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Tech Helproom


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PC will cold boot but won't restart


Jem
Resolved

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I have a Windows XP Pro SP3 PC which has developed a strange problem - I think after installing a number of Microsoft updates recently.

The PC hangs when it is trying to restart - i.e. as is necessary in some software installs or if you select the "restart" option from the "Shutdown" menu. However, if you let the PC shutdown and then press the start up button it will boot successfully.

The "hang" occurs during the POST sequence immediately after it has tried to boot from CD (which comes first in the boot sequence) and before the loading Windows screen. After a long pause it eventually reports "Boot disk failure - please insert System disk".

So the problem seems to be that it cannot boot from the hard drive C when it is re-starting but has no such problem when doing a normal start up.

I cannot use "system restore" to recover a previous installation because this requires the PC to do a hot restart. I would really appreciate advice from anyone who can suggest a solution.

Thanks.

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Jem

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I tried removing the CMOS battery this morning and then restarting with the Bios reset. Unfortunately no luck.

I also did a boot into Safe Mode and then tried a restart but the PC still hanged.

However, I think I have found another clue. On of the 3 internal disk drives seems to have packed up. It was a drive that had the original operating system but was no longer used (I had cloned the C-drive to another disk). I'm wondering if there is something about this that might explain it? Is it possible that in restart mode it looks for something on that drive (the Master Boot Record?) before eventually loading the OS from the new C-drive? This comment may make no sense but it does seem likely that the failure of the drive has something to do with it. I have now removed this drive.

After all this fiddling, I can now only boot the PC into Windows by booting it off a system CD (a Windows XP CD) and then rejecting the option to reinstall windows. This does load my existing XP OS.

After quite few hours wrestling with this problem, I am thinking that I may use this as an opportunity to rebuild the PC around Windows 7 (I have one unused install from a "Family Pack" copy of Win7 which I used on 2 other PCs in our family). If I do a clean install, it should presumably sort out all these strange problems.

Any thoughts appreciated!

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KRONOS the First

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If you do a clean install it may well sort your problems out provided they are software related.But of course if your problems are hardware related then a clean install will do nothing more than rule out a software problem.

I assume you have tried to start with just the one HDD in?

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Fruit Bat /\0/\

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Look in disk management at what disks are labelled as.

Make sure your current op system is on C: and make sure NTDECT.com and NTLDR and boot.ini is in root of the C: drive

open boot.ini with notepad and check it reads something like

[boot loader] timeout=3 default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS [operating systems] multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

format the old drive or even disconnect it from the system.

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Strawballs

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I remember having this problem a few years back and was eventually sorted with a Bios flash to latest version of bios.

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Jem

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I confirm old disk is removed.

NTDETECT.COM, NTDLR and BOOT.INI are all in the root of c-partition and content of boot.ini is almost identical to above:

[boot loader] timeout=30 default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS [operating systems] multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /usepmtimer

Have been reading up and intend to try using Fixmbr command from Recovery console to see if that helps.

I am reluctant to flash the Bios but will bear the suggestion in mind!

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Fruit Bat /\0/\

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Fixmbr and Fixboot might be useful

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Jem

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Update: I tried the Fixmbr tool in Windows Recovery Console and it gave me a message:

caution This computer appears to have a non-standard or invalid master boot record. FIXMBR may damage your partition tables if you proceed. This could cause all the partitions on the current hard disk to become inaccesible. If you are not having problems accessing your drive to not continue.

So I am now pondering whether to take the risk!

My current plan is to wait until I am certain I can reinstall the old OS if the disk should become inaccessible "post Fixmbr" and therefore requires reformatting. My current problem in doing this is that none of my Acronis "Rescue Disks" seem to work on this PC (I have rescue boot disks from Versions 7, 11, 2011 and 2012). However, I am pursuing that problem through the Acronis Forum! Does anyone know if I can reinstall the cloned image on my c-drive by using another PC to transfer it from the copy I have made on an external drive with the C-drive in a drive caddy? (I.e. removing the hard drive from the faulty PC and use another one to do this.)

Isn't it amazing how much time can get swallowed up trying to solve a "simple" problem!

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Fruit Bat /\0/\

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This computer appears to have a non-standard or invalid master boot record. FIXMBR may damage your partition tables if you proceed.

Looks like this is caused by Acronis, as it boots do you see a message MB3 Error?

This is Acronis applying its hidden partition for the backups.

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Jem

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Just to be clear, I was not using Acronis prior to having the Fixmbr error message. I was intending to use Acronis to recover an image of the c-drive prior to trying the Fixmbr solution to my original problem.

My Google research on the Fixmbr error message is that it always gives this warning before applying a fix so if you use Fixmbr it's a bit like playing Russian Roulette!

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Jem

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OK so I've managed to solve this problem.

I ran both FIXMBR and FIXBOOT (ignoring the alarming warning messages) and then the PC did boot successfully without the need for a bootable CD in the CD drive. You can access these programs by booting the PC into Windows Recovery Console by booting it off a valid Windows XP installation disc and selecting "R" (Repair) option.

My diagnosis is that the boot sector in the C-partition was damaged/corrupted and this prevented the PC re-booting when the other disk drive in the PC which did have a valid boot sector failed. Thereafter a bootable CD was needed to get the PC to load the OS.

Hope this helps someone in future.

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