Can't get to Safe Mode or Windows load screen

By hk2009
Jul 17, 2009
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  1. I recently got excellent help from Bobbye on the virus/malware forum cleaning up my current computer. The process went so well that I want to give it another go with my old computer. But before I can clean it up I’ve got to get it to open.

    The problem is that when I turn on the power it no longer goes to the Windows load screen. It goes directly to a black screen with white text, displaying computer specs, in the middle of the screen it’s counting up the system ram (does so for about a minute), at the bottom of the screen it says: “Hit <F12> if you want to boot from the network, after the ram is done counting a message comes on the screen; “Keyboard error”, the screen changes and the new screen displays: “Boot Failure: System Halted.” And that’s it.

    There is nothing wrong with the keyboard – it is functioning.
    The only action I can get is using the:
    F1 key, which takes me to the BIOS Utility (I can navigate through this but do not know what to change, if anything).
    F12, which changes the screen display to: “Network selected as first boot device for current boot at bottom of page.” There is nothing else on this page.
    Alt+ctrl+del clears the screen, and when I hit Enter it goes back to the original black and white screen with the computer specs.​
    I cannot get into safe mode.

    The computer is old so don’t laugh too hard at the specs – it’s a 2002 Gateway computer; Intel Pentium 4 2.53 GHz; 512MB RAM; 80GB UATA100 7200RPM; Windows XP – HE.

    There wasn’t an event that caused the problem - one day I went to start it up and this occurred. Since I had backed up my files two weeks earlier I only lost a few updates. Regardless, I’d like to try to get the computer operating again, get the files off the hard drive, clean up any viruses and keep it running awhile longer, if possible.

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,283   +182

    Go into the BIOS and make sure the first device in the boot order is the hard drive. If you change it, save and exit from the BIOS and see if it will boot now.
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,295   +44

    That's generally a failed hard disk drive. The main way of checking that is boot off something else - say a Windows install disk, a floppy disk with Windows emergency start on it, or anything else bootable to hand e.g. a Linux CD.

    Having booted you have lots of ways to check the HDD. Tell us what you can boot on, and we will take it from there. If it is the hard drive, it could be replaced, although your existing data on it may or may not be recoverable....but is it worth the effort? If you have no experience it is somewhat difficult to take you through the required steps.

    A 7-year life for a PC is pretty respectable really and the spec tells me it was a high-range machine when new. It would still be very capable of running XP
  4. hk2009

    hk2009 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 28

    Thank you both for the ideas. The final outcome is rather amazing. The BIOS didn't have an option on screen with boot order, and I wasn't having any luck with any bootable disks. Since I had nothing to loose - as you pointed out my 7+ year computer had a good ride - I kept returning to the BIOS Utility and selecting every possible option within Boot. Finally, when I used the F9 key to reset to default it "enabled" everything on the page (all previously disabled) and inserted 4 options, including “boot device priority”. I didn’t change anything further, I just saved the default setting and exited BIOS, used alt+ctrl+del and 'enter' to get it to restart. This time it did went to the Gateway logo page, followed successfully by the Windows log on. I signed in and everything was there just as it was last November!
    So, I've been installing updates, downloading AV and AntiSpyware programs and will go on to run the 8-step V/M program and post a new thread there. Thanks!
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,295   +44

    Interesting. What occurs to me now is the motherboard battery - run out. So long as you maintain power to the PC, it should still be able to retain the bios, but if you disconnect from the mains, you may find it goes back to the state you found it - instantly. Now the answer to that is a new battery - usually a CR2032, which is very readily available for one or two pounds/euros/dollars from many places - even Asda - because they are also used in some mobile phones.
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