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XP hangs at boot

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14 replies to this topic

#1
technoid

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Hi folks, my old XP-Home (SP3) laptop stops booting sometime before the boot logo appears. Ironically this happened after I did a scandisk in my last login session, and the scan was good. It is the Blank-Screen-of-Death type of error I'm seeing. I am able to get into the F8 list though, but trying all the options there (last known config, safe modes, etc) all end up the same, the dark blank screen. Trying out the debugger on the list, I see the booting process stops at \system. Recovery is not on the F8 list. I downloaded the RC ISO from computerparamedic.com and have yet to CD burn it. Is that all I need? I have never tried the Recovery Console in all my life, and so in this case, I am a true newbie. Could RC be my savior?

Before I start I am going to move the disk to a USB drive enclosure to take a peek, just to make sure nothing weird is going on, like all my contents are gone or something. I cannot fathom this to be malware, probably just a glitch... I hope. It has not been connected to the Internet in over a week, or so.

I've also posted at a couple other forums to get as much info as possible. Formatting, of course, is my last possible resort (would need to buy a new drive too as I don't want to lose contents on affected drive). Anyway, any help appreciated, thanks.


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#2
HarryTri

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It seems that the "system" file of the registry is corrupted (in the C:\WINDOWS\system32\config folder). You can use Recovery Console to replace it with the "system" file in C:\WINDOWS\repair folder or (preferably because the mentioned file will be a bit outdated if you haven't recently made any system backups with NTBackup or other program) with the corresponding file that can be found into the "snapshot" folder of any restore point (if there are any). In the second case you must rename the file from blahblahblahsystemblahblahblah (I don't remember the naming exactly) to just "system" after copying it to the C:\WINDOWS\system32\config folder- you must delete the existing "system" file in order to do so.

I always love Windows XP!


#3
technoid

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I haven't done anything yet. Would trying "fixboot" and/or "fixmbr" first be riskier, and end up killing the entire boot process? Hard to say if "system" is the culprit yet, but what is the usual byte size of this file? And would doing the copy and paste method you have demonstrated be riskier if I do that from another PC, with this drive mounted in a USB drive enclosure?

And does it matter where I downloaded RC from? I assume there's really no different versions of it. As aforementioned, I got this one at Computerparamedic.

#4
HarryTri

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1. The system boots so there is no reason to mess with the MBR.
2. There is no usuall size, it differs from system to system (some MBs anyway).
3.

And would doing the copy and paste method you have demonstrated be riskier if I do that from another PC, with this drive mounted in a USB drive enclosure?


I suppose it's about the same thing.
4.If it worked untill now the origin doesn't make any difference.

I always love Windows XP!


#5
submix8c

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Fixboot/Fixmbr has nothing to do with it. You're getting a "Safe Mode" selection screen. Interestingly, since you get that far, it begs the question - HOW if SYSTEM is "corrupt"?
The registry keys to boot into Safe Mode are under the SafeBoot key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot
There is NO particular "size" to it. It all depends on your Configuration.

You initially said you did a "scandisk" - I assume you mean "chkdsk"? Indications MAY be that the "ckdsk" found errors in the location that "SYSTEM" is. (EVEN THOUGH you state there was no error.)

HarryTri (and I see they posted JUST before me) isn't far off from what needs to be done. I would personally RENAME the "original" to "SYSTEM.XXX" (any one not currently existing). This SHOULD get you up-and-running. You can do the "rename+copy/paste" with a (e.g.) Live Linux CD in the existing computer without actually pulling it out. It would beat using a downloaded Recovery Console (not as limited and has a file browser). Best bet is to find the "SYSTEM" backup in the Restore/"snapshot" (as described above) folder. I believe it will be found in the "System Volume Information" folder within folder
_restore{abunchofnumbers}\RPanumber\snapshot\_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM
along with the other "special" registry files. Find the one with the HIGHEST date of whichever folders you find. This COULD apply to ANY of those files that MAY have caused you to "fail"

See this - http://forum.avast.c...6078.115;imode.

HTH

Edited by submix8c, 28 June 2013 - 02:47 PM.

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#6
technoid

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1. The system boots so there is no reason to mess with the MBR.
2. There is no usuall size, it differs from system to system (some MBs anyway).
3.

And would doing the copy and paste method you have demonstrated be riskier if I do that from another PC, with this drive mounted in a USB drive enclosure?

I suppose it's about the same thing.
4.If it worked untill now the origin doesn't make any difference.

Ok, I won't mess with boot or mbr... for the moment. I don't know what you mean in #4, what worked and origin, etc.


Fixboot/Fixmbr has nothing to do with it. You're getting a "Safe Mode" selection screen. Interestingly, since you get that far, it begs the question - HOW if SYSTEM is "corrupt"?

The registry keys to boot into Safe Mode are under the SafeBoot key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot
There is NO particular "size" to it. It all depends on your Configuration.

Yup, no idea if it's System at all. It just stops at that line "blahblahblah\system" when booting with the debugger. It could be the next file in, whatever it is, that could be stopping it.

You initially said you did a "scandisk" - I assume you mean "chkdsk"? Indications MAY be that the "ckdsk" found errors in the location that "SYSTEM" is. (EVEN THOUGH you state there was no error.)

Well, whichever it is, it's called Error-checking in XP. And yes, everything was ok. I did the check... level 1... level 2... level 3... done, no errors. Then I shut down the laptop normally. But now if I recall correctly, I normally rebooted and it was ok. I left the room for an hour or so, with the laptop on, and when I returned, there it was, a blue screen. I did not jot down the error, because I get BSOD's from time to time and hard booting usually it reboots normally. Anyway, it must have been like that (bsod) for a while. That could've been what happened. I did not remember that when I originally posted here and I hope that is the correct recollection.

HarryTri (and I see they posted JUST before me) isn't far off from what needs to be done. I would personally RENAME the "original" to "SYSTEM.XXX" (any one not currently existing). This SHOULD get you up-and-running. You can do the "rename+copy/paste" with a (e.g.) Live Linux CD in the existing computer without actually pulling it out. It would beat using a downloaded Recovery Console (not as limited and has a file browser). Best bet is to find the "SYSTEM" backup in the Restore/"snapshot" (as described above) folder. I believe it will be found in the "System Volume Information" folder within folder

_restore{abunchofnumbers}\RPanumber\snapshot\_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM
along with the other "special" registry files. Find the one with the HIGHEST date of whichever folders you find. This COULD apply to ANY of those files that MAY have caused you to "fail"

See this - http://forum.avast.c...6078.115;imode.

HTH

Hmm, that's a lot to digest, hopefully I can figure it out. I don't have Linux and hopefully won't need it. Having only dialup nowadays doesn't help either if I have to download huge amounts of stuff. I've never really delved into the restoration folders, so I don't understand the files therein. I shall check that Avast link too. Thanks both.

Edited by technoid, 28 June 2013 - 04:07 PM.


#7
submix8c

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#4 HarryTri mentioned two places to find it. I gave additional specifics.

If Recovery Console (smaller) works (since you're on dialup), give it a shot. Unsure if it will allow you the "hidden" folders, but you have the names of the files and folders. As for the "system volume information" folder, you'll just have to use a "DIR /OD" to get the name of files/folder in order by date (may have to use /AH or /AS to get them to display).

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#8
jaclaz

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In my simplicity, once booted to the recovery console, I would run a CHKDSK from there first thing.

Please consider how the CHKDSK in recovery console has a slightly different syntax from the "real thing".
http://best-windows....com/chkdsk.html
http://commandwindows.com/recovery.htm

The One Command to Learn
If you learn no other commands to use in the Recovery Console, learn this:
chkdsk C: /r
There is more than one report on the Web of how this command fixed a system that wouldn't boot. If you are using the console from the floppy disk installation, chkdsk will complain that it can't locate the file autochk.exe. When it asks for that file's location, point it to \windows\system32. This command will thoroughly examine your hard drive and is not a fast process so give it time.


The worst that can happen is that the thingy will take some time to execute.

jaclaz

#9
technoid

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Actually I was also thinking of doing a checkdisk in RC, but forgot to comment/ask on it earlier. I've had two notable checkdisk experiences in the past, one negative, one positive.

A decade ago, I had the main HDD in my 98SE Pentium3 tower go bad, probably due to heat, as I know the drive got hot to the touch, almost like a CPU without a heatsink. I've since put a fan to blow on this drive and it works better, must be a bad device or two on its motherboard. It got so bad, that doing a checkdisk (actually, scandisk, within Windows) messed things up even more, some directories and files changed into random names. I lost about maybe a sixth of the contents. I still have the drive, so I can get to some files that I need, but I will not do a check/scan disk on it as I know it will further go downhill, even if the temps are normal. If I ever get off my a** and copy the salvaged parts to another drive, I could probably reuse and reformat it (with a fan on it now of course).

The positive one was about 1 or 2 years ago, I was given my niece-inlaw's Win7 laptop to look at because some files and execs weren't functioning right. I did some research online first to be sure before I did any surgery. A checkdisk at bootup did the trick. Took awhile but it seems about 99.99% of the files were saved. I told them to do an checkdisk (error-check) on a regular basis, once a week or so.

So now I'm wondering if doing an RC scandisk first is worth it than the cut-n-paste. Hmm...

#10
jaclaz

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Yeah, sure, I also had a couple experience with cars, one bad, one good.

Many years ago I had an Alfetta (gasoline, automatic gearbox) which engine decided to blow up at a mere 250.000 Kms.
More recently I passed the 350,000 km landmark on my Toyota Hilux (diesel, manual gearbox) without a hitch.

I am pretty sure that a lot of people have experienced something similar with wives/husbands/partners (one bad, one good).

Just in case:
http://en.wikipedia....cdotal_evidence

:whistle:

Seriously, Windows 98 Scandisk (obviously on a FAT filesystem, and specifically on a overheating disk drive) and CHKDSK (most probably on a NTFS filesystem on a normally working disk drive) are two such different thiings that you can hardly compare them (the only similarity is that both have d,s and k in their name ;) ).

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 29 June 2013 - 12:37 PM.


#11
HarryTri

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@technoid

I don't know what you mean in #4, what worked and origin, etc.


It's the answer to your last question:

And does it matter where I downloaded RC from? I assume there's really no different versions of it. As aforementioned, I got this one at Computerparamedic.


The problem probably has to do with "system" since the windows inicialization stops there and you don't get into safe mode (as far as I understand correctly), yet a disc check will surely not harm.

Edit: RC is the recovery console, I thought you were talking about Windows, sorry.

Edited by HarryTri, 02 July 2013 - 03:10 PM.

I always love Windows XP!


#12
jaclaz

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To get a "surely working" recovery console you can use this approach:
http://reboot.pro/?showtopic=2254
OR this one:
http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=20983
OR this one:
http://reboot.pro/to...xp2003-builder/

For the intended use, you will need anyway to check for the existence of autochk.exe on the built media, but different SP versions, at least limited to checking the filesystem (i.e. unless possibly if you run some other programs) should not be relevant at all (i.e. you can run the chkdsk of a - say - SP1a Recovery Console on a disk on which an XP SP2 or SP3 is installed).

jaclaz

#13
HarryTri

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By the way Recovery Console is supposed to be contained in the Windows XP installation CD, isn't it? I think you can even install it on your HD.

I always love Windows XP!


#14
jaclaz

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By the way Recovery Console is supposed to be contained in the Windows XP installation CD, isn't it?

Sure. :yes:

I think you can even install it on your HD.

Yep :), BUT NOT a "good idea" :w00t: when the disk drive or the filesystem on it is presumed to be needing a CHKDSK to be fixed. :ph34r:

jaclaz

#15
technoid

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Thanks for the feedback thus far. I am taking my sweet time with this and just need to know which path I will take. I don't really want to mess it up further, although whether choosing the best choice will still make it end up that way.

Yes, again, it boots and I can get into the F8 list. But choosing any of the things on the list (safe modes, CLI, last known config, debugger, VGA mode... all of them) will still eventually hang the boot less than a second after I make the choise. At another forum, some people suggest doing some cut and paste with files that may be the culprit, but the problem is knowing which file is the corrupt culprit. Perhaps really doing an error-check (chkdsk/scandsk) would be the simplest and most effective way.

Seriously, Windows 98 Scandisk (obviously on a FAT filesystem, and specifically on a overheating disk drive) and CHKDSK (most probably on a NTFS filesystem on a normally working disk drive) are two such different thiings that you can hardly compare them (the only similarity is that both have d,s and k in their name ).

jaclaz

Actually I did both, scandisk in 98SE and also checkdisk in DOS, on this dying heated drive and it messed things up even more. The heat really f*cked things up to the point that no auto-repair helped and only did further damage. As I said, I still have the same drive some 10 years later in the same configuration and am in no hurry reformatting it or salvaging any surviving files to another drive. I just don't do any error-checking whatsoever because I know what will happen, heh.




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