Unable to repair or reinstall Windows XP Professional

Posted on 2006-04-05
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have a client who called, complaining that his PC would boot to the XP Pro Splash Screen, the blue bars would just roll forever and it would not continue to boot.

I tried everything but got the same results. When I tried safe mode, it just went to mup.sys and stopped there at the DOS-like screen.  
I removed the drive, put it in a USB adapter, hooked it up to another computer, and was easily able to copy all of his documents to the server (where they should have been in the first place).  His boot files looked normal to me from that viewpoint.  

I decided at that point to just reinstall XP.  Couldn't hurt, right? I had his data safe.  I thought it whould take less time to reinstall then to troubleshoot.  My plan was to repartition, reformat, and do a clean install.

I booted from an OEM XP CD.  Got to "Setup is starting Windows", and just stayed there.  No further activity, nothing.  I tried a different OEM CD. Same thing. Tried a retail CD... same thing.
Now I was frustrated, so I tried a brand new drive.  Same thing... I tried a second brand new drive... same thing.

I booted from a floppy and ran diagnostics on system RAM.  All 512Mb passed ( 2X).  Ran full diagnostices.  CPU is good. L1 and L2 cache passed.  All other hardware tests passed ( 2X).

ANY ideas would be greatly appreciated.  This one really has me baffled.  (not that that is too hard to do).. One billion points to the correct answerer.
Question by:AdminAssociates
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    Try booting off A Knoppix CD and see what happens...

    Could also be issues with the hard drive and/or controller.
    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    try putting the HDD to IDE1 intead of IDE0

    if the MB supports SATA you can also try SATA Drive just to verify that it is not IDE port problem.
    LVL 2

    Assisted Solution

    This sounds like it could be a hardware issure even though they all passes i would reseat everything on your motherboard except you proccesor just pull it out dust it off and put it back
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Hi there,

    Sounds frustrating for sure.

    First off, stop.
    Try and think of anything that actually changed both hardware and software (users never give us the complete answer the first, second and third times).
    I would unplug all unneccessary devices.  Ensure only one cdrom plugged in, one harddrive, no floppy, etc...
    Attempt to boot to utility CD.  Either some flavor of *nix or one of my favorites Ultimate Boot CD.  Whatever you use as your utility, try to make sure it has some harddisk tools on it.

    If you can boot to utility CD, then wipe the harddisk.  After this you should be able to get your Windows install rolling without the hangs.

    If you still can't boot, then I would try to reset the CMOS and try again booting to utility CD and WIPE that drive completely.

    Hope that helps

    oh ya
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    I will verify this soon but there is a point during the installaton where you are asked to press F6 to ... but instead of F6 press F7 and respond to the prompts as appropriate this will make XP perform the installation using only the basic drivers
    I used this once and it bailed me out of a very similar situation

    All the best.

    Author Comment

    I did try booting from a Koppix CD.. That's where I first saw that the file syatem "looked" OK.  But Koppix had a problem seeing my USB devices ( I had intended to burn everything to CD first).  So then I took the drive out, mounted it in an external USB enclosure and pulled his documents off and sent them to the server.

    Since then, besides trying to reuse THAT drive,  I have tried 2 different, brand new, right out of the ESD bag, hard drives.  I can't get far enough to access any of the installation functionality.  It loads the Executable, then all the drivers, then goes to "Setup is starting windows", and stops at the blue setup screen.  It has never shown an error since this whole thing began.

    The user hasn't changed anything harware wise, because I have all of their computers strapped with tamper-proof seals.  I can't see where he loaded any new software... the programs directory didn't show anything wierd.  Anyway, that shouldn't stop a clean install.

    It most certianly appears to be a hardware problem... I have tried switching the  IDE ports, new IDE cables, reseated everything, unplugged the floppy. Set the BIOS to load defaults... Nothing special is there, just a plain-jane white box.  I guess my next step will be to  switch memory and see if that helps.
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    You have a bad mother board for sure...

    One more thing you could do is take one of the drives not booting and if its working in another machine well thats not the problem.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    In the BIOS there may be an option to specify with IDE to boot from.
    Put the IDE drive as a master on the secondary channel and set the BIOS to use that one as the boot drive.
    This will tell you if it is IDE Controller for Primary or not.
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    I agree with kkohl, and you have tried some of what was recommended.  The only thing I didn't see you mention is if you could boot in safemode.  Being able to boot safemode means that it is likely your video card or other periferal devices.

    I recommend hareware troubleshooting 101: reduce the system to bare minum
    1.) Remove everything but memory, CPU, video card and hard drive.  It may be a bad card somewhere (modem, USB, parallel card, etc. . . )
       --If that test is successful, add one component at a time.
    2.) If not successful, begin switching components with known good ones.  You have done this already with the hard drives.  Swap out
    a.) video card: if the existing one is integrated, turn if off in the bios and add a different one.  This is pretty likely the cause as the point where window's hangs is about the time that the drivers begin loading
    b.) power supply
    c.) try disabling all integrated devices on the motherboard including USB, sound, and parallel.
    d.) memory (doubt this is the problem as you already tested the system)
    e.) motherboard and CPU (also doubt the problem is here unless there is a bad DEVICE (sound) on the motherboard)

    Would be nice if you had some diagnostic software to run that would pinpoint the exact problem for you.  One that I find a lot is the memory on the video card has a bad sector.  Whenever that sector is used, the PC locks up.

    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Just for fun sakes try a diffrent CDrom drive,

    Author Comment

    The ultimate solution was that I replaced the memory and now everything is working normally.  This is the first time, that I know of, that memtest86+ has let me down.  It passes the memory 4 times, but obviously missed a problem somewhere.

    I had tried reseating the memory amd swapping the two 256Mb DDR-SDRAM chips around, but it just kept testing good.  Replacing the memory solved the problem immediately.  Go figure.

    Thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions.  I awarded the points based on how hard you each pointed to hardware.  Sorry.. No hard feelings!
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    Congratulations on finding the solution!  Glad to have been any sort of help.  

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