Black screen with blinking cursor

By coyote55 ยท 15 replies
Mar 19, 2011
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  1. I have a Dell Inspiron 6000 Laptop with Windows XP operating system.

    When I start my laptop I get the DELL welcome screen then I get the F1/F12 option and then it goes to a flashing curser in the top left corner of my screen.

    I have read many posts and have tried the suggestion by "wanna be geek" (at the end of this post). I have also booted from my DELL Drivers and Utilities disk and ran a full test of my hardware and it indicated that all was well. The CHKDSK test ran well too. Can someone help me?

    Insert your Windows XP CD into your CD and assure that your CD-ROM drive is capable of booting the CD.
    Once you have booted from CD, do not select the option that states: "Press F2 to initiate the Automated System Recovery (ASR) tool." You're going to proceed until you see the following screen, at which point you will press the "R" key to enter the recovery console:

    After you have selected the appropriate option from step two, you will be prompted to select a valid Windows installation (Typically number "1"). Select the installation number, (As mentioned, "1" in most cases), and hit enter. If there is an administrator password for the administrator account, enter it and hit enter. You will be greeted with this screen, which indicates a recovery console at the ready:

    Continue to page 2 to proceed with the repair functions.

    Proceeding With the Repair Functions
    There are eight commands you must enter in sequence to repair any of the issues I noted in the opening of this guide. I will introduce them here, and then show the results graphically in the next six steps. These commands are as follows:
    C: CD ..
    C: ATTRIB -H C:\\boot.ini
    C:ATTRIB -S C:\\boot.ini
    C:ATRIB -R C:\\boot.ini
    C: del boot.ini
    C: BOOTCFG /Rebuild
    C: CHKDSK /R /F
    To "Go up a directory" in computing is to revert back to the directory above the current folder you're operating in. If, for example, I'm in the C:WINDOWSSYSTEM32 directory, and I want to get at a file in the WINDOWS directory, I would merely type CD .. and I would be taken out of the SYSTEM32 folder and up one level to WINDOWS. We're going to do the same thing here from the WINDOWS folder to get to the basic root of C:

    Now that we are at C: we can begin the process of repairing the operating system and that begins with modifying the attributes of the BOOT.INI file. Briefly, BOOT.INI controls what operating systems the Windows boot process can see, how to load them, and where they're located on your disk. We're going to make sure the file is no longer hidden from our prying eyes, remove the flag that sets it as an undeletable system file, and remove the flag that sets it as a file we can only read, but not write to. To do this, we will issue three commands in this step:

    to remove the Hidden, System and Read Only flags.

    Now that we've modified the attributes for the BOOT.INI file, it's up for deletion. The syntax for it is simple: { DEL | FILE NAME }, e.g., CEL BOOT.INI deletes the BOOT.INI file.

    Now for the most important step of our process, the BOOTCFG /REBUILD command which searches for pre-existing installations of Windows XP and rebuilds sundry essential components of the Windows operating system, recompiles the BOOT.INI file and corrects a litany of common Windows errors. It is very important that you do one or both of the following two things: First, every Windows XP owner must use /FASTDETECT as an OS Load Option when the rebuild process is finalizing. Secondly, if you are the owner of a CPU featuring Intel's XD or AMD's NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option. I will demonstrate both commands for the purpose of this guide, but do not set NOEXECUTE as a load option if you do not own one of these CPUs. For the "Enter Load Identifier" portion of this command, you should enter the name of the operating system you have installed. If, for example, you are using Windows XP Home, you could type "Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" for the identifier. This gives the process some authenticity, if you're keen on being a perfectionist.
    I can't put the last screen shot in cause I am limited to 6 but if you made it this far you should be good to go.

    This step verifies the integrity of the hard drive containing the Windows XP installation. While this step is not an essential function in our process, it's still good to be sure that the drive is physically capable of running windows, in that it contains no bad sectors or other corruptions that might be the culprit. No screenshot necessary here! Just type CHKDSK /R /F at the C:> prompt. Let it proceed; it could take in excess of 30 minutes on slower computers, when this is finished move on to the seventh and final step.

    This last step also requires no screenshot. When you are at the C:> prompt, simply type FIXBOOT. This writes a new boot sector to the hard drive and cleans up all the loose ends we created by rebuilding the BOOT.INI file and the system files. When the Windows Recovery Console asks you if you are "Sure you want to write a new bootsector to the partition C: ?" just hit "Y," then enter to confirm your decision.
  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    So this guide above did not work for you. All Dell diagnostics passed. Your error does usually mean a corrupt boot sector which the above guide should repair or your hard drive is defective or corrupted.

    I would suggest you follow the first paragraph of the above guide but continue past the Recovery console option and then you will come to the option to run a Repair Install, select that and let it run through the repair. Then see if it will boot up.
  3. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Windows Repair

    I performed the Windows Repair and it seemed to go through the process of repairing the Windows installation, but it still won't boot up after. During the repair my hard drive light was flashing, when I try to boot up normally my hard drive light never lights up.
    How do I know if my Check Disk test fails or passes? Maybe I am reading it incorrectly.

    Any more suggestions?
  4. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    Before I go any further, I may not be performing part of the original process to rebuild my boot sector correctly.

    This is the part I am not sure about:

    "It is very important that you do one or both of the following two things: First, every Windows XP owner must use /FASTDETECT as an OS Load Option when the rebuild process is finalizing. Secondly, if you are the owner of a CPU featuring Intel's XD or AMD's NX buffer overflow protection, you must also use /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN as an OS Load Option. I will demonstrate both commands for the purpose of this guide."

    I do have an Intel chip with an XD option. How do I enter both commands? The write up never does show how to enter both.

    Thank you for your help.
  5. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    Chkdsk will display results as it progresses so it should be obvious if it finds errors.

    I think the next thing to confirm is the physical health of the hard drive, run through this guide, you will need another PC to make the disk. If this confirms you hard drive is ok then do a full reinstallation of windows.

  6. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, but I while i was waiting I have tried another go at the boot sector. I am at the point where it is asking for me to enter the OS Load Options:

    Should I enter both OS Load options? And if so, how do I enter both at the same time?

    Thank you.
  7. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    Ok, I found what I needed to set the load options.

    Here are the results of my CHKDSK /R/F:

    Volume created 02/20/10 01:15pm
    The volume Serial Number is b0d8-9b9b
    CHKDSK is checking the volume...
    CHKDSK is performing additional checking or recovery...
    CHKDSK is performing additional checking or recovery...
    CHKDSK is performing additional checking or recovery...
    CHKDSK found and fixed one or more errors on the volume.
    156280288 kilobytes total disk space
    134091224 kilobytes are available

    4096 bytes in each allocation unit.
    39070072 total allocation units on disk.
    33522806 allocation units available on disk.

    Does this mean anything to you?

    I have downloaded the ISO for my Samsung HDD and will burn it shortly to perform the suggested tests.

    Any more thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,967   +2,526

    I have an added thought, unfortunately it isn't directly related to the issue.

    Instead of, "isoimageburner", why not gave "ImgBurn", a shot.
    This is probably a more flexible program that would encompass more of your overall burning needs. You be the judge. Plus, it's freeware too.
  9. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    When I was writing my last post No 5 your post No4 wasn't there although they appear to be an hour apart. Glad to see you have figured out the problem you were asking about.

    Lets see what the diagnostics on the disk come up with and take it from there.
  10. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I am not sure how to get this utility to work. When I first run it I get 3 options:


    When I choose "TOOL" I get 4 more options:

    SET MAX UDMA MODE.......tried and nothing seemed to happen.
    AUTOMATIC ACOUSTIC MANAGEMENT.....tried and nothing seemed to happen
    SELF DIAGNOSTIC.....tried the following: t will say: "Test Loop Count Number" with a flashing 1". I have tried 0, 1, and 2.

    Under Options i was able to run the "AUTO DETECTION" and it was able to detect my Samsung hard drive: "Primary Master Samsung HM160HC"

    Please advise? Thank you.
  11. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    You need to run the Self Diagnostics, it will take a while to complete. I have not used this diagnostics for quite a while so hopefully you can figure it out, I do recall it wasn't all that user friendly.
  12. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

  13. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    Ok, I was able to run the test and this is what it now says:

    " [Notice] Errors was detected in this test !!!
    It's recommended to do ERASE HDD!
    Then run the test program again.
    If errors still happen, please consult to Service Center.
    Press any key to continue."


    "Service Code => AJ36 : Bad Sector.
    Total Elapsed Time : 01:57:49
    Error Occured Test Loop Number 1
    Test was completed."

    So......It keeps suggesting that I backup my data then erase the HDD. How can I backup or save some of my files from this HDD before formatting? Any help on this would be great. Thanks.
  14. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Posts: 413

  15. coyote55

    coyote55 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Data Recovory

    Fantastic!!!!!! I have at the least recovered my data from the HDD. I would like to thank both Superty12 and Mark56 for all of the help I received today. It is unfortunate that I could not save the HDD, but the data was more important.

    Actually, I may still try to re-format the HDD and see if it will work again.

    Again, THANK YOU!!!!
  16. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    Glad to hear you saved everything and found the problem.

    If all this drive has is bad sectors on it then a low level format is a good place to start and then running chkdsk /r should stop the bad sectors from being used. I have an old laptop running in this condition and it works fine. But I would never store anything important on it.

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