Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

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Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:48 pm

A buddy of mine has an older Windows XP machine and when he boots up this freezes on the screen:

http://i.imgur.com/wMn6j.jpg

Here's what I've done to try to figure it out
-Tested hard drive with two diagnostic tools: PASSED
-Tested RAM with Memtest86+ with 10 passes: PASSED
-Installed another hard drive, installed Windows 7, ran Prime95: PASSED
-Ran CHKDSK: PASSED

I can't even boot into Safe Mode because the screen instantly freezes like that. I've even tried booting a Windows XP install disk and get the same problem. I've worked on a lot of computers but this one has really got me stumped. If anyone has seen this before or has any thoughts I'd love to hear them! Thanks!
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:56 pm

When does this happen? Before or after POST? Can you get into BIOS? Have you tried another video card?
It's hilarious that the same people who laud the "benefits" of 16x9 aspect ratios also praise Chrome for "freeing up screen space."
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:59 pm

I can get into POST just fine, it happens before the Windows XP splash screen comes up and it happens so fast that you can't even hit F8 to try safe mode. I haven't tried a different video card for two reasons: 1) It worked fine when I was running Windows 7 on it. 2) It has no AGP or PCI-Express slots and I don't have a PCI video card laying around.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:06 pm

Machine specs? How long did Windows XP run without problems?

Try adding "/sos" to the end of the boot entry in boot.ini. It disables the splash screen and shows you which drivers are loading when. My thought process on this: the video mode the splash screen uses has now become corrupted. If I remember correctly, Windows 7 uses a different video mode for its splash screen, so it might not cause this.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:06 pm

Ah crap, I was skimming and missed the Windows 7 part. :oops:

Sounds like the boot code for XP is corrupted and it just hangs. I'd try booting to an Anti virus/malware CD and scanning the hard drive, then if that's clean, reinstall XP without formatting so he doesn't lose any program data.

Alternately, boot to the Windows 7 drive and hook his up as a slave drive to copy and save all his data, then maybe restore Windows. I've had to do that before.
It's hilarious that the same people who laud the "benefits" of 16x9 aspect ratios also praise Chrome for "freeing up screen space."
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:09 pm

I'm trying to install Windows XP on another hard drive right now so when it's done and I verify that works I'll try the other suggestions. So far all I've gotten is the text blue screen and copying files. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the help guys!
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:20 pm

I think I misunderstood the original post, as I somehow thought I read that you had tried installing a separate Windows XP, as well.

Yes, this is almost certainly MBR corruption. If you can boot into a Windows 7 installation disc, go to the Recovery Console. Run "fdisk /mbr" to have it repair the MBR.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:24 pm

Ok, that's what I wasn't sure of. I knew you could do that through the recovery console of an XP disk, but I didn't know if I could use a Windows 7 disk. I just checked the MBR for viruses using AVG's rescue disk and that came back with nothing. I'll give the Windows 7 MBR fix a shot.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:31 pm

It's an XP easter egg - 5 player pong, in color! :D
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:42 pm

Booting on the Windows 7 setup disk and running bootrec /mbr made it worse. I finally was able to boot off a Windows XP Pro disk and get into the recovery console. I ran fixmbr and fixboot, rebooted and got the same thing.

This is a 945 based chipset and a crappy Pentium dual-core. I've already backed up his drive, he just has some software he doesn't have disks for anymore so I didn't want to format unless it's a last resort.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:48 pm

You said you got Win 7 running on it, are you unable to read the disk from there?
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:51 pm

I haven't tried looking at it with the exact same machine but I've had it plugged into my main Windows 7 machine, ran a full VIPRE and MBAM scan on it and it checked out clean.

edit: I'm going to try a Windows XP repair, if that doesn't work I'm burning this thing down to the ground and reinstalling unless someone else has some ideas.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:15 pm

If you can boot to a WinXP disc then you can also try a full repair, although if you don't have the disc slipstreamed to the latest service pack, things can get "interesting." My past experience says that when an XP installation behaves this far out of normal, it's Arson Time.

I'm not too surprised that the Win7 boot repair procedure borked, because different Windows versions generally don't have compatible boot loaders, but I'm wondering if this is the first sign of an impending hard disk failure.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:09 pm

I tried doing the full repair and the same issue popped up the first time it tried to boot from the hard drive. I just did a complete format and so far so good. Well, dammit, thanks for trying to help me guys!
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:19 pm

Try EasyBCD.

http://neosmart.net/EasyBCD/

When I dual-booted the Win7 preview version, this was the only way to get my XP MBR back to where it should be.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:19 pm

My guess is that it was either hard drive corruption due to a glitch (power interruption, soft DRAM error, loose hard drive cable, motherboard starting to fail, etc.) of some sort, or malware (possibly of the rootkit variety given how early in the boot process it was happening). Given the possibility of malware, a reformat and reinstall like you're doing was probably the correct course of action.

Please post again when you've determined whether the reformat/reinstall fixed it (I'm curious as to the outcome).
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:46 pm

The format has definetly fixed it. I've rebooted a dozen times and everything is working great. Just got done installing all the hardware drivers and I'm on to putting 120 Windows udpates on right now. So far so good!
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:16 pm

Too bad you didn't have an image of the drive laying around anywhere, I'd be interested in tearing it down and looking at the bootstrap.
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Re: Weirdest Windows XP Boot Problem I've Seen

Postposted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:19 pm

I made a VHD of the drive before I wiped it.
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