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Help with XP

Hi all,

I have a  pc with XP Home edition which has stopped responding in respect of windows.  I had a message that   hal.dll   was corrupt in the system32 folder and now it will not load windows at all, so I cannot download any of the utilities which purport to fix this error!  On boot up I cannot now enter safe mode either!  What I can do it to boot up from the CD with my original Windows disk and then I get the C prompt under the repair function or I have the choice to re-install Windows.  So...... unless there is something else I can do...if I re-install Windows, will it delete the directories I had in my C: drive (where windows was installed), or will it just overwrite the windows files?  I have some knowledge but not much (I am conscious of what a little knowledge can bring!)  All the programs I have installed on the computer I have disks for, but it is the spreadsheets I have and my files for my published websites that are giving me cause for concern.
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3 Solutions
Use the recovery console, try these steps.

As this error is very often caused by a bad hd, you should test it before you do anything else. Use the manufacturer's diagnostic for that, and run the long test. If the tool can't fix any errors it finds, replace the disk. Or replace the PC, as support for XP will end anyway next June, you should start looking for an alternative anyway. Also run memtest86+.

You'll find both tools on the UBCD:


If the diagnostics above come out error free, use Paragon's free rescue kit. It should be able to repair such issues as yours.


But still, you'll have to either upgrade your PC or install a more modern OS in the near future. If you don't want to buy a new PC, and also don't want to buy Windows 7 to install on it, there are many free and very good Linux alternatives, like zorin OS or Linux Mint:


Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
Hello again.  Thanks for the comments so far.  Dipopo, when trying yours I get to the R option (or install windows) and when choosing the recovery console it returns no hard disk!  But when I boot up it looks like normal with all the checks on C etc.  Any Ideas? Or is it a lost cause?
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when you re install windows ,windows installer will check for existing installation and you have an option to install windows on another folder without losing all your existing content and windows will create windows.old folder by default for the existing OS and you can also choose a folder name if you want .This is the better way BTW is the HDD detecting in BIOS?
Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
Thank you sumeshbnr.  How do I detect if the HDD is being found in BIOS ?
Of course it is seen by the BIOS. You wouldn't get the hal error message otherwise and the PC wouldn't even start to boot.

Have you run the diags already like I told you?
Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
The only thing that I can attribute diagnostics to is the Acronis Startup manager, but I do not see that option now when I boot

I can get to a BIOS setup utility which is showing the following:

Primary IDE Master - HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GS
Primary IDE Slave - Not Detected
IDE Configuration - Nothing in this area

System Information - Nothing here either.

Under the Boot (TAB) and Hard Disk Drives I see :
1st Drive  [RAID:ST3160211AS]
2nd Drive [USB:HTS42128 0H9AT]

The situation with the Windows XP Disk is that if I install without a USB drive connected it tells me that a C: drive does not exist.
And as I found out, if I try to re-install windows when I had the USB drive connected it installs Windows on the removable drive !!
You must download the UBCD, burn the iso to a CD, boot from it and then run the disk manufacturer's diagnostic and the memtest86+ which are both included on that cd lke I asked you to.
Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
Sorry Rindi

When I went to download the UltimateBootCD my Kasperskyblocked the site as a Phishing site.  


Blocked by Web Anti-Virus

Reason: phishing link

Is this Kaspersky being cautious ?
Maybe you didn't select the correct download. Try this one:

Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
Hi Rindi,

I think you'll see my level of expertise (not) now....

Ok, I managed to burn ubcd to a disk and put it in the drive.  I am presented with a Q: drive with the following directories:  ETC, MAIN, USR, BIN, TMP, HELP, LAN, LIB and MENU

I went into (looked at) MAIN and found DLGDIAG4 and DLGDIAG5

Is this the diagnostic tool I should use? or is it located elsewhere?

Sorry that I do not know all this :(
when you boot the CD a menu should come up with different sections, as shown on the ubcd download site. you would then navigate to the hdd section and press enter, and there you have a further menu where you select diagnostics, and then you have a list from which you select your HD manufacturer's diagnostic, which then loads...
The results under the Boot tab give you a big clue.  The hard drive is listed as: RAID:ST3160211AS .  This implies to me that you have a Seagate ST3160211AS drive on a system that has a RAID controller (allows multiple drives for fault tolerance).  If it is the only drive it is likely configured as RAID0.  XP probably needs a disk driver (software) to access the drive.  This driver can be downloaded from the manufacturer's web site and is loaded (I believe you press F6) during the boot from the XP setup disk.

If you would provide details about the motherboard then we could point you to the driver.

You may be able to switch the controller out of RAID mode in the BIOS, but I'd be careful to only read from the drive (no writing) while in that mode.  It may not be an issue, but I'm trying to be careful.

rindi makes an excellent point that this may be a physical hard drive problem.  Once you get a disk to boot that will allow you to read the drive, I'd suggest copying the important files to an external USB drive before proceeding with diagnostics.  You don't want the drive to fail completely before you've backed things up!
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
FIRST -- Do you have backups of your data?

If not, I'd suggest you STOP; connect the drive to another PC; and copy your data from it BEFORE you do any further reinstallations.    Otherwise if anything goes awry, you're likely to lose all of your data.

i.e. "...  it is the spreadsheets I have and my files for my published websites that are giving me cause for concern. "   may simply not be recoverable !!
Too many cooks spoil the cake .So what you can do is the two things since you are a non technical user.

1. Use a Linux live CD to view your files (if the partitions are intact in your HDD)-http://babyraj.com/view-windows-files-with-linux/ -Do not select install when you boot from linux .It just work without install. If you are able to vie files then connect a USB drive to back up the files.You can simply insert to the USB port it will auto detect.

2 .If you cannot view the files with a LIVE CD you can connect the HDD to any of the Working windowsw PC(may be you can use your friend's PC .If you have a separate one at your side then use it) as slave (secondary) and do a disk check.

If you still have problems call a technician
Chiv-the-Old-OneAuthor Commented:
Hello All,

May I begin with saying that I am overwhelmed with all the help that has been offered to me with my problem.  What this has done for me is to highlight the things that I do not know about PC's.  With rindi giving me things to do which then necessitated him going to a low level of detail and then my still not understanding what I was doing has led me to cut my losses and pay for help.  I engaged someone local who has agreed to copy all recoverable data from my hard disk, and then put it all on a new computer (I suspect a re-conditioned one) and all this for £95 (This is around $150).  I can ask for no more and save myself a lot of heartache to boot (no pun intended!).

But I did want to come here again and say how impressed I was with everyone who replied to my post.  Thank you very much.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Definitely a good idea to get professional help -- and glad t see the first thing he's going to do is "... copy all recoverable data from my hard disk ..."  :-)

That's a good sign that you've engaged a quality tech !!
Anuj BhatiaCommented:
Hi Buddy ,

Sorry just saw this Question. That's nice you got a Quality Tech .. Just for your Information make sure you backup your data once in 6 months so if nythin of this happens you have your data with ya ..

Enjoy ..

Anuj Bhatia.
Go ahead .Also ask them  to train you to back  backup your data to an external HDD to with DVD.
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