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Can't start up my computer; the boot sequence just loops again & again (XP Pro SP2)

By TDominici
Sep 27, 2009
  1. I actually signed up at this forum to ask about a System Restore problem I've been having (A few weeks ago I did a system restore on my laptop to mid-August '09 and then got error messages when attempting to restore back to the present time) but as of just now I have a new, much more pressing problem.
    I restarted my laptop in safe mode an hour or so ago to attempt to do a system restore while in safe mode, just to see if that might work since I always get an error when trying to do a system restore normally. The system restore loaded up and the blue progress bar got about 1/6th of the way across and then stopped. I let it load and after 45 minutes of absolutely no progress in starting up with the system restore, I manually shut down the computer. I turned it on again after a minute and it began to boot up, showed the HP logo, went black, then the Windows XP loading screen, went black, then the HP logo again, black again, Windows XP loading screen again, etc etc and just looped again and again. I let it continue this for about 15 minutes but it just kept looping. I pressed the F8 key while it was doing this and selected it to start in Safe Mode, only to have the same looping sequence continue again and again. I had to manually shut down the laptop again, and after attempting to turn it on and have it boot up a few more times I've run into nothing but more of the same endless looping process.

    What can I do about this? What caused it and is there any way to fix it? I have some pretty important files on that laptop and I'd really like a way to access or save them, which I can't do now since the computer is doing nothing but looping the boot sequence.

    Thanks in advance for any help,

  2. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,274

    First ofd all, welcome to Techspot :)
    Have you tried the recovery console? Booting from O/S CD?
    My suggestion is, if you don't want to risk losing anything on your HDD, buy a new one, install it, put your current one aside, for install into a external unit later. Install Windows on your new HDD to get your PC up and running, and then you can access everything on your old (current) HDD, after you place it into an externall HDD enclosure. :)
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +8

    One move that is helpful is to stop the constant rebooting so that you can get some of the useful error messages that can be generated. To help do this, I would turn off the automatic restarts, by going to
    Start -> Control Panel -> System -> System Properties -> Advanced -> Startup and Recovery
    -> Settings -> System Failure -> then uncheck the Automatic Restart box.

    Hopefully, the next time you boot, you will get a blue screen or other failure notice that will beging to issue screens that help tell you what is failing.
  4. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    I haven't been able to locate my original Windows XP CD yet, but when I find it I'll try that out. If/when I do find it though, what will this accomplish? Will it just be a temporary solution to start up with that CD in and will I still have to move all the files and reinstall everything?

    I can't do this because I can't get to my desktop (or to my computer at all) in order to select the Start menu...when I turn on the machine I get two screens, the HP logo, then the Windows XP boot screen, then back to the HP logo again, the boot screen again etc...I don't have any way to get to the desktop unfortunately.


    ^^I can't get past this screen. So is there anything else I should try before going for broke and getting a new hard drive and then reinstalling Windows?
  5. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,274

    A new hard drive isn't expensive, it won't break you. But if you can't find the o/s cd, you need to purchase one and then the choice of putting your current HDD in an ext. enclosure or as a 2nd internal is up to you.
  6. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Some new info:
    I still haven't been able to locate the OS cd and might have to settle for purchasing a new one online, even though the cheapest price I've been able to find has been $140 so far. I hit the F10 key while booting the laptop just now and entered BIOS and ran the Short HDD Self-Test which came back as a "Pass" which should mean the hard drive itself isn't the issue here, I believe.
    So is buying a new XP cd and an external hard drive really the only solution? I'm pretty tight on cash (and time) at the moment so spending $140.00 on a CD, $75.00 on a 100GB external HD plus however much a place like Best Buy charges to copy everything from the current HD to the external isn't the most appealing option...but is it the only one?
    Thanks again for any help.
  7. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,554

    I've fixed this type of problem many times.

    The first place to start is the file system. You need to run the Microsoft file system repair utility called CHKDSK. It's in Recovery Console. You boot from the Windows installation CD and select Recovery Console. The may or may not be an admin password. The you get a DOS session. At the prompt, enter "CHKDSK c: /r" (I presume your Windows installation is on c:)

    If that doesn't work, then you need to try a Windows repair as the problem my be corrupt Windows systems files.

    Report back with results.

    -- Andy
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +8

    Do you have the product ID for what you installed... It is accessible if the drive is accessible...
    I can perhaps send you a replacement disk if you can tell more about the old install.
  9. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Alright, I have updates

    First and foremost, I found the original O/S recovery CD for the laptop just now. I had to do a lot of digging through a ton of old and random CDs and boxes but eventually did find it.

    Second, I called HP tech support (the laptop model is an HP Pavillion zv6000) and spent over an hour on the phone with several representatives only to discover that they wouldn't help me since the computer's warranty had expired some months ago.

    After that I went to and went through their prompts until I found the problem most resembling my own; this

    It instructed me to unscrew and remove the memory module from the bottom of the computer and then place it back in. It was pretty vague about how to do this and where the memory module was located but with the help of an online pdf instruction manual for the laptop I eventually figured it out and completed the steps.

    Unfortunately, following those steps and removing and reseating the memory module did not help and the computer just continued to loop the boot sequence as usual afterward.

    After that was when I went hunting even more for the OS recovery CD and eventually found it. I put the CD in and after being met with a blue screen for a while it asked me to press R for the recovery console (which I did) and then it took me to a basic grey-text-on-black-background screen and asked me to enter the administrator password (there isn't one) so I pressed enter and was met with the "C:/ etc" command prompt and nothing else. This is as far as I've gotten. I wasn't sure what to do from there (I'm not an advanced user and haven't dealt with this sort of thing before) so I typed exit, it rebooted (and began looping again) and I manually shut the computer off.

    I skimmed through this Microsoft help page dealing with the Recovery Console CD and the commands but I'm still not sure exactly what to do and I don't want to mess anything up any further by doing the wrong thing.

    So, the bottom line is that I located the O/S recovery CD but I'm not sure what to do now. Any further help would be much appreciated.

    Thanks again!
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +8

    Hard to fix on a late Friday afternoon, but I suspect you are on the road to recovery... We will return to help... you may or may not need that recovery CD... but there is some work involved... perhaps a couple of hours or more.
  11. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,554

    You need to go back to that point where you had the c: prompt. That's what explained about using the file system repair utilitie CHKDSK. So, once you're at the c: prompt again enter the following:

    c:\chkdsk c: /r

    And that will start the file system repair.

    Report back with results.

    -- Andy
  12. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Alright, I put in the OS recovery CD, went through the prompts and then entered "chkdsk c: /r" when necessary. The CHKDSK scan ran for a few hours and just now finished, telling me that it had found and fixed one or more errors. I typed exit into the command prompt and the computer rebooted...only to go through the same never ending looping boot sequence yet again. I let it loop for a while and then gave up and manually shut it off yet again. I took out the OS recovery CD and tried booting it again, same problem, just the looping boot sequence.

    So what now?

    As always, thanks for all the help and support in this matter.
  13. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    OP here again:
    Since no one has responded since my last post 2 days ago I went ahead and bought a hard drive enclosure off since it seems that that's the next step here (although I could be wrong)

    This is the HD enclosure I bought in case anyone has feedback:

    It's a "Ultra 2.5" Aluminum USB 2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure 31738" and seemed to be the best reviewed 2.5" (laptop) enclosure out there.

    Now, as for when I get the enclosure...I've never taken a hard drive out of a machine before, much less connected one via USB to another computer. What exactly does this require? Is it as easy as taking the laptop HD out, putting it in the enclosure and plugging the USB cable into the HD on one end and my working desktop PC's USB port on the other end?

    Also, will it show up as just a drive full of folders and files on my computer when it's plugged in like an external HD or a flash drive would? I'm just thinking ahead about the possibility of whatever's wrong with the laptop being transferred to my working PC when I put it in an enclosure and connect it to the working machine...ideally what I'd like to have happen is just to access the laptop HD, go through and save what I need, then when I'm sure I've got everything of value off it, re-install the operating system and transfer back the saved files I need on it from the other computer. Will I be able to do this using the enclosure?

    Thanks as always for any help!
  14. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,398   +170

    I haven't read through everything in the thread in detail to catch if this might help (at least with file recovery before you go the next step). but here's a userful boot disk to try and recover your files/ try and access the internal HD even before you remove it. See How to recover your folders/files when Windows won’t boot
  15. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,274

    You guessed it!
    It sounds like you're installing the external on a different PC? Regardless, it will show up like a flash drive, you'll be able to copy everything and anything from it, and then install it back to your laptop and rinstall the o/s like you mention.
    One word of caution, if you don't have a spare HDD, I would make sure you bak up often so as to not lose any files.:)
  16. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +8

    That will usually work, but it really doesn't have enough power to drive the hard drive with only one USB connection... especially if the drive is a SATA drive. Hopefully it will have two USB connections so you can get the power rating up to an equivalent of DC +5V... or two USB connections on a Desktop computer when plugged into the back.
  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,398   +170

    I agree you want to be sure you get enough power to an external drive. But I think the best way to assure that is always buy an HD and/or just an enclosure then buy one that provides its own A/C power cord!
  18. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +8

    Or buy an external docking station... which takes care of the problem if an external dock is acceptable... but the security problems multiply.
    Drives smaller than 3.5" are not sold with external power adapters (DC +5V), though you can make them out of adapters for other components if you can find the right diameters for the plug.. You cannot buy an adapter that provides full power to a 2.5": or 1.8" hard drive enclosure... and one USB cable does not provide adequate power. You have to use two USB drives in tandem.
  19. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Hello all, OP here again

    I just received the external hard drive enclosure in the mail today; the latest three posts seem to suggest that there might not be enough power going to the drive...unfortunately this is something I know basically nothing about. From looking up the specs on the laptop's hard drive (the laptop is an HP Pavilion zv6000) the drive type is apparently "Enhanced IDE (ATA-6 or PATA)." Not sure what that'll mean, if anything, for using it with the enclosure. I took some pictures of the contents of the hard drive enclosure that I received today so that someone here can maybe determine whether or not this will be suitable and will have enough power, etc.


    Once I get a go-ahead from here that this enclosure will be fine, I'll put the laptop's HD into it and plug it into my desktop PC to try and get the files off there that I need.
    So once again, any chance that this could mess things up further? I've got a lot of files on that HD that I need so I'd like to know if there's any possibility that doing this could permanently erase, damage or format anything. Thanks again for all the help, hopefully what I've got here should be adequate to get the files I need off of the HD, but if it's not let me know! :)
  20. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,398   +170

    No, simply putting it in the enclosure and then connecting to your desktop shouldn't cause any damage. Let us know what happens!
  21. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Hello, OP here yet again
    Sorry about the delay between posts, I was away for a week. Anyway, here's the next chapter in the saga...I unscrewed and removed the hard drive from the broken laptop and put it into the enclosure and screwed it all together, making sure to follow the instructions closely. After that was done I plugged the USB cord into the enclosure on one end and into a different, working laptop on the other end. After that I plugged in the black power cord into the enclosure and then into another USB slot on the laptop. The blue light on the enclosure came on and made a little beeping sound and that was it. I waited about 2 minutes but there was no sign from the laptop at all that anything had been plugged in or any new drive had been recognized. I put my ear to the enclosure and heard whirs and clicks from inside but there was still no new drive recognized on the computer like there would be if you inserted a USB flash drive or an external HD into the USB port. I restarted the laptop, unplugged the enclosure from the laptop, plugged it back in, still nothing. The blue light went off when I unplugged it and went back on it when I plugged it back in again and I could hear whir noises from the enclosure still but the laptop didn't recognize anything at all. Here are pictures of the enclosure plugged into the working laptop with the blue power light on:


    Maybe someone recognizes something wrong with that setup, but as far as I can tell I did everything as I was supposed to and followed the enclosure's instructions to the letter. I also tried plugging the enclosure into my desktop computer (also has XP) to the same result; the blue power light came on but the computer didn't recognize anything at all.

    So, any advice for what to do now or any insight into why this is happening?
    Thanks as always!
  22. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    OP here again, bumping for help on what to do next :eek:
  23. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,398   +170

    I think the best first step...

    Rather then trying to troubleshoot why it's not recognized in the enclosure, i think your first priority is being able to recover your data.

    I suggest placing the drive back into the computer (where we know it at least spins and gets read). And i offer the same advice as earlier in the thread. See How to recover your folders/files when Windows won’t boot. Burn a Knoppix CD and boot into Knoppix. Then copy/paste your personal data to back it up to a USB drive. and THEN you can proceed to get the darned drive fixed and bootable again.
  24. TDominici

    TDominici TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    OP here again; it's been several months since my last post but I'm still dealing with this same problem...there's data on the laptop I'd like to retrieve and I still have found no way of doing so.
    I did burn a Knoppix CD and inserted it into my laptop but it didn't seem to make any difference and the machine just looped the boot sequence as usual without giving any hint that it recognized the CD.
    Anything else I can do?
  25. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,398   +170

    I know we've PM'ed but am glad you re-posted here as i'd forgotten much of the earlier parts of the thread and what you've been through already by now. Yikes!

    From your PM's it sounds like you've by now managed to download the Knoppix file correctly and burned it as an image. If your laptop continues to fail to recognize it as bootable I suggest you go try it on a friend's computer you know is working and recognizing bootable CDs so you can test it to know for sure if it;s bootable or not.

    ALSO.... Have you tried hitting ESC on power up and during the HP flash screen? I think this should take you a screen that prompts you for the boot device where you can select the CD.
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