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emachine, windows xp problem

ok, first.  i have had an emachine for about a year it is a t 2865 model. anyway,
periodically i have had recurring problems with everything just freezing up. it does not seem to be a virus problem or a hardware conflict. i found a conflict between the dial up modem that came with the computer and the dsl modem i installed.   so i physically removed and uninstalled the dial up internal modem. for a short time, this problem seemed to disappear.

now it has returned.

probably 3 or 4 times this year,  the computer has frozen and i have wound up in this situation.  when it freezes it has to manually be turned off and rebooted.

now yesterday like before, when you turn the terminal back on you are prompted to a screen that says something about a bad command or file in the OS  (windows xp).  it requests to insert the installation disk to repair the problem.  

when the installation disk is inserted the only option is to loose everything and completely reinstall.

i have reinstalled before and lost everything. my IT friend at work told me to get to the BIOS screen and reboot from the cd rom to repair the problem as opposed to reinstalling.

problem is i can not figure out how to get to the bios screen.

now let me clarify,  every time it freezes up,  this problem does not occur,  but it does seem to be increasing in frequency.

how do i boot from cd rom so i do not loose everything.  and what is causing it to freeze up?


also,  turning terminal on and holding delete or f8 or ctrl enter does not send me to bios
1 Solution
Hi Jonfry1,

When you start your computer, immediately after pushing the power button, press the Delete key several times, about once a second. That will take you into your BIOS setup. Across the top there are menus. Go to the Boot menu. You will see "Boot Device Priority." Use the arrows to get to that and press enter. It will give you the opportunity to pick the priority order of devices that your machine can use to boot. Select CD Rom as your first choice (page up and page down buttons I believe) Once it is set to CD Rom, hit escape and select "Exit Saving Changes", the machine will then boot from the CD drive first. If the CD you want to use is in the drive at that time, you are all set to go.

good luck!


You don't want to "hold" the delete key down. Just begin tapping it immediately after turning on the machine and continue tapping it until you see the bios screen or until it beeps at you telling you it has gotten the message. This works for all the eMachines I have here at work. We've got 5 of them.

If you reinstalled the OS from balnk (i.e a nonrepair action) than most likely ths OS run over the 'Document and Settings' directory and all data (docs, outlook data and forth) been under was deleted. If you wish to restore the whole think you will need to conduct a data recovery procedure to restore all lost data.
If you wish to do so, try to use the following freeware:

I hope this will help.

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jonfry1Author Commented:
i am at work now.

wife is at home,  i just called her.  she is going to try to get to bios in a few minutes.

once i have it running and recovered,  where do i go in searching for the cause of the freezing up problem?

remember,  there are no hardware or driver problems or at least have not been in the past when it does this.

I'd start looking at your hardware, maybe the RAM. Open up the case and be sure that your RAM is seated properly. Maybe take it out, use "Blow Off" or something similar in the RAM slot(s) to be sure it's a clean connection. If there is more than one stick of RAM, try replacing only one stick and see how that runs. If the box is still freezing up, try the other stick by itself.

You want also want to run a test on your RAM.

Check out


That would be my first try, the RAM. If you are sure that you have no driver conflicts then it's probably hardware. Have you installed any new hardware, like a new video card maybe? Any thing new might be suspect. Plus just being sure that everything is connected and seated properly in the box itself.

After that...who knows... Hardware can be tough to troubleshoot. You have to go one step at a time, from the bare minimun that your box will run with, and add pieces until something causes the problem.

again, good luck!
jonfry1Author Commented:
no,  no new hardware.

i am no computer wiz,  
but how do i identify the ram when i open it up?

just talked to the wife,
it appears that system was setup to boot from the cd rom initially.  is that wrong?  should the default be to boot from the hard drive?

so we tried booting from the cd rom with the installation disk in the drive.
the message prompt is
'System restore menu/WindowsXP'
1. restore windows XP
2. boot to command prompt from cd rom

now, if i restore i loose everything.
it did not automatically repair or give me a repair as opposed to restore option.

how can i repair without loosing everything?


First, here is a picture of a generic montherboard

Your motherboard will look similar. RAM sticks are generally green (<---lots-o-help) with black squares on each side. There are little clips at each end that hold the sticks in place. Pull the clips back at each end to remove the ram. Be sure to either ground yourself to the chassis somehow or use a grounding wrist strap when you do this to avoid any static or power discharge, which can damage your component.

As to repairing your XP installation... If you have your XP CD you can do a repair install. If, as I suspect, you only have the eMachines Restore CD(s) it gets a little more difficult.

My eMachines boxes all have an i386, located in the C:\Windows folder. You will need to navigate to C:\Windows\i386 and run WINNT32.exe (your setup), which will in essence install XP right over the top of your current install, replacing system files, but it should leave your applications and data intact. Here are a couple of good links to information about exactly how to do this.

The problem that you have is getting to the i386 folder. If you "boot to command prompt from cd rom" as is suggested above, I don't believe that you will be able to access the C:\ drive as it is formated NTFS, so DOS won't recognize it. If you choose that selection, I believe it will take you the A:\> prompt that you mention above.
Type C: from the a prompt. If you get an error message, then your drive is most likely formatted in NTFS. If you get to the C:\> prompt
type cd Windows then
type cd i386 then type
and setup will begin

If your machine is formatted NTFS, you will need a tool like BartPE. See:

It will allow you to find the i386 folder and run setup from within the BartPE environment. This method may be the only option you have, though BartPE will allow you to back up documents and such before you run the install.

Here are a couple of sites that deal with Repairing XP to Repair Windows XP by Installing Over top of Existing Setup:

I would consult with your IT friend as well. You should be able to effect a repair, but once you do you will probably be back to your original "freezing up" problem. I'd check with eMachines. You may not be alone, or they may have a fix for it.
jonfry1Author Commented:
contacted emachines.

yes you are right, i only have the emachines disk and rather than get too complicated for now i am going to wait.

the it person emachines said they are fedexing me a repair cd of some sort, i suppose to skip the problem you discussed above.

they say that this file problem that causes it to need to be reinstalled is a common XP problem, not an emachine problem and the repair software should prevent recurrence.

however,  i will still be left with the freezing problem.

thanks for the tips

i am going to print some of these instructions and take them home and see if it does not totally loose me.

how can i download and install bartPE,  when i can not even open my OS at home?

can i find the i386 without it?

One of those links didn't copy over correctly. Just go to

and from there select "How To Run a Repair Install"
BartPE creates a bootable CD that you then put into the "sick" machine and run it from there. It can be created on any machine running XP or Win2003. This is by far the best solution, at least as far as I'm concerned. Then again, I've already got the bootable CD created.

There is another alternative though it's a bit klugey. It's a 2 part-er.

Go to and download the "Bootable Floppy Disk Creator for NTFS Reader." Once it's downloaded, run it and create a bootable floppy. You will need a blank floppy. Then...

Go to 
Download NTFSDOS v3.0
It is a zipped file. Unzip the 3 files and add them to the floppy you just created.

Now the klugey part. Boot your XP system with the floppy in drive a:
Select Option (0) from the menu. Once you are in the NTFS Reader window, hit escape. (then maybe enter) That should leave you at the A:\> prompt in a DOS 7 environment.

That will go through it's routine and tell you which drive it has mounted. In my case it was D: (That should be your C: drive)
type "D:" (or whatever drive letter it gave you) Do not include the quotation marks.
press enter
then type "dir" (again, w/o quotes)
That should give you a listing of the files and folders on your root drive (C)
If it does, you're almost home

type "cd Windows"
press enter - that should move you to the Windows folder.

then type "cd i386"
press enter.

You're home. Now type
"Winnt32" without the quotes to begin setup.

Now follow the directions in the links I gave you before to the XP Repair Install and you should be home free.

I hope it goes well for you. That is really all I can suggest. I've gotten to my C: drive that way and accessed NTFS files, so it should work for you. You will obviously have to create the floppy on someone's working computer.

Break a leg!

Dale MaySecurityCommented:
just a thought,( only to help)
after serfing the web for awhile you get invalid paths in your registry
I do not like going into my registry
So I use a tool
Registry First Aid is the name of the program
This program is $21.00 and I feel worth the cost.
This goes a long way in preventing "freeze up's"
jonfry1Author Commented:

i got the cd in the mail for the repair and was taken through it by the emachines people.

we were able to learn that this current problem was being caused by the sasser virus.

so now we know we are unable to save the information,  we aer reinstalling the entire system and then going to update windows and get rid of the sasser virus.

as for the freezing problem i think i will try check connections, defragment, and check the ram sticks. if these do not seem to be the culprit i am sending it back to emachines as it is under warranty.

thanks for the help
jonfry1Author Commented:

now i am at home and have reinstalled the OS and have not frozen yet (knock on wood)

what all should i look for before craking the tower and checking connections?

are there any obvious things that could be loose besides the ram sticks that could make it freeze?

and how the heck to i obtain access to my old norton antivirus subscription?  now that i reinstalled everything my norton thinks that i need to pay again?

I thought d_may solved your problem. You accepted his answer.
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