XP Pro SP2 only boots in Safe Mode but not Normal Mode

Hi Everyone;

       I am wanting to help a friend who is having a Windows XP startup problem.  Basically, the desktop only starts in Safe Mode and not Normal Mode due to a physical memory dump message contained within a blue screen.  

        Any help regarding this question will be appreciated.

        Thank you

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what is the dump message?
GMartinAuthor Commented:

       The memory dump message which appears at the bottom of the blue screen reads as follows: Beginning dump of physical memory.. Physical memory dump complete.   There is also more technical information given before that message which will be furnished upon your request.

       Thank you

Without a doubt, this issue is the result of low resources. No, your hard drive is not too small, and No, you don't necessarily need more memory (RAM). If you've made sure you've done your general maintenance (disk cleanup, defrag, etc.) and the issue is still occurring, there may be too many programs that start up when you start your computer. You can use MSConfig to clean up the background apps and services that are loaded at startup. (Note: I recommend hiding the MS services prior to making changes  to any services listed if you are new to the tool.) Did you know that applications that are set up to run in the background on your system are actually loaded before Windows? Resources can become so overwhelmed that the system will refuse to start in any mode other than Safe Mode.
Also, you might want to check the condition of the system global template (file used by all programs that can load a 'blank page'). Make sure you close all applications before making these modifications. If you have MS Word installed, the file will be called 'normal.dot' and will be located in the C:\Documents and Settings\ "Username" \Application Data (this is a hidden folder)\Microsoft\Templates folder. If this file is anything other than 29KB (actual range can be from 29-32KB) delete it and any temp copies of this file that may be listed (these would be indicated by ~$ at the beginning of the file name). Also, if winword8.doc can be found at C:\Windows\Shellnew, delete it, too.
Corruption of the global template can wreck havoc with program/system performance, and deleting these two files will NOT cause any system damage whatsoever. In fact, the system will create a corrected copy the next time MS Word is opened (which you will want to do as a final step for resolving your issue).
If all of this does nothing to help you with your issue, run a hard drive diagnostic test.

Inasmuch as I know that these files affect all Windows based applications that can open a blank page, yes, I do believe it could have been the cause of your 'Physical Memory Dump' Blue Screen error. The memory dump doesn't refer to actual memory. It refers to dumping the files that were recorded in another folder specific to the error itself (all written in technical jargon), which may behoove you to check as well, to keep that error from repeating itself if the file wasn't cleared correctly.
Go to C:\Windows\Minidump. Delete all files found in this folder, but do not delete the folder itself. These are the error files that are collected and sent to MS if you click send. Most folks elect to 'don't send' which is a perfectly legitimate choice and shouldn't affect the folder, but sometimes the files don't clear out like they should. Deleting these files will ensure that the error doesn't repeat just because the collection file exists (even after the problem itself has been resolved).
If you still want to do a disk cleanup and defrag, here are the steps:
1. Disable antivirus software. (Usually you can simply right click the antivirus icon in the system tray (bottom right corner of the screen) and then click 'disable'. This is a temporary change which will reset when you restart your computer - you'll want to reboot when all is said and done).
2. Turn off any screen savers. (Right click the desktop where no icons exist, left click properties, go to the screensaver tab, open the drop-down list for optional screen savers, scroll to the top of the list and click 'none', then click apply and OK.
3. Click Start\All Programs\Accessories\System Tools\Disk Cleanup. (Fairly obvious how to begin - it will take a minute to calculate the amount of hard drive space that can be recovered. It's a safe guide to put a check mark on anything that has a number higher than 1000 on the right. You can elect to keep the setup files by not selecting that option. Click OK to begin the cleanup.
4. After a Disk Cleanup, run Disk Defragmenter, also found in Accessories\System Tools. If you choose Analyze, the system will calculate how much fragmentation has occurred and offer it's recommendation. Click Defragment to start the process. Your system will not be available for the duration of the process, and the size of the drive and the amount of data stored affects how long it will take.
My rule of thumb is Disk Cleanup once a week and a Defrag once a month.

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GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi There;

        Thanks so much for the great information mrfixit22.  I am starting out performing a disk cleanup.  Before it would finish, disk cleanup indicating finding corrupted files and gave me a choice to run chkdsk upon restart to fix the corrupted files.  Upon restarted, I noticed several corrupted files being deleted.  Now, disk cleanup is running just fine.  It does look like it will take a while, so, if you don't mind, I will need to report back tomorrow on the status of this situation.  Following disk cleanup, defrag will be run to help correct any gaps which may be present between data blocks on the harddrive.  If these two steps do not correct the issue, I will carry on further with your other outlined instructions.  

          Thanks so much for putting the time and effort into your answer.  You certainly gave me several options to try out.  Many thanks again for a great job!!!

           I will be back in touch.

If the machine still has a tendancy of sluggishness after following the instructions of mrfixit22, you could try scanning for Malware with Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware.

Recommend downloading, then updating Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware:
When updated, reboot into Safe Mode by selecting F8 at bootup & run a scan.
Full instructions are available, if you require.
If you wished to complete the task with some "fine tuning", these links will help>

"Restore Your Computer's Performance with Windows XP":
and ...
"Optimise XP":

"The one page XP fix":

There are more ideas to try from here >
"Windows XP Performance":
If you have any concerns with the cleanup suggested earlier, an alternative method of reducing the number of Startup items is described here, by running the command "services.msc" (no quotes)>
XP Service Pack 3 Services 411:
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone;

           Without a doubt, I have several fruitful avenues to try out here.  At this time, I was able to successfully complete disk cleanup within safe mode.  I tried to run defragment within safe mode, but, I got a message indicating to run chkdsk /f again.  I have not been able to run defragment because of windows alluding to file corruption.  At any rate, I will continue down the list with the other suggestions brought up.

            By the way, I do have a question regarding system resources.  Is it possible to have a lot of physical RAM and still have low system resources?  For instances, is there a certain amount of RAM which is allocated for loading services, processes, and applications by default for Windows?  And, if the background operations loaded exceed this amount allocated, the operating system either becomes extremely slow loading or, in my situation, gives the blue screen indicating the physical memory dump error message.  

             Any comments to this followup question will be appreciated.

             Thank you

"Is it possible to have a lot of physical RAM and still have low system resources?"



If you had 256mb of RAM when the OS was installed, and you upgraded to 2GB,, chances are that your Paging File is still set to 384MB. That would give you that type of message....

There is a certain amount of RAM that is reserved for the System, and Windows will try and allocate more as needed.....
You should find this link useful>
How much ram can I install in a motherboard under Windows XP?

Here are some links where you can read around the subject in general>

RAM, Virtual Memory, Pagefiles, and all that stuff:

If you believe you're losing available memory, or RAM.    Virtual Size information:

How to optimize Windows XP virtual memory (Pagefile):
>not been able to run defragment because of windows alluding to file corruption<
Please be aware that it is ~conceivable~ you have a Hard drive problem brewing, and you may have valuable data that you wish to backup.  If this proves to be the case, then once you've saved any data you could checkout the HD using this link>

"Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities":

Returning to your first statements, & for more information on the pagefile, see:

For more on memory limitations of 32 bit systems, see:
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hi Everyone;

            Thanks so much for the thorough suggestions given along with the resourceful links.  After thoroughly going through all the information presented here used in conjunction with a previously closed post, I am happy to say this problem is now resolved.  Apparently, the blue screen containing the physical memory dump messages were caused by a defective memory module as confirmed using both, memtest and memtest +86 integrated in with Ultimate Bood CD.  Since the desktop had a pair of 2, 256MB DDR-2 RAM, it was easier to narrow this down.  Originally, the memtest would fail upon an immediate diagnoistic scan.  However, when I shut down the pc and removed the DDR-2 stick from DIMM1 and used the stick on DIMM2 for DIMM1 and booted up the pc a couple of positive things happened.  The pc fully booted to the desktop without it disappearing and giving the blue screen with the physical memory dump messages.  And, secondly,  with the defective DDR-2 memory stick now removed, the memtest was able to scan 3 passes without errors.  

             As far as further correcive measures, I am ordering a pair of 2, 512MB DDR-2 RAM this weekend.   Right now seems to be a good time to do memory upgrades because the prices are low right now.  Good deals can be obtained on just about any commercial web site, like directron.com, tigerdirect.com, newegg.com, etc. just to name a few.  

             In closing, I want to thank everyone for your participation.  Without a doubt, there were some very good visionary ideas brought on this one.  Many of which I would never had thought of in the first place.  Great job everyone!!

             Have a good weekend and thank you.

You're very welcome!   Thank you.    
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