XP Re-install Problems...HELP!

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Kaneohe

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I'm having some major problems re-installing XP on my home computer (Compaq Presario, 512MB, 120GB harddrive, WinXP Home Edition, 2 years old). I get as far as rebooting into SAFE mode and the system hangs---it tells me that I cannot reboot into SAFE mode, and I am unable to get back to a normal XP reboot; it's like the computer is stuck in a SAFE mode reboot loop. When I press F8 and get to the point where I can select a different reboot option (normal XP, last successful reboot configuration, etc) none of the options work. I tried booting off the reboot floppy that came with the computer and I get a message "cannot access the drive, abort, retry or fail?".

I tried using the XP cd that came with my computer to repair the installed version of XP already on the computer, but the system keeps giving me an error message saying the "XP reinstall cannot operate in SAFE mode" and then provides an OK button (no other choices) and reboots, only to be faced with the same message all over again. Help! How can I get out of this permanent SAFE mode reboot????

I somehow managed to get to a DOS prompt and am able to see my C: drive, and can CD to the WINDOWS directory, but that's about all I can do. I can see the lisiting of other directories, but "Access Denied" when I try to change to them. The directories appear in a listing similar to this:

d000000 0 Documents ---this is what a directory listing looks like
0f00000 1250 John.doc ---this is a what a file listing looks like

Have I lost all the files on my hard drive?? I really don't want to do a complete reformat and reinstallation...is there any way to save my files? HELP!

Since I am at a C: prompt, is there some way to reset it the computer to boot in regular XP mode and not SAFE mode and then regain access to my desktop? I'm in over my head on this one and am currently posting this message from work, since my computer at home is sick...:(

Thanks for all ideas.
Kaneohe
 
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When you get to safe mode, click start => run => msconfig => click ok

On the general tab make sure Use Original Boot.ini is selected.

If that doesn't work, goto the Boot.ini tab in MSConfig and make sure the /safeboot option is unchecked.

Restart and select start windows normally.
 
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If you are able to boot to safe mode, then it would seem that the boot.ini file is at least ok. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to even get that far.

But if you want to do a repair option, you need to boot with a true XP CD. You can't do a repair from within XP or even while running safe mode.

The specifics on doing a repair install are:

Make sure you have your valid WindowsXP key.
The whole process takes about half an hour depending on your computer
If you are being prompted for the administrator's password, you need to choose the 2nd repair option, not the first.

Insert and boot from your WindowsXP CD
At the second R=Repair option, press the R key
This will start the repair
Press F8 for I Agree at the Licensing Agreement
Press R when the directory where WindowsXP is installed is shown. Typically this is C:\WINDOWS
It will then check the C: drive and start copying files
It will automatically reboot when needed. Keep the CD in the drive.
You will then see the graphic part of the repair that is like during a normal install of XP (Collecting Information, Dynamic Update, Preparing Installation, Installing Windows, Finalizing Installation)
When prompted, click on the Next button
When prompted, enter your XP key
Normally you will want to keep the same Workgroup or Domain name
The computer will reboot
Then you will have the same screens as a normal XP Install
Activate if you want (usually a good idea)
Register if you want (but not necessary)
Finish
At this point you should be able to log in with any existing accounts.

Hopefully this will help solve the problem.
 
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Also, when in Safe Mode, rather than trying from a DOS prompt, can you view files on the computer from the Windows Explorer.
 

Kaneohe

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Nov 2, 2001
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116
Palindin and Bob,

Thanks for both ot your suggestions. I guess I wasn't clear with my original message....when I get to the screen that says "SAFE mode" in the corners, the error message saying "XP reinstall cannot operate in SAFE mode" appears and the only action I can take is to click on the OK button which starts the reboot process all over and eventually takes me back to the same screen with the same "XP reinstall cannot operate in SAFE mode" message. I am not able to do anything except click on the OK button...

Somehow, I have managed to get to a DOS prompt C: (not in SAFE mode) and seem to have very limited access and capability. Is there a way that I can change my boot-up settings to non-Safe mode from this prompt? If so, then I can reboot and try to reinstall XP. Does that make sense?

Thanks again for your time and help.
 
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Again, at this point given all the information provided, the safest thing is going to be to boot from your XP CD and do a repair install.
 

Kaneohe

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Will the repair reinstall process work when in SAFE mode? I don't think it will, as that is why I keep getting the message "XP reinstall cannot operate in SAFE mode". So it seems that I need to somehow stop the computer from trying to boot in SAFE mode---how can I do this when I can't get XP to boot??

I can only get to a DOS prompt---is there a way to disable SAFE mode from a DOS prompt?
 
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Do you want to format (as in the first post) or repair as in the last one?

What has been the result of trying to boot from the XP CD or has that not even been tried yet?
 

Kaneohe

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I do not want to lose any data, hence I prefer to repair rather than reformat.

When I try to boot from the XP CD, it looks like it's loading a bunch of configuration files and then gives a "cannot access C: drive, abort, retry or fail" error message.
 
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From previous posts it seems like you can you boot to DOS (not safe mode command prompt) and see your hard drive?

If so you can boot with a DOS disk that will let you access your CD as well. Then copy the source files to a directory on the hard drive and do a repair install from that directory.
 
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Lets start back with the first post.

What was the reason for trying a reinstall in the first place? Normally folks do try something like this unless there is a significant problem.
How was this being attempted?
What messages did you first get?
How were you getting to a DOS prompt?
What directories did you see on the computer?
Why was it only booting into safe mode?
 

Kaneohe

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Bob, Thanks so much for your time.

Can you provide some insight on what you mean by "source files"?

I'm not sure it's a regular DOS prompts....I seem to have access only to the root directory and to the C:\Windows directory.
 
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Source files for XP would be at least on the XP in the i386 directory.

From the first post "I somehow managed to get to a DOS prompt". How was that done.

Also, how did you try the repair install?
 
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This is one reason I like to create a relatively small (10 gig or so) partition just for the OS and what it needs to run.

The rest of the drive can be partitioned for things like data, programs etc.

When everything is installed the way you want, you can easily create an image of the C: partition to the D: drive.

Then everything on D: can be backed up to removable IDE or USB drives.

Then at least when there are problems like this with the OS not booting correctly (the most common I see), it is only a few minutes to restore that image.

For the future it seems better to take steps to lessen the effects of the problems like this ahead of time.
 

Kaneohe

Thread Starter
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Nov 2, 2001
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116
Last night I went home and took some notes, so hopefully this will help you get a better understanding of the problems I am encountering:

Here's a list of what happens when I boot from the WinXP CD:

1. Insert WinXP CD.
Windows Setup begins by loading a bunch of files, including Partition Manager, Human Interface Parser, SCSI CD-ROM, etc.
Message appears: Setup is starting Windows

2. Licensing agreement appears.
Pressed F8 to accept.
Pressed R to repair the following Windows XP installation:
C:\Windows Microsoft WinXP Home Edition
Message appears: Setup has already attempted to upgrade the following
windows installation:
C:\Windows
To retry, press Enter.
To install a fresh copy, press Escape
To quit, press F3
I pressed Enter, to retry the repair.
The following messages appear:
Please wait while setup examines your system
Please wait while setup copies files to the Windows Installation Folders.
Please wait while setup initializes your XP Configuration.
Repair has completed will reboot now.

2. I leave the CD in the drive and the machine reboots.
Message appears: Press any key to boot from CD.
<<Should I boot from CD here?>>
I pressed a key so it booted from the CD.
The Windows Setup screen appears and it starts the entire process all over---it starts copying the same files as in step 1 (Partition Manager, SCSI CD-ROM, etc)

3. At step 2, if I don't boot from the CD, here is what happens:
Windows XP boots up --- I can see the WinXP logo screen, but then it goes into SAFE mode with the SAFE mode appearing in each corner of the screen. Before my desktop has a chance to load, a message box appears:
Windows XP Setup cannot run under Safe mode. Setup will restart now
The only thing I can do is click OK----there are no other options, I cannot get to my desktop, a DOS prompt or anything.
If I just let it reboot, it takes me back to the same message:
Windows XP Setup cannot run under Safe mode. Setup will restart now
If I put the CD in, then the Setup process starts all over from the beginning.

If there is a way to stop the computer from going into Safe mode in step 3, I think the repair would finish, but it keeps getting stuck at Safe mode.

If I boot off the floppy boot disk that came with the computer, I am able to get limited access via DOS and can see files on my C: drive and CD. Note that I can only change to selected directories---I do not have full access; when I try to change to C:\Programs, C:\Win32App, C:\Temp, C:\WUTemp I get a "Access Denied" message. I can change directories to C:\Windows and can see the following files: (this is how they are listed)
02/01/05 05:36p -a------ 4739 .compaq.bak
02/01/05 07:17p -a--s--- 2048 bootstat.dat
09/16/01 07:56a -a------ 0 control.ini
01/11/05 05:10p d------ 0 Debug
09/04/01 8:26a -a------ 40960 LoadDll.dll

Do you think I've lost all data on my hard drive? Help!!!
 
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