hal.dll missing XP Dell Optiplex 745

Posted on 2011-05-07
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Dell Optiplex 745 Ultra Small Form Factor.
The PC has no CD/DVD Drive.
Somehow, the boot segment got screwed up.
I had copied all the data off to another PC using a USB adapter while working on a hardware problem. (HD fan replacement)
Copied all the data back to the drive and booted.
First problem was "Bootmgr missing".
Attached an external CD/DVD drive and fixed using a Windows Pro CD, (not the original).
Now booted to "ntldr missing". Fixed that.
Now getting "hal.dll missing or corrupt"

Booting again to the RC, and using "expand d:\i386\hal.dl_ c:\windows\system32"

it comes back "Access is denied" Fixed the first 2 problems using the same Windows CD.
This is a company machine and used at a work station.

How can I get by the "Access denied"
Question by:cfourkays
    LVL 17

    Expert Comment

    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the quick reply.
    Let me put this on hold for a bit.
    I not too embarred to tell you I forgot the space between "bootcgg" and the command.
    I'm trying to rebuild and it says I have to check for errors.
    Running chkdsk now
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    OK, back on the path.
    /list, /build, say "There are currently no boot entries..."

    bootcfg /scan  "Failed to successfully scan.....Use chkdsk....."
    "chkdsk", no errors.
    Ran "chkdsk /p", same thing.

    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Hmm, yes I believe the Recovery Console purposely limits what things on the windows system you are examining you are allowed to change.

    Yes make sure you've backed up all irreplaceable user files/data, be it documents, local folder storage of email, favorites, etc.  The system may be in jeopardy.

    Hmmm, I don't think this Dell model had the DSR unusual partition unusual MBR master boot record thing
    nor did it have the HPA host Protected Area thing either I don't think. so can rule this out I think.  However if it did have a DSR then it's MBR would be somewhat proprietary, and so using just any XP CD instead of the opriginal could result in problems.  Perhaps if you try the diskpart command you can list the partitions information to see.  Be careful about making any changes with diskpart command.

    The hard disk could be failing, which resulted in corruption to mbr, bootmgr, ntldr.  If so, I would try repairing it with HDDRegenerator, or else SpinRite or HDat2.  I would much prefer those to running chkdsk with the /r option.

    The XP CD you are using could be different, so instead of recovering files from d:\i386, which could be different edition/version of hal, is there a \i386 folder on the C: hard drive?  What about under C:\windows\options\cabs or thereabouts?

    You've already had to fix several things, is there an whole cascade of problems here?
    One also has to worry that it could be a rootkit or virus.

    Ouch, you may have to do a repair install of XP, and then re-apply all the service packs and hotfixes.  Or perhaps you should build clean on a new/refurbished hard drive after setting this hard disk aside as the source of all files you need to recover.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Hi OC, tested the HD using HD Tune, chkdsk, and a couple of others that are loaded in UBCD4WIN, which even allows me internet access.

    Since I don't have an OS CD, I've used 2 different ones ones I had an XP Home and XP Pro with the same results.

    Took the drive out and have it slaved to another PC.
    Ran the Sophos rootkit scanner just in case. Nothing.

    I have a HDDRegen and ran it a while ago just in case. Great tool, no bad sectors.

    I still have the drive slaved and went to look for the boot.ini file.
    I only found "boot.ini.backup" in the "Windows.pss" folder.
    I opened it in Notepad:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

    The "/noexecute=optin" doesn't look right.
    Can, or should, or how this be restored and where???
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Is there anyway I can restore the proper boot files from the slaved HD?
    LVL 11

    Accepted Solution

    You could restore from a backup.  We're figuring like most every case that there isn't one.

    Don't worry about /noexecute=optin , what that is actually is a system protection feature which was introduced by Microsoft, whereby the OS is only supposed to allow programs which have correct digital signatures to execute.  It's not a guarantee of protection, but a useful measure.

    Honestly cfourkays, you fix hal.dll and boot.ini, and then what, IMHEO there's going to be dozens more things wrong, just look how many things missing and corrupted you've found already, quite a few, almost too many to be hopeful.

    Worst of all, we still don't have any reasonable explanation for this mystery, no finding of bad sectors, rootkit, virus, malware, nothing found with numerous scans, nothing that could explain so many different things being messed up and/or tampered with, and who knows how many more.

    You have the right idea, you want to restore the proper OS files that are missing or corrupt.

    I'll ask again, did you find a i386 folder on the sick system drive? (some drivers might have a i386 folder as part of there package, no that,s not what we want, we're hoping almost 1G of disk space was wasted by having the windows install files copied on the hard disk instead of only on the CD).  There are articles on how you can make an install CD from your i386 folder on your hard drive.

    It's either that, or the obvious, you need to use a Windows XP installation CD to replace the files.

    Did you know the OEM, the retail, and the corporate volume licences of windows are different?  I thought you might know this, but check it out.  To get past the enter your serial number screen, for your windows to later authenticate as valid and be able to get service packs and other microsoft updates you want your system to come up as genuine.  On an OEM box like Dell (or HP, Toshiba, etc) it can be pretty easy actually.  The Dell computer should have a greenish hologramish microsoft windows certificate of authenticity sticker on it's side.  It will say which version of windows this machine came with, and, that is the serial number needed for installation.  You can find, because Dell is so prevalent you can definitely find, that Dell OEM Windows XP CD (Home or Pro, whichever it says).  As with anything, consider the source, check it, you don't want a fake or virus filled thing.  Make yourself a copy of that CD.  It's not piracy, it is only going to work with the authentic serial number off the sticker, which you have, and are entitled to use on that machine.  Alternatively you could pay Dell to have them send you the restore CDs for that unit.

    You could do #10 from the list I referenced above, the so-called in-place reinstall, some people call a repair install.  The danger with that is if there is still undetected malware, trojan, virus or what have you that have insinuated themselves undetected and hooked themselves into the registry on your sick system drive, an install ontop of the existing will replace some OS things, but keep some others, and the bad stuff could remain.  You would then need to run a barrage of anti-virus and anti-rrotkit, anti-malware and anti-spyware tools on it.

    So, my recommendation to you is, get suitable replacement hard disk, it could be used refurbished doesn't even have to be new, either way won't cost very much at all.  On the brand-new disk you either a) install XP clean, or else b) if there are multiple Dell Optiplex 745 small form factor machines in this company, you might cosider duplicating one.

    You'll go to the Dell support site and for this service tag number obtain the latest BIOS and all the drivers for the motherboard chipset, audio, graphics, integrated network.  Unpack and use those drivers.  Maybe do the service packs first.

    To save you time, I suggest you download and save the complete Service Pack 2 on a CD for future use, and you download and install the full Service Pack 3 on a CD.  Install each of those, rebooting in between.  To save a bit of disk space and time, can use the /n option on the command-line install to skip the part where they make backup copies of the previous files to be able to rollback the service pack, we're pretty sure they're stable and we won't be rolling those back.  Now when you connect this system to obtain all the remaining critical windows updates, you won't have to go through anywhere near as many downloads or reboots or wasted hours.

    Install the office productivity software and tools, printer drivers. the machine requires.

    The sick system drive you have, THAT is your backup of the user's files and preferences.  You won't be able to run a file and settings transfer wizard on it since it won't run anything, but you should be able to transfer all documents, email folder storage, and some oft overlooked things like browser favorites, desktop shortcuts.  If there are shortcuts to programs now missing on the new machine, that'll serve as a reminder of what else needs to be installed.

    Keep a copy of the old drive on a shelf, so if the user says you missed transferring something, you can get it for them.

    This seems like tons of work.  Off/on likely take the better part of a day.  So consider alternative b, duplicating another.  You then recreate the needed user, and copy over all files email documents etc needed.

    Seem like too much work?  Not really.  Try to suspend your disbelief and listen to me when I tell you the amount of time you will spend trying to repair and anti-malware and fix the system could very well end up taking longer.  It probably already has.  Trouble is we don't even know if that's light at the end of that tunnel or an oncoming train.  Maybe it can be fixed.  I've done it many times.  The difference is, there was some clue at least as to what had gone wrong, some evidence of trojan this or virus that, which would give us some confidence that a certain course of treatment would succeed.

    Needless to say, restoring from a backup would be quicker.  What's a backup? har har.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    "Needless to say, restoring from a backup would be quicker.  What's a backup? har har.
    I agree.
    Going to my kids for M Day.
    LVL 2

    Author Closing Comment

    Wound up doing a format and reinstall.
    PC owner found Dell system disks.

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