XP Installation/SP2 Upgrade Issues

  Funktion 18:22 30 Sep 05

Okay, so here's a conundrum for you all...

I've got so many old components kicking about I decided to stitch together a wonderful hybrid to get a fourth machine up and running. The idea is to use this as a basic media center / web access PC for my front room when I move house, so it's not going to be pushed that much and I don't need super specs (hence the cobbling together of old bits).

Now, I had issues when installing XP Pro. It was a fresh install on a newly formatted, new 160GB Seagate HDD (initially 3 x 40GB partitions, going to add a fourth when SP2 is installed). I tried installing XP about 30-odd times (no kidding), each time the computer would drop to BSOD (usually "IRQ_Not_Less_Or_Equal" screen, sometimes mentioning atapi.sys) or just plain reboot at different times during the installation. Anyway, just as I was quite literally writing in this very same box to ask your advice, the installation worked!

Now that WinXP is installed, it is running stable with all the drivers installed apart from the video drivers (waiting till SP2 installed to bring those into the equation). Excellent, I thought, my computer had a few teething problems but it's got over them. Time to get SP2 installed to get it in line with my other PCs on the network. Oh no. Not so simple. No more BSOD, just rebooting at various times during the upgrade. I have tried upgrading to SP1 as a stepping-stone, but the same thing happens. I have tried running the upgrade in regular mode and safe mode, with the same results in both. I am starting to get rather frustrated! If it a hardware issue, I would love to be able to pin it down to something specific.

I have run MemTest86+ V1.60 a number of times to check the integrity of my RAM (passed), and my HDD is running fine. The motherboard is new, so my main ideas for the cause of all this is either the puny 300W PSU or the processor itself. I have a feeling that the graphics card may be knackered, but it is stable at all times apart from during system upgrades. It perplexes me somewhat....

System Info (only the motherboard and HDD are new, optical drive and floppy drive both work in other systems):

300W PSU, Gigabyte 8S655FX-L (onboard LAN), Pentium P4 2.02GHz, 512MB PC3200 DDR-SDRAM (2x256MB running dual channel), ATI Radeon 9600 128MB, Western Digital 160GB 7200RPM HDD, Sony DVD/CD-RW combo, FDD w/card reader (running through USB header)

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 19:40 30 Sep 05

click here

  Funktion 19:59 30 Sep 05

Good effort, Fruit Bat.

By my reckoning, the first four points don't apply, which leaves it as a hardware issue. Recommended to change the RAM/CPU/NIC. Since I have no NIC (onboard - could disable if necessary, but I've tried that and it doesn't work), the RAM has tested out OK (and I've swapped in some from my primary PC which I know works), then that leaves the CPU.

I'll get round to swapping it with the P4 2.4GHz from one of my other machines which I know works once I get the chance to. Until then, let me throw up a few more of the symptoms that are being shown since my last post. The IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD has pretty much disappeared now, being merely replaced with random reboots either during XP loading or when a task is being performed (automatically restart is unchecked) and I'm trying 3 different video cards:

128MB ATI Radeon 9600 Pro (pretty much known to be FUBAR - works fine until ATI drivers are installed, then corruption ensues!), 32MB Geforce2 MX, and 32MB TNT2 M64 (I know, I know, stop your laughing - they're the only spares I've got that work!)

Any more ideas? D'you reckon it's worth my while digging out my other processor and swapping the two.

  DieSse 00:48 01 Oct 05

The PSU is a bit low capacity - insufficient/badly regulated power can cause a wide variety of mysterious symptoms, so you really need to rule that out as a possibility - which you'll only do with a bigger one.

  Funktion 11:47 01 Oct 05

Finally managed to get SP2 installed, and the problems seem to have resolved themselves! I'm guessing it was something to do with the 160GB HDD not being liked by plain old XP Pro.

I have a theory as to how I managed to make it work as well (which may or may not be correct). I had only been running the system with 512MB RAM (2 x 256MB in the system now, 1 x 512MB to test that the RAM wasn't to blame), but when I managed to make it stabilise during the installation I had removed one of the DIMMs. My theory is that the BSODs involving atapi.sys were relating to the reading/writing of data from the HDD sectors outside of what XP was capable of. The OS could not keep up with the speed of data transfer, so freaked out and rebooted. Removing some RAM slowed down the system a little and prevented it stumbling. Does that sound like a theory or what??!

Anyway, once SP2 was installed, I reinserted the extra DIMM, and have had a stable system running for pretty much 12 hours now. Programs are installing fine, and there have as yet been no random reboots or BSODs.

I think I can now rule out hardware issues (hopefully). I know the PSU is weedy :-( but I'm trying to avoid spending unneccessary amounts of cash on this project, so please do not mock the size of my..... PSU.

I reckon this problem is sorted now, so thanks for your input guys, and I'll get back to you all the next time my machines decide to just NOT MAKE SENSE!!!


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