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Solved: Dell Inspiron will not boot to Windows XP


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Jchriste Jchriste is offline
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24-Apr-2011, 09:20 PM #1
Solved: Dell Inspiron will not boot to Windows XP
On power up the computer shows the Dell logo and proceeds through what I belive to be the BIOS checks. At the point it would normaly load XP it goes to a dark screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. There has been no recent changes made, either hardware or software. I used it in the evening to surf the internet and then played some solitare before turning it off. The next morning it would not boot. One of the first things I tried was to boot from the Dell supplied Operating System CD. Same indication. I then tried the Dell supplied Drivers and Utilities CD. It booted from this CD. I selected the diagnostics and proceeded. It appeared to open them in Windows 98. I ran the complete diagnostic and had no errors. Still no change. Was in and out of BIOS setup several times looking to see if anything seemed amiss but it looked OK. That was last week and I put it aside until I got a desk top set up and I could get back online. This evening things have gotten worse. I wanted to duplicate my previous results prior to posting but am unable to do so. I get the same indication on a normal power up. I then tried to boot the DEll supplied Operating System CD. Same indication but can hears CD drive rev up to high speed. Next tried to boot Dell supplied Drivers and Utilities CD. It will no longer boot as it did last week. I now get the same indication as with other boot atempts. I then decided to do an F2 entrance to BIOS setup to see if I could still do that. I got to BIOS setup but can not do anything once there. Can not move about using the arrow keys and can not exit using the Esc key. I am currently stuck in BIOS setup. Will probably have to do a hard power down to get out. Anyone have suggestions on where to go from here?
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25-Apr-2011, 04:33 AM #2
Can you get to safemode by tapping F8 on bootup?

If not tap F12 on bootup to get to command prompt and type fixmbr, then enter.
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25-Apr-2011, 08:31 PM #3
unable to run fixmbr
No luck with F8 durring boot, computer does not react to it. F12 does not take me to a prompt. My 1st atempt of F12 did give me a new output. It was:

Memory write/read failure at 3D800600, read 806F802F expecting 806F806F.

Decreasing available memory.

The amount of system memory has changed.
Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run setup utility.

I entered F1 and got the following results (which is what I always get when I take the F12/F1 route. F2 does take me to the BIOS setup utility which has been no help):

Use the up- and down-arrow keys to move the pointer to the desired boot device. Press <Enter> to atempt the boot or ESC to cancel.

Internal HDD
CD/DVD/CD-RW Drive
Cardbus NIC
Onboard NIC
Diagnostics
I selected Diagnostics and entered. The diagnostics ran OK up to the memory test and then the computer hung with the mem test 23% complete. Had to do a hard pwr down to get out of the diags. I then removed my memory DIM A and replaced it with memory DIM B. I then powered up again and got the following:

The amount of system memory has changed.

Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run setup utility.

I entered F2 and successfully entered the BIOS setup utility but did not change anything as the amount of memory is not changable. I then hit ESC to exit the utility and got the following:

Press any key to reboot

I pressed a key and ended up back at a dark screen with a blinking cursor in upper left. After putting in the Dell Drivers and Utility CD I powered down. I then turned on the power and did the F12 key.

Got the old:

Use the up- down-arrows etc, etc ( to select one of the boot devices.)

I selected CD/DVD/CD-RW Drive( to load the Dell utilities)

I get a booted screen indicating it is windows 98 and ask me to again select an input device.

I again selected the CD drive and the on disk diagnostics load and gives me a window to select a limited diag, an extended diag, custom diag or selected individual diags. I selected the extended diags and they ran successfully to completion. I then closed the diags and got the following:

D:\Diag _

At that point I was able to enter commands and look at directories but entering fixmbr returned an erorr about finding the file. I don't have the exact verbage.

So I still have the boot problem and have been unable to run fixmbr as requested. Does any of this help?
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26-Apr-2011, 03:52 AM #4
I'd suggest doing a repair install booting from cd (your data will still be there) http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm

If it can't do that it's a hardware problem.
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26-Apr-2011, 10:57 AM #5
No luck booting the operating system CD. The last thing I get is:

Setup is inspecting your computers hardware configuration . . . . .

It then stops with a blank screen.

I guess I need to work with a hardware expert. I assume you are software and operating system oriented. Can this thread be moved to the hardware forum?

Thank you very much for your assistance. It is much appreciated.

Jerry
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26-Apr-2011, 04:28 PM #6
You would need to click on report and request a moderator to move your thread to the hardware forum...
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26-Apr-2011, 10:37 PM #7
This could be a dead Hard Drive.
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27-Apr-2011, 04:08 AM #8
I would try a either a linux live cd as a test OR the hard drive maker's diagnostic. Boot with either of those and see if it will boot. I use parted magic linux for a number of diagnostic tasks however there are a LOT of different linux live CDs.
http://partedmagic.com/doku.php
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27-Apr-2011, 05:10 AM #9
But surely if it's a harddrive issue it should still boot from the cd. (Unless the OP didn't change the bootup device to boot from cd rom.)
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27-Apr-2011, 05:24 PM #10
The memory read/write error would lead me to think possibly a RAM related problem. Do you have more than one RAM module installed in the system? If you do, try taking one out and booting normally. Once done do the same with the other module alone in the system. See if one works and the other doesn't.

Another thing you could do is download memtest and try running it from a USB flash drive. You can download it from memtest.org. If you are able to do this and get the test running, let it run over night and see if you get any errors.
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28-Apr-2011, 07:50 PM #11
I have been out of town for the last couple days so have not tried any of your suggestions but will do so. Just to recap some of the things I have done ---- I have two DIMS, A & B. The address that showed a failure was in the address range of DIM A. I removed DIM A and moved DIM B to DIM A location and tried rebooting both from the HD and CD to no avail. I booted the Dell provided driver and utility CD which contains diagnostics and ran memory diags with no error(with no DIM B in place). I have since put what was DIM A in DIM B location and again run mem diags error free but have not cycled them for any extended run.

BIOS is, and has been prior to the problem, set to look for boot files on CD first and then go to the HD. As I write this I am wondering about a CD problem as the only way I have gotten to the CD is to do an F12, which gives me a list of boot devices to select from, and then select the CD drive as the boot device.

I will try the things suggested as well as trying to boot the HD first and post results. It may not be tomorrow but soon. Thanks for everyones interest and help.

Last edited by Jchriste; 28-Apr-2011 at 07:57 PM..
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01-May-2011, 12:32 PM #12
Update: It seems the only thing that won't boot is XP. I have downloaded and booted Linux PartedMagic. It appears to run fine. I am not familiar with Linux but was able piddle around with it with no problem. I have memtest86 running now. I put it on a CD and booted it. So far it has successfully completed one cycle and I am letting it continue to run. I have run both HD and CD diagnostics from the Dell utilities CD with no problems.

It seems XP is looking at something none of the other programs care about. When attempting to boot from the XP CD it first comes back with:

Press any key to boot from CD

If I don't hit a key quickly it will hang at that point

If a key is depressed in a timely manner I get this:

Setup is inspecting your computers hardware configuration . . . . .

It then goes to a dark screen and hangs.

Does anyone know what setup is inspecting? Whatever it is finding apparently does not affect the other programs. Is it possible that I am not giving it sufficient time to complete it's inspection? How long should it take?
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06-May-2011, 09:43 PM #13
Nothing has changed. Memtest ran for 11 cycles error free. Linux PartedMagic runs fine. In fact I am online using Fire Fox running under PartedMagic to write this on the PC that will not boot XP. If anyone has any additional advice on what to do next I would really appreciate the help.
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06-May-2011, 10:00 PM #14
Do you have anything you need on the hard drive ie docs, pics, etc? If so, I would pull the drive and make a backup copy. If not, boot with the linux live CD. Under system tools, it should have an option to secure erase the hard drive. Have it secure erase the drive. You can also test the drive with the linux CD. Do that as well when the erase is complete.

Now attempt to boot with the xp CD and see if it will work.

Remember any data on the drive will be destroyed so make sure you have a current backup of anything important. In addition you might want to download all of the drivers you need from the dell site. You can put these on a flash drive. It will make the xp install go much easier.
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06-May-2011, 11:22 PM #15
Dell Inspiron will not boot to Windows XP
Quote:
Originally Posted by crjdriver View Post
If so, I would pull the drive and make a backup copy.
Been watching this for info when I noticed this statement.
Will you explain how to pull a drive from a PC and make a backup copy?
I have one that will not boot and isn't even recognized by any of three
PC's. I would like to have backup copy of it to reformat, and reinstall
XP.
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