XP hangs in boot

By mroek
Jul 21, 2006
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  1. Perhaps I need to tell the full story, even if I am unsure if it has any relevance.

    A week ago I decided to play around with some video card settings. My old CRT was developing a fault, and I had a new monitor ordered (Dell 2007FP). To see how my video card would cope with the 1600x1200 resolution of the new monitor, I fiddled with some settings, and of course I managed to get into some mode the old CRT could not display. As fate would have it, this particular setting was not one of those that reverts in 15 seconds, so there I was, with a fully functional computer, only problem I could not see anything.

    Knowing that it was a long time since I had tweaked or changed anything, I tried booting my computer with the "Last Known Good Configuration". Big mistake. The computer booted, but for some reason this caused havoc with both Mediaplayer and DirectX. I then got this fixed, and also installed the latest Catalyst 6.6 drivers for the video card (old Radeon 9500 PRO / 9700). Driver installation went fine, and I also went to Windows Update to get most of the updates for my computer (running SP1, I have held back on SP2). I do this seldom, so there were a lot of updates. I installed all the security updates, and only skipped a few irrelevant ones (I never touch Outlook, so updates for that was skipped). There was one security update that refused to install, but I cannot remember the number (except it ends on 98) of it. I Googled it, and it seemed to be a common problem.

    However, the computer worked just fine for a couple of days, and then I got the new monitor. Installed that, and working in 1600x1200 was really, really nice. Recommended. A couple of days with no problems, enjoying the new monitor, and then disaster struck. I shut the computer down in the evening, and the morning after it refused to boot. It hangs at the splash screen, and disk activity stops. The keyboard lights do their normal flashing some time before it hangs.

    I only had a couple of hours to work on it before leving for holiday (where I am now, writing this on my laptop). Here's what I've tried:

    Booting to safe mode works (which is hopefully a good sign). I tried running msconfig, and choosing "Diagnostic startup". Didn't work. I then tried "Selective startup" with everything unchecked. Didn't work, but even worse, I was unaware that this would delete all my restore points. Oops. Quite stupid, but nothing to be done about it after the fact.

    I've tried enabling boot logging, but the boot log is not written to (this may be a hint for the experts out there), except when I boot to safe mode, and that's pretty useless anyway. There are some events in the event log (4609, 7001, 10005 are those I remember), but I am not sure if they were written when I booted into safe mode.

    I've Googled for information, but I am quite stuck. I would like to avoid doing a repair installation. What I haven't tried is "Last Known Good...", but my recent experience with this was not good, so I haven't tried that. According to this Microsoft page (which contains lots of info):

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/reskit/c29621675.mspx

    the "Last Known Good" only updates only one of the control sets, so it is perhaps possible to export this key while in Safe mode, prior to trying to boot with it? The purpose would of course be to be able to go back if necessary.

    I've also found a few other interesting links:

    http://www.short-media.com/review.php?r=313&p=1
    http://www.practicalpc.co.uk/computing/windows/xprepair5.htm

    ..but I don't think any of it will do the trick. I am pretty sure the MBR is OK (or else it wouldn't even have booted to Safe mode), and the same goes for boot.ini (which looks ok). I guess the vital startup files referenced in table 29-1 in the Microsoft link is also OK, or else it wouldn't have booted to safe mode.

    I am stumped, and I would be very grateful to have any really good hints as to what I can try without making things worse. A reinstall is a nightmare, so I am desperately hoping to find a way to fix this.

    I'm running XP Professional with NTFS, in case that matters.

    I will not be able to test any suggestions until I get back home in a few days, but I am hoping that this thread may bring the solution to the mystery so that I will get up and running again as soon as I get back. I will of course respond to this thread if there are questions.


    Regards
    -Øyvind
  2. Peddant

    Peddant Newcomer, in training Posts: 1,644

    A repair install maybe ? HERE

    EDIT :I`ve just read that you want to avoid a repair.
  3. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,646

    Vid card drivers can be a touchy item to futz with. you have SP1 and an older card which may add up to not working with the Catalyst 6.6 version.
    I would suggest a rollback on the Vid driver.
    Always reset the video drivers to Standard VGA and reboot . Then use the driver cleaning utility from ATI to remove all traces of existing files .
    I also recommend using the Driver Only file from ATI and install it in safe mode with anti virus/TSR's and any other programs shut down including disconnection fro the Internet.
    Let us know how it goes.
  4. mroek

    mroek Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Yes, it is of course possible that the video drivers are the culprit, although they worked fine for a day or two.

    Do I need to use the rollback feature? I would have thought that removing/uninstalling would be sufficient?

    If I use the "Driver only" download, I will not get the ATI Control Panel, right?

    I was unable to find the ATI driver cleanup utility, is that a third-party application? Link?

    Regards
    -Øyvind
  5. sellmesanity

    sellmesanity Newcomer, in training Posts: 268

  6. mroek

    mroek Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Got back home an hour ago, and now my computer is OK again.
    It was the display driver, I removed it (and the ATI Control Center) in safe mode, and the computer then booted in normal mode again. Installed the driver cleaner and ran that, then I installed the "Driver only"-file from ATI. Finally I installed ATI Tray Tools.

    Thanks for the help! Liquidlen was spot on!
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