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Black Screen With White Arrow After Booting XP Home

I have a customers computer that was acting a bit strange so I decided to do a repair install of XP Home.  It came all the way up to windows before the repair install, but now every time I boot it, first I get an XP logo, then it says setup is being restarted, then I get a black screen with white arrow that will move at my mouse or pointer commands, but just a black screen nothing more.  I have also checked it with an external monitor and the same thing happens.

If I try safe mode, or start windows normally or using the last known configuration that worked, whatever the choice the results are the same, black screen and white mouse cursor arrow.  The only difference is if I choose SAFE MODE then I get the four White text Safe Mode things in each of the corners and all else is black with the white cursor arrow, but it seems to stop before getting to the popup box that tells you that you are going into safe mode.

I have seen a few people post about this problem, but in each case they gave up and did a clean install to fix the problem.  I don't want to go that route.  I have already installed a test hard drive and did a clean install which worked fine, so I know that it is a software issue on the original drive.  I have some pretty good tools at my disposal, ERD Commander, etc, but need some more ideas on what could be causing this.  I have been working on it for several days and the customer is getting anxious.
1 Solution
Can't you run an install on top of your current install? This will perserve your settings.

Also, I think a clean install that does NOT format the drive, will leave all your data intact.
mjirwinAuthor Commented:
Install on top of current install is a repair install.  Clean install would be after formatting the drive.
You can use the ERD commander or try the bartpe program below to create a bootable cd(super sweet). If you have access to a Windows XP pc, can install the program on that pc and have access to a burner on that pc. It will create a bootable iso image that will let you access a NTFS formatted drive (2000/xp). When creating the image it has the option to burn straight to a cd, if desired. Install bartpe and run bartpe. Select build, wait while it builds the iso, and then burn it to a cd. Stick the cd in the crashed pc and boot. Pay attention, you will have to press a key to boot into it or select the cd rom as the boot device. If you get into the bartpe environment, follow the instructions in the links or try what's below. This provides a graphical interface to do everything.

After booting into bartpe, use the go button on the lower left and run the plugin/program a43. This is the program to access your c: drive. From here you can move files super easy. Bartpe ignores permissions and will allow you to copy your files off the hard drive via a network connection. It also lets you move system files like the SAM, SECURITY, DEFAULT, SYSTEM, and SOFTWARE (very critical) files with ease if you know where good ones are. You will most likely want the latter.

You would want to browse to the c:\system volume information\_restore{somecrazylongnumber}\ Find the rp folder with the highest number or second highest. The highest means the latest or time it worked last. You can view them by date and select one from when the pc was last working.  Within these rp folders there is a snapshot folder with multiple files. The following five are what you're looking for. (You will have to rename them when they are copied to the c:\windows\system32\config folder.)

_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SAM   will be renamed as SAM in the config folder
_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SECURITY will be renamed as SECURITY in the config folder
_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE will be renamed as SOFTWARE in the config folder
_REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM will be renamed as SYSTEM in the config folder
_REGISTRY_USER_.DEFAULT will be renamed as Default in the config folder
Copy them to the c:\windows\system32\config folder.
Rename them as DEFAULT, SECURITY, SOFTWARE, SYSTEM, and SAM (rename these files before copying over them, like default.bad security.bad, etc.) Reboot. If you still cant login, at the very least, you can boot back into bartpe and copy your data off the hard drive through the network or slave it to another system.

You can find Bart's Windows PE disk here -
A full set off instructions for Barts PE disk on this site -

Also if you load the files from c:\windows\repair it is basically a fresh install. These files are created when the OS is first installed. You would have to go through the work of reinstalling all programs or going into the rp folder i described above and then back into the system using recovery console.
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mjirwinAuthor Commented:
Well I tried that, and got the same results.  The screen resolution changed so something is a little different but still the same black screen and white arrow.  Is there a way I can do an ACTUAL system restore through BartPE?  It seems like if I could get the registry to revert back too, it might help.
Yes, using bartpe and copying the files specified from the rp folder into the config folder is the same thing as a system restore. If you used from the rp folders, go back a few weeks further. Bartpe is what I use if system restore fails.
mjirwinAuthor Commented:
I actually went back to March 25, and then I tried the files from the c:\windows\repair folder.  No luck with those either.  In the RP folders there is whats looks like registry back ups, ERD commander gives me access to regedit, can I manually put those reg files back in the registry?  Or a better question is SHOULD I?
Yeah, you could use those registry backups and see what happens. If you wanted to copy those, at this point it wouldn't matter as long as you just make a copy of the files your replacing before you edit/overwrite them. With the bartpe program you could rename the c:\windows folder to c:\windows_bak and reinstall. Then try and import the registry from the windows_bak folder?
mjirwinAuthor Commented:
The customer got too anxious and decided to wipe the system.  But for future reference, I did use BartPE and changed the windows directory to windows_bak.  Then I reinstalled a fresh copy of windows into the windows directory.  Then I copied the five files from the windows_bak\system32\config folder to the windows\system32\config folder, but when the system booted it did not have all the old profiles available, just one.  Was there something else I should have copied to correct that?
The files used to replace are in these locations in an unfettered system.  

c:\system volume information\_restore{somecrazylongnumber}\rpXXX\snapshot\
 (in your case c:\windows_bak\repair\

If you don't have them in any of these locations I would rename the windows folder and reinstall (no format) and try and rebuild the system from that.
I experienced a similar issue as originally described, that required a different fix, I'll document it here for others, in case the above doesn't work for you.  

At first it was just white cursor on black screen.  I discovered some files in the windows folder were inaccessible due to security settings. I added everyone-full access.

Then it was logging in and immediately logging out, so I just opened security across the whole drive, then I could log in.  

It was probably a result of malware, though a failed Norton install, a botched Acronis OSS access via USB, and an ancient copy of Roxio GoBack 3 all happened too.

I used an old copy of ERD Commander 2005 to reset all the permissions in one swell foop,
(it cried about non-existent tokens, probably from the domain the system had been removed from years ago ).

I've not yet repaired the file permissions, but I expect Microsoft's KB 313222 will do well enough since it's now a solo home system.
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