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PC Boot Up Problem

jim_elliot
jim_elliot asked
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Last Modified: 2008-03-10
I am having an intermittent problem when booting my pc. At switch on, the pc gets to the first couple of boot-up sceens to where it says boot from CD Rom, if there is no bootable CD present, the pc will try and boot from the HDD. It then displays a Y and infinity symbol (8 on it's side)and a Y and infinity symbol, e.g. Y∞Y&#8734 (paste this code into an HTML and you will see what I mean); and I can't get any further. I can't boot to safe mode either.
To resolve this, I have to re-install a backup image from a second HDD. The pc boots up OK after this.
This problem can happen at any time, twice in the same day is the most that it's happened.
My main HDD does run quite hot, 50 - 55 deg C, but I don't think it is a temperature related problem, as it can happen after the pc has been off for some time.
My OS is Windows XP Pro with SP2
CPU P4 1.7 GHz
Ram 712 MB
HDD - 3 of configured as 1 Master on IDE to Mobo, plus 2 HDD's connected to PCI IDE card & configured as primary master & secondary master. This configuration has worked well for the last year, the problem I am having has only started in the last few weeks.

My AV is up to date Kaspersky 6 with latest definitions & I run PC Doctor up to date, I am also behind a router.

BIOS Boot Sequence
1. FDD
2. CD Rom
3. HDD 0

Both my C & D drives are Maxtor HD's and I have run Maxtor Powermax HD Diagnostics on both these drives, no errors were detected.
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Commented:
>> I'm guessing perhaps the IDE cable on your CD drive is flaky
Why I didn't say that? lol

Also ensure:
- The cable is firmly in the hard drive & on the motherboard slot
- That you have an ultra ATA (80 wire) cable, not the 40-wire cable, for ultra ATA drives
- The power connector is not loose & that the connector pins' position in their sockets is OK.
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Commented:
Could be MBR. Boot using your XP CD and select Repair. From the console execute FIXMBR C:

Commented:
Yeah yeah, I mentioned the mbr in my original post. The question is, if this is the problem, what is currupting it?

I gave my theory, were are your theories? This guy is copying images back from one disk to another, his backup image is clearly good - what is currupting it is the question? This is the issue that must be resolved......

Mugman

Commented:
Actually. I just reread the original post - it can't be the MBR since it's only intermittant. If you've screwed your MBR before, you'll knom it's pretty consistent :-)

The Hardware block is probably the best source of the problem. Of course, it could be an associatated problem caused by BIOS settings.

Commented:
no, it CAN be the mbr, re-read the post again. The OP say's  after he re-images the drive, the system comes back. A back-up and an image are two different things. The disk image would contain an mbr.

Regardless of this mbr talk, I still think he has flaky hardware in his machine, whether it be a cable or drive.

mugman

Commented:
From my reading of the original post, it's intermitent problems, followed by an image being copied to the disk to solve it, untill the next problem occurs.

Commented:
Yep - I should take more time when I read these things!

I'll restate it as I see it: the boot sequence is corrupted so that it doesn't get into the first part of the boot sequence. This *is* typical MBR corruption. However, it is not at all clear why this should happen. I had a funny behavior where the MBR on a secondary drive was being corrupted, and never got to the bottom of it: in that case, the drive was on the second MoBo IDE connector. However, it has corrected itself, or, more likely, my hackery has accidentally fixed it. Assuming the latter, it seems likely that the original cause was a loose cable (I tend to push all connections home whenever I open the box).

Perhaps it's the cables as mugman suggested: ensuring all cables are properly seated is a simple thing to do and is not likely to cause any harm. In any case, if it happens again, check to see if it's the MBR by using FIXMBR rather than re-imaging the drive - if it works, that's the problem, and the next step is to find what corrupts it.

Do you have a diagnostics disk with your machine? Perhaps it can identify if anything's misaligned or behaving badly.

Commented:
I would concur wth myself about the bad cable :=) I can't think of any other reason why chars would be written to the screen.... The OS didn't do it (it's not loaded yet), and I doubt BIOS did it (limited abilities).....

"boot sequence is corrupted so that it doesn't get into the first part of the boot sequence. This *is* typical MBR corruption" - but where did the strange chars he see's come from? On my test machine, 99% of the time when I corrupt the MBR, I get a bios error, "Inaccesible boot device" or "no partition found"; something like that....

The other 1% of the time I get a specific hardware error.

Mugman

Commented:
Actually, if you've ever removed a Linux volume before cleaning up the MBR, you'll see odd strings displayed during boot, exactly as this describes.

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