Toshiba P20-S103 will not boot


My laptop is misbehaving.

When I switch it on, I get a screen telling me that it was not shut down properly last time, and offering me various boot options (safe mode, safe mode with network, etc.). If I select any of these options (or let it count down to the default option), it starts loading windows and after a moment or two it very briefly shows a blue screen with a load of text on that I don't have time to read, and then it restarts and does the same thing again.

I have tried booting from a recovery CD. If I use the 'repair' option, it sits there for a while, and then I get a DOS prompt and it does nothing. If I go for a reinstall of the operating system (Windows XP Home) it starts loading files, asks me to select a partition, then tells me that either the partition has insufficient space (not true) or that there is something wrong with it, and it needs to reformat the hard drive.

I have tried using CHKDSK /p from the DOS prompt - it gets to 75% and then jams and does nothing. I tried using 'dir' to see if it could do anything at all and got an error (after 2 or 3 minutes of chugging).

I don't want to reformat my hard drive unless I absolutely have to. I could reconstruct everything on there, but it would take me a very long time and involve a lot of work.

I have been told that  there are Windows recovery progs which can be downloaded online, but have not been able to find anything appropriate. The only ones I can see are ones which look for probs with windows after boot. I don't want to buy one of those 'miracle windows recovery'-type CDs from eBay unless I can be sure they even have a chance of working.

Am I doomed to reformat the hard drive, or does anyone have any alternative suggestions?

Apologies in advance if I'm slow at responding to suggestions - I'm working from two sites and the laptop is at the other one.
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rindiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
To me this looks very much like a corrupt disk. This will mean that there is nothing past a clean install (or maybe even the installation of a new HD). First, for the sake of your data, you should get an 2.5" to 3.5" adapter so you can connect the disk to a desktop PC and copy whatever is important off it.

Then, download a copy of the UBCD and first run memtest86+ to test your RAM. If the RAM tests OK, use the Disk Testing utility which is also on that CD and test your HD. If you get any errors, it should either be replaced or repaired using that utility. This depends on the errors you get.
ddrdanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would recommend you do a drive fitness test before removal. Here is Hitachi's test program, it works on anyones drive. You want "Drive Fitness Test (v4.06)". If you don't have a floppy drive it also has a D/L for CD boot.

If the drive tests good (Green background) then we now need to find out what that screen is saying that goes away so fast. It's rebooting because "Reboot after error" is turned on. Not sure which Genius @ Microsoft thought this was a good idea for a default setting? It actually complicates the hell out of things.

I think your post means you can't get into safe mode either? Is it rebooting when you attempt safe mode or does it just sit there for a long time. If it just sits there, walk away from it for a long time. Come back and check on it periodically, it may just be taking a very very long time to get there. If you do get to safe mode do this:

*Right click My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Settings under Startup and Recovery and remove the check mark next to Automatic Restart.

If you can't get to safe mode try safe mode with a command prompt and do this:

*At Command Prompt log on as administrator. Type REG /QUERY HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Crashcontrol /v Autoreboot

You'll see either 1 or 0. 1=true(or "on"; 0=false (or "off"), If it's 1 then type this:
REG /DELETE HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Crashcontrol /v AutoReboot

then type this:
REG /ADD HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashContron /v AutoReboot /t REG_DWORD /d 0

This will turn off the automatic restart on error.


1. Turn on the unit and press F8 and enable boot logging
2. The log file is saved in your systemroot directory as Ntbtlog.txt
3. reboot
4. Put the Windows XP CD in.  Press R for the Recovery Console
5. Log in to your windows partition
6. Change to the systemroot directory (C:\WINDOWS)
7. type: edit ntbtlog.txt
Check for drivers that failed... what is listed last? Post it here or cross check that file against another XP machine.

I made a mistake on the line for turning off auto restart on the second line to type (ADD HKLM) "CrashContron" should be "Crashcontrol"

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Nicola-HAuthor Commented:
"I think your post means you can't get into safe mode either? Is it rebooting when you attempt safe mode or does it just sit there for a long time."

It reboots every time, no matter which of the options I select. I went through them all one at a time. I may try and video the boot process to try and capture a picture of the blue-screen text. There's a lot of it and I'm sure it would be very handy to see!

I am downloading and burning the UBCD and the Hitachi prog now and will let you know how it goes when I get back to the lappy. Thanks for the quick responses :-)
I don't think you need to download the drive fitness test as it is included on the UBCD.
Nicola-HAuthor Commented:
I can't get the recovery console thing to work... it just jams up and eventually drops me into DOS.

The memory test worked fine, no probs although I wish I'd read that it runs indefinitely a couple of hours sooner :-)

The Hitachi drive test (which is on the UBCD) told me there was a problem and told me to refer to the supplier so I ran the Salvation scan and repair software - 138 errors located, spread pretty evenly across the drive. I'm not sure what that means for my data, or how so much damage managed to happen overnight.

Is there anything else I can do to try and save the drive before I go and buy a new one, or is it well and truly fried? I couldn't see anything else on the boot CD that would help.

I have a 2.5" adapter on order just in case there's anything usable left on there...

First I'd get whatever data that is important to you off the disk. Then, use the manufacturer's utility to again test the disk (if it isn't an hitachi/ibm). The tools often tell you what you need to do, maxtor for instance show an error code which you can enter on their homepage, and then, along with the serial number of the disk, you are told if it can be replaced under warranty or not.

If the disk is out of warranty, you can try using the lowlevel format or zero fill options which is usually included in those utilities. Maybe after that the disk will show no errors, but if this is the case, first run the tests again for an extensive period of time before starting a new installation, there is no point in wanting to use a disk that may totally break soon.
Nicola-HAuthor Commented:
Thanks rindi - that UBCD is a very useful piece of kit, and I'll be keeping one handy in case this happens again. I'm going to fork out £40 on a new 60 gig drive and copy everything off. As you say, it's not worth the hassle of risking this happening again.
your welcome, and hail the UBCD, i've also found it to be one of the most usefull tools there are.
"I don't think you need to download the drive fitness test as it is included on the UBCD."
I did not know that? I opened it up and low and behold was there!!! Thanks rindi.

Your welcome! :)
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