No keyboard, no mouse, no USB, no PS/2 port -- how do I get out of safe mode?

Man, I royally screwed myself, I'm pretty sure.  I'm looking for ideas out.

I have an XP machine.  At some point today, seemingly something went wrong with all the USB ports.  Keyboard stopped working, mouse stopped working, etc.  I was able to access the machine with remote desktop on my network, though.  So I tried a few things, among them uninstalling all the USB drivers in Device Manager.  

The first time I did that, after rebooting, Windows re-installed all the USB ports happily, but stil the keyboard and mouse didn't work.  I tried to print (printer is connected via USB) and voila, it worked.  So I thought maybe that USB port worked and I tried plugging in the keyboard there, but it didn't help.

That's when I did something *really* stupid. I thought I'd try to uninstall all the USB drivers again so I could plug a different keyboard into the port that was working for the printer.  BUT... sadly, I also had the brilliant idea of booting into safe mode to see if that would help.

BAD combination.  The problem now is that I boot into safe mode, but it brings up a dialog asking me to confirm I want to be in safe mode (as opposed to use a Restore Point).  I can't get out of this dialog window.  Remember, I have no keyboard or mouse.  I can't plug one in, because I uninstalled all the USB drivers.  I can't plug into a PS/2 port, because the machine doesn't have one.  I can't access the machine remotely, because it is in safe mode.  I can't even boot off a CD because, apparently, my BIOS isn't set to boot off the CD drive over the hard drive.  So even with a boot CD in the drive, it boots into Safe mode and sits there, staring at me (with an evil grin on the inside... I KNOW it has an evil grin on the inside).

Does anyone have any ideas of what to do??  I was thinking maybe tomorrow i could go out and buy a PS/2 card (do those exist?) so I could plug a keyboard in.  But if I do that, will the card need a driver? Because it has to be a solution that works even if the machine boots into Safe mode (since I can't figure out how to stop that).

Another idea is to put a new hard drive in there, install Windows on it, then connect the existing hard drive and fix the boot.ini file.  But no matter what, I need some kind of keyboard access to do anything.

HELP!!!

Exasperated,
-Dave
JediBeckerAsked:
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PUNKYCommented:
Is it Dell system? if so, what model?
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maxis2cuteCommented:
if you remove the cmos battery for 5 minutes, it should reset to original factory and boot from CD. I believe
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cwrenCommented:
wow is it really the case that safe mode doesn't even have basic HID usb drivers?  How safe is that?  Have you tried a different keyboard just for kicks?

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csoussanCommented:
The USB ports for the keyboard should be active for BIOS purposes as you've only uninstalled the Window's  USB drivers.  There is code in the BIOS that should allow the keyboard to respond.  If your keyboard is not responding during boot,  this may indicate a more serious problem with the USB ports on your system board.
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JediBeckerAuthor Commented:
first of all -- thanks to you all for the rapid suggestions.  

I took the machine and opened the lid just to make sure nothing was loose or anything simple like that. In any case, to do so, I disconnected all peripherals besides keyboard and monitor.  I had a different keyboard plugged in from the "normal" one -- it is a PS/2 keyboard, but with a USB adapter.

In any case, upon booting I noticed that they keyboard did power on. With the old keyboard, AND with this keyboard before I had the machine open, both keyboards would power on for just a second, and then disappear.  But this time it stayed powered on for a minute.  I didn't think fast enough, though, and the machine proceeded to boot into Safe Mode and voila, the keyboard was dead again.  Again, I powered off for five minutes and rebooted, but this time I went into setup while the keyboard was alive and changed the boot order.

PHEW.  So problem one is being solved.  I booted with a Windows XP installation CD and am trying to figure out how to use bootcfg to make the machine boot in regular mode again.  Then, at least, I can access it remotely, even if the local keyboard and mouse don't work.

Once I get there, I'll go ahead and divvy up points for this thread, and open a new one specific to figuring out what the heck happened to all the USB ports.

Anyone with any idea what it means that the keyboard died when I went into Safe mode, but has stayed alive now for 10 minutes after booting off the install CD?

-Dave
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maxis2cuteCommented:
a corrupt driver, but that is another post
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csoussanCommented:
You uninstalled all of the USB drivers which you have not reinstalled in safe mode so, your keyboard powers off in safe mode because there are no USB drivers - which is what your keyboard needs to function.
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csoussanCommented:
The install CD has provided its own drivers which is keeping the keyboard functioning.
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maxis2cuteCommented:
i do not want to disagree with csoussan, because she responds so elequently, however, the bios has keyboard drivers.  if this were not the case the keyboard would never work without an OS and it does.

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csoussanCommented:
Have you tried running a system repair from the CD?
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maxis2cuteCommented:
sorry csoussan forgot about the no ps2 keyboard.  You were correct.

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csoussanCommented:
Thank you for the compliment maxis - I had a boss who was an english major.  He loved his red pen!  However, just to clarify, I did comment to Dave a couple of posts back that there is code in the BIOS that allows the keyboard to respond.  I was under the impression that once it has booted to the CD, the CD supplies the keyboard drivers.  However, I'm open to learning so thanks for the info. :)
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JediBeckerAuthor Commented:
Wow, I never ceased to be amazed at how knowledgeable people on this site are.  

Here is the deal: as I said, the second time I rebooted, the keyboard stayed alive and I was able to switch the BIOS to prioritize booting from CD.

I did that, put in the XP install disc, got into C:/Windows and ran bootcfg.  I added a configuration to boot NOT in safe mode and rebooted.

I just did that and got back into my "normal" system.  Now, here's the odd thing.  The keyboard started working.  And here's the more odd thing.  I plugged in the wireless mouse and now is working, too.

I do not understand what happened, but for now, it is good.  I'm going to bring the machine back off the workbench, plug in the keyboard and mouse, and start plugging in the peripherals one by one and see if anything goes amiss (two printers, the original keyboard (I'm using a backup one right now) and an iPod).  If they all come back up, I guess this is case closed for now until this happens again.

In the meantime, I'll go figure out how to assign points (I'll split them somehow since everyone was so helpful...thanks again for all the support!).  And if anything goes wrong from here, I'll open it under a new question which would be specific about the USB ports as opposed to how to get out of safe mode with no keyboard and mouse.

Thanks!
-Dave
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PUNKYCommented:
I have see many usb problems on system board has no PS2 standard keyboard (you can do google in this EE). Since you have many usb attachments into system, and plug your hardware devices, power could be an issue later, so make sure you have enough PSU to support. Sometime, if you have an error popup stated power surge or underpower, that is when problem come.

Tip: Some of Dell and HP system have onboard PS2 headers so just in case you will need them.
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JediBeckerAuthor Commented:
Yes, it is a Dell, Punky.  Is there a way for me to check that I have enough power?  I'm thinking that's a good candidate for the problem -- my wife had plugged in my son's iPod to put music on it about an hour before this happened; maybe it was the last straw.

Would it help if I had a powered USB hub and put some of devices on that?
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PUNKYCommented:
You can use the free version in the link below to calculate power needed for your system:
http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp

However, for Dell system, you can reset bios by key combination that sometime fixing such common issue, it might solve the problem you just experienced.

F2 to get in bios page.
Turn on cap lock, num lock, and scroll lock.
Type in sequence: alt+E alt+F and alt+B
This will reset Dell system bios, and it is relative harmless but can fix multiple issues.

Also, Dell system is known underpower ... if you can open the case, and see the label outside PSU, I guess it is about 220 - 250 W which is weak.
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MarkCommented:
Not to be presumptuous here but the USB hubs on the PC are not that dependent on the size of the PSU.
Other components would fail from lack of power before the USB's would cause this.
USB ports deliver a whopping:-) 500 mA(milliAmps or about 2.5 watts) on the 5V rail. And this is shared among the other USB devices. Although having many USB devices can effect the working of the USB port due to overloading,which may be the case here,  the PSU can deliver the 500mA very easily and shouldn't be a factor.
As far as overloading the USB ports, a  suggestion may be to get a powered USB hub that you can plug some of your other USB devices into, taking the power load of the native motherboard USB's.
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JediBeckerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comments, punky and sparkmaker.  I just ordered a powered USB2.0 Hub just to be sure.  
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