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PC freezes at safe mode menu

By Artzdelux · 29 replies
Dec 14, 2009
  1. Hi all,
    Not a computer genius but wanted to see if anyone has any ideas. I really have not been able to find any info about this sitiuation.

    My parents in law's computer when the woke up one day was booted to the safe mode selection screen. It lists safe mode, safe mode with networking, etc. and the clock to make a selection.

    When you move the highlight to your selection from the "start windows normally" selection the clock disappeaers. Also, no matter what option I try, the computer will not boot beyond this point.

    I tried running memtest and it brought up no errors with 9+ passes. I am going to try to repair it using chkdsk with my XP cd tonight.

    Anyone have any idea what could cause this? I fear they may need a new hard drive and/ or computer but they are tight on cash and need a working computer ASAP.

    They have an older Dell (about 5 years old) running Windows XP.

    Thanks to everyone for any ideas or suggestions.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    It appears your in-laws have a hard drive failure. Ask them if they have the software disks to reinstall everything. Then have them buy an external USB hard drive enclosure and a new hard drive. Install the new hard drive. Put the old hard drive in the enclosure, and rescue all their data, email addresses, documents, and etcetera.

    You will become a hero to them, and they will want you to fix everything, and allow you to come into the house through the front door.
  3. scuzzo

    scuzzo TS Rookie Posts: 49

    Get a copy of the ultimate boot CD to make sure that you do not have a failing HD, otherwise to a Windows repiar.
  4. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Where can you get this ultimate boot CD? The computer is old so I am guessing it will need replaced but money is tight. I am at least trying to get it to itnernet ability until it can be replaced. To get a enclosure and new HDD I may as well just get them a new one....
    I would like to try a salvage tactic or 2 first.
  5. scuzzo

    scuzzo TS Rookie Posts: 49

    I will tell you the best way to make this computer limp along if you can't get the windows working (format and reinstall as a last option) is to download the Ubuntu live CD here. This will at least let you boot into a usable environment to do basic web surfing.
    UBCD is here just click on the icon next to iso for any of the mirrors then burn the iso to cd, if you are unsure how to burn an iso just google it.
  6. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    The Ultimate Boot CD is a promotion... List $99. For sale until Dec 15 midnight if $59. Free, but for the experienced. Find it online search. It is NOT a goog solution for the problem you described. It boots your computer. Yes (maybe) but it does not get your InLaws running in a way satisfactorily to them.
    Good and free or nearly free suggestions have been made. We would like to hear what
    As for limping along, why would that be appealing to someone using Windows XP... Why would your inlaws want to use Ubuntu CD... Probably won't work, and they probably would not want to use that option with all the learning and training involved.
    Replace their hard drive and rescue the data on the other one... That will make them happy, and what makes them happy, makes your significant other happy. Then you can start to help them.
    Do you or they have a Windows restore or replacement disk available or would you have to buy a copy of Windows?
    Tell us more about the computer brand and model, and age of components.
  7. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    I will have to get the computer model tomorrow (forgot to write it down tonight) but its a way obsolete computer. I would say about 6 years old and a Dell. That is why I am just trying to make it useable temporarily, until her dad can find additional work and buy a new computer....

    I ran chkdsk /r /p 2 times today. Both times it found errors. I also ran memtest 9 passes and no errors. I am going to try to run Dell's Hard drive diagnosis tomorrow. If this all does not work and I cant find their restore cd, should I run/ try anything else other then the ultimate boot?

    Thanks all!
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Every Dell which is six years old should have the hard drive replaced. That is the most likely suspect for your in-law problem. Hard drives do not last five years very often.
    If you do not have the Windows disk, you can get them from Dell free or nearly free.

    Tell us the model, and configuration... hard drive and installed memory
  9. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    I will look in the BIOS/ system information to get some of those answers for you tonight. I am not too familiar with Dell computers but I've been told their replacement parts are prorpietary and I have to use something they manufacture. Is this correct? Do you know a good place to get a reliable HDD for Dell's if true (not Ebay).

    Thank you all for all of your assistance.
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    We work on hundereds, perhaps thousands of Dells... There were only two years and only a very few specific models where a couple of parts were proprietary... and those were before 2002.

    It is merely a matter of getting the correct part. Some Dell power supplies, for instance, have the power socket in a different spot for some cases, so some power supplies will not fit... Some CPU cooling fans are different, but replacing the entire unit is what is required.

    Any hard drive, if appropriate for the EIDE or SATA build, will work in a Dell, and you can find them at low prices in the USA at www.directron.com, www.frys.com, www.techdepot.com, www.newegg.com, www.cdw.com, www.pcmall.com, www.TigerDirect.com and just about every other company that sells computer parts.

    If using an older Dell with Service Pack 1, you can only utilize 129 GB of an EIDE Drive, but Dell will send you an updated Dell OS with Service Pack 2.

    I do not believe there is any hard drive for EIDE computers or SATA for SATA based computers that will not work in a Dell... with Dell software. You just download the drivers from the Dell website to complete the install after the hard drive is setup with Windows.

    I do recommend avoiding certain parts that wear out quickly or fail too soon, but that is not the fault of the Dell computer.

    For hard drives, we use Seagate, Western Digital, and Samsung. We avoid Maxtor, Hitachi, TriGem and a few others. For Laptops we use Seagate, Western Digital, Samsung, Fujitsu, and Toshiba, and avoid Hitachi.

    With more specifics we can try to help you on any part, or any Dell. Dell gets criticism, but dollar for dollar they are as good as any, and have a longer life than Sony, HP, or Compaq systems in our experience... and are easier to fix than many other. For ever bad Dell model, there is a bad HP model, or Compaq model, Acer, and so on.

    The only really problematic computers are certain models made by eMachines, Packard Bell, and Comquat... or anything too cheap.

    It is impossible to build a very cheap computer with long term reliability, in our opinion... but it is possible to obtain reliable replacement parts... if the price is right.
  11. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Thanks for all of the detailed information. I could have scoured Google for hours to find it!

    Once I get the model information I will post it.

    Regaring the Dell Cd - I have my own copy of XP - do I need to bother with getting one from Dell? The only issue I could see is potentially missing drivers, but they should not be too hard to get off of Dell.com or the internet correct?
  12. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Drivers are not a problem. Using your Service Tag, Dell displays what you need. Using the model number only, Dell's driver list will exceed 65. But they all work just fine. Then when you go to Microsoft Windows Update, your Dell drivers will be updated even more, to the very latest manufacturer releases.
  13. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Here is the system information (had to find this info online based on the service tag # which is G9KGZ11)

    Dell Dimension 4550 2gHz
    Low amount of RAM (forget the exact #s but less then .5 G)
    Not sure of hard drive size
    Running Windows XP service pack 2

    I ran chkdsk again last night, this time no errors found. I was able to boot into safe mode and backup all needed files onto a flash drive. I have tried to restart into normal windows but it gave the BSOD. I didnt catch the error as I didnt set the system to not automatically restart. I will do that tonight. I think it said something about dumping physical memory.

    My plan of attack tonight is to get the BSOD code and research it. Also run virus scans and malware scans.

    Are these the next steps that I should take?
  14. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20


    I have 2 minidump files from this computer (I was able to get in it under safe mode as mentioned above, but it still wont load under normal).

    Can anyone please help me with understanding them?
    I am trying to get the in-laws an answer as soon as possible if they need a new computer or not.

    Thank you!

    Attached Files:

  15. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Publish the dumps (.dmp) as text files) Too many will not bother to figger out how to convert the information in the dmp to something readable.
  16. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Your problem is likely very simply based on age and configuration... that you simply do not have enough memory installed for the 4550 to work properly... or your hard drive is too old and requires a replacement... for which Dell will send you a Windows XP disk. That computer will hold 2 GB in two modules of 1 GB each... DDR PC2700.
  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    Hi Artzdelux

    In your first post you mentioned
    1) Do you have the XP installation CDs for your computer?

    2) If you do, then the next step should be doing a "repair" install.
    The repair process will attempt to "repair" all your XP files and setup data. It shouldn't affect your own personal files/data but a backup is still best to protect them to be sure. See this link

    3) Not sure just how much memory you have but guessing its 512KB? This would make the computer run slower but it shouldn't be causing your problem.
  18. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Hi all,
    Thanks for the input. I was able to get into regular boot of windows XP last night, after only running a chkdsk, memtest, and defrag (defrag in safe mode). I only had it on for a few minutes before I had to leave.

    I am going to update and run virus scan and malware scans as recommeded in the 8 step thread on this site.

    I am not really sure what initially caused the issue, hence the posting of the minidumps from last night (from before running Defrag).

    Could simply running chkdsk and defrag have corrected the issue?
  19. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    chkdsk /r could have helped as it fixes errors and bad sectors found on the disk filesystem. Doing a defrag wouldn't have corrected any disk corruption (but it doesn't hurt to do defrag after chkdsk in any case).

    It doesn't hurt to do the virus/malware scans either (tho your symptoms are more typical of filesystem or Windows corruption or possible hard disk problem). So you may want to still download and burn a FREE copy of UBCD as scuzzo suggested (and a download link is in scuzzo's post) as you might find some of the disk diagnostics helpful (and in general UBCD is a good tool to have available)
  20. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,974   +74

    Just for info sake both minidumps are 0xC0000218: UNKNOWN_HARD_ERROR
    A necessary Registry hive file couldn’t be loaded. The file may be corrupt or missing (requiring either an Emergency Repair Disk or a Windows reinstallation). The Registry files may have been corrupted because of hard disk corruption or some other hardware problem. A driver may have corrupted the Registry data while loading into memory, or the memory where the Registry is loading may have a parity error (turn off the external cache and check the physical RAM).
  21. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    Thanks for that helpful update Route44!

    That sounds consistent with a problem related to filesystem or Windows corruption.
  22. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Thank you all for the input, and Route44 for the minidump information. I am going to try using the computer tonight, running virus/ malware scans, and the ultimate boot cd. I will post later if I find anything.
  23. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Hi all,
    Here is what happened last night. I originally logged on to main sign-on, and got BSOD Stop:c0000218 the registry cannot load the hive file \systemroot\system32\config\software

    I restarted into safe mode, ran scandisk, and rebooted. After rebooting I was able to sign on to the normal startup. I installed Avira and ran it. I restarted after it was finished scanning and removing viruses. When restarting again into normal mode again I got the same BSOD error as above.

    1. what could cause this error and behavior (sometimes able to sign into normal mode sometimes no)?

    2. What should I do to correct the problem? At this point I am thinking I either need to try to just use Ubuntu or repair the Windows installation.

    Thanks for your help!
  24. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    This might be an appropriate time to start from scratch with a re-partition and a clean install of Windows... You have already invested time fighting this battle... It is possibly the install, or the hard drive, or the motherboard, or a bad cable or connector... and that system isn't going to let you win.
  25. Artzdelux

    Artzdelux TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Just to give everyone an update:
    I tried reinstalling Windows XP but the Cd must have been bad - it froze 2 times during installation. I am trying a friend's version of XP for Dell PCs this evening. May also try Windows 7 if that does not work but not sure if it is compatible.
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