Dell Dimension 3100c Won't Boot

By Wobwill
Oct 12, 2008
  1. Hi,

    My girlfriend has the above named computer. It has not been modified in any way since she bought it 18 months / 2 years ago. She runs XP home on it and recently decided that she wanted to install XP SP3, so hit the button and installed it. Since she has done this we have not been able to boot the computer. It will boot to the loading page of windows and encounter an error and close to a blue screen. We get the following two error messages depending on what I've been doing, these are




    Her DVD drive does not appear to work, in that it does not read any data from any disks and hasn't done for some time. It will spin and flash a green light but won't pick up any data. Her PC does not have a floppy drive, but does have a multicard reader in its place.

    We have an external USB DVD drive that I know boots (I installed XP on an asus eee pc from it), but I cannot seem to get the dell to recognise it. Each time it tells me that there is no device connected. I have made a number of changes in the BIOS and followed the advice from the user manual to try and achieve booting from the usb drive, but so far no joy.

    I am considering borrowing the internal dvd drive and floppy drive from my computer and using those to try and boot into dos or another environment (I think there is a dell utility that allows access to a HD if you can't boot the OS).

    I have a USB flash drive (1G) but this is not bootable. I also have access to a 256MB and a 2G SD card. I have made the 2G SD card bootable in the past. I cannot find information that tells me if her computer will boot from an SD card.

    I also have access to 2 external usb HD's, both are backup drives. One is a 80G sata drive about 3/5th full with ghost images, the other is a 40G drive with copies of my girlfriends documents. She has not backed up since June.

    I have already taken out her HD and attached it to the Sata board from my external HD, and plugged that into a USB port on my computer. I think the USB would not supply enough power to get the HD spinning, even using the second usb plug to boost power.

    The options as I see it are:

    1) make one of the SD cards bootable and see if I can boot from it. If so wehay! and I can copy out the files to her HD under dos. I think I can then run the executable form the i386 folder of our copy of windows XP from her HD and install windows on her machine that way. Or alternatively run the F11 restore utility, if she has it.

    2) borrow the internal dvd drive from my computer and see if that will connect to hers and then try and boot windows from the windows cd and do a repair, copy her files, then install windows from scratch.

    What do people think about these options, are they viable? or am I barking up the wrong tree? Are there other or better options that I haven't thought of / know about?

    Any help or advice would be really appreaciated.


    PS - I consider my ability to be moderate - I don't know how to format a disk from DOS, but I know where I can find out.
  2. BillAllen55

    BillAllen55 TS Maniac Posts: 368

    Is Safe Mode a possibilty?

    Is Safe Mode a possibility? When in the window asking about the safe mode you can go to the 'Systetm Restore process. Use the System Restore process
    Note Before you use System Restore, make sure that you have restarted the computer at least one time after you installed Windows XP SP3. By restarting the computer, you allow for any remaining servicing processes to finish.
    1. Click Start, and then click Run. (after you are at the system restore window)
    2. Copy and then paste the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    3. Click Restore my computer to an earlier time, and then click Next.
    4. Click the date on which you installed Windows XP SP3, and then click Installed Window XP Service Pack 3 in the Restore Point box.

    Good Luck!
  3. Wobwill

    Wobwill TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 47

    Hi Bill,

    (always nice to meet another William!)

    No, safe mode is not a possibility. I get the same blue screen and similar error messages.

    On another note I have also tried to access the Dell restore partition by hitting F11 during boot, but it does not seem to exist on my girlfriends machine. I get taken to a screen telling me that windows did not start normally and to choose a boot option (safe mode, normal etc).

    I have done this while typing and chose safe mode again, and have a blue screen with error message 0x00000007E.

    I am also in the process of trying to make a bootable SD Card, but don't know if it will boot on the Dell. I'll post as I go.

    Thank you for the advice and support.

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