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How to troubleshoot and possibly repair a PC that will not get past the Windows Logo screen

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If you are not getting past the Windows Logo screen at this point I can only assume the following:

1.) Physical damage (Hard drive, Motherboard, Fan, Power Supply)
2.) Logical Damage (Boot Sector Virus, Root Kit, Bad Drivers, etc..)

Here are the steps (in order), I should/would take if the data on this system is critically important.
 
(Easy) = for the beginner, novice
(Hard) = for the beginner, novice

(Easy) (Physical damage) Check the CPU Fan. Is the Fan on the CPU running fast with no dust, dirt build up, or odd sounds - If the fan is not running at optimum it may be over heating the CPU causing it to fail. If it has been doing this for a while your CPU may be cooked. Cooked CPU = Time for new computer.  

Clean your CPU Fan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0KNAel_X0Q&feature=related
(Hard) (Physical damage) Check the Power Supply Fan
Bad = Noisy, extremely dirty, not running. If it is dirty try to blow it out or have it replaced. "Caution" Do  not try to remove and clean a power supply FAN, the capacitors in a power supply hold voltage even when they are turned off and could give you a poke you are not likely to forget.
(Easy) (Physical damage) Is it a bad Mother board check the capacitors - If you notice damage = Time for a New computer.

Good Capacitors are clean and flat on the top

Bad Capacitors are bloated even a little, corroded, discolored, burned, melted, or the contents are coming out the top.

Bad Capacitors - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHTi4OcpGTk
(Hard) (Physical damage) The PC power supply should be tested

Test your power supply - Watch this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rivoVzxwNtI 
(Hard) (Physical damage) Buy Software ($90) and test/repair for Physical damage (http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm)  

How to use SpinRite - Watch This Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGUt1sPgsA&feature=related
(Hard) (Logical Damage) If everything so far checks out you may have (Logical damage) - A "good" tech could do this but unless this is free help you could spent as much as the system is worth having it done. This is usually done with a Boot CD or USB drive with testing software. The goal is to boot into an external Operating system and to interrogate the host Operating system to find common anomalies like (Boot Sector Virus, Root Kit, Bad Drivers, etc..). My experience is very few people have this skill-set, and are willing to take the time, because no one wants to pay for the time it takes to do it.  If it takes 5 hours to test at $80 per hour = $400 or a new PC.
(Hard) (Logical Damage) Install new drive and reload everything from scratch, and install old drive as a second drive and copy the data you need off the old drive.

Replacing a hard drive - Watch this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnEga6ga5hM
(Easy) Pay someone (local IT person) to backup data and repair current drive/PC
Hope this helps!
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by:caballo_oscuro
though very comprehensive, a bit long winded for a newbie. The burning question is the data essential to be recovered. First of all reboot the pc and press f8 and try and boot from last knowen configuration. if this does not work, find if a recovery cd shipped with your pc if so use it and quite often the option to restore your pc without re formatting may be an option. Lastly there is a file that quite often gets corrupted causing this problem, i have tried copying this particular file without success and it still never worked so the next stage is to do this. get your friends pc, remove the cd drive and plug onto its ribbon the hard drive out of yours ( change the pin on the back to slave ). boot up your friends pc and when loaded go to windows explorer and look at your drive now listed as D: save what you need to the c: drive  then reformat your drive and replacce into your pc and reinstall, this assumes the hard drive is still useable. If you want to avoid doing this then get a copy of wincommander, boot from the cd and look at your files with the windows explorer facillitiy, copy etc.
hope this helps
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