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Can't Install Windows XP think its MBR or RAM failure?

By sambest19 ยท 35 replies
Sep 19, 2009
  1. Hi,

    I thought my hard drive was knackered after trying to reinstall windows xp after it seems a virus ruined it but when i tried to install it, it kept missing certain files saying it couldn't copy it so bought a new one. firstly it wasn't being picked up untill i played around with the BIOS which has now been picked up. I tried reinstalling windows xp on the new (well refurbished) HDD but I'm getting the same errors trying to install windows xp, can't copy certain files again, and its the same files!!!

    so i've read on a few forums that it could be the following...which would suggest (so i've read on forums anyway) that it's either overclocked (which don't think it is CPU is 35'C, cd/dvd doesn't work (which it must do or it wouldn't have got as far as the installation process), the MBR is infected by a virus or the final possibility is RAM memory is faulty.

    I did actually use memtest86 and it did show errors, but i am a bit of an amateur and can't tell if it's one or both of the RAMs and knackered? plus now since i've done this i keep getting the NTDLR error message and it won't even go into the windows xp setup any more!! :mad:

    Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Run MemTest86 again, one module at a time. This will take a LONG time, as you need to run it for four hours or seven passes on each module.

    Any errors are an indication that you need to replace the memory module. Bad memory does seem like a likely cause of the failures you report.

    Good luck.
  3. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,096   +418

    When this happened to me once, it was a bad RAM module. In my case it was a brand new build with all new parts. I removed the bad stick and was able to install Windows with just the remaining RAM.
  4. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Clarify please.
  5. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    Same here, it's a RAM problem. I've encountered this problem twice with customers. Suddenly the Windows installation program complains it can't copy files. Makes you think it's a hard drive or CD drive problem when it's a RAM problem. Swap your RAM.

    Also, the bad memory may have been what cause your system to crash and get corrupted, not a virus.
  6. Badfinger

    Badfinger TS Rookie Posts: 155

    I'd be cleaning that XP CD first and trying it again or in another drive.
    Second, I'd turn off my PC, unplug the main PSU cable, and remove all the dust/gunk from your case after pulling out your RAM, check the RAMs' contacts, clean dirty ones with a regular pink eraser then put the RAM back in and reboot.
    If that fails, try new RAM.
  7. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your responses guys.

    Well I've run memtest86 all night and it's still on test 1 so i don't know if i've done that wrong?! anyway its still running on test 1 (10 hours later) and so far there are 21000 errors and its still going!!!

    so am i right in thinking the RAM is buggered? Should i try taking it all out and cleaning out of dust? to be honest there is not a lot of dust in there by the looks of it, don't know if thats anything to do with the 3 fans inside the damn thing!

    Thanks in advance.

  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    If memtest runs and runs it is very likely to be bad ram, but are all the fans running? To have thousands of ram errors is very, very bad, and might actually point to failing power supply and/or motherboard. Or even incorrectly-seated ram. So many errors really points to a different problem, not the ram strip..

    Remove power from the PC entirely (mains switch). Check where the ram connector alignment slot is, and that it matches the cutout on the ram strip. Never touch the connectors or the chips, use the edges. Press down firmly (but dont bend the motherboard) until you feel it click into place and the latches close properly. If you can use a vaccuum with a non-metallic attachment, vacuum the slots - I once got an almost invisible peice of grit in mine, preventing proper seating.

    When replacing ram, first look up your exact motherboard on the manufactureres site, and if at all possible, discover what are the tested and approved ram sticks - including manufacturer. Not all ram sticks of the same type e.g. DRAM3200 etc. will necessarily work. Look particularly for ram manufacturer model numbers.

    Try this http://www.crucial.com/uk/?cpe=pd_google_uk&gclid=CLj29cGHgJ0CFaBb4wodlU0QAQ ot this http://www.corsair.com/

    A failed hard drive is still a possibility - can you put in another PC in place of say the CD/DVD (ensure master/slave connectors are right), and run an extended test on it (HDD manufacturer download).
  9. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    All it needs to do is report 1 error and the memory stick is bad! By 2100 errors, it's a no-brainer! Replace the memory stick.

    -- Andy
  10. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    ok i've got 2 1gb memory sticks, i ripped one of them out and er the dogs chewed it! anyway i ran memtest8ing card a6 again and wow no errors! so i'm down to 1gb RAM, so still need at least 1 nbew one me thinks. BUT assuming the remain still works I am still gettin g the NTDLR error when i try and rund the windows xp disc which is bizarre as it was working before (just not the copying all files part) ideas???
  11. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    This is a ripple effect! After repeatedly trying to isntall Windows with bad RAM, it's corrupted your file system. I've had this happen. You need to reformat the partition (non-quick method)

    Report back if you still have the problem. BTW, yes 1GB is plenty of RAM to install Windows.

    -- Andy
  12. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36


    Please see this section: MORE INFORMATION
  13. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Remove the partition, reboot, then reinstall the partition. Next, format the drive with a cold boot to your Windows disk. You can install windows with only 184 mb of memory.
    All will be back to normal when done with installing the drivers, beginning with updating the BIOS if it neds it, then the Chipset, followed by the video graphics, then everything else.
  14. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter


    you lost me at the start! by removing partition do you mean the HDD? and how do i "cold boot" to windows disc?

    and then assuming this works install windows xp and put in the driver discs for video graphics etc.??
  15. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    First, boot so that you can see the BIOS... usually F2, F10, or F12 as soon as it starts to turn on. Press once persecond until you get the screen.

    Then set the computer so that the CD Drive is first in the boot order... and the hard drive is second.

    Open the drive. Insert the disk. Close drive. Turn off computer.

    After about 12 to 20 seconds, press <ON> and let it boot to the Windows CD... You will get a series of blue screens... You will eventually get the choice to run a "Repair" install by pressind "R"
    This will allow Windows to install over the top of an existing install, repairing and replacing when necessary. It will usually not do any harm to any installed programs or files.

    Let it go through all its paces, until you can shut down.

    At this point, it is repaired as well as Windows can do it.

    But you will, at some point, need to reinstall all the Microsoft Updates, perhaps Internet Explorer 7 or 8, depending on what you had installed.

    That usually takes care of it.
  16. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Dont simply buy 'another 1Gb' it must be exactly matched, or you will probably get a whole new bunch of weird and wonderful errors even harder to clear away.
  17. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok cheers guys,

    It is a new, well refurbished HDD so will that still work under repair option if it gets that far? Will simply chossing boot from cd solve the NTDLR problem? because i am sure it is already set to cd, then floppy then HDD, does that make a difference?

    ok will makes sure it matches gbhall thanks
  18. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277


    At this point we know the problem is software, not hardware (i.e. your HDD is fine.) A partition means you reserve a section (partition) of your hard drive to install an OS (Windows) Most make the partition the whole drive. Part of making a partition is installing the file system. Then you can install Windows. Well, the Windows installation program helps you by walking you through making this partition and formatting it with a file system. All of this is software, not hardware. That NTDLR error was because the current file system is corrupt and cannot find the program to load Windows. So, you need to delete the old partition, make a new one and install Windows. This is all accomplished using the Windows installation CD.

    Just pop the Windows installation CD into your CD/DVD drive and boot from it. Follow the instructions and the choices are obvious but if you get confused just re-post.

    -- Andy
  19. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Yes, it makes a big difference. The only way to check the current order of boot is to go into the BIOS.

    From Raybay, Reply #15:
  20. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    well i have changed the boot sequence to CD/dvd/ HDD and then floppy disk and it still has the NTDLR message!!

    i the remaining 1gb RAM in the vacant slot (left by the one i removed) and it has made no difference

    surely i cannot format the partition without getting into the windows? i could do it externally i suppose in a HDD external case I have but think ive already done that last week!

  21. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    This error usually results from attempting to boot from a non-bootable source. Either the hard drive is failing or not properly setup in the BIOS, or you have a corrupt NTLDR or NTDetect file.
    In rare cases, you could have a misconfiguration of your Boot.INI file... or you could have made an error in setup, that makes the computer try to boot to a FAT 32 file.

    A jumper on the wrong pins is common.

    Sometimes this can be caused by the addition of a new hard drive, with either a failure of the SATA or ATA or EIDE cable, or the jumper is on the rong pin. But that can also be caused by a damaged EIDE or IDE or ATA ribbon cable or plug

    If your Windows XP or Windows VISTA is seriously corrupted or damaged, that can be the cause.
    Or if booting to a USB drive, it could be that the USB is not properly setup in The BIOS or the chipset.
    Usually, the problem is a simple one of the computer being unable to boot to a non-bootable source such as a defective CD or DVD drive, defective or failed hard drive that needs a reformat and reinstall.

    Almost always it is a user error.
  22. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Are you going to address my request for this?

    I'd like to know WHAT new one you bought and what the source was.
  23. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Having changed the boot order to CD/DVD first, your next step is to boot from cold with the install CD already in the drive ! If this does not boot from the CD as described post#16 you probably have a faulty CD drive. Does the CD drive light show when booting?
  24. sambest19

    sambest19 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I bought a REFURB: 80GB SATA Samsung HD080HJ/P Hard Disk Drive off ebay Bobbye. At first i thought it wasn't working at all as wasn't being pisked up so changed the BIOs to non-raid and it picked it up straight away so think it is working ok. The existing HDD was also a Samsung so not as if pc isn't compatible with Samsung?!

    gbhall i would tend to agree with you that the dvd/cd drive doesn't work but surely it wouldn't have even gone into xp setup and start installing before failing on copying the files?!

    raybay could this be a corrupt NTDLR?

    what i will do tonight is put in the existing HDD back in and take out the new (refurbished) one and that should solve the HDD being ok question, i'll check the ATA cables too and swap them with some spares i have. and i will also format the new (refurbished) HDD through my laptop in the external HDD case. is the best format to use NTFS?!
  25. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    well, with respect to the dvd/cd sometimes not recognised at all to boot from, but if it does, it still does not read properly. How much more evidence do you need? probably nothing wrong with your HDD, since without a full install, you dont get a proper ntldr and boot.ini, so Windows wont boot. Seems consistent to me.
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