Dell desktop won't boot stuck on 2 active partitions

May 19, 2012 at 14:31:39
Specs: Windows XP
Hi I am just a Mom (not really experienced with computers) who was trying to restore my Dell E310 to factory settings and I ended up stuck with 2 active partitions and nothing will work. Apparently after reading help forums all day I had already restored the settings a few years ago and so it wouldn't let me do it again. I didn't know that and now it's stuck on this screen. It won't boot up anymore and my poor kids are very upset with Mom :( Dell never gave me the XP disk to manually reinstall it. HELP!!!

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May 19, 2012 at 15:13:06

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May 19, 2012 at 16:43:22
Thank you for the suggestion but I have been trying to get this to come off the 2 active partition screen for hours. I have read numerous forums with no success. F11 and Ctrl is what got me in this situation. The only keys that do anything are F2 for setup utility which is nothing I have been able to figure out. Or F12 for Boot Device Menu. Other than that I can't access anything that would indicated restoring.
I do have a virus for sure (thus why I was trying to restore to factory settings) I think it was called a System Recovery Virus on a forum somewhere. I had managed to unhide all of my programs and was getting things back to normal when I had the "brilliant" idea of just wiping the computer. What a mess.

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May 19, 2012 at 17:05:10
Are you saying you have tried this.

1. Power on the computer
2. At the Dell logo, hold the Ctrl key and press the F11 key simultaneously.

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May 19, 2012 at 17:06:29
Yes, I have tried it. Nothing gets any response other than the keys I listed above. :(

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May 19, 2012 at 17:07:19
Ok, here is a step by step guide for infected comps.

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May 19, 2012 at 17:22:56
"The only keys that do anything are F2 for setup utility which is nothing I have been able to figure out"

In the bios, go to boot & tell me if you have any choices of what to boot into.

Also, what does it have listed in Hard Drives?

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May 19, 2012 at 17:36:11
Boot Sequence says: onboard or USB Floppy Drive (not present)
Onboard SATA Hard Drive
Onboard IDE Hard Drive (not present)
Onboard or USB CDROM Drive
USB Device (not present)

Drives: Diskette Drive (off)
Drive o: SATA-0 (is on)
Drive 1: Sata-2 is off
Drive 2: Pata-0 is on
Drive 3 Pata-1 is off
Sata Operation Raid Autodetct/ ATA

Thank you so much for trying to help me!

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May 19, 2012 at 17:46:01
Nothing in there that gives us a choice of selecting one of the 2 active partitions, I am googling to see if I can work this out.

Do you have any Dell cd's?

A boot cd for instance.

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May 19, 2012 at 17:49:56
I looked all over my house until I finally remembered I never got a CD from Dell. It was all on the desktop. The product key to Windows XP is on a sticker on the top of the tower. I can keep looking and see if I can find a boot CD but, I don't think I ever got one.

If I hit F12 I get Boot Device Menu which does say boot to Utility Partition...

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May 19, 2012 at 17:50:59
Utility Partion just takes me back to the black screen with 2 active Partitions across the top. A blue line with above that.

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May 19, 2012 at 17:54:17
Did you try this?

Starting the Dell Diagnostics From Your Hard Drive

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May 19, 2012 at 18:02:08
No I had not tried that. However I was able to run the diagnostics but, once it ran it didn't have an option for me to highlight anything so I don't think I can get to the diagnostic menu it describes. So frustrating

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May 19, 2012 at 18:06:41
If you don't mind losing everything, this will format & put back to factory condition.

Try > Restore the System ( skip the backup now )

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May 19, 2012 at 18:08:46
Thank you, I already found that page and I can't access any of it as F8 doesn't do anything. I think the virus fried my very old computer! :(

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May 19, 2012 at 18:10:05
How are we for time zones, I'm in Western Australia & it is 9.10am on Sunday.

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May 19, 2012 at 18:11:04
LOL well it is 9:10 pm in NY right now! I'm frustrated and my husband keeps telling me to give up!

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May 19, 2012 at 18:14:04
"I think the virus fried my very old computer!"

It can be fixed, just a matter of finding a way.

Do you have any other computers?

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May 19, 2012 at 18:16:14
yes, the laptop I am using to try to fix the desktop which I can't access anything at all except the black screen. Nothing to do with the OS so I can't do control panel or start menu etc.

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May 19, 2012 at 18:20:14
"yes, the laptop I am using to try to fix the desktop"

Do you have an operating system ( XP, Vista, Windows 7 ) Cd with that?

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May 19, 2012 at 18:33:41
yes, I have a windows 7 reinstallation cd, and a cd to reinstall drivers and utilities for a laptop also a dell application cd for reinstalling cyberlink powerdvd software for XP. Maybe one of these will help!?

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May 19, 2012 at 18:46:00
"I have a windows 7 reinstallation cd"

Give me about 20 mins to get back to you.

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May 19, 2012 at 18:47:21
perfect....i am going to read something not computer related. Been at it for almost the whole day. pathetic how unproductive it was.

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May 19, 2012 at 19:16:02
I made the wife a coffee, grabbed something to eat & drink for myself & emptied the dishwasher.

Still trying to get my head all around the issues, need more time, may take an hour or 2, will catch up whenever you respond.

We are going out later today.

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May 19, 2012 at 20:52:30
Ok, here are some options, probably more ways, lets see how you go with these.

With options 1 & 2, you can do a search for i386 ( about 500mb ) this is your XP operating system.

1: Use AVG Rescue CD
* Ability to perform a clean boot from CD or USB stick

2: Another to try if needed. Avira AntiVir Rescue System.
* repair a damaged system

3: Here is how to remove > System Recovery Virus which you can see if it is still there when using AVG & Avira.

4: Use your Windows 7 CD & lose everything. Make sure you delete all partitions, the latest infections can create a hidden partition. The bios will need to be changed to boot from > Onboard or USB CDROM Drive first.
Depending on the licence, you may have Activation issues, just put the EXACT message into google.

AVG Rescue CD
Video Tutorial
Download Rescue CD (for CD creation)
Download Rescue CD (for USB stick)
A powerful toolset for rescue & repair of infected machines.
The AVG Rescue CD is a powerful must-have toolkit for the rescue and repair of infected machines. It provides essential utilities for system administrators and other IT professionals and includes the following features:
* Comprehensive administration toolkit
* System recovery from virus and spyware infections
* Suitable for recovering MS Windows and Linux operating systems (FAT32 and NTFS file systems)
* Ability to perform a clean boot from CD or USB stick
* Free support and service for paid license holders of any AVG product
* FAQ and Free Forum self-help support for AVG Free users
Download Rescue CD (for CD creation)
Download Rescue CD (for USB stick)

Avira AntiVir Rescue System

How To | Installing Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Ubuntu through pendrive

How to Reinstall Windows XP from a Flash Drive

Installing Windows XP From the i386 Folder or Flash Drive Tutorial

Make sure when you reinstall, you delete ALL partitions & format to NTFS.
D to Delete the selected partition

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May 20, 2012 at 05:36:34
Just to recap what we are trying achieve.

1: Get XP running again, virus free.

2: Maybe by using options 1 or 2, then finding the right partition to delete or deactivate. Another choice is doing an XP repair if you locate i386.

3: If the above is not preferred, Install Windows 7 providing it meets system requirements.

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May 20, 2012 at 07:54:42
For starters, most of the major computer manufacturers (Dell, HP, etc) do not provide a Windows CD anymore. What they do instead is put it on the hard drive & provide a way for the end user to create one. Unfortunately, most people don't read the documentation that comes with their computer & the disks never gets made. Then when a problem arises & the disk is needed, they are sh!t out of luck.

I don't know what you did but you can only have one active partition. And hopefully you realize that by restoring to factory settings you are going to lose everything - all your files, photos, videos, music will be wiped out. Is that what you want? Do you have backups? How about explaining why you were attempting a factory restore? Obviously you were having some sort of problem but doing a restore is a pretty extreme thing to do & should have been the last thing you tried after exhausting all other options.

Regardless, a system will not boot if there are 2 active partitions, in the end, there can be only one. Since you cannot boot into Windows, you can attempt to reset the active partition from the Recovery Console, however, you will need an XP disc for that. You may 1st want to try fixing the MBR (master boot record) by running FIXBOOT & FIXMBR, but you would need the XP disc for that too. You may be able to fix things by creating & using the Trinity Rescue Kit:

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August 14, 2012 at 10:50:39
hello, I know these posts are a few months old and I may not get a reply but I have the same problem. Was this problem ever fixed? I also am stuck on 2 active partitions and the factory restore is is not an option as when I try to run the restore it says it is not possible. About a year ago I did backup my computer files to a USB drive. Is there any way I can create a bootable USB drive and be able to turn the computer on and have it run? I googled how to but every site just wants you to download an app to do it and I dont really rust the sites. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks...

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August 14, 2012 at 11:02:47
Two active paritions is never an issue. Not sure how that got missed in this thread.

The bios will only read the first active partition on the first listed boot device.

Make sure you have the correct drive selected in the bios.

Otherwise you would need to get a copy of a xp cd of same version [home/pro..] you have, boot it via the bios, go into recovery console and run the utilities fixmbr and fixboot.

This would be your first step before doing a repair install [not new install] of the OS. You need to download all the drivers for your pc/laptop before you did the repair install.

Nothing you backed up has anything to do with the partition/master boot record. Only a clone of the disk would contain that information.

Answers are only as good as the information you provide.
How to properly post a question:
Sorry no tech support via PM's

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