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Acer Vista pc won't boot, flashes bluescreen

Posted on 2008-11-03
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hey guys and gals, I've got a customer's pc that I'm sort of at a sticking point on. It's an Acer Aspire T180 running Vista Home Basic (not sure if it's got SP1 since it won't boot). The customer says it has been getting very slow and locks up and she has to pull the power to turn it off. Now it won't boot normally, nor in Safe Mode, nor will it repair or anything else I've tried. If I choose to boot normally I see the scrolling green bars of the Vista boot screen for a about 3 seconds and then it flashes a blue screen of death for a millisecond and reboots. It is flashing the BSOD so quick there is no way to read it.

At first I assumed it was likely a HD or RAM problem. I ran Steve Gibson's SpinRite on the drive and it tested out perfectly. I replaced the single stick of 512 MB of ram with a stick from another pc and I got the exact same reaction from the pc. I ran a boot cd and tested the factory ram and it tested fine, so I put it in another slot and got the same results.

They do not have the recovery disks however I can order them from Acer for them. I'm just not sure if this is a hardware problem or just a bad Vista install. I have a copy of Vista Home Premium at my home office I can bring up here tomorrow if that will help in any way but right now I'm at a loss. There isn't much other hardware installed for me to disconnect? I haven't tested the PSU but I don't see that being the problem.

Any thoughts on what else I can check on a non-booting Vista pc with what appears to be good RAM and a good HD? I don't want to reinstall the OS just to see this all happen again......
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Question by:LuckyTxGuy
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23 Comments
 
LVL 88

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by:rindi
rindi earned 400 total points
ID: 22871242
Most Acers have a hidden partition used for recovery. I'm not sure how it is invoked, but it could be F11 after turning on the system. The Acer site should be able to give you more details.

Connect the disk to a 2nd PC as a 2nd HD, and zip the *.dmp files, then upload them using the following Link:

http://www.ee-stuff.com/

(You could also try booting using a LiveCD to get the dmp's).
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by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 1000 total points
ID: 22871829
When you rapidly press and release F8 as system startup, and thus get into the Advanced Startup Menu, you can choose the option called "Disable automatic restart on system failure".  Then you will be able to see the BSOD and tell us what STOP error is occuring.

If you have a Vista DVD, you can try running Startup Repair:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial148.html
How to automatically repair Windows Vista using Startup Repair

What is Startup Repair?  This Microsoft page has a great deal more information about that:

http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/5c59f8c1-b0d1-4f1a-af55-74f3922f3f351033.mspx
Windows Help and How-To:  Startup Repair: frequently asked questions

Startup Repair is designed to detect operating system startup problems and troubleshoot any found and correct them with little user interaction.  It can repair problems such as:

- missing or corrupt drivers
- missing or corrupt system files
- missing or corrupt boot configuration settings
- corrupt registry settings
- corrupt disk metadata (master boot record, partition table, or boot sector.)

When the Startup Repair Tool has taken control, it analyzes startup log files for clues about the source of the problem and launches diagnostic tests to determine the cause. If it determines the cause of the failure, it attempts to fix the problem automatically. After successfully repairing the problem, it will reboot the system, and notify the user of the repairs, filing a detailed report in the Windows Vista event log.

If the Startup Repair Tool can identify the cause of the problem, but can't repair the problem by itself, it will provide access to a set of tools that you can use to manually troubleshoot the problem further.  One of these is the Bootrec tool described below.

If the Startup Repair Tool cannot identify or repair the problem, it will roll back the system to the last configuration that was known to work (Last Known Good Configuration.) Again it will add detailed information about the problem to the Windows Vista event log.
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22872007
Thanks guys! I didn't realize that disabling the auto restart is what allowed you to see the BSOD. See, I learn something knew every day! Thanks! I had a call and had to leave the office but I'll try both of your suggestions tomorrow and report back. Thanks so much.

Jason
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by:TCB1
TCB1 earned 500 total points
ID: 22872147
The drive probably has file corruption issues because of improper shutdowns. I'd stick it in another system and check for errors (right click on drive, properties, tools)
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by:nobus
nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 22874617
try if it boots from a live cd, like :
ftp://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V5.1.0CD-2006-12-30-EN.iso      Knoppix      
www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/                                     BartPe

this will show if you have hardware issues
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878020
Ok guys here is some more info. Thanks for all the advice.

By disabling the auto-restart here is the BSOD code I get.  0x00000024 (0x00190444, 0x83AC8630, 0xC00000102, 0x00000000)   I can't find much info on that code online?

I forgot to bring my Vista disc from my home office this morning so I can't try that.....

I've used my USB to SATA cable and connected the drive to my laptop and it's a no go. It has 2 partitions, the Local Disk partition and a partition called Data. Data is 112 GB and basically empty. It looks like the user has created a couple blank folders/docs on that drive there there appear to be a couple small Acer files on the drive but not much. The main part of the drive (Local Disk) is corrupted. When I try to open it, I get the error that a file or directory is corrupted. I can't even go to Properties and see how large the partition is. Going to Properties > Tools and checking for errors doesn't work either, as the checking utility immediately crashes when I press Check Now.

And yep the pc will boot just fine off a boot CD.  

I def. think that TCB1 and LeeTutor are probably right and it's a drive corruption issue. I will get ahold of a Vista disk and see if a repair will work....... Other than that option, anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks to all!!

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by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 1000 total points
ID: 22878088
go to this site and download the makings for a recovery disk:

http://neosmart.net/blog/2008/windows-vista-recovery-disc-download/

It won't allow you to reinstall Vista, but it can be used to enter Recovery Environment and run Startup Repair.
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878111
Thanks Lee, I just found a Vista disc here at my office and following you advice and trying the repair option, I'll let you know how that works.......    I assume your last post just allows me to do the same repair without the Vista disc?
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878183
Update: "Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically"  Too much info under the Details section to list but it does say "Corrupt Volume"
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by:TCB1
TCB1 earned 500 total points
ID: 22878203
Boot from the Vista CD and goto the Repair Console and run chkdsk.
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by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 1000 total points
ID: 22878260
Yes, as TCB1 says, I would imagine the next step is to see if running chkdsk from the Command Prompt in the Recovery Environment will correct the problem:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial147.html
How to use the Command Prompt in the Vista Windows Recovery Environment

If it doesn't correct things, I would bet that the hard drive is bad.  You might download and burn this tool, which has several disk diagnostic tools built in, to get a more definite answer on that question:

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

You need the Ultimate Boot CD if you want to:

Run floppy-based diagnostic tools from CDROM drives. More and more PCs are shipped without floppy drives these days, and it is such a royal pain when you need to run diagnostic tools on them.

Free yourself from the slow loading speed of the floppy drive. Even if you do have a floppy drive, it is still much much faster to run your diagnostic tools from the CDROM drive, rather than wait for the tool to load from the floppy drive.

Consolidate as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD. Wouldn't you like to avoid digging into the dusty box to look for the right floppy disk, but simply run them all from a single CD? Then the Ultimate Boot CD is for you!

When you boot up from the CD, a text-based menu will be displayed, and you will be able to select the tool you want to run. The selected tool actually boots off a virtual floppy disk created in memory.



Ultimate Boot CD has tools in the following categories:
Hard Disk Installation, Hard Disk Diagnosis, Hard Disk Device Management, Hard Disk Wiping, Hard Disk Cloning, Hard Disk Sector Editing, Partition Tools, Boot Managers, File Tools, NTFS Tools, System Burn-in Test, CPU Test, Memory Test, Peripherals Test, CPU Information, System Information, Benchmark Applications, BIOS Utilities, DOS Boot Disks, Antivirus Tools, Network Tools.
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878274
"Windows cannot run disk checking on this volume because it is write protected."
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878341
I have no idea what happened but I just restarted the computer and it booted past the Vista scrolling green line and went to an auto file system check. It is now running Chkdsk on the drive labeled "Acer".
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 22878435
i think that it can be caused by an update...happens a lot
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22878529
Sorry for so many quick replies but I wanted to make sure everyone knew what was happening before you typed a long thought out reply.

Ok the pc is back up and running and I honestly have NO idea how or why. After getting the chkdsk error that the drive was write-protected I restarted and as I said above the pc booted. It ran chkdsk and sait it was "Replacing invalid security id" files by the thousand and it also said something about inserting some sort of files by the thousands. When it was all finished it booted up to the users password login. I don't have their password yet but as soon as I get it, I'll boot to the desktop and check everything out, but it all seems good to go at this point. I def. believe there was some sort of serious corruption.

Thanks for all the help guys, I'll let you know how this goes after a little further testing. You have all been VERY helpful.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 400 total points
ID: 22879440
I would test the HD using the HD manufacturer's diagnostic utility (it'll be on the UBCD mentioned by LeeTutor earlier). If you have this many errors on the disk you should make sure it is still safe for use, or you'll run into problems again in the near future. Most of these tools can also repair some of the errors, if they aren't too many, and if it fails the test it'll tell you that you should contact the manufacturer.
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by:TCB1
TCB1 earned 500 total points
ID: 22879747
Here's a good utility to check your hard drive. It's from western digital, but works on any drive.

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=611&sid=3&lang=en
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Accepted Solution

by:
LuckyTxGuy earned 0 total points
ID: 22882221
Thank you all for your great responses as usual. Every response here was actually very helpful and insightful. For that reason I feel everyone deserves at least some credit. I hate to have to break the points up but I don't see any other option. Thank you again for all of you help!!!

Jason
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Expert Comment

by:LeeTutor
ID: 22882269
Thanks, LuckyTxGuy.   Glad to be of help.  It was quite a hard problem...
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22888890
Well.....the problem isn't solved. I finally got a hold of the customer to get her password to log into Vista and after the password is entered, the swirling cursor spins for about a minute and then the screen goes to a very pale gray and nothing else loads. The mouse is visible and can be moved but it's on a blank gray screen and the desktop never loads. I can however, boot into Safe Mode now with no problems.....  

I'm currently booted from a Vista disk and running chkdsk again on the HD.

One other interesting point, the customer had mentioned that the computer just recently started a problem of not always turning on after being turned off. Eventually the pc will turn on and all is fine according to her. I never saw this problem and pretty much forgot about it until it did it to me this morning. I unplugged and replugged the power cord into the PSU with no luck. I opened the case up, unplugged/replugged the power connector going to the mobo from the PSU and the pc started up on it's own. Now it's doing this about every 2-3 times I shut the pc down and I even put a new PSU in and it did the exact same thing.....

This Acer desktop is about 1.5 years old according to the customer but I'm beginning to think the problems are really pilling on.

I'm not even sure where to go with this one. I've got so much time in it, there is no way I can charge her for half of it.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 22893136
you can try another PS
check also the capacitors for leaking or bulging, as per www.badcaps.net
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Author Comment

by:LuckyTxGuy
ID: 22897225
Thanks nobus, I'm going to take a look at those caps and see. Here is the latest news...

The customer really wants to do whatever it takes to cheaply get the pc back up and running for her college work and she didn't care about saving anything on the pc. I saved it all anyway and restored the computer to factory defaults via the hidden Acer restore partition. It's now back up and running fine (for now.lol) but that doesn't solve the hardware power problem. She says at this point if it will boot and work she's happy and she'll buy a new pc or get this one fixed up better after the semester is over. I guess I don't blame her for that attitude, she's just trying to get finished with school.

Thanks again for all the help guys.
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Expert Comment

by:chilter
ID: 24585430
It may help to know I had similar problems with Acer pc running XP which was incompatable with AVG antivirus.  Removing AVG cured all problems.   Had run AVG for two years without fault when trouble started last March.  Try a different antivirus
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