Win98 fails to boot, Error Loading OS

Posted on 2003-11-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
The other day I upgraded the Windows media player to version 9.  I have Win98 Second Edition on my PC, this version should have taken.  Rather than rebooting immediately I simply shut down.  The next time I started the system it didn't boot cleanly, I went through a number of iterations with trying to boot, sometimes making it into safe mode, once I though I was in ok but the system froze.  At this point when I try to boot I get the following msgs:
PCI Device Listing (with data after)
ISA/PNP Device Listing (with data after)
Verifying DMI Pool Data           Update Success
Error Loading OS

I can get into setup, I cannot get into safe mode.

I can boot the system with the Windows startup disk (which brings me to a BAT file menu and allows me access to the CD readers and sets up a RAMdisk with various diagnostic programs).  I can read my installation CD.  I cannot "see" my C drive, this is a brand new drive that been working very well for 2 weeks, the drive is seen (identified) during bootup and under setup it is set to auto so I don't think the drive is failing.  My gut feel right now is that my next move is to use the startup disk to get the system into DOS mode, then use an option on the menu to try to transfer the operating system (command.com and the 2 *.sys files) to the C drive but I wanted to check here first to see if that's the smartest thing.  Suggestions?

Thanks,   RichNH
Question by:RichNH
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 9723118
Well .... my guess is the hdd is failing.
Anyway, you can try booting the way you suggested and do a
fdisk /mbr
sys c:
If that doesn't help (and I think it won't) you should run some serious tests on the drive.
Here's a list I copied sometime ago and I don't know who should get the credit for gathering this list of tools:

Hard Drive Diagnostics

*****Vendor Specific Support/Diagnostics*****

Maxtor/Quantum (Fireball) http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/
Samsung http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html
Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html
IBM/Hitachi http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT
fujitsu/Seimens http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic

If you do not know the drive manifacturer try some generic drive testers


ZDU http://www.webattack.com/get/zdu.shtml
Zdu is a diagnostic utility for disks & directories. It comes as a GUI version as well as a commandline only version (both included).

AIDA http://www.webattack.com/get/aida32.shtml
An easy to use report wizard allows you to create detailed reports in the format of your choice


DiskChecker http://www.webattack.com/get/diskchecker.shtml
Disk Checker is a disk diagnostics, repair and disk image tool for FAT and NTFS.

Drive Health http://www.webattack.com/get/drivehealth.gif.shtml
Drive Health helps you to estimate your hard disks life resource. It allows you to predict possible hard drive failure

Hope this helps

(`'·.¸(`'·.¸ ~ ¸.·'´)¸.·'´)
(¸.·'´(¸.·'´ ~ `'·.¸)`'·.¸)

Expert Comment

ID: 9723462

For the things your are saying, the hdd is not the problem but somewhere in the motherboard, probably BIOS.

Try this:

Enter BIOS Setup, and instead of leaving the hdd definition as Auto, press Enter so the mother detects it.
Check if parameters detected are those that appear in any label at the hdd. If correct, save bios data. If not correct, try the same at other machine. This may give you an idea of what hard has troubles... mother or disk.

If the first step is ok, then bootup with bootable diskette. (Not necessary at this point to start with CD compatibility).
Once booted, type fdisk and enter option 4.
Look there if drive is well defined (Partitions etc.). If not defined there, lets say it does not show any disk info, then somehow your disk has get corrupted on its partition table. You will have to make it. from there, option 1>>1

If after saving bios data, disk is seen but not accessed (Not ready error reading drive C: or Invalid drive reading drive C:) the only thing to do is fdisk and the creation of a logical disk. (disk is first of all physical, then logical).
if disk is seen and accessed, but not bootable, then from the DOS prompt type (with bootable disk inserted)

A:\> sys c: [enter]

if disk is seen and accesed and bootable.. well that's all then.

In all cases, you MUST reinstall Windows 98SE
LVL 97

Expert Comment

ID: 9723560
Greetings, RichNH!

Here is a 10 steps approach to fixing boot up problem. Follow one at a time and reboot. If one works, you don't have to go to the next one. Step 7 is for Windows ME only.

1. First, boot to DOS with a boot disk. If you don't have one, get one from www.bootdisk.com . From a:> type "scanreg /restore" without the quotes and hit ENTER. Select a date before the problem occurred. Note the space between scanreg and /restore. Then reboot your computer.

2. From a:> type "scandisk" and hit ENTER. Reboot.

3. This has been suggested by kronostm. From a:> type "sys c:" and  click ENTER. If successful it will say system transferred. Reboot.

4. This has been suggested by kronostm.  From a:> type "fdisk /mbr" and click ENTER. Reboot computer.

5. Delete temporary files. From a:> type "del c:\windows\temp*.*" and click ENTER. Reboot.

6. Delete the swap file. From a:> type "del c:\win386.swp" and click ENTER. Reboot.

7. If you have Windows ME, perform a System Restore from DOS. Otherwise skip this step.


8. Look at your bootlog.txt. From a:> type "c:\windows\bootlog.txt" and click ENTER
If it does not work, then type "a: c:\bootlog.txt". You can look at the last thing listed in log and most likely it is the item that caused Windows not to load. If the file is in windows you can rename it to old from whatever its was before, i.e., exe, txt, dll, etc.

An example of renaming would be to rename windoz.dll to windoz.old you would use
ren c:windows\windoz.dll c:\windows\windoz.old and click ENTER. Note the spaces.

9. As a next to last ditch way to open Windows if all else failed, on the C drive (where I am assuming Windows ME is installed) there should be a hidden file named system.cb. This is a "backup" system.ini that contains no third party drivers. Copy it to c:\windows and rename it to system.ini. Then see if you can boot up. If you can, you will have to install a bunch of drivers. Including video, sound, scanners, cameras, etc. But you should be able to boot to Windows.

To implement the above, From a:> type "c:" and click ENTER. Next type "cd\windows" and click ENTER. Next type "copy system.cb system.ini" and click ENTER. If it says there is already a file by that name and it will be over written.  Click YES.

10. Finally, as a last ditch effort, reinstall windows over itself. Boot up with your Windows CD. If not bootable, boot to DOS with CD ROM support. While in DOS, put in your Windows CD. Type "setup" or "E:\setup" without the quotes and hit ENTER.

If you don't have the Windows CD, the system files may be in the CABS folder. From a:> type "c:\windows\options\cabs\setup" without the quotes and hit ENTER.

Best wishes, war1

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Expert Comment

ID: 9731079
do a reinstall straight over the top of your existing installation. It won't destroy your data, it just "fills in the gaps" of your installation.

stick with wmp 7, i have problems with 9 (can't read files that are fine with 7)
plus its got security exploits or something..."spybot search and destroy" will tell you

p.s. i dont think its a failing hard drive. trust me, if this happens, you will know.
Primary Master Disk Fail
or words to that effect will appear...you will feel an urge to scream...or cry....trust me, been there!

p.p.s i get the impression from other users of this forum that using the command

fdisk /mbr

can sometimes backfire and make the problem waaaay more complicated. if it was me i wouldn't do it.
But if you do, make sure you backup any important stuff you have cos you might not ever be able to access it again if fdisk roots your master boot record.

Author Comment

ID: 9734921
Thanks for all the suggestions so far...   I've actually made some progress I think.  Here's the deal.  This is a new Maxtor 40G drive that has been working just fine for 2 weeks since installation, it developed the problem after I did the upgrade to the Windows Media Player (upgraded to version 9).  They did say that the version 9 would crash windows 98 IF you didn't have the Second Edition version of Win98.  I checked before I did the install and I do have the SE version.  It also says Second Edition on the installation CD I have.  So...    I used a disk diagnostic utility from Maxtor and it says I have no problems with the drive and that it is a bootable drive.  When I boot the system and it gets to the place where it identifies the drives it correctly identifies the drive as a Maxtor drive with the correct model number.  I tried running fdisk per Goofytouy's comment and selected option 4.  It reported back the following (ya gotta remember, I'm not familiar with this kind/level of diagnostic digging, I'm a programmer, not a hardware or OS guy)  
C: Partition: 1     Status: A   Type: PRI DOS  MBytes: 39198  System: Unknown   Usage: 100%

The System: Unknown, is that unusual?  When I tried to transfer the operating system using the sys command I get "Invalid media type reading drive C".

I tried running the scanreg/restore command but it came up as not found.  I thought that what might have happened was that the install process for the windows media reader trashed some of my system files.  But the invalid media type message has me concerned, yet I don't know what it means or its impact on this situation.  I think that if I can get past this error then everything should fall into place.  But ay, there's the rub...

LVL 14

Accepted Solution

kronostm earned 600 total points
ID: 9738771
<<When I tried to transfer the operating system using the sys command I get "Invalid media type reading drive C".>>  and the "unknown system"  means your partition is corrupted.
At the end of this post I'll paste CrazyOne's "famous" list of tools for recovering damaged/erased partitions. Anyway, you'll need a second harddrive to add temporarly to save your files to it.
If you say your hdd passed maxtor's utility tests, probably there's no phisical problems with your drive, but anyway, your partition is messed up.


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GetDataBack for FAT
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Hard Drive Mechanic
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Author Comment

ID: 9811372
As it turns out the partition was corrupted, I finally decided to reformat the drive and reload the data I loaded from the old drive that this new drive replaced 2 weeks before I had the problem.  Kronos' answer led me to what I had to do so I gave him the points.  Thanks to all for the help.


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