System Hangs

I have an older gateway solo laptop that has been recently acting up.  The problem I’ve been having is that the computer will not load the OS.  It stops responding before the windows logo.  It won’t even show the system messages like it usually does (i.e. the amount of ram, processor, ect.).  I can get it to start up by inserting the 98 disk and holding the ctrl key to get a boot from CD prompt.  After that it works for a while then does the same thing.  What do you think?  Harddrive shot?
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Alan HendersonConnect With a Mentor Retired marine engineerCommented:
Boot from your Windows 98 boot disk or the CD and run fdisk /mbr.
It won't give any indication that it has run, but may fix your problem.

Tap F8 at startup and select Safe Mode. Proceed...

Does it start in Safe Mode.

Try also tapping F8 again at startup and select Command Prompt.

At the C:\ prompt type:

SCANREG /RESTORE (space between G and /)

Press Enter, select a date just BEFORE the problem started and reboot when finished.

See if the above help.

RomofanNo53Author Commented:
i've gotten it to start after booting from the disk.  when it was originally on the fritz, after powering on all the screen would show was 3 columns of yellowish garbage.  no characters, just light and dark areas in 3 distinct columns.
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Does it start in Safe Mode?
Tapping F8 at startup brings up the Start Menu or not?
>>> Screen would show as 3 columns of yellowish garbage <<<
Maybe it's reverting to Van Gogh painting previously set as wallpaper, but is just a bit fuzzy in 640 x 480 x 16 color mode :-)

Just joking.  I'm interested an have now subscribed to this question.

Actually, the reference to "three distinct columns" sounds like it could be the test image shown by the monitor itself when it has not detected a valid signal from the graphics card, but the test image normally comprises vivid primary colours in a box in the centre of the screen along with a message indicating that it is the test image.  Why it would be yellowish is puzzling, if that's what it is.
Does your monitor have thumbwheel adjustements on its case?  If so, perhaps you rotated the colour wheel accidentally.
RomofanNo53Author Commented:
it wouldn't start in safe mode before booting from the disk, and the laptop has no color adjustment on the exterior of the case.  thanks for all the input guys.
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerCommented:
Have you tried running System File Checker to restore and repair all Windows files.
Start/Run/ Type "sfc" without the quotes.
Click OK.
Have your Windows CD ready to insert if prompted when repair is necessary.

Otherwise, do a dirty install of Windows by running setup.exe from your Win 98 CD in Windows Explorer. You don't lose any data or programs.
M$ have info here:;en-us;q250928
I've never bothered with all those precautions and don't recall any problems. Got me out of a mess several times.
When you talk about booting to the Windows 98 CD and choosing the "boot from CD" option, what do you do after that to then get the system to boot to Windows?  ie. Do you just power off and eject the CD just as the system powers on, or leave it in and it bypasses that prompt to load Windows?

You might get some indication of where the boot process is failing by doing the following when the system reverts back to the state it was in when it doesn't boot past the Win98 Logo:

Boot to a Win98 boot floppy, change to the C: Drive, then change directory to the C:\Windows\Command directory.
Issue the following commands:
attrib -h -r c:\msdos.sys
edit msdos.sys

Once open in DOS Edit, arrow down to the end of the last line, press <Enter. to add a new line, and then create the following extra lines:

BootMenu=1             ; always show F8 boot menu
BootMenuDefault=1             ; force option 1 as default
BootMenuDelay=7             ; default to above in 7 secs if no user choice
Bootkeys=1             ; enable  F4, F5, F6, and F8 keys
BootWarn=0             ; do not show safe mode warning dialog
Logo=0                   ; do not display win98 logo

The comments shown to the right of the ; are optional, and are just there to explain the options.
In DOS Edit use the Alt + F keys to open the "File Menu", arrow down to "Save" and press <Enter>
Do the same and Exit DOS Edit.

This will always present you with the Boot Menu, and hiding the Win98 logo can sometimes reveal screen output that would otherwise be hidden from you.

Lastly, issue the following command to restore the attributes to MSDOS.SYS

attrib +h +r c:\msdos.sys

Power off, remove the floppy, and boot to the Boot Menu again.
Choose the "Logged" option from the Boot Menu to create or overwrites the C:\Bootlog.txt file.
Assuming it fails again when you reboot, this will have captured details of the Failures to bootlog.txt.

You can boot to the "Command Prompt" option from the boot menu, and copy bootlog.txt to a blank floppy using the following commands:

attrib -h c:\bootlog.tst
copy c:\bootlog.txt a:\bootlog.txt

You can examine C:\bootlog.txt quite simply using the "Bootlog Text Analyzer" standalone program from here:


Just unzip it to a folder on a functional Windows computer and keep the file BLA.EXE.
DON'T just click the "Start" button, or it will try and load C:\Bootlog.txt on the host computer.  Instead use the "File > Open" menu option, browse to the saved bootlog.txt on the floppy drive and open it.
Once you find and open C:\Bootlog.txt, just check the box that says "Find Failures" and it will filter the results which you can save and paste here.

Of course, it you can get your own system to boot normally after booting to the "Logged" option, it would be easier just to run BLA.EXE on your own system instead of messing aroundin DOS and on another computer.

Another way of trying to ascertain what precise stage the boot is failing, boot with the "Step-By-Step" option from your F8 Boot Menu and take note of what you said Yes to, and where the process failed.
It's laborious, but you can systematically leave out certain things as it boots, and probably narrow down what is causing it to fail.

I would be interested to see exactly what is loading at startup on your computer.  Three Methods, depending on whether the system is bootable to Windows at the time.

Windows REGEDIT Export:
1. Start Menu > RUN > and type REGEDIT > click OK
2. Expand the relevant registry keys in the LEFT pane and navigate to the following keys:
    Any other "Run???" keys under the CURRENT_USER key.
3. For each of these keys, when selected in the Left pane, use the "Registry > Export Registry File" menu option.
4. Export each (branch only) to suitably named *.REG files to open in Notepad (Right-Click > Edit) and paste here.
5. Also post details of all shortcuts in the "C:\Windows\Start Menu\Startup" folder.

Windows MSINFO32 Method:
1. Start Menu > "Run" option > and type MSINFO32 > click "OK"
2. In the left pane, find "Software Environment"
3. For each of the following sections, click on it and then use the "Edit" menu as follows:
       Edit > Select All > Edit Copy
4. Paste each into NotePad and save by the name of the section in MSINFO32 or paste directly here

Software Environment\
                                Running Tasks
                                Startup Programs
                                System Hooks

DOS Registry Export Method:
Probably best from the following batch file after booting to the C:\Prompt:

@echo off
cd \
cd windows
regedit /e a:\Startup1.txt HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
regedit /e a:\Startup2.txt HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run-
regedit /e a:\Startup3.txt HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
regedit /e a:\Startup4.txt HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run-
regedit /e a:\Startup5.txt HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices
regedit /e a:\Startup6.txt HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices-
cd command
start /wait edit c:\windows\startm~1\programs\startup\*.lnk
:: Here you just use the Alt + F keys to do a File > Save As *.txt file
:: for the first shortcut it opens and then do an Alt + F and Close it to show
:: the next shortcut and do a Save As *.txt file on that one.

You can then copy and paste the contents of Startup1 to 6 here, and look for the name of the shortcut and path to program in the ones you saved from DOS Edit and paste here.

Personally, I would start MSCONFIG from the Start Menu's "Run" field, tick everything except SystemTray, TaskMonitor, and ScanRegistry in the "Startup" tab, click "Apply", and reboot when prompted.  By re-enabling them one at a time you may be able to ascertain if one of them is causing the failed boot.

Maybe better changing (and adding) lines in your batch file :

cd command
if exist c:\windows\startm~1\programs\startup\*.lnk start /wait edit c:\windows\startm~1\programs\startup\*.lnk
if exist c:\windows\startm~1\programs\startup\*.pif start /wait edit c:\windows\startm~1\programs\startup\*.pif
Stephen McTigueAssistant Director of Information TechnologyCommented:
Have you added new hardware lately? Does it start in safe mode? How old is the computer? Is it over 5 years old? Can you access the BIOS on start up? Your answers to these questions can help determine what is happening.
RomofanNo53Author Commented:
a new harddrive to an old system that's if for hardware upgrades.  accessing the bios on startup, no, if goes straight to the screen of columns of crap.  the computer is an old gateway solo, probably 8yrs old.
Stephen McTigueAssistant Director of Information TechnologyCommented:
Based on the age of the the laptop, it sounds more like a hardware issue. I often find that the system clock battery needs to be replaced in computers over 5 years old. The clock battery is a small watch battery inside the computer but usually easily accessible, not to be confused with the bigger main laptop battery. Without this small watch battery to keep time, then the entire system stops working properly. The batteries usually have a maximum life of 7 years, so if it has never been replaced, then this could be the problem. It could be worth the $5.00 investment in a new watch battery. However, it could also be the processor is finally going bad in which case nothing will work properly either but let's hope it is just in need of a new battery. You may want to do a Google search for how to replace a the system battery for your laptop.
RomofanNo53Author Commented:
the system battery, never thought of that.  the time is always correct though.  could it still be the battery?
Stephen McTigueAssistant Director of Information TechnologyCommented:
Hmmm. I'm not sure now. It still sounds hardware related, though. Do you have an external monitor that you can plug into the back of the laptop and see if you have the same problem with the screen? Their is usually a toggle key that allows you to switch to an external monitor.
RomofanNo53Author Commented:
the monitor seems fine.  it's a hard problem to replicate, being it only does this every once in a while, mainly when not in use for over a weeek or so.
RomofanNo53Author Commented:
I haven't had a problem with it since rewriting the mbr.  
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