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Random characters on BOOT & Unable to format...

By liam.huse
May 10, 2007
  1. Hello everyone, first off i would just like to say hi, seeing as this is my first post.

    Recently my brothers PC has started to develop a problem during gameplay, the screen will freeze then either restart or return to normal after a few minutes, then repeat.

    I managed to work it down to the graphic card driver (nv4_disp) being the problem (did a search and found some interesting threads, but didn't solve my problem). This driver also caused random "0" characters and other characters on the BOOT screen.

    After uninstalling the driver and using an older one the characters went, but it only lasted for a few hours, if that.

    Anyways, i then decided to re-format the hard drive but it will not let me. I used the repair screen which allowed me to enter the "format c:" then asked for confirmation which i put "Y" and then nothing happened. I also tried deleting the partition using the XP CD but that didn't let me either, it said something like, "Unable to delete, important files used in setup are in this partition".

    So i am stuck, could it be the gfx card packing up, the driver that is causing it all, BIOS problem or hard drive problem?

    It has never happened before.

    *SPECS ARE*
    Asus P4S800 mobo 10.09 BIOS
    2.4ghz Prescott Intel P4
    1gig of RAM (not too sure on make)
    XFX GeForce 6600 256mb gfx card

    * I hope you can get through all that info. I look forward to your replies.
     
  2. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Posts: 432

    Upgrading by downgrading.

    Hi Liam,

    The newer the video card, the newer the driver. And far too often, people will update their drivers unnecessarily because the latest update simply adds support for something you don't even have (like Vista). Here, the old axiom: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies.

    Reformatting your drive and reinstalling Windows should be your absolute last resort. But if your configuration becomes so hopelessly trashed that it becomes easier just to start from scratch rather than fix it, then do it. But be sure you have all your drivers and config info either saved or written down someplace first before you do. Remember you probably won't be able to get online to download a necessary driver right after you format/reinstall Windows.

    You didn't specify your exact steps, but unless you have a FULL version of Windows on CD, you can't just format your drive and reinstall it. If you have the Windows UPGRADE cd, you must have an earlier version of Windows installed first before you can install a new one. (I remember that the old Windows95 upgrade could be reinstalled simply by creating a folder called "Windows" from DOS and putting a file in it called "win.exe". Dunno if this same trick still works.)

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. liam.huse

    liam.huse TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the reply mugsy. I wrote a big long reply and then my internet went down and didn't get posted.

    So here is a shorter version.

    Basically, the original driver was causing crashes and freezes, then updating to the newer driver caused even more problems, such as the random characters on BOOT.

    I have a Windows XP OEM disc. I have reformated many times before without an issue, but this time it's seems to be corrupted.

    Im really looking for an explanation to the problematic driver and the inability to reformat.

    I look forward to more replies. Any information/ideas are appreciated and welcomed!!
     
  4. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 3,556

  5. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Posts: 432

    Fixing driver

    First, no need to replace the driver if you plan on reformatting and reinstalling Windows anyway. But before you do, go to nVidia.com and download the latest driver package (if you have an older download you know worked well, use that instead. My experience has been that the packages get less compatible as your card gets older.)

    If your copy of Windows is on a CD-R/CD-RW that is more than a few years old, the ink (between the layers) may be fading. Make a fresh copy before reformatting. If it's a Manufacturers CD, check it for scratches, dirt or fingerprints. Clean it with a soft lens cloth before using.

    Naturally, you should of already backed up everything of importance before reformatting.

    Then follow the usual procedure of reformatting and reinstalling Windows (boot from CD and do a full install). Make sure there isn't any setting in BIOS that might prevent you from doing this. Temporarily disable any "boot sector virus protection" in your BIOS so you can alter the MBR when reformatting (be sure to set it back when you're done).

    When Windows is back up and running, install the video driver ON THE CD THAT CAME WITH THE CARD FIRST. Frequently, critical "base" files needed for the card to run aren't included in the upgrade packages. It's also likely to be the most stable driver for your card. Once it is working, you can choose whether or not to update the driver.

    Deactivate any anti-virus software you my have running before updating any driver (while you're at it, disable EVERY tray app just to be safe).

    Let us know what happens.
     
  6. CraigMc

    CraigMc TS Rookie Posts: 50

    This seems to be a "known issue" with some NVidia Graphics cards. I've had varied success with backdating the driver to version 78 for older cards. Newer cards generally a BIOS update then comnplete clean install with latest driver seems to do the trick. There are a *lot* of threads on different forums dedicated to this problem so it seems to be an inherant problem that may or may not happen and may or may not be fixable.

    When I was getting this problem I found I could reduce the probablilty of it happening by resetting my BIOS to "Fail safe" defaults, the only down side being that this effectively underclocks my computer so it runs a little slowly now, but BSoD's don't happen very often at all now :)
     
  7. liam.huse

    liam.huse TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thankyou for all the replies, i will have a go of some of the suggestions soon. If i manage to fix the problem i will make sure i post an update.

    Thanks for all the help!
     
  8. liam.huse

    liam.huse TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, i replaced the GFX card and everything is fine now, although it still doesn't solve the issue with the card. I will probably stick it in an older comp and send a support enquiry to XFX or something and see if it can get fixed. If i do find a fix for this problem i will post the results.

    Thanks for all the help!!
     
  9. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Posts: 432

    I suspect it was just a driver issue. The card should work fine in another PC witha fresh install, using the diver on the included CD.
     
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