Intro and a problem

By Poodleheadmikey
May 27, 2008
  1. I am a fairly old guy who has been using computers (so to speak <g>) without much understanding of them since before DOS was invented. The endless virus and anti-virus wars eventually wore me down to the point where I bought a used PowerMac for all internet use.

    I have a stack of failed-for-one-mysterious-reason-or-another PC's here. From Win3.1 through Win2000. And some that still work.

    One is a Gateway running WinXP. It was always fine here. My 90 year old father is sort of facinated with computers but then only plays very simple games on them such as Solitaire.

    I gave him the aforementioned Gateway for that purpose.

    It was fine until one day he claimed that he couldn't turn it off. So he pulled the plug.

    Ever since then it freezes on start-up. Under the logo there is a small bar with some blue dots moving left and right. The dots stop and the unit then does nothing even if you wait for days.

    Sometimes turning it off and then on will do nothing - just a blank screen.

    But at other times it wll display the startup logo and also a message which says:

    To display system messages press TAB
    To enter setup press F1

    Entering setup does nothing for me because I have no idea what I am even looking at.

    Entering 'display messages', and then (when prompted) hiting ESC takes me to a screen which asks if I want to Start Windows Normally or if I want to use various forms of Safe Mode.

    Using Safe Mode I can apparently do anything that I picture my father would want to do, but he will never 'get' how to use the computer that way.

    What is wrong with this thing?

    How do I correct it?

    Any ideas?


  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Pulling the plug can upset the power pack but it is more likely there is a corrupt Windows file used during startup.

    First start windows by booting up and rapidly banging on the F8 key> you may not catch it first time, but keep restarting until you do. You will see a blue screen with various options, selectable with the keyboard up/down. You've seen it already)

    Select the Last Known Good Configuration item from the menu and press [Enter].

    If that doesn't work, restart F8 again and now select the Safe Mode item from the menu and press [Enter].

    Once Windows XP boots into Safe mode, click on my computer and right-click the C: drive. Select properties and the tools tab. Click on error checking - check now. Check on at least the first option to automatically repair problems. If there is hard drive damage, you may need to take the second option later, but that runs for sometimes hours, so leave it for now.

    If the hard drive checks out ok, click the Start button, access the All Programs | Accessories | System Tools menu, and select System Restore. Because you’re running in Safe mode, the only option on the opening screen of the System Restore wizard is Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time, and it’s selected by default, so just click Next. Then, follow along to select a restore point and begin the restoration procedure.

    If that fails we are into fixing damage to boot.ini, corrupt partition boot and corrupt master boot record, doing a repair installation, but we will cross those bridges when we get there.....
  3. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks! I've already tried "restore to earlier" though

    And without positive success.

    But I'll run through your other suggestions and report back.

    I'll meet you right here, OK? <g>


  4. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The " F-8 " tapping does nothing

    No matter how soon I start or how long I continue.

    To get to any use-able screen I have to use TAB to display the startup messages and then ESC to open the "Open Windows Normally / Start in (various) Safe Mode" screen.

    I also tried (in safe mode) doing the repair you detailed but a message then says that (somethingorother) needs unrestricted access - would I like the schedule this task for the next time Windows restarts?

    I clicked YES but as Windows never actually starts - it does not appear to be doing the repair things you wanted.

    Let me go see what it's doing now.

  5. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    OK - now it does this:

    The only way to start is effectively without freezing is to hit TAB on the Gateway logo screen. The hit ESC to show the start up messages.

    But now it pauses before those are completed. Waits about a 40-50 seconds. Then restarts in normal mode - freezing at the point that I first described.

    Is there a way to force it to do the repairs that you suggested while it is running in Safe Mode? Without waiting for a restart?

    Or if not; now what? <g>

    Sorry to be such a pain in the ****. I really feel that I should know more after all these decades. But I don't apparently.

  6. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hey! That was not a bad word! <g>

    It started with a B and ended with two T's.

    Just to clarify. <g>

  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    You say you can get into safe mode ? Do you get a screen with 'safe mode' in all four corners, icons on the screen, a start button and access to the startup memu much as normal?

    I thought you could normally run a drive check from there. Will it run if you dont select the 'automatically repair problems'?

    Sometimes you can force F8 startup mode by simply holding a key down permanently, so the PC thinks there is a stuck key. Do this after the bios is well started, or you will just enter the bios.

    I am looking for a way of getting to the startup options, so you can, instead of safe mode, select 'safe mode command prompt only'

    At the command prompt, key CHKDSK /F and press enter. This is the same as running drive check in windows normal or safe mode, but with no problem about repair access to the drive. We want to get a damaged hard drive out of the way first......
  8. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    If the safe mode works, try running system file checker in it - run sfc /scannow
  9. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    This is what chkdsk says:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator>chkdsk/f
    The type of the file system is NTFS.
    Cannot lock current drive.

    Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like this to schedule this volume to be checked run the next time the system restarts? <Y/N>


    Which is pretty much what happens when we try to check though Windows itself.

    Now what?

  10. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    running sfc /scannow results in the same message

  11. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    You are going to need to borrow an XP CD at some stage, and do things with Repair Console, like 'fixmbr'

    In the meantime, if you can get to Safe mode command prompt only, try

    CHKDSK /F /X (the X forces a drive dismount first)
  12. Poodleheadmikey

    Poodleheadmikey TS Rookie Topic Starter

    /X gave the same answer. Will a XP Home work?

    I am fairly sure I have an XP Home Edition (stand alone) CD here . . . . . somewhere. <g>

    I am positive that I don't have an XP Pro CD here.

  13. omar5575

    omar5575 TS Rookie Posts: 21

    okay guys i have a real bad problem, i think this is the place for it, i have a sony vaio laptop (VGN-FS215B) and basically, for the past year or so, it has VERY random crashes, when it feels like it, io would start it up normally, VAIO would come on the screen and freeze. thats it, i ill then have to restart it (holding button down) sometimes up to 4 times to get it working, YET on other occasions it can start like 10 times with no freeze!.

    i have used the vaio recovery utility and it worked, but as i did all the updates and programs (4 like antivirus, firewall etc) it did it one more time, then went back to normal, i know for a fact it wasnt these programs I installed, i ahve them on my pc and this probloem formed before these, i have no idea what to do, ive changed boot sequence, everything and nothing!! its just so random there is no trend! though after my reformat it has decreased massively, but any ideas on how to stop this permanently??

  14. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    omar5575, it would be best if u would start u're own thead so u do not confuse things here.

    thank you
  15. omar5575

    omar5575 TS Rookie Posts: 21

    oh okay, good idea! thanks and sorry!
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