XP Can only boot in Safe mode

Posted on 2011-03-13
Last Modified: 2012-05-11

My old trusty Dell only gets to the blue screen of death when booting up.  I can only get up in Safe Mode, which is a pain because I can see about half the screen and can't get to all of the response buttons in the applications.
I have had problems with some viruses that Norton could identify but not remove.  
Tried about 5-6 other anti-viruses without results and finally had some success with Stinger to remove the viruses.
Here's the output from the event viewer on the last boot:

The following boot-start or system-start driver(s) failed to load:

I updated XP to Service Pack 3.
Question by:PTaylorM2
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Assisted Solution

TBK-Consulting earned 100 total points
ID: 35122638
Personally if you've had alot of viruses, then I would recommend do a system reinstall.  Backup your information from Safe Mode to a USB or a CD, and then do a system restore from the original CD Install discs, and then upgrade/update Win Xp to current, reinstall all of your programs and update them, and finally place your data back.  In the long run it cleans up alot of left behind junk and ensures the viruses are gone completely, and best of all lets you boot normally again.

Assisted Solution

progint earned 200 total points
ID: 35123052
If you can get into safe mode, run a copy of malwarebytes or kaspersky and get the viruses off.  Until you clean the OS, there is no reason to wipe and reload, expecially if you have hidden restore point folders which are holding the virus too.

Do you have a network connection in safe mode?  Combofix is a great friend as well.  You may want to think about using ASR and repairing the installation... without more data, this is all I can offer.

Accepted Solution

TSSTJeff earned 100 total points
ID: 35123174
Looking at your failed drivers I would venture a guess at an issue on your harddrive. that said restart your computer in safemode command prompt only.
then run a chkdsk /f and hit enter
your system may want to reboot
let it run and see if your drive comes back clean or with errors.
the /f will attempt to fix the errors
if it comes back clean then the following suggestions are offered.

since you can get into safe mode, I would start with disabling all applications in the mssconfig startup tab.  See if that will allow you to start normally.  if not then from safemode I would take a look at the registry using regedit.  go to hkey_current_user\software\microsoft\windows\currentversion\run and check to see that you know the programs that start with your machine.  check the runonce folder just below in the tree as well. delete the programs that you dont know.  This will not harm the computer. you can always reconfigure them to start at at startup.
another trick if it is virus is to start your computer without a network connection.  many viruses cant run without the network.  If this is the case then check the above to get enough removed to run some product like housecall

Good luck
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Author Comment

ID: 35123848

Things seem to be headed south here.  The system now hangs in Safe mode when it gets to the point where it's loading AGP440.sys
Ran a chkdsk /f  - it seemed to go through all three stages, but didn't display the results long enough for me to read them before trying to boot up.  A disk check utility indicated that the IDE drive gets a  "pass"

If I reinstall XP, do I have to worry about losing data or installed aps?
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

by:Greg Hejl
Greg Hejl earned 100 total points
ID: 35124479
Try sfc /scannow - in safe mode. - you will need a cd with the service pack you have installed.

any virus cleaning program needs to be run in safe mode - most all virus's detect all malware scanners.

I recommend Malwarebytes and Microsoft Security Essentials.

some get pretty nasty - every time you boot it will install to a new directory and rename itself

Author Comment

ID: 35127706
This Dell 400SC  was originally bought in 2004.  One of many PCs used to support my consulting business, my wife's PR shop and three kids who went through college during that timeframe.  Am unsure where the original XP install disk is located.  The Dell has been great, but has been humbled by the recent spat of viruses.   The HD checked out fine.   Although I have access to the data, I've got many applications I've installed over the years that I'm concerned about correctly migrating to a new system.

I was able to get back to safe mode by doing the repair option with a more recent copy of XP - but NOT the initial choice to 'Repair'.  The repair mode, with a command prompt, may be good for a ckdsk, but is uncharted territory for those of us who do not make their living as a technician.  I selected to install, let the application find my versio of Windows, and then select Repair for a comprehensive make-over.   My next course is to get into the msconfg and turn off all additional services to see if I can get back to 'normal'.  
If I can't, how do I get into 'my documents'?  My folder isn't available to me when even when I log in with administrative rights.  
Another question would be

Author Comment

ID: 35127714
Sorry.  There's not another question....yet.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 35128786
It would be easier to help you if you posted which BSOD exception number you get while trying to boot into Windows.
Currently cross your fingers and hope that Repair installation of Windows did not erase your My Documents folder.
If you want data from this PC copied out use boot CD such as Paragon Rescue Kit 10 Free to copy out data in non Windows mode.

Assisted Solution

progint earned 200 total points
ID: 35129014
also, was just thinking, did you do a dell hardware diagnostic?  Usually this option is part of F12 when booting, and you should be able to thoroughly test your hardware (which can save time down the road - knowing if hardware is bad versus troubleshooting software).  Let us know!

Author Comment

ID: 35130491
Yes, checked the harddrive....chkdsk was run and another utility also 'passed' the drive.
I'll find a utility to scan the rest if my msconfig approach doesn't bear fruit tonight.

LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:Greg Hejl
ID: 35133541
don't forget to run Malwarebytes in safe mode

safe mode bypasses msconfig startup and 3rd party services


Author Closing Comment

ID: 35243918
I'm just going to spread the point out to those who tried to help.  This was a frustrating task that consumed a great deal of time.  Not sure what the problem was, but the repair option off of an XP installation got the system back into safe mode.  I was able to locate 'my document' files by changing the share file properties and also found my Thunderbird data in the applications data folder.  I used the wrong copy of XP and will lose the operating system  after 30 days (can't register in 'safe' mode?).   I should just let the 7-year old system die quietly, but am considering an update to Win 7.   Think it'll work?

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