Linux boot selection menu, then I tried to boot my usual kernel but it gave me some message about a bad MBR.
I kept trying to boot but the boot process is stuck, what happens is as follows:

*The three lights on the left (power, battery and on light) come on, no problem

•The HDD light flashes white for a couple of seconds, then goes off. Occasionally it flashes again.
•Meanwhile the screen is just stuck on the boot splash screen. If I try to press f2, f12 or any key too many times it will start emitting beeps every time I press it. There's no way to get into the BIOS settings.

I also cannot boot from CD (Windows recovery CD or Linux liveCDs). Eventually some sort of time-out comes into effect and the computer restarts itself to begin the process all over again. Yay!

I tried the "unplug power cord, remove battery, hold down power button, plug back in, try to start" trick but nothing changed. I also tried switching memory slots (only one RAM chip, so I can't try an elimination process on the RAM).
Finally, I also opened up the HDD compartment and removed the HDD, then tried to boot. This time the BIOS responded, if only to tell me that there was no suitable boot media. At this point the BIOS was responsive and I could change settings in it, but I still couldn't boot from CD.

I was thinking of trying to reset the CMOS battery but I'm worried I'll damage something/make the problem worse. Besides, my feeling is that it's related to the hard drive. Does anyone have any ideas? I know the thing is still under warranty, but service centres are often slow and I don't want to lose data.

Thanks in advance.

More about : toshiba laptop hangs boot screen

October 19, 2011 4:00:48 AM

Your boot order is set to "removable media" first, that is why your results change when a thumb drive is plugged in.
When you say the “boot splash screen” are you talking about the linux boot screen? Windows boot screen? Or the bios/post/start up stuffs?

If it is during windows/linus boot screens:
Sounds like the hard drive is either bad or going bad or corrupt. I would advise a disk check. If you cannot get this to work I would assume the HD is going bad.

If it is during BIOS/Post/startup stuffs:
I would have to assume that the MoBo is going. This is the least likely in my mind at this time. I have my money on the hard drive still.
Since you cannot boot from a CD – Check your Bios boot order settings. Since your thumb drive is giving you different results maybe you need to select CD drive specifically as the first device.
The cmos batter, in my book, is always something to reset. If the Hard drive is in and you are unable to change bios settings then I still thing the hard drive is bad. You can always take the drive to another PC and see if it will display for you on that machine.

To save your data attempt to plug that drive into another computer. Preferably a desktop that is already functional. I assume its sata. Just put it in as a second or third drive ensure that the boot order on the desktop is as such that it is not trying to boot from the laptop hard drive.

Good luck.
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October 19, 2011 7:58:17 AM

Nemacol said:
Your boot order is set to "removable media" first, that is why your results change when a thumb drive is plugged in.
When you say the “boot splash screen” are you talking about the linux boot screen? Windows boot screen? Or the bios/post/start up stuffs?

If it is during windows/linus boot screens:
Sounds like the hard drive is either bad or going bad or corrupt. I would advise a disk check. If you cannot get this to work I would assume the HD is going bad.

If it is during BIOS/Post/startup stuffs:
I would have to assume that the MoBo is going. This is the least likely in my mind at this time. I have my money on the hard drive still.
Since you cannot boot from a CD – Check your Bios boot order settings. Since your thumb drive is giving you different results maybe you need to select CD drive specifically as the first device.
The cmos batter, in my book, is always something to reset. If the Hard drive is in and you are unable to change bios settings then I still thing the hard drive is bad. You can always take the drive to another PC and see if it will display for you on that machine.

To save your data attempt to plug that drive into another computer. Preferably a desktop that is already functional. I assume its sata. Just put it in as a second or third drive ensure that the boot order on the desktop is as such that it is not trying to boot from the laptop hard drive.

Good luck.


Hi Nemacol,

Thanks for your input. The computer does in fact freeze on the POST screen, when I have the option to enter the BIOS.
Oddly enough, my boot order is not set to USB first, but rather CD/DVD, then HDD, then some other stuff and finally USB. I tried moving HDD down but it still doesn't allow me to boot from CDs with the HDD in. However, I discovered that certain CDs will boot if the hard drive is removed. This at least gives me the option to run memory diagnostics, which I'll do just to be on the safe side. But with no desktop easily accessible, I'm considering buying a cable so I can take out the drive and plug it into my boyfriends laptop, to see if I can tell what the problem is.
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October 20, 2011 6:35:21 AM

Update: I took the hard drive down to a computer repair shop today, and they confirmed that the hard drive is completely broken. The data may not even be recoverable. I'll get in touch with Toshiba support and get it replaced.
Thanks for your help.
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