Intermittent startup problems

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msweig

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I've had this computer for 2 weeks - bought new open box from Tiger Direct. It's an HP Compaq dx2200 running XP Pro SP2; Avast 4.7 Home Version; Sygate Personal Firewall.

Everything was fine until 2 or 3 days ago when it wouldn't start up properly. This happens intermittently. Sometimes it boots up fine, other times I get some kind of error message. Sorry I can't remember what it was, but it said to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del. I'd do that a couple of times, sometimes getting the blue HP screen, and sometimes it would say that Windows couldn't start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system32\config\system. So I'd try Ctrl-Alt-Del again, or shut it down and restart. Eventually, it started up okay. Yesterday it gave me no problems at all. Same this morning and in the afternoon, then this evening I had the same problems. several attempts, it booted up.

I can't think of anything unusual that happened. I didn't install any new software.

What would you all recommend I do? I have the HP Restore Plus and Operating System CDs that came with the computer. Should I try a reinstall or fresh install, or use the Recovery Console, or should I just take advantage of the warranty and send it back? (Don't really want to do that.) I know I could just leave it running all the time, but the power is bound to go off one of these days, with all the storms we've been having lately!

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Marge
 

msweig

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28
I'm still having intermittent startup problems. Yesterday I did a thorough virus scan with no problems found. I used system restore to go back to a point before I started having these problems. Sometimes the PC starts up okay, but not always. I either get the message that a disk read error occurred or that \windows\system32\config\system is missing or corrupted. I keep turning off and on, or hitting ctrl-alt-del, and eventually it turns back on.

Would you advise using the recovery console? I'm not an expert, so I'm concerned that I might really mess it up. Also, during times when it won't start up correctly, I can't get it to start in safe mode, either. Or should I do a fresh install? Or a reinstall? I do have a recent backup of docs and settings.

If anybody could help me, I'd be grateful.

Marge
 
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"\windows\system32\config\system is missing or corrupted" points to a corrupted registry hive--fixable, but not easily ( http://support.microsoft.com/kb/822705/en-us ) . If you have warranty and your data is backed up, I'd let TigerDirect deal with it, while you deal with putting your backed-up data on a new machine.
 

msweig

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Joined
Aug 11, 2005
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Thanks for replying. So doing a fresh install of XP won't fix it?

Marge
 
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I'm not saying it won't fix it==the registry corruption has many many potential causes, including hardware issues. Your choice, depending on how much time you have to invest, and how averse you are to packing the thing up and waiting...I know the feeling-hard to let go of a new baby.

>>Edit: Do give the forum a few hours--someone may have a different feeling, and experience to back it.
 

msweig

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Aug 11, 2005
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I'm wondering why it starts up properly sometimes, but not other times. If the registry is corrupt, would it act erratically, or would it never start properly?

Marge
 
Joined
May 27, 2007
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That symptom might point to a program that's not unloading properly at shutdown and still writing to the registry when the machine powers down. The article I cited above suggests ending all processes before shutting down--one or two each time-to narrow down the program which is misbehaving. HP factory software loads contain an awful lot of background processes-updaters and such.

You should also check your event viewer (start, control panel, administrative tools (in classic view), event viewer. Look for event ID 9, 11, and/or 15 in the system events. Those errors point to hardware issues.
 

msweig

Thread Starter
Joined
Aug 11, 2005
Messages
28
Well, I tried several things, including a fresh install of the OS, all to no avail. After some very annoying interactions with HP customer support (I will NEVER contact them again!) I took the PC to an authorized service place where it was determined that the hard drive was defective. Before he checked it out, the tech guy told me that with the error messages I was getting, it was most likely a hardware problem. He was right. He replaced it (under warranty, thank goodness), and now I am back in business.

Thanks for your help. I'm sure I'll be back. You guys are great!

Marge
 
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