Can't even start computer in safe mode.

This is a Dell computer with a 400GB hard drive, 2GB memory.  The O/S is winxp.  Dujring startup I can't even get into safe mode.  How can I get this PC to have a normal startup.  Any help will be appreciated.  Thanks.
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Depending on whether you get errors or if it just hangs will change what the right action might be. It can not boot for several reasons. Other than booting off the CD and doing a repair or an upgrade install over the top (the second option will require you to reinstall all apps but the data will be Ok), you can boot with a utility CD, like BartPE, and look for the obvious, like completely full hard drive, delete the page file in case it's being problematic, and so on.

Knowing the last driver to load in Safe Mode can help, but not always.
Was it ever working? Does it keep rebooting? Describe exactly what it does when you try to start the system up. Do you have the installation CD? Have you tried booting to the recovery console? (See:
Depending on what problem the system is having there are several commands you can use in the recovery console to remedy many problems but it's very limited; here is a list of commands if and when you get to a point where you know what is causing your problem:

Have you recently installed any software, drivers or updates? If yes try selecting "Last Know Good Configuration"
Have you recently installed any hardware? Try removing the newly installed hardware.

More information you provide the quicker a solution can be provided. Then information you originally posted leaves us with little to work with.


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First ensure you haven't added any new hardware that maybe causing a conflict, if so remove the hardware.  If you have gone through trying the option of "Last known good configuration" and Safe Mode isn't booting in either mode (networking or not), an in-place upgrade might be your last option.  You'll need a Windows XP disk and a couple of hours.  Below is the Microsoft KB of the steps you need to take.  Depending on the Windows XP media you have, it may or may not include a service pack, if not you will need to reinstall any service packs and patchs after.

How to perform an in-place upgrade (reinstallation) of Windows XP

Ensure you read the steps and KB in full before starting.
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Power machine up.
After bios screen keep tapping F8 at one second intervals

At full boot mode options select "disable automatic restart on system failure"
Post back message
you'll have to post more info - what happens exactly when you boot up in normal and safe mode?
now - it can be anything, from softwaare over hardware.
you can always test ram and disk from the ubcd :      
just to be sure about your basics...
LenerdAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all for your postings.  It is appreciated.  I am trying to resolve this problem for a friend.
After powered on it goes to the Dell Logo Screen and then right to the startup menu.  It doesn't matter whether I select safe mode or normal mode, it goes back to the logo screen and then back to the startup mode selections.  Another words it won't boot up in either mode.
  I also have tried last known good configuration and it doesn't work..
I've tried the recovery console and that didn't help.
LenerdAuthor Commented:
High Marks, job well done
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