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System Reverts back to previous problem after repairing windows setup, why?

By stlcbs ·
I got a customers computer yesterday that has thrown me for a loop. This is a Power Spec PC from Microcenter. From what I'm told is for no reason the computer would not even start up. It would give an error that said something similar to "please insert a boot disc to repair windows" or something like that.

I insert the windows XP Pro SP3 disc that came with the computer and "repaired" the installation. After rebooting, the computer was running windows off of the cd. Thought that was odd. I removed the cd and restarted the computer. Everything was fine. Let it run for about 10 hours. In that course of time I had repaired the registry with ccleaner, ran malewarebytes, and Web Roots virus scan. Everything seemed to be fine. No malicious software or viruses to report.

Then I take the computer back to the customer. I'm on my way back to my office when I get a call not even 20 mins later saying they are having the same problem.

I have to do this repair pro bono and quick. No clue on what to do. If anyone has any answers I would be grateful. I'd rather not do a complete system wipe and reinstall because there are to many programs I do not have access to or their personal settings for their programs. Any thoughts?

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All Answers

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Been there, done that

by robo_dev In reply to System Reverts back to pr ...

The short answer, I believe, is that their registry is getting hosed, either by software, or hardware.

While disk corruption could be a result of something like a flaky power supply, power line interference, or a bad motherboard, the first question would be how old is the hard drive, and if the machine is getting adequate cooling or has had a history of overheating.

I've seen some machines and hard drives have failures simply because the customer just let it overheat, due to it being chock full of dust.

From a software perspective, never rule out some sort of virus or malware.

The 'quick fix' would be to attempt to do a system restore from the recovery console:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545

You should not have to do this, but often after I rebuild a PC I make a DVD image of it using Macrium Reflect Free. This way if the drive goes Tango-Uniform the next day, I can restore it to a new drive in about a half hour.

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I'm with robo_dev here

by OH Smeg In reply to System Reverts back to pr ...

Though I would first be testing the HDD with it's makers testing Utility. I have one system here that works perfectly provided it's turned on at least once a week. Leave it any longer and it doesn't load past the POST.

The problem with it is that the HDD is failing it's been allowed to Overheat and shows this error on test. The owner just having shut the business that it was used in is now starting the unit weekly and living with it as they do not want to spend any money on what is effectively now a unused system.

If you don't already have the Drive Makers Testing Utility you can get what you need from here.

http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287

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Yet another possible suggestion

by seanferd In reply to System Reverts back to pr ...

I've seen this happen repeatedly on a couple of machines where it is required to have the CD in to boot, but the system runs fine otherwise. In these cases it was because the disk was needed (or maybe not) to boot the system after Windows suspected a repair was needed. The bit that sets Windows to ask for the disk for repair never gets cleared for some reason.

A solution which works, sometimes:
Turn off the paging file, then turn it back on. Reboot. See if it asks for the CD then.

Or, if you reinstall the OS, be sure to wipe the drive (or partition) with DBAN and do a full re-install.

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