XP: boot loop: bios splash screen, boot into safe mode?, ...


I am working on a customer which will suddenly not boot into windows.  The symptom is that the mobo manuf (INTC) splash screen is displayed, there is a pause, then there is a report that the OS was not shut down cleanly, and would I like to boot into safe mode.  I've booted into safe mode, safe mode w networking, and last known good.  All produce the same sequence.  The second to last thing being shown loaded is MUP.SYS, then a file called iomdisk.sys, which I think is related to iomega is loaded; there is a pause of about 5 - 10 seconds, then the mobo splash screen is displayed again.  Note that LKG will display the Windows splash screen, but about 10 minutes later will next present the mobo splash screen.

Here's the chronology:

Earlier today, the customer reported the hanging symptom, but also mentioned the sound of loud fans, I suspected that this problem may be caused by heat.  Prior to today, the customer has reported hanging and unresponsiveness in a key application he frequently uses (Dragon Naturally Speaking).  There is the possibility that the computer is experiencing one or more hardware problems, which have been producing this symptom over time.  I have posted a problem report earlier about this machine: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Q_21792217.html

Upon arrival, after talking w the customer, I shut down the computer and replaced 2 fans with larger and higher capacity ones.  Note that I checked the temperatures of different components by touching them, and found the hard drives to be very warm to the touch.  There are two disks, mounted one above the other, in a metal cage designed to hold 3 hard drives plus a floppy drive on the top.  In case you're wondering, yes I did uncable the disks and remove the cage assembly.  (I'll recheck power and data cable connections, just in case ... )

To test the effectiveness of the fans, I ran a stress test utility on the computer and watched the temperature and fan speeds using the INTC utility.  Although the temps on the two mobo fans were reasonable, the processor temperature produced a hot complaint after about 5 minutes.  I terminated the stress test, and shut down the machine.  

I shut down windows, watched the machine go electrically off, opened the side panel, and rotated a fan on the back wall to pressurize the case rather than exhaust.

After turning on the computer, the bios manuf splash screen is displayed, there is a 5-10 sec pause, then a black screen w safe mode is displayed.  Choosing safe mode (with networking) causes the bios splash screen to be displayed.  Choosing last known good will display the Windows XP splash screen for about 5 seconds, then the bios splash screen is displayed.

I have run hardware diagnostics on the computer, plus quick hd diagnostics, and other than some complaints in SMART, things come up generally clean.

The original OS install disk has been located and booted from.  Note that an ASR disk is not available.  I have tried to do an inplace reinstallation of the OS using the original operating system disk, however there is no automatic detection that there is already an installation of Windows, and would I like to keep what is there.  The choices are to either quick format or to slow format.  

Booting into the recovery console and running chkdsk /p, some errors were reported on the disk.  Chkdsk /r is currently being run, and is taking (what I think is) a disproportionately long time to complete on a 130GB disk.  Chkdsk completed.  Rebooted.  Problem is persisting.

Am I missing something?  Does anyone have any sage words of wisdom or soft words of comfort and guidance?

Thank you in advance.

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couple things:

1 - The HD. you said SMART flagged something and so did CHKDSK.. replacing the drive asap would be a good suggestion. you may be able to backup/salvage some info now, so do what you need to before it gets worse.

2 - since the drive is in question your OS file integrity is probably also in question and if after replacing the drive, your problems are not solved, I would look at a reinstall. A repair/reinstall over the existing OS could still force you to reinstall APPS, for performance reinstall fresh. And reinstall apps.

3 - heat also seams to be an issue... are there other ways to ventilate? is that area above 70 F?

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What errors were you getting in smart because a smart error means the drive is going bad. To get the data off attach the hdd to another system as a secondary drive and pull the dat off asap, with smart erros i ve seen drive last anywhere from 2 hrs to 2 weeks and there is no telling how long this one will last.
Do you have the resources to boot the system up on a different machine? This may help isolate the problem to the hard disk. Temperature problems are not fun and are really hard to diagnose.  Also, possibly a run with the system file checker from the recovery console (command: sfc, i believe) that scans and replaces corrupted system files.
ChrisEddyAuthor Commented:

Thank you all for responding!

Since this is a Maxtor drive, I ran the Maxtor diagnostics on the disk, and they reported that the disk is in the process of failing, with an error code of: dea46871.

Time to have a repair vs replace conversation w the customer...

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Windows XP

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