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Windows XP won't boot. Black screen blinking cursor

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Windows XP won't boot. Black screen blinking cursor

jimmy-jam
I've got a Dell Optiplex 755 running Windows XP... or trying to any way. When you turn the thing on, it POST's and then goes to a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left hand corner. I am able to get to BIOS and the boot menu but that is it. I've Googled around a bit and have not had any success in finding a resolution.

Things I've tried

1. I removed the disk and put it in a external enclosure and verified it can be read and all the data is there.

2. I've run Dell diagnostics and no errors are reported

3. I've booted into recovery console and run chkdsk /r; fixmbr; fixboot; bootcfg /rebuild

4. I've attempted to repair Windows from the setup screen booting from CD.

None of this has helped or changed the behavior. I verified the BIOS settings were correct for my SATA drive.

I have 2 160Gbyte SATA drives and 2GB RAM. System was functioning normally and no changes were made prior to this issue occurring.

I'm stumped... anyone anyone... Beuller Beuller...

edit: I would really really really really like to avoid having to reload Windows on this bad boy. The reconfiguration will be a nightmare. No I have no back up but before you scold me, I am field service and this isn't my site. I'm covering for someone else. Thanks for listening ;-)

:ar!
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    PuterGuy07

    Have you checked for rootkits and/or other malware yet? I would remove the drive and check with GMER or sysinternals anti-rootkit programs, and also with Malwarebytes. If those come back clean, I would try to run Windows utilities again to fix the MBR after you've checked the BIOS to make sure that it is looking for that drive as a boot device.

    Also, what response do you get when you tried to run a repair in Windows? Usually malware and hardware issue won't allow this to run, so I'm kind of curious what the response was.

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    jimmy-jam

    When I run the repair of Windows it behaves as though it worked normally. There were no indications of failure.

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    Sue T

    system restore. or even possibly restoring an earlier version of the registry. I have had 2 dell computers lately that the customer had the same problem. unfortunately system restore was turned off so I could not try that so I had to reinstall. A couple of people tell me some update caused the problem on some dells but I can't verify that or even say if it was an MS, Dell or some other update. I do know that after I reinstalled I installed all MS updates and it still worked so I do not think it was MS but who knows.
    Good luck.

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    robo_dev

    Will it boot into F8 safe mode?

    Maybe it's trying to boot up from a USB device? I've seen one PC that would do this same symptom if you tried to boot with a USB flash drive plugged in.

    tried safe mode with command prompt?

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222

    Most likely, either the mbr is hosed, or there's a hardware issue.

    Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM.

    Reseat RAM, video card, etc.

    I would boot a Linux live CD to test that the video card is healthy.

    i would also try a boot with some RAM removed.

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    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I did try removing both of the RAM sticks... individually of course ;-)

    The only thing plugged into it is a USB keyboard and mouse. There is a 3rd party video card for a Barco display.

    It does not boot far enough for me to hit F8. I do have a Knoppix CD. I will try to boot from that and see what happens. AM I just looking to make sure it boots with a display?

    Also
    "Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM."

    I did clone the one drive to the other and attempt to use that as the boot device but that did not work either. Ran fixboot and fixmbr on that drive as well.

    Booted from Knoppix while typing... the system came up and is usable from the Live CD. All drives are accessible.

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    robo_dev

    hmmm, if it's not getting far enough for F8.

    if it can run Xwindows on knoppix, then video hardware is OK and RAM too. And you've run diags on the SATA controller.

    Crazy thought...although Windows will go BSOD if you try to boot that that drive into another mobo, as a sanity check...

    Try disabling EVERYTHING in BIOS. Serial, USB, secondary SATA controller.

    At this point I would jump into recovery console and start poking into the registry and maybe start trying to kill services or inspect individual system files for corruption.

    Be sure to take a peek at the boot.ini.

    Before giving up, I would see if you can install/boot XP on a bare drive in this beast.

    Recovery console:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/229716/

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    robo_dev

    how to do system restore from recovery console

    http://www.icompute.info/System_restore_from_xp_cd.htm

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    jimmy-jam

    Out of curiosity I took the second drive and restored a factory default ghost of this model of system and was able to get it to boot to Windows and I was able to log in. This in my mind eliminates hardware on the box no?

    etu

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    0 Votes

    yup

    robo_dev

    The Operating System gods are laughing at you now.

    Some driver file is corrupt or some nasty rootkit has hosed the mbr

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    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I never got the system to boot off the original drive. I had to load the system from scratch and configure it from the ground up. Could I have figured it out eventually? Probably but the time it was taking to come up with the solution was beginning to out weigh the time it would take to load from scratch. The above suggestions were helpful and good ones and seem to be the way to go in most cases.

    Good luck

    :ar!

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    0 Votes
    Tyharo

    It sounds as though the hard drive is dead.
    does the hard drive make any sounds or clicks?
    if it does and it the click are in a pattern and keep occurring then you most likely have a dead hard drive. If you do hear clicks from the hard drive, its called the click of death. when this happens the hard drive is either not spinning or the arm mechanism in the hard drive is broke, there is no way to fix this other than getting a new hard drive.

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    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Most of the HDD makers have a Testing Utility to tell you if the drive is on it's way to Silicon Heaven. So it's a good idea to make use of their provided software.

    http://tinyurl.com/3t8o3

    Col

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    Tyharo

    If the hard drive is still good I would try to get all the data off the hard drive, format the the drive then transfer your data back over. if it still wont work then either some data is corrupted and windows may have to be reinstalled or you may possibly need the boot disk.

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    oldbaritone

    You didn't mention whether this was a previously-running system, or if you've tried to upgrade but put the old drive in the new box.

    If it's an older drive, the version of windows may not support the new hardware, in particular the HDD controller (SATA?)

    All is not lost, though - if that's the case, try booting with the CD and "Press F6 to load additional drivers" and try loading the driver for the HDD controller. If that works, repair the installation and add the appropriate drivers for the new hardware.

    Alternatively, go into BIOS setup and see if the controller has an IDE compatibility mode. Set it for IDE, and if it boots then load the updated drivers for the new hardware.

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    0 Votes
    Jellimonsta

    It sure sounds like a boot issue. Can you verify there is no other non bootable media device trying to boot? Make sure there are no (gasp) floppies in bays, no usb drives plugged in, and no CD in tray (other than XP CD). Verify the boot settings in the BIOS. I would try to run a fix boot and fix mbr again.


    Ha.... never mind... only just noticed you reinstalled.

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Will it boot into F8 safe mode?

    Maybe it's trying to boot up from a USB device? I've seen one PC that would do this same symptom if you tried to boot with a USB flash drive plugged in.

    tried safe mode with command prompt?

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222

    Most likely, either the mbr is hosed, or there's a hardware issue.

    Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM.

    Reseat RAM, video card, etc.

    I would boot a Linux live CD to test that the video card is healthy.

    i would also try a boot with some RAM removed.

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I never got the system to boot off the original drive. I had to load the system from scratch and configure it from the ground up. Could I have figured it out eventually? Probably but the time it was taking to come up with the solution was beginning to out weigh the time it would take to load from scratch. The above suggestions were helpful and good ones and seem to be the way to go in most cases.

    Good luck

    :ar!

    +
    0 Votes
    Tyharo

    It sounds as though the hard drive is dead.
    does the hard drive make any sounds or clicks?
    if it does and it the click are in a pattern and keep occurring then you most likely have a dead hard drive. If you do hear clicks from the hard drive, its called the click of death. when this happens the hard drive is either not spinning or the arm mechanism in the hard drive is broke, there is no way to fix this other than getting a new hard drive.

    +
    0 Votes
    oldbaritone

    You didn't mention whether this was a previously-running system, or if you've tried to upgrade but put the old drive in the new box.

    If it's an older drive, the version of windows may not support the new hardware, in particular the HDD controller (SATA?)

    All is not lost, though - if that's the case, try booting with the CD and "Press F6 to load additional drivers" and try loading the driver for the HDD controller. If that works, repair the installation and add the appropriate drivers for the new hardware.

    Alternatively, go into BIOS setup and see if the controller has an IDE compatibility mode. Set it for IDE, and if it boots then load the updated drivers for the new hardware.

    +
    0 Votes
    Jellimonsta

    It sure sounds like a boot issue. Can you verify there is no other non bootable media device trying to boot? Make sure there are no (gasp) floppies in bays, no usb drives plugged in, and no CD in tray (other than XP CD). Verify the boot settings in the BIOS. I would try to run a fix boot and fix mbr again.


    Ha.... never mind... only just noticed you reinstalled.

  • +
    0 Votes
    PuterGuy07

    Have you checked for rootkits and/or other malware yet? I would remove the drive and check with GMER or sysinternals anti-rootkit programs, and also with Malwarebytes. If those come back clean, I would try to run Windows utilities again to fix the MBR after you've checked the BIOS to make sure that it is looking for that drive as a boot device.

    Also, what response do you get when you tried to run a repair in Windows? Usually malware and hardware issue won't allow this to run, so I'm kind of curious what the response was.

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    When I run the repair of Windows it behaves as though it worked normally. There were no indications of failure.

    +
    0 Votes
    Sue T

    system restore. or even possibly restoring an earlier version of the registry. I have had 2 dell computers lately that the customer had the same problem. unfortunately system restore was turned off so I could not try that so I had to reinstall. A couple of people tell me some update caused the problem on some dells but I can't verify that or even say if it was an MS, Dell or some other update. I do know that after I reinstalled I installed all MS updates and it still worked so I do not think it was MS but who knows.
    Good luck.

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Will it boot into F8 safe mode?

    Maybe it's trying to boot up from a USB device? I've seen one PC that would do this same symptom if you tried to boot with a USB flash drive plugged in.

    tried safe mode with command prompt?

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222

    Most likely, either the mbr is hosed, or there's a hardware issue.

    Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM.

    Reseat RAM, video card, etc.

    I would boot a Linux live CD to test that the video card is healthy.

    i would also try a boot with some RAM removed.

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I did try removing both of the RAM sticks... individually of course ;-)

    The only thing plugged into it is a USB keyboard and mouse. There is a 3rd party video card for a Barco display.

    It does not boot far enough for me to hit F8. I do have a Knoppix CD. I will try to boot from that and see what happens. AM I just looking to make sure it boots with a display?

    Also
    "Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM."

    I did clone the one drive to the other and attempt to use that as the boot device but that did not work either. Ran fixboot and fixmbr on that drive as well.

    Booted from Knoppix while typing... the system came up and is usable from the Live CD. All drives are accessible.

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    hmmm, if it's not getting far enough for F8.

    if it can run Xwindows on knoppix, then video hardware is OK and RAM too. And you've run diags on the SATA controller.

    Crazy thought...although Windows will go BSOD if you try to boot that that drive into another mobo, as a sanity check...

    Try disabling EVERYTHING in BIOS. Serial, USB, secondary SATA controller.

    At this point I would jump into recovery console and start poking into the registry and maybe start trying to kill services or inspect individual system files for corruption.

    Be sure to take a peek at the boot.ini.

    Before giving up, I would see if you can install/boot XP on a bare drive in this beast.

    Recovery console:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/229716/

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    how to do system restore from recovery console

    http://www.icompute.info/System_restore_from_xp_cd.htm

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    Out of curiosity I took the second drive and restored a factory default ghost of this model of system and was able to get it to boot to Windows and I was able to log in. This in my mind eliminates hardware on the box no?

    etu

    +
    0 Votes

    yup

    robo_dev

    The Operating System gods are laughing at you now.

    Some driver file is corrupt or some nasty rootkit has hosed the mbr

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I never got the system to boot off the original drive. I had to load the system from scratch and configure it from the ground up. Could I have figured it out eventually? Probably but the time it was taking to come up with the solution was beginning to out weigh the time it would take to load from scratch. The above suggestions were helpful and good ones and seem to be the way to go in most cases.

    Good luck

    :ar!

    +
    0 Votes
    Tyharo

    It sounds as though the hard drive is dead.
    does the hard drive make any sounds or clicks?
    if it does and it the click are in a pattern and keep occurring then you most likely have a dead hard drive. If you do hear clicks from the hard drive, its called the click of death. when this happens the hard drive is either not spinning or the arm mechanism in the hard drive is broke, there is no way to fix this other than getting a new hard drive.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Most of the HDD makers have a Testing Utility to tell you if the drive is on it's way to Silicon Heaven. So it's a good idea to make use of their provided software.

    http://tinyurl.com/3t8o3

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    Tyharo

    If the hard drive is still good I would try to get all the data off the hard drive, format the the drive then transfer your data back over. if it still wont work then either some data is corrupted and windows may have to be reinstalled or you may possibly need the boot disk.

    +
    0 Votes
    oldbaritone

    You didn't mention whether this was a previously-running system, or if you've tried to upgrade but put the old drive in the new box.

    If it's an older drive, the version of windows may not support the new hardware, in particular the HDD controller (SATA?)

    All is not lost, though - if that's the case, try booting with the CD and "Press F6 to load additional drivers" and try loading the driver for the HDD controller. If that works, repair the installation and add the appropriate drivers for the new hardware.

    Alternatively, go into BIOS setup and see if the controller has an IDE compatibility mode. Set it for IDE, and if it boots then load the updated drivers for the new hardware.

    +
    0 Votes
    Jellimonsta

    It sure sounds like a boot issue. Can you verify there is no other non bootable media device trying to boot? Make sure there are no (gasp) floppies in bays, no usb drives plugged in, and no CD in tray (other than XP CD). Verify the boot settings in the BIOS. I would try to run a fix boot and fix mbr again.


    Ha.... never mind... only just noticed you reinstalled.

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Will it boot into F8 safe mode?

    Maybe it's trying to boot up from a USB device? I've seen one PC that would do this same symptom if you tried to boot with a USB flash drive plugged in.

    tried safe mode with command prompt?

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222

    Most likely, either the mbr is hosed, or there's a hardware issue.

    Normally Windows repair should have fixed the MBR, so I would wonder if the drive is failing, or something like bad RAM.

    Reseat RAM, video card, etc.

    I would boot a Linux live CD to test that the video card is healthy.

    i would also try a boot with some RAM removed.

    +
    0 Votes
    jimmy-jam

    I never got the system to boot off the original drive. I had to load the system from scratch and configure it from the ground up. Could I have figured it out eventually? Probably but the time it was taking to come up with the solution was beginning to out weigh the time it would take to load from scratch. The above suggestions were helpful and good ones and seem to be the way to go in most cases.

    Good luck

    :ar!

    +
    0 Votes
    Tyharo

    It sounds as though the hard drive is dead.
    does the hard drive make any sounds or clicks?
    if it does and it the click are in a pattern and keep occurring then you most likely have a dead hard drive. If you do hear clicks from the hard drive, its called the click of death. when this happens the hard drive is either not spinning or the arm mechanism in the hard drive is broke, there is no way to fix this other than getting a new hard drive.

    +
    0 Votes
    oldbaritone

    You didn't mention whether this was a previously-running system, or if you've tried to upgrade but put the old drive in the new box.

    If it's an older drive, the version of windows may not support the new hardware, in particular the HDD controller (SATA?)

    All is not lost, though - if that's the case, try booting with the CD and "Press F6 to load additional drivers" and try loading the driver for the HDD controller. If that works, repair the installation and add the appropriate drivers for the new hardware.

    Alternatively, go into BIOS setup and see if the controller has an IDE compatibility mode. Set it for IDE, and if it boots then load the updated drivers for the new hardware.

    +
    0 Votes
    Jellimonsta

    It sure sounds like a boot issue. Can you verify there is no other non bootable media device trying to boot? Make sure there are no (gasp) floppies in bays, no usb drives plugged in, and no CD in tray (other than XP CD). Verify the boot settings in the BIOS. I would try to run a fix boot and fix mbr again.


    Ha.... never mind... only just noticed you reinstalled.