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Computer won't start up

By CNBCLIES ยท 36 replies
May 14, 2009
  1. My daughter was having porblems with her computer running slow so I scanned it and found that there was a virus, removed it and it was running fine. After a few start ups and shut downs working fine, for no reason that I know of, now it won't start back up. It won't start in any of the safe modes, in the last good configuration it gave a message that there was a config.sys error.

    I tried a recovery disc and it only gives me 1 option and that is to format the drive, erase all files and so on.

    Any suggestions where to start would be appreciated!
  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    1. Some machines restore discs do give a non-destructive restore option.

    2. A full restore is wonderfully cathartic, and can bring much happiness.

    3. You might consider installing the HDD into another computer, copy your files (only the data files) then restore. With this approach, there is some danger of infection if all of the original infection is not removed.

    4. You could try running "sysconfig" (without the quotes from the safe mode) (type it into the "run box) to see what you can find out. A word of caution, don't try to change anything until you check back here.

    5. As I see it, this probably isn't a hardware question at all, but rather a "virus and malware removal" question.

    So, this thread should be either moved or restarted here: https://www.techspot.com/vb/menu28.html Perhaps one of our malware removal experts-slash-miracle workers will be able to deduce what damage has been done to Windows.

    Please take the time to read the 3 threads at the top of the page, as you will have to do some things from there before you start.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    Why do you say this is a virus or malware removeal problem, just curious.

    I get another error when trying to start that says either there was a power disruption at start up or a reset was done while booting up.

    I was tyring to figure out if this was a software or hardware problem so I chose hardware!

    Most of the start up functions seem to work, I can access the bios, boot menu, etc. When trying to start in windows, it runs windows for about 2 seconds and then gows back tot he boot menu page!

    I have an enclosre for the hard drive and if I have to, I can remove it and copy the files to my computer before restoring my daughters computer, I guess that's what you were saying on your first post!

    Captaincranky, I read the 3 threads that you mentioned, apparantly something happened when I cleaned and removed the infections, however the computer worked fine for several restarts afterwards. I get 2 messages, the power was interrupted or the power button was pushed while the computer was starting, therefore it was shutdwon by windows to protect the files.

    When I try to start it now, I get a message the config sys file is gone or corrupted.
  4. davisjaron

    davisjaron TS Member Posts: 82

    It's possible that one of two things happened.

    1. when you removed the virus you accidentally deleted or corrupted that system file as well (possibly because it was infected).

    2. the virus attacked that system file and may have deleted it or corrupted it.

    either way you would need to restore it... not neccessarily completely reformat... but you should have a repair function or just basic restore... you shouldn't have to reformat.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    The external HDD enclosure sounds like a good idea. An infection still present would present much less of a danger on a drive being used as a "slave", since none of the OS files would be loaded, hence there's less danger of a file involving malware "executing".

    First though, I'm a little confused why a manufacturer would set up their restore discs without the possibility of a "non-destructive" repair. My god man, even my Emachines does that!

    You can try perusing your recovery discs, and then copying and replacing the "sys.config" file or folder. There's no guaranty that this will work, due to the fact there may be "dll" or "dynamic library link" files that have to be installed rather than merely copied.

    If you opt to try and copy data from the HDD, be mindfull of everything you're transfering, since lurking among the passive files may be one or more malware executable files, which will install on the other machine if permitted to run.

    The virus problem you experienced at the onset of this issue, may have been downloaded from either a P2P network, or a social networking site, and you should have a chat with your daughter about how this came to pass.

    As I understand it, there are a couple of times during bootup that you can actually damage Windows if the power is interupted, you may have been unlucky enough to have stumbled upon one of those times.

    My best guess is that your problem is with software. Malware removal isn't always 100% effective, and the latter portion of your post suggests corruption af a Windows file.

    There certainly are other possibitities. A bad PSU could have interrupted the boot. A bad HDD could have lost or corrupted the Windows file.

    But, you said you had a viral infection, and sometimes damage remains after a threat has been removed. Where there's smoke there usually fire, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

    On the other hand these two incidents could be completely unrelated. Your first complaint is absolutely software related, It obviously remains to be seen if the second one is.

    With malware, security programs don't always catch everything, and a piece of software may require operator input to run. Hence it happened later is still a software possibility. So, a "Hijack This" log is something worth looking at.

    Obviously all of this is moot if you decide to restore the machine.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    Captaincranky, thanks for the response. This is where I'm at, I installed the hard drive in the enclose I have, it's a Nxxtech. When I plug it into my machine it'll access the drive and it shows up as drive F and drive G. Drive F says the file or directory is corrupt & unreadable. Of course when I try and open drive G, it tells me that this is a recovery disc and that the files are used to reboot or recover the system so be careful.

    That's pretty much the same I get with the hard drive in it's own machine. The hard dirve must be corrupted and the recovery is there waiting to do it's job.

    I tried to get at my daughters files but haven't had any luck, of course I'm pretty much a novice so maybe someone can help get into that drive.

    On the other hand, when I started the recovery process, it goes to PC Angel and then goes staright to reformat hard drive, this process will destroy or lose any data files, etc, would you like to contnue and then it gives me a dialogue box that says OK. Even though it's asking me if I want to do this, it doesn't give me an option to say "No".

    It does give me like 5 icons on the left side of the monitor, typical for a quick restore I believe but the cursor won't move and the reformat hard drive is highlighted, It's not giving me any other options.

    Any replies would be appreciated.

    By the way, it's an E Machine with windows XP that I'm working on.

    Davisjaron, how do I do the things that you've mentioned if I can't get the computer started. It just cycles and goes to windows will start in 24 sceonds or whatever it is and then it just tries to restart again. Please read my response to Captaincarnaky and you'll see where I'm at right now!

    Thanks in advance!

  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    OK. you have me stumped, because my Emachine (T-5026 P4 WinXP) has "PC Angel" and it offers a non-destructive restore option. Starting @ "Press F-11 to begin recovery". Both methods load a fresh copy of Windows,, but coming from (my D:/ your "G:/), When the discs themselves are used, they rebuild the recovery partition and reformat. I have no doubt things could be different with your box.

    The cycling problem you describe is a "My Computer" properties issue, where you have checked "reboot after error". Not your fault though. I'm pretty sure it's default is checked.

    Sometimes a "Live CD" of Linux can be run off of the CD drive. The latest "flavors" of Linux are able to read "NTFS" Windows files. The OS doesn't install, it runs off the CD drive and RAM. You can try downloading a copy of "Ubuntu" Linux, then burn it as an "image" <very important! http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

    In this case, you would insert the Linux CD, power down, then restart, following the options to "begin live session". I suppose you could pop the CD tray open cold with a paper clip, power off, but that seems a bit brutal.

    I think you could try this with either computer, no harm or change comes to the host computer, if you don't install Linux.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    I guess I confused you with the F & G drive thing. When I plugged my daughters hard drive into my functioning computer using the hard drive enclosure, her drive shows up on my computer as an F & G drive, my drives of course are C & D. I tried to run the PC Angel using the disc by typing R when prompted and also using F11 for recovery and both times it comes up with no options other than reformat the hard drive like I explained. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now, maybe put the hard drive back in to her machine and see what happens, if nothing I guess I'' have it reformat the hard drive.


    Is it possible that I could use another hard drive that I have and install it in my daughters computer. Her drive apparantly is corrupted and I'll have to take it somewhere to get her files off of it before it gets reformatted. For the time being, I have a hard drive that works fine, it has Windows 98 while her computer has XP. If I install that drive with windows 98 would it load?

    I'm thinking if it loads, she could use that for now because all she does is surf the internet, going to the social sites that you mentioned earlier, and by the way, I've spoken to her about those sites many times, thanks for the heads up though!

    I found this to be quite interesting to myself anyway, it may mean nothing. With my daughters hard drive, the bad one that's been corrupted, plugged into the front of my computer using a hard drive enclosure, I went to My Computer and right cliked which opened management. I then selected diak management and it shows my C & D drives along with my daughters hard drive which shows up as F & G drives.

    They all have NTFS as a file system except for the F drive which is my daughters corrupted drive, it has nothing for file system. The C drive also say's Healthy (system) while the F drive says, healthy (active).

    It sure looks like I should be able to get that drive working or at least be able to retrieve her important files.

    Any comments would be appreciated!
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    You're not willing to give a live Linux CD a try? It's worth a try.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    Captaincranky, Sure, I'll give it a try, I was just spouting a bit in that last post of mine.

    If I had any brains, yesterday when her machine was working and working well, I should've walked downstairs and grabbed my mass storage drive ( an old hard drive in that Nexxtech enclosure that I purchased ) and copied all of her files before shutting it down. If I would've done that I wouldn't have all these problems I'm faced with now, no brains I guess!

    Here is another angle, talking to my daughter, she seemed to indicate that the CD drive was not working, apparantly for quite some time. I'm thinking about installing her hard drive into my machine which works just fine, quite easy to install the hard drive and then try and boot up/restore from the CD.

    I guess I could look at the CD on my computer and see if it offers different restore options.

    Very tired and going to bed, I don't do much of this computer repair, very little so it's a lot of trial and error for myself, to the point of getting bug eyed!

    I'll check with you in the morning,,,

    Thanks for the suggestions/answers.........
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    You do understand that you have to be very judicious in selecting what to copy from your daughter's HDD to your machine! Use your security software to scan it before you copy it.

    You wouldn't actually have to install the drive, but only sit it on a piece of cardboard next to your computer, and just run the wires to it. Here I'm speaking to a SATA drive as the big flat "ribbon" cable on an IDE HDD is unwieldy enough to require full installation.

    We could fix your daughter's computer "fully", by buying a DVD/CD drive and installing it. Not too much money, and even if the whole computer is defunct (just saying, worst case of course), it never hurts to have a spare DVD drive on hand.

    Here's a Pioneer IDE model @ Newegg.com; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827129040

    Newegg's the best Etailer ever! You would be punished a bit (cost wise) ATM, because it's not on sale. Still, less than $35.00 w/UPS 3 day ground shipping.
    Most of the members who have had anything to say about DVD drives acknowledge that the Pioneers are among the best available.

    When I boot my machine into "Recovery" mode, WITHOUT the restore disc in the drive, it plainly offers a "non-destructive" restore option. Have you tried it without the disc? Plus I get the 5 progress icons on the left of the screen, the same as you describe.

    Right, and then panic sets in, at least that's how it works with me!

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    Captaincranky, thank you again for the reply!

    Last night I put the recovery disc in after I changed the CD drive with one from an old Compaq Presario that I have. When I started the machine with the disc in, as it went through the boot up sequence, it said hit r or type r, and that's what I did. Thhis time it said you will be restoring your computer and will have several options to choose from. I thought, now I'm getting somewhere.

    I heard the CD drive spin a few times and then it went to PC Angel and the infamous, this operation will destroy any files , blah, blah, blah, do you want to continue. The funny thing, it's asking this but only gives me an OK to start, it doesn't give me an option to not select the reformat. Once again the hard drive icon is highlighted, I suppose for that operation but it won't change, the cursor moves but I can't highlight another icon.

    It just defaults to the worst case scenario!

    How would I go about using the Linux disc you mentioned? Do I out the machine back together and insert the disc at start up?

    I had to leave yesterday to go to the doctor, getting a little older, should be here most of the day!

    As it stands, I cannot copy any files from the bad hard drive, I cannot get it do anything other than reformat itself.
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    if you can get it to boot into Safe Mode, the a restore from a restore point would recover the corrupted config\* files, but S.M. is unlikely to work

    Here's a technique I used when my config was corrupted. I wanted my precious files
    exported before I reinstalled an lost everything. The neat part was by being patient,
    the recovery of the config files was also possible after exporting my files and a reinstall was not necessary

    see https://www.techspot.com/vb/topic76094.html for accessing your precious files

    and https://www.techspot.com/vb/topic98544.html for recovery of the config\* files
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    @Jobeard, your second suggestion/link is where we are at the moment. I don't think it has to be "Knoppix", (nor do I believe that you do), I'm just trying to have to OP download a version of Linux that has a "Live" run option. I believe you can do this with "Ubuntu" also. I believe that a special version is needed to run "OpenSUSE" live, or maybe that's Fedora.

    You first link won't help us here since this is one o' dem thar dastardly "Emachines" with restore discs.

    What has me stumped here, is my T-5026 has 2 options for restore. A non-destructive Repair reinstall, and an option to reformat.

    As I understand it, if "repair" is chosen the fresh copy of Windows is loaded from the D:/ partition. If "reformat" is chosen, then the restore discs actually rebuild the D:/ partition and also load a fresh copy of Windows. This would be ideal for installing an entirely new HDD. Our OP's machine is not offering a repair reinstall, and I''m wondering if Emachines didn't change the restore strategy, after they realized how stupid this one seems to be!

    There's another really radical approach to this situation, and that's to install Ubuntu. The Grub bootloader will actually recognize the restore partition as "Windows NT" and you can load it. It's a long story but I was able to restore XP, after foolishly deleting a Linux partition, and causing the system to no longer boot into Windows. Not for the faint of heart, though! Desperation mostly.
  15. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    you're right on track -- I just wanted to post techniques of getting there -- nothing related to any specific boot system :)
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,541   +2,326

    Did I mention that we have the added "thrills, chills, and spills" fun factor of potentially active infections? Meh, just adds to the joy.

    Oh, thanks for those links, they'll likely save some confusion and typing.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    Captaincranky, Jobeard, appreciate the assistance which takes up your time and for that, I am very thankful.

    It's been a busy day and I haven't been at the repair bench much but will continue in the morning.

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    This is were I'm at, I installed the bad drive in my Nexxtech box and can see it on my computer, it comes up drives F & G, of course my computers drives are C & D. Anyhow, the F drive which is the main the drive prior to the problem show :the file or directory is corrupted and unreadable, while the G drive apparantly is ready to format the corrupted F drive.

    All I want of the original drive are my daughters pictures, she wants those, if not for those pictures, I would just format the drive and be done with it. Like I've stated earlier, it won't let me do a partial restore, when I try, It goes to PC Angel and defaults to the hard drive is ready to be formatted, do you want to continue? The drive icon is highlighted and I can't change it.

    So, do i try and access the drive to fix the F drive or do I just get the pictures off of it and then reformat. I guess what I'm asking, is what would be the easiest to do.

    I called a comp. store this morning and they want $60 just to look at the drive to give me an estimate what it would cost to retrieve the pictures. I told them I had the drive in an enclosure and they can simply plug it into one of their computers and they'll know a whole lot in just aminute or two but they still wanted $60 just to look at it.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

    I'm leaning towards just retrieving the pictures............
  19. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    PRIORITIZE your needs
    1. get those pictures off loaded immediately
    2. then you can fuss with the drive and learn how-to x,y,z or whatever without risking #1

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    jobeard, I guess the reason I asked what I did is because after looking at the 2 links that you provided in an earlier post, how to retrieve files and how to repair config.sys problems, it looks or seems as though it would just be easier to fix the config.sys problem and at least get into the safe mode, then I could easily copy the files she wants.

    Here is a new twist to my problem, my daughter mentioned she thought the CD drive was bad, that was when I was trying the restore disc. I changed the CD drive with an older on I had which now I believe is also bad. I took her restore disc and my restore disc and tried them both in my computer just to look at them and they seem identical. I inserted them in the drive with my machine running and dailouge box opens and asks what do you want to do, open a folder, open and view pictures, etc. I chose to open folder to view files and both discs have the same files, at least that I can tell.

    Can I run her disc in my computer so that I can at least get to the options available to see if in fact that I can do a restore without losing files and then just cancel the application. What I'm thinking is that the CD drive in her computer is not working so when I choose for itto boot up through the disc drive first and it says boot from cd, select "R", the drive is not reading the disc and then defaults back to the hard drive which only gives me one option, to format the drive and lose all files.

    Does what I said make any sense? If so, I can take the cd drive from my computer and install it into hers and try the disc again.

    Sorry, I'm not real quick when it comes to computers and I have a lot of other things going on at the same time so it makes it even harder.
  21. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    see this

    and specifically Option #2

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    jobeard, I did what you said, installed the disc for my daughters computer which is the one with the corrupted hard drive and also the disc that came with my computer, they are both emachine computers. The disc that came with her machine showed to options to restore, full system non-destructive and destructive, my disc showed the same.

    When I try and load her disc on her machine, I select load from cd, then it tells me to select r for recovery from cd, the monitor says please wait and can hear the hard drive turn a little hear and there, after a minute or two, it says preparing system recovery options and then show only 1option, the destructive option.

    I think the cd drive is not reading the disc, probably the drive and after not being able to read the cd it defaults to the recovery from the hard drive and then I get only 1 option, does this make sense!

    Should I take my cd drive and install it in her machine and try the disc again?


    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    I changed the cd drive and tried to start her computer, I tried to boot from the cd and presses R for recovery using both her cd and the one that came with my machine. I could hear the cd drive spinning and it came up the same with both cd's.

    The dialogue box says, System restore _ Format and recover

    All files including data files, on the user partition will be lost and the original factory shipped files will be recovered to the user partition.

    Do you want to continue? Okay

    It doesn't give an option to quit or say no, only okay. I had to unplug the computer to get out of that window and sut the computer off.

    When I used both discs in my machine which is working fine, it gives me both the destructive and non-destructive option.

    Now what?

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    You said, it probably won't boot in safe mode and you are correct.

    If I'm reading your statement correctly, If i tried the accessing of the precious files, I may not only retrieve the files I want but at the same time, I may recover the config.sys files and wouldn't have to reinstall!

    CNBCLIES TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 29

    It looks like my problem drive let me back up all files. I now have a backup file in my pictures directory that is about 516 mb. I'm pretty sure I saw a lot of JPG and gif files being backed up so I'm pretty sure it's all there, about 15,500 files.

    Now what, if I try to open it, a backup restore wizard opens, should I run that? Is there any way to view the files in that backup file?

    ANy comments would be appreciated, I feel better, most I've accomplished in days!
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