how to fix boot / computer won't start up

Posted on 2008-06-22
Last Modified: 2011-10-03
I have a Dell machine running XP Pro.  My AV program told me I had a virus a few days ago...things proceeded to go downhill, and today I'm unable to start the computer.  It just cycles to the windows logo screen, then black, then the dell screen.  It will not boot into safe mode either, when I press F8 it will give me the boot options screen but when I try safe mode it does the same thing.

I was able to slave the drive and pull my data off, and I want to see if I can get this thing back up and running without having to re-install the OS.  

Question is, where do I start?  Any suggestions on what to do first?

I have a Windows XP Pro disk (not the one from Dell though).

I remember a similar problem with another computer a while back, and I seem to remember slaving the drive, getting a snapshot of the registry files from a system restore point, and somehow getting the system up again from that point.  If you can walk me through that again and that works, that would be great too.
Question by:mattbiel
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Accepted Solution

rynox earned 300 total points
ID: 21841718
You could try to do a repair install using the XP disc that you ahve, although it may or may not work.

The KB article you want to pull an old registry our from a restoore point is here:
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Assisted Solution

slam69 earned 150 total points
ID: 21841723
before you progress to doing a full repair installc an i suggest you boot to the recopery console using teh disk you have and then running chkdsk /r and then if that completes with no errors then running fixmbr.

this could just be a problem with teh boot sector and by doing fixmbr it could repair the boot volume which sound slike where the error is here

repair install would also rectify but takes a lot longer

Author Comment

ID: 21841810
Thank you rynox, that is the article I was looking for.
Thank you slam69, your suggestions are things I haven't heard of trying before.

I am optimistic that I'll get this one back from the dead, so I want to make sure the repair option I try first is the least invasive (won't cause further problems).  Slam69, is it completely safe to try your suggestions of chkdsk /r and then fixmbr?  If so, I think I'll try this first, and then proceed on to a Repair Install.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 21841824
It is absolutely safe to try Slam69's suggestions first

Author Comment

ID: 21841841
Another question.   I've been doing some reading, and it seems that since I'm able to slave the drive, the easiest thing to do is to replace the System, SAM, Security and Default registry keys in the Config folder with keys from a pre-dated snapshot in the System Volume Information folder.  Then I can just put the drive back into the computer and it should reboot.  Is there any downside to doing this?  It seems like this would be a good way to go for any BSOD or boot failure that's not caused by hardware.  Can it be that simple?
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Author Comment

ID: 21842541
Ok I ran chkdsk /r from the recovery console, it found errors and fixed them.  I tried to boot but still no luck.  So I then ran fixmbr from recovery console and it told me "Caution, your drive appears to have non-standard or invalid MBR.  If you continue, this may ruin your partition tables and make the drive inaccessible".

Is this a standard warning?  Should I go ahead with this, or should I try replacing the registry keys as I talked about in my 12:19pm comment above?

Author Comment

ID: 21842626
ok I can't replace registry keys because I looked in system volume information folder and there are no system restore points.  System restore must have been turned off.

so now I'm wondering what I should try next...the repair install using the xp disk or the fixmbr despite the warning about invalid MBR and the possibility of inaccessible partitions?
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Expert Comment

ID: 21842822
Checkdisk then MBR, then a repair,  then format and re-install
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Expert Comment

ID: 21844213
sorry for delay dont normally log in at weekend

hope you havent done the fixmbr yet.

that warning indicates you could have corruption in the partition tables POSSIBLY could be caused by virus

What to di in this instance is first back up ALL your data.

FIXMBR is what you need to do, however if teh corruption exists in partitioning tables then could bomb out your HD and require a complete reformat so back up first. 7 out of 10 it will repair and youll be off an du=running again, 2 out of 10 you then need to run a repair install and 1 out of 10 you will need to reformat

hope that helps

LVL 27

Assisted Solution

Jonvee earned 50 total points
ID: 21844534
If you can resolve the problem using FIXMBR or a repair install you'll probably need look at your System Restore ...

If your System Restore  functionality was simply turned off there should be no problems apart from having no Restore points, & this will help>

However, if the _Restore folder has been corrupted by a virus then you could manually Purge the Data Store as described next>
"Antivirus Tools Cannot Clean Infected Files in the _Restore Folder":

Then if still unresolved you could reinstall System Restore as described here>
"Reinstalling System Restore":

Author Comment

ID: 21908870
Fantastic information and support on this question, people, thank you so much.  

I did checkdisk, then fixmbr (data backed up first), but still no boot.  Then I did a repair install that worked!    

The information I got from this question is going be very useful to me in the future as well..thanks again!


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