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How to Restore windows XP boot from setup

Windows XP Home on my old laptop has stopped working.  No response to keyboard/mouse events. I was able to load it in the Safe Mode and checked the Event log. It has a record with something like the SENS (System Event Notification) service hangs.

I tried to repair windows installation, by booting from a windows CD I borrowed. The setup process copied some files, then rebooted, and then asked me to enter the timezone or something. The keyboard and the mouse and the power button do not work at this point as well and I have to remove the battery to reboot the laptop.
After rebooting the setup process starts again leading to the same bad result.

Linux boots and works fine, no problem with the hardware. No viruses on the hard drive (at least, according the BitDefender and DrWeb LiveCD antiviruses). The filesystem is fine. No problem to access to the harddrive from linux.

I have two questions.
1. How can I return back windows (get rid of the setup process) to be able to run it in SafeMode (currently selecting the SafeMode from the F8 menu leads to a message something like "Setup can't run in safe mode, need to reboot")
2. I don't have a Windows installer CD with this laptop, but it has Windows installation files in /i386 folder on the hard drive. Can I reinstall Windows from it? I don't want to buy/activate some other Windows installation, because I already payed for this one.


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zc2
Asked:
zc2
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3 Solutions
 
hello_everybodyCommented:
I'm afraid that your old windows installation is gone for good, NO you cant boot into safemode.
And for the good news you CAN reinstall windows from the \386 folder read this to find out how:  http://www.howtohaven.com/system/createwindowssetupdisk.shtml

you may find these informative too:

http://paulski.com/zpages.php?id=1711

http://ask-leo.com/can_i_burn_the_i386_folder_to_a_cd_and_use_that_as_an_install_cd.html

http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/578/windows-xp-installing-from-harddrive/
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zc2Author Commented:
Thank you for the prompt answer.
I tried to make a boot CD as described in the first link, but when I tried to boot from the CD I made,  I got the following error:
Inf File Txtsetup.sif Corrupt Or Missing, Status14
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optomaCommented:
When the laptop is powered down, plug in an external keyboard and try again :)

If not you can try system restore with Ubcd4win cd
http://www.ubcd4win.com/
http://www.ubcd4win.com/burn.htm  iso help
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zc2Author Commented:
No, external keyboard, external mouse, nothing works.

How exactly that UBCD4win works, I can't catch that from the site.
It asks me to install something. Should I install it on any other PC ?
Then what?
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zc2Author Commented:
wow! after a while the external (and only) keyboard started working. I tried different USB ports and one gave me a result.
I had to enter the software key from the CD I borrowed. Will that be a problem?
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hello_everybodyCommented:
When you add the files to the iso, it adds them to the end, and if you save it like that it puts the data in a slightly different spot on the cd even though it is in the same folder. Try burning it again and make sure all files are in the proper order (they are supposed to be in alphabetical order).
Another possibility is that you have a problem with your cd\dvd drive, check it if the above doesn't work.
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optomaCommented:
Download it on another machine and once downloaded create the bootable cd (2nd link)

Once thats completed boot the affected machine from the created cd.
When booted to cd (Ubcd4win) there is lots of different apps and the regreswiz app is the one which will let you access system restore points.
Pick a recent restore point which would be before the issues arose.

Hopefully that works and we can go from there :)
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zc2Author Commented:
there is no such file, I checked :(
the files in alpha order.
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optomaCommented:
Didnt refresh page. Key may already have been used but repair is goiong ahead?
Is there a key on the laptop?
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zc2Author Commented:
It seems, it is not going ahead... :(
The setup shows the advertises and flashes squares in the bottom right corner, so it's not get frozen.
But for half an hour already the progress bar in the same position on "Installing Network" procedure.
It promises to complete in 32 minutes, same time as half an hour before.

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blissbearCommented:
Do you want to create a brand new windows installation? If so you can use an old DOS bootdisk and create a FAT32 partition on the hard drive, then copy the /I386 directory from your XP install CD to the hard drive using the xcopy command. (xcopy /s /e d:\i386 c:\i386\)  once you have a good copy on the hard drive, you can install from the hard drive (c:\i386\winnt.exe). this will avoid any problems with cdrom communication issues. if you still have problems installing windows from a known good /i386 directory, you may have hard drive problems, hard drive communication problems, memory problems, or mainboard chipset problems.
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blissbearCommented:
once windows is installed again you can convert your fat32  to ntfs using convert.exe from the command line.
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optomaCommented:
Turn the machine back on and let the repair re continue.
When its back at stage3(i think)--where its installation devices...
Hold the shift key and tap F10 to bring up the command console.

Type taskmgr in the command console and hit enter.
In task manager hit file, new task and type msconfig

In msconfig, select startup tab and uncheck all entries-hit apply.
Then select services tab,check the box to hide all microsoft entries.
Uncheck the remaining entries and hit ok--> all non microsoft entries

The repair will most likely freeze again so power down and restart it once more and hopefully it will continue sucessfully the third time
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zc2Author Commented:
Thank you optoma, I did as you said, but the outcome did not change, except now (thank you again so much!) I know a little more what's going on using sysinternals utilities.
When the installation stuck (on the same point as before),  according procexp the DPC (Deferred Procedure Calls) takes up the CPU, and acording the procmon services.exe process endlessly tries to read all the subkeys in HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\
Any hints?

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optomaCommented:
Still sticking on network?
Is machine connected to network/lan?
If so unplug it.

If not go into devive manager and disable the network cards through run command

devmgmt.msc is command
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zc2Author Commented:
I tried with and without the LAN cord connected. I guess, the network is not the issue.
Right now I'm trying to reinstall windows freshly. But at least one problem there is missed txtsetup.sif file in the i386 folder. I'm coping all the i386 files to the third FAT partition and add the file from another XP installation disk, then run winnt.exe from DOS.

BTW, how can I boot from the hidden service partition? Shift-F10 during the POST does not help.
The machine is Acer Aspire 1640
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zc2Author Commented:
Nope, I've failed.
winnt.exe says "The source specified is not valid, not accessible, or does not contain a valid Windows XP Setup installation".

OMG! I hate windows!!!
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optomaCommented:
For Acer its usually Alt +F10 at bootup.
Destroys all data and puts machine back to factory image
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zc2Author Commented:
no, Alt-F10 does not help
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optomaCommented:
Check in the Bios to see if "D2D recovery" is enabled.
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zc2Author Commented:
It is.

I tried to install windows xp from the borrowed CD, indenting to replace the wpa.dbl file later (not sure how valid it is, because I did not made a copy before I started messing with the installer) as described here: http://sniptools.com/vault/reinstall-windows-xp-without-product-activation, but guess what, the fresh setup process hanged in the same way - no keyboard response.
I guess, I'm going to install Linux.
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optomaCommented:
Hmm, usually works to bring up recovery.

I presume you have a data backup.
Try a clean install and use the key on the laptop when prompted. No need to try without activation.
http://michaelstevenstech.com/cleanxpinstall.html
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zc2Author Commented:
I did try clean install and the setup hangs (I mentioned that already).
May be by the "clean install" you mean something different? It's not clear for me from the link you sent.

What I do is the following: boot from XP CD and choose "install".
During the installation one of first step I specified different windows folder name,
because I did not remove the old windows from the partition.
Don't think it matters, but I'll try to remove everything from old windows
and will try setup again.

When I just bought the laptop I did Norton Ghost backup. A number of huge files still there.
I wonder can I restore windows from them...
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optomaCommented:
The ghost backup should work but beware that all applications and data would be lost that were installed+created after the ghost date.

If you dont have anything important on that laptop regarding data, use the ghost recovery cds/dvds.

A clean install to me is to format the partition and install xp fresh.
Would also result in destroying all apps+data.
All drivers would have to be reinstalled along with applications + MS updates.
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zc2Author Commented:
Good news, I've managed to boot from the recovery partition. Bad news restored from backup windows hangs as before (no keyboard/mouse response).

I could not boot recovery because the MBR was overwritten by Windows
Here is the instruction how to return the original MBR and boot the recovery:
1. Boot from a Linux LiveCD
2. backup current MBR to a preliminarily mounted flashdrive (/mnt/flash):
dd count=1 bs=512 if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/flash/MBR.bin
3. Mount the recovery parition (/dev/sda1 to /mnt/recovery)
4. restore the manufacturer's MBR (should be in the file /mnt/recovery/ACER/TOOLS/RTMBR.bin):
dd count=1 bs=416 if=/mnt/recovery/ACER/TOOLS/RTMBR.bin of=/dev/sda
!Important: bs= MUST be 416 or so, NOT 512, or you'll ruin the partition table!
5. Reboot the PC and hit Alt-F10 after the POST done its job.


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zc2Author Commented:
Thank you guys very much for the help.
The windows is restored but does not work properly.
I'm going to open another question.
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optomaCommented:
Pity it couldn't get resolved but thanks for the assist :)
Let us know if that works.

A complete wipe of the drive may fix it!
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optomaCommented:
You're welcome!
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