System crashes, won't boot - tried multiple (working) HDDs and numerous re-installs

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thereisnoart

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Jul 13, 2009
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System Specs:
Motherboard: ECS nForce 570 SLIT-A v5.1 Motherboard, NVIDIA, Socket 775, Serial ATA
CPU: Intel Pentium D 830 3.0GHz / 2MB Cache / 800 FSB / Socket 775
Hard Disks Used:
Original and Current: Western Digital / Caviar SE 16 / 250GB / 7200 / 16MB / SATA-300
Also Tried:
HITACHI 1TB SERIAL ATA HD 7200/16MB/SATA-3G
Seagate ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12 Hard Drive - 1TB, 7200 rpm, 32MB, SATA-3G
Graphics/Video Card: XFX GeForce 8600 GT
RAM: Ultra 1024MB PC4200 DDR2 533MHz Memory x3
Power Supply: Cooler Master / 430-Watt / ATX / SATA Ready
OS: Windows XP, SP2


Background:
A while back, this machine was up and running with no problems until a nasty hijack put it out of commission. It sat untouched for 4 or 5 months until I finally got a new hard drive to reinstall windows on. I decided just to put the new hard drive (Hitachi 1TB) in there and use the old one (Western Digital 250GB) as extra storage on my other (problem-free) machine.


Problem:
I installed Windows as usual, got it up and running, applied some updates (but not SP3), began installing my programs and CRASH. The restart would take forever and it would either a) hang on the Windows XP loading screen (with the running blue bar underneath the logo) or b) give me a “Disk read error” before it ever got to a windows screen. I reformatted, reinstalled Windows, and the exact same thing happened again.


Thinking it must be a bad drive, I got an RMA for the drive, returned it, and tried a different brand (Seagate 1TB). I went through the process and the EXACT problem happened again. I reformatted, reinstalled – AGAIN the same. Convinced that it must be some other error, I thought the machine simply couldn't do these bigger drives so I put the 1TB in my working machine, tested it, and it came out fine. I then decided to restore the old, working, 250GB (WD) drive back into its original machine and start fresh with the drive that worked so well several months ago.


As you can probably guess, all of the same problems happened again. The exact same drive in the exact same system that worked a few months ago (and only went down because of the hijack) will not work now. I should mention that with the Seagate and with the current drive, the WD, during the Formatting part of the Windows installation process, the bar filled rapidly and said that the disc was “damaged” - but I know they are both fully functional. Also, with this most recent install attempt, I encountered some blue screens and one time had a “Disk boot failure – Insert system disc” error at start-up instead of the “Disk Read Error, Alt+Control+Delete to restart” error from before.


What I've Tried:
Repair installation from “Recovery Console”. It got me into windows, but simple programs were “corrupt” because “[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]C:/$Mft is corrupt and unreadable. Please run the Chkdsk utility”. I've got a full, thorough Chkdsk running right now, but I am not hopeful this will fix it outright. From what I have read, repairing the installation is often a temporary fix.[/FONT]


[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]I am at wit's end. This is the first computer problem (hijacks aside) that I have not been able to fix myself via research. Thanks for reading![/FONT]
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2009
Messages
165
Have you tried attaching the drive to another sata port? Sometimes certain ports on the controller go bad.
 
Joined
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2 recent solutions that worked for me come to mind...(I know they don't make sense, but they unexpectedly worked for a couple systems I worked on)
One system I replaced ram.
Other system booted to cd, when the installation says “press F6 to load raid…”, just press F5. After some time, a screen will appear with some options about different types of PC. I chose standard pc with ...i486.

2nd solution was found here (but verified it worked great for my issue at the time): http://pascalg.wordpress.com/2006/0...tup-is-starting-windows-but-it-never-started/
 

thereisnoart

Thread Starter
Joined
Jul 13, 2009
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Thanks for the responses. I'll try both of these when I get home (stuck at work). One thing I noticed, though - on my working machine (totally different set up), BIOS displays IDE and Sata as separate things. The HDD is listed as being on the first Sata channel. On the problem machine, all of the entries in Bios are IDE - even where the HDD is listed. Does this matter or am I barking up the wrong tree here?
 
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That sounds confusing to me as typically sata and ide are totally different animals.. for example a sata drive won't plug into an ide controller and vise versa.

Theres no telling what sort of weird hacks may have been used in the motherboards chipset to save money though.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2003
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did you do the f6 thing during the install?

were the chipset drivers ever installed?

did you ever try to 'flash' the bios? [quickest way to make a mb inoperable]
 

thereisnoart

Thread Starter
Joined
Jul 13, 2009
Messages
3
Thanks so much for the help everyone! Hopefully I can get this thing up and going soon before I have a nervous breakdown.

Have you tried attaching the drive to another sata port? Sometimes certain ports on the controller go bad.
Yeah - last night I switched ports and left the computer on all night to see if it would fail. More on that after quotes.

Other system booted to cd, when the installation says “press F6 to load raid…”, just press F5. After some time, a screen will appear with some options about different types of PC. I chose standard pc with ...i486.
If/when it gets time to re-isntall windows, I will give this a go.

did you do the f6 thing during the install?

were the chipset drivers ever installed?

did you ever try to 'flash' the bios? [quickest way to make a mb inoperable]
No - no F6 or F5 or anything during install. I assume the chipset drivers were installed when I ran the all of the setup/install programs from the disc that came with the motherboard. I have never tried to flash the bios in fear that I would brick the mobo.

UPDATE:
After that repair I did yesterday, it was working great until this morning - it blue-screened before my very eyes and restarted before I could read it. It wouldn't boot from the HDD - in fact, it didn't really detect it (or it did, but it said it had 0 MB and tried to boot from CD). The HDD is good - I know this for a fact. I have tested it on this and another machine. It's looking like a motherboard or sata issue. Any thoughts?
 
Joined
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Messages
165
Bad sata cable?

Otherwise yeah looks like the controller (mobo) is fubar'ed
 
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