Computer won't boot past blinking underscore

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rallyben

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I was working on my friend's computer and I had to switch the hard drive over to his new computer to try and get it to work on the new computer. It didn't work, so I tried to put the harddrive back in its original computer and now I have a problem. When I try to start up the computer, everything runs fine through the POST and then, before it goes to the Windows screen with the little bar that goes sideways, it stops on a black screen with the blinking underscore (_). I've restarted it many many times and it all ends up the same, stopping at the flashing underscore. I've tried to boot to a Win 98 boot floppy to get it to the command prompt but I get an error saying that it is the incorrect disk. I've also tried to reset the bios by taking the battery out for a while. It reset the bios good and all but I still got the same problem. I think it has to do with the MBR cause I know the harddrive works (as a slave in another computer) and I know the RAM is new. I don't think those are the problems because before I put the harddrive in the new computer to try and boot off it, it worked fine. I can't get into the start up menu either by pressing F8. The only thing I can think of that might work that I haven't tried is to boot off the XP cd and do the recovery console thing. Unless I know that it will abosolutely fix it, I'd like to stray away from it. If you think otherwise, I'll gladly try it. I think I had a problem like this before and I got past it somehow, but I don't remember how I did it. Any help would be greatly appriciated.
 
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It sounds like the move between machines has caused some driver confusion. XP no doubt attempted to install drivers appropriate for the new motherboard when you first switched it, and failed to complete the process. Then, you moved it back, leaving the system with drivers for both systems in a confused mess.

Boot from the XP CD and run a repair installation in one or the other machine and then don't move the drive to a different mainboard that uses different drivers.

All you do is boot from the CD. When it asks if you want to repair and to press "R", don't. Continue with the installation just like you were installing for the first time.

You will then get a license agreement and it will ask you to press F8 to agree. Right after that screen, you will see a list of Windows installations that setup found. It will ask if you want to repair it. Read the directions on that page!!!

Then, you will actually press "R" this time and XP will re-install.

When done, you will be back to your familiar desktop with everything looking just like it did before. But all your Windows Updates are gone and you will need to get those again.

If you have any problems booting from CD, set the CD to boot earlier then the hard drive in BIOS setup, or come back for more help.
 
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This is the exact problem I am having, after install repair it still stops on this blank screen. No friendly windows boots...
 

rallyben

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ok, I've tried to boot off the xp cd, changing the order in the bios for the cd to boot first, but nothing is working. It posts fine and goes through the bios good, then I enter the bios password, and it shows that list of the devices and all the irq numbers and corresponding devices, then the table clears, and the blinking underscore appears. I can't get to any sort of windows thing at all. I can't even boot from a win98 floppy. I can't get to any kind command prompt at all. I'm stumped here.
 
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Feb 20, 2003
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When you go into the BIOS setup, does it correctly identify your HDD and CDROM? Did you change the master/slave settings when you attempted to put the drive in the other computer?

Steve
 
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Unplug the power and ribbon cable to the hard drive. Try booting from the CD or a 98 floppy. It should boot without the hd, and this will tell us if the drive is causing some sort of problem.

Does the had appear to be recognized correctly in BIOS?
 

rallyben

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yea the hard drive is detected in the bios and so is the cd rom. I've unplugged and plugged in all the drives but it didn't help. I didn't try without the hard drive as far as I can remember...I'll try that real quick then I'll post again
 

rallyben

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ok, tried without the harddrive and I got this error:

searching for boot record from cd-rom...not found

boot failure
reboot and select proper boot device
or insert boot media in selected boot device
press any key to continue

and that's all I get. That looks to me like there's something wrong with the hard drive. I know the drive works because I can open it booting to my main computer and having that as a slave. Is it possible to fix the MBR on the slave drive if I'm booting off my primary? I have a feeling its got to do with the MBR, but that's just my guess.
 
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Did you try booting from the XP CD or a floppy while the hd was disconnected? It should boot from both of those.
 

rallyben

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Aug 1, 2003
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yea I left the xp cd in the cd rom and it gave me that message. I didn't try the floppy, but I can if you want
 
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It should still boot from the XP CD, too. I don't like the sound of that.

Please try a floppy (being sure that the hd is last in the BIOS boot sequence).
 
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If it is something to do with the MBR, the easiest way to fix it is to boot from the XP CD and run fixmbr (Info on the command in the RC using /? switch) from the Recovery Console. If the machine refuses to boot from CD for some reason, you can still get to the RC using the setup floppies with the CD in the drive.
 

rallyben

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Aug 1, 2003
Messages
66
ok, tried it with the win98 boot disk and got the same error trying to look for a boot record
 
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In that case, it's not the hd, but the computer that has problems. It should boot fine from either a CD or a floppy without any hard drive being present, if those drives are bootable devices.

When it says it's trying to look for a boot record, is it looking on the floppy this time, or still the error about the CD?

What is the boot sequence now? If this machine is a Gateway, try booting from the floppy with a different boot order set in the BIOS. Gateway's don't seem to always follow what appears there, for some reason.

Has this machine worked OK in the past, and do you know anything of its history?
 
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