Old Pentium 4, Advent T9 won't boot to desktop

Acer / Aspire 3003 wlmi
March 8, 2013 at 17:52:46
Specs: WinXP SP3, Pentium 4 HT / 1512Mb
My old PC shut itself down last night, not an uncommon thing but this time it's being a pain to get it back working. Fearing it might be terminal.

I've opened it up to give it a clean as I've done before. It refuses to boot up to XP from the hard drive, and the various rescue CD's only get so far before hanging.

On one occasion so far, booting from a Lubuntu live cd got me as far as the desktop and file manager where I could see every partition except for "C:", the one with the XP installation. The other three partitions on the drive were shown and labelled correctly, but this one only had a vague '26 GB installation' or similar as a label. Probably a mistake to try to open that one first - as soon as I tried, it said something about ongoing processes and seized up again. Now it won't even get past the splash screen.

The Avira rescue CD gets as far as trying to mount the hard drive I assume ("mounting /dev/hda"), same hang.

It's 8-and-a-half years old now so it doesn't owe me anything, but I'd still like to try to restore it or at least get to the few things that weren't backed up.

Any diagnoses?

My PC specs: http://www.uktsupport.co.uk/advent/...

See More: Old Pentium 4, Advent T9 wont boot to desktop

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March 8, 2013 at 19:50:18
I would certainly test the hard drive. Make a bootable cd of seatool for dos and do and extended test. It can be faulty power supply or bad ram, but the hard drive sounds likely here.


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March 8, 2013 at 23:26:00
Thanks very much for the guidance HR.

The Lubuntu disc let me test the RAM and it passed the tests. The Seatool is downloaded and ready for burning on the other side of a few hours sleep. I'll let you know what it reports, fingers crossed it gets that far!

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March 9, 2013 at 12:40:18
Seatools test just completed - more confused and a little bit more optimistic now. Long test went by without incident and reported the drive as having passed.

Log is as follows:

------- Seattools for DOS v2.23 ---------

Device 0 is Seagate Device ST3120022A XXXXXXXX On Generic PCI ATA
Max Native Address 234441647
Device is 48 Bit Addressed - Number of LBAs 23441647 ( 120.034GB )
This drive supports Security Features
SMART is Supported and Enabled
SMART Has NOT Been Tripped
DST Is Supported
Logging Feature Set Is NOT Supported
POH 38767 Current Temp 22

Started Long Test 1/2/2003 @ 0:51.49
DST Completed Without Error
Short DST PASSED 1/2/2003 @ 1:56.10
Long Test PASSED 1/2/2003 @ 1:56.10

I assume this is a good sign? If so, any ideas of what I can do next?

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Related Solutions

March 10, 2013 at 19:21:05
It won't let me boot from any of the USB flash drives I have either, doesn't get as far as the live CD's either. The BIOS does have an entry for 'USB-HDD' but moving it to the top of the order, or making it the sole boot source, doesn't help at all.

If it's not the hard drive, what's the most likely source of it failing?

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March 13, 2013 at 01:53:25
Can some kind soul have a look at the hard drive test result I posted above and confirm that it suggests that there's nothing obviously wrong with the drive please?

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March 13, 2013 at 03:07:45
Sounds like your MFT got corrupted. Your seatest log looks good, but that only checks the physical disk not the logical bits. I think your utility discs are locking up because they don't know how to handle the partition. I don't know if you want to dive into it, but you could create a bootable dos disk and run testdisk to try to replace the MFT with the backup. Here is the link


I would strongly advise that you read all the instructions for this program, and double check all the procedures.

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March 13, 2013 at 05:38:20
Thanks very much Gretti - that just makes so much sense.

As I said before, the one time a utility disk let me see the desktop, it obviously didn't recognise the C partition at all, giving it a non-descriptive label. The other partitions were fine. Something of a coincidence too that this all happened after trying to uninstall some crappy Samsung phone software from C:/, with great difficulty.

About to start reading very carefully - thanks again.


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March 15, 2013 at 22:56:16
Sorry for the delay in getting back for an update...Still without the working PC, and have been seriously tempted to launch the thing from the highest window a number of times.

I somehow managed to negotiate the instructions for putting Testdisk onto a bootable CD, it seemed to work until I ask it to "proceed" with the correctly identified HDD, where it freezes and does nothing more.

Thinking that it could well be my boot CD creation that was the problem, I made a Universal Boot CD, with Parted Magic and Testdisk on, to see if a more reliable compilation would let me in. However, Parted Magic goes as far as making a long list of techspeak, displaying "setting up system devices..." in blue, then freezing.

It used to be fun doing this stuff, but losing the will to live now. Would you have any ideas as to a useful next step?

Thanks again.

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March 16, 2013 at 01:17:15
So, lets first try to test your ram. I only say this because, It sounds like you have corruption on your hard drive and boot discs are not working correctly, so we need to know if your ram is functioning correctly.

So make a memtest disc and test your ram.

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March 16, 2013 at 06:00:21
Thanks again, Gretti.

I'd already found memtest on the Avira Rescue CD that I had a few days ago - it was one of the few utilities the computer would let me execute. It came back with a pass. I've done it again just now using the version included in the latest Ultimate Boot, again it passed with no errors.


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March 17, 2013 at 04:26:15
Okay, Check the jumper on your drive. Make sure it is set for cable select and make sure the leads are not corroded. Make sure that the IDE cable is firmly attached at both ends. Also, do you have another computer that you could test this drive in? From the strange things going on with your computer, I'm starting to wonder if there is something else wrong.

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March 17, 2013 at 11:26:09
I must be learning fast here Gretti - stripped the computer completely yesterday to give it a proper clean and to get the hard drive out in the hope of recovering the stuff that wasn't yet backed up.

As I'm writing this, I have the hard drive hooked up to this laptop via one of those IDE-to-USB adapters. I've basically copied everything from 3 of the 4 disk partitions, including the "C:" drive from where it is supposed to boot. Despite it having a new and strange label attached to it - "26GB File System" - and a random 16 digit title in the Ubuntu File Manager, so far it lets me access anything I want to.

This all sounds like there's something else going on right? Is it possible to try to boot from it while it's connected via this USB adapter - I won't screw anything up by doing so?

Thanks so much again Gretti, your guidance is really appreciated.

Edit: The jumper is correctly set and I'll be sure to check the leads before replacing everything.

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March 17, 2013 at 22:48:58
Glad you are making progress. The drive will not boot from USB so don't waste time on that. But let me get this strait. When the drive is attached to the original computer, the C: partition is not accessible because of some sort of error or corruption, but when attached to a different computer using an external USB enclosure it is accessible no problem.

You have already checked the memory on the old computer and you checked tested the drive with seatools and all passes. But the drive label is 26gb file system.

So, I'm going to assume that the drive is good and the partitions are good and the MFT is good. Have you checked to see if the file system is good? Can you run a check disk on all the partitions of the drive while it's still in the USB enclosure and see if it finds any errors.

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March 18, 2013 at 09:58:12
Gretti: Correct - when the drive is attached to the old computer, I can't access anything. Attached to my laptop via the USB adapter, everything is accessible, including what was the C: partition. now labelled '26GB File System'.

Memory checked via Memtest, Seatools did its thing with hard drive, all passed.

I've just done the Check Disk routine that you advised for all partitions with the drive connected to a Windows 7 laptop - again, all passes.

This should be good news but I suspect it might not be?

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March 21, 2013 at 01:39:22
Hi Gretti/All - any suggestions for a next step? I was thinking of trying to merge the now empty, non C: partitions and seeing of I can put a Linux OS on?

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March 21, 2013 at 04:45:01
If you have gotten your data off the drive you may want to completely format the drive and reinstall, that is the sure answer. If you are comfortable with linux then go right ahead and install it. I like ubuntu ultimate, but mint is really good too. I don't really know why the partition was not access on your machine, but was on another. Very strange behavior. It must have been corrupted partition tables. If you run into any other issues accessing the disk when installing linux on the system you will know that there is a problem with the computer at that time.

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April 7, 2013 at 06:09:15
Apologies for there not having been a progress update before now, 'real-life' issues, etc...

So I gave up struggling, wiped the hard drive completely, put the computer back together (leaving a few unnecessary components out), installed Mint - and for the few hours that it's been switched on, it seems faster and quieter than I can ever remember. I've still to test a few things properly, and have bumped into a few software choice issues that I knew would come, but fingers crossed I have my old machine back, ready to learn about Linux too.

Thanks very much for your help, Gretti - it made such a difference knowing that somebody was there to listen to my questions, however dumb! Really, really appreciated - cheers!

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