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Startup madness

Hi, i need some help.

My mate gave me his computer to fix, this is the suituation so far, its a Win ME machine, and it will not boot up, we get a variaty of errors from 'Windows Protection Errors', 'VMM32.VXD' is missing (which is not, it is in Windows32/Sytem), Kernell32.DLL problems etc..Now it doesn't recognise the hard disk at all. So i booted up via floppy to inspect the hard drive, it was then that some weird stuff started happening, i did a directory listing of the Windows folder and sometimes it showed no files, and other times i got files with crazy names (just ascii like ╫o╧▀┬▀f╓♥o ), the file names were not consistent and the Win.COM (along with many many other files, dll's etc )file did not appear to exist.  

SO i removed the hard drive and stuck it in my Win2k machine (set the hard drive as a slave), and ran a thorough virus scan - the results were fine, no virus's, the folders looked intact, there were no crazy filenames, nothing odd expect a file called '(square shape, i dont know the ascii for it)IS.Dll' - upon further inspection this file comes from MacSourcery Screensaver Utilities.

My question is what the hell is going on, and how do i make the WinME machine boot again - i dont have the WinME installation disks. I do however Win2k installation disks, if i neeeded to install Win2k can i just overwrite the WinME installation ?, will all the data files, internet dial-up setting etc.. be kept safe and not overwritten ???

Please help i dont know what the hell is going on ?

THanks
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Molko
Asked:
Molko
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1 Solution
 
MolkoAuthor Commented:
Looks like the ascii chars didn't post too well, but you know what i mean, smiley faces and the likes

BTW 89 points is all i have at the moment..........SORRY
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
I would suspect a problem with the motherboard or the RAM.  Here is a very helpful page of info and links to the MS Knowledge Base on the Windows Protection Error:

http://www.aumha.org/kbewpez.htm
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CrazyOneCommented:
Well you verified the disk seems to be OK and the File Allocation Table is intact. How are the cables on the computer with the problem especially the one that connects to the hard drive and where it connects to the motherboard? Can the ME disk boot up on your machine. Just try and see if it will attempt to boot up the OS but don't let fully boot because it will want to install drivers to match your hardware just to see if will boot. If it does want to boot then MBR is probably OK. If it doesn't want to boot then MBR may be in need of repair. If so I would suggest using a ME boot disk www.bootdisk.com and do a fdisk /mbr. But do this on the machine that is having the problem.

Could be the BIOS flaked out and just needs to be reset to the defaults. Possibly the battery on the motherboard needs to be replaced it my be on verge of going completely dead.

You can install Win2000 over the current installation and should be able to retain the current ME settings however if Win2000 does not see the ME installation then this won't work. Also if you do attempt to install Win2000 then do it on the ME machine. Don't install it on your machine because chances are very likely that you won't be able to move the disk over to the ME machine and have it boot successfully. Win2000 does not migrate well moving a disk from one machine to another because of the differences in the hardware and motherboard.

How to Move a Windows 2000 Installation to Different Hardware
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q249694

Also some find using this utility is good for doing disk duplication.
Windows 2000 System Preparation Tool, Version 1.1
http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/tools/sysprep/?FinishURL=%2Fdownloads%2Frelease%2Easp%3FReleaseID%3D33174%26area%3Dsearch%26ordinal%3D1%26redirect%3Dno

Although this is about XP it may be worth the read
Swapping Motherboards Under Windows XP
http://www.extremetech.com/print_article/0,3428,a=23979,00.asp


The Crazy One
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the help. Is that the syntax for Fdisk ? 'Fdisk /mbr'. I have never used fdisk before
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
Will the fdisk /mbr destroy all the data from the hard drive ?, or will it jsut create a master boot record ?...

How will ME boot up then with this new mater boot record ?

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CrazyOneCommented:
It just rebuilds the master boot record. It does nothing with the files system. The MBR just tells the mahcine where too look for on the disk the booting info. It really doesn't matter that it creates a new MBR because it is the same as the old one. In this case the MBR may have gotten corrupted or hit with a virus so it needs to be rebuilt.
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
Hi

I've still got problems. I tried to boot from the faulty h/d and it booted on my Working machine..........so i put the fault h/d back in the original machine and tried to boot, success it booted into Windows (safe mode) and then hung there. I rebooted the machine and it started up again in normal mode, but again it hung when attempting to install the device driver for the monitor, then on the 3rd attempt at booting i got an error 'MSGSRV unknown error' and the machine hung.

I then did the Fdisk /mbr and now it wont boot at all, i get error messages like 'cannot find operating sytem', 'invalid system disk'. !!!!!!!!!! and when i boot from floppy the C: drive is not accessible 'abort, retry fail'...

The h/d is back in my Win2k machine (as a slave) all the files are there, although the folder C:\Windows\Command is empty - is this right ?

Partition Magic spotted that there was an error (LBA or LHA ? summat like that anyway) on one of the sectors and has corrected...

I am completely stuck now as to how to get WinME working again.....????

Any ideas would be greatfully received !!

Thanks
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CrazyOneCommented:
There is apparently something on that machine that is causing the problem. Actually the fdisk /mbr was not needed since it was trying to boot. Since it was trying to boot this seems to indicate that the problem is within the machine. It could be anything from a faulty cable to faulty motherboard. About the only way to trouble shoot something like this is to swap out things like the RAM, Video card, Sound card, Network Card, CD Drives, etc and see if the situation rights itself. Sometimes stripping the machine down to the bare minimums needed to run the machine will help to get the OS running.
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
Hmm i take your point, but since doing the fdisk /mbr neither machine will boot from that hard drive now, how do i restore it ? I did the fdisk /mbr from the WindowME Boot disk as supplied from www.bootdisk.com............strange how it wont boot on either machine.



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CrazyOneCommented:
Try the fdisk /mbr again it shoud work. Worse case scenerio would be to find somebody with an ME CD and use it to reinstall it over the top of the current installation.

Here is little info on what the fdisk /mbr is actually doing.
http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000175.htm 
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
In case the hardware problem turns out to be memory, I believe this program is still a free download, and is run from a floppy disk:

http://www.simmtester.com/page/products/doc/docinfo.asp
What is DocMemory ?    
                         
     DocMemory, an advanced self-bootable PC Memory Diagnostic Software is a user friendly software designed to capture all possible memory failures in PC.

A rigorous test pattern excerises both the PC Base and Extended Memory to locate defective memory, all carried out without the need for user to disassemble memory from the PC.

Download the software and the installation program automatically create a self-booting diagnostic diskette. Simply insert this diskette into the floppy and reboot your PC to begin testing your system memory.

Available memory test patterns includes sophisticated algorithms such as MATS, March B+ ,March C-, and Checkerboard…etc. Selecting "Burnt-In Mode", will capture 95% of PC System soft memory failures. Editing the pattern and other parameter functions are made simple by using a mouse interface.

For Limited Time only - DocMemory diagnostic software, a $100 value is available free-of-charge. Download your FREE copy now!
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Prester JohnCommented:
Doc Memory is a good freeware RAM tester.
I keep a copy in my troubleshoot bag.
One note...run it twice if you get no failure. I've seen some rare instances where it missed a fault the first time around.
As has been stated above: It definitely looks as if there is a hardware/firmware problem with the original computer.
CrazyOne's comments are on the nose.

Sg
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the help, i appreciate it.

The machine now boots up into WindowsME, but the first thing it does is pop up a Msgbox "Windows has detected new hardware and is searching for software", its also calls it and 'Unknown Device', then after about 5-10 seconds the machine goes dead and screen goes black - i am able to do a soft reset and that is it !!!!

I have removed all the hardware from the machine, i had to leave in the graphics adapater and memory 'cos the machine has no onboard graphics or memeory and wouldn't boot with out it.

When i boot up in safe mode, i get the 'Safe Mode' word written in the four corners of the screen and thats it, no startbar or anything.

I am going to try and borrow a maters graphics card and memory tomorrow and use them in this machine, to try and isolate the problem but inthe meantime Is there anything
else i can do ?

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WiZaRdCommented:
didn't see mentioned here but have you tried system restore? start- programs - accessories - system tools - system restore & choose a date prior to this happening.
or you could boot to the boot disk then at the prompt type in
path=c:\windows\command (press enter key)
scanreg/restore (press enter)
select a date prior to problem.
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
I cant get access to the Start button from safe mode or normal mode !!!!!

When i boot from floppy, and take a directory listing of C:\Windows\Command the folder i empty
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Prester JohnCommented:
Start button? Sounds as if your explorer.exe is corrupted.
Nothing in the Command folder? Urg!
You can beat your head against the wall for a long time, my friend, or you can find the installation CD for WinME and re-install the o/s.
This will give you a starting place to try to find the cause of the problems...if possible. There may be such a serious fault in the hardware that this will be impossible, but you will have to have a complete & functional o/s to find out.

Sg
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MolkoAuthor Commented:
The hard disk was screwed - cheers for your help
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