Unable to Fix a Corrupt HAL - XP

By EXCellR8
Jan 20, 2010
  1. I'm stuck trying to fix my cousin's Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop but it's giving me a LOT of trouble. Basically, I get the old "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>\system32\hal.dll" which I've seen many times before but was able to fix. She told me that she was watching a DVD and the computer lost (battery) power and shut off; then she couldn't get XP Professional to boot again.

    So, I've tried expanding the file from her Dell OEM CD which was successful but didn't fix the bigger problem. I also wrote a new MBR, ran chkdsk /f /r and tried fixing the boot.ini but i've made no progress. I've made sure that the BIOS settings are configured correctly but there seems to be more than one bootable partition on the drive. C:\ is shown as Unknown, D:\ is a backup, and F:\ is formatted with FAT32. I need to get C:\ booting again but it doesn't come up as a Windows XP Installation when I run recovery console. Any advice?
  2. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Bit of an update, although I think I've hit a dead end and a format is probably required...

    I was finally able to copy a new hal.dll (and a bunch of other missing/corrupted files) to the hard drive but it seems the actual problem is much more complicated. the drive is sata interface so i was able to use it in my desktop so that i could back up her personal data. that worked fine and then i put the drive back in the inspiron.

    It took some time but I finally got the laptop to show the regular boot menu automatically after fixing and editing the boot.ini file several times. problem now is i face a bsod when windows xp goes to load, but it doesn't call for any more files at least. i deleted the unnecessary partitions so it's booting from the right one now (C:\WINDOWS) but it still doesn't start. the hard drive itself is fine and checks out with testdisk and other ms repair tools. i've written a new MBR several times as well and ran fixboot, bootcfg and chkdsk too. no dice. not sure what to do though... will format it tomorrow if nobody has any quick advice.
  3. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    You can try a repair installation (before doing a reformat and complete reinstall) using your Dell install CD?
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