|Thanks for taking the time to provide a long detailed response.|
Going by your info, it's extremely unlikely these problems have anything to do with your hard drives, and that's even more unlikely if they're new and did not previously have an operating system on them.
Check your SATA data cables. The connector on each end should "latch" into the socket on the drive and on the mboard, or on the drive controller card - it should not move when you merely brush your hand against it near the socket - if it does, use another SATA data cable that does "latch", or tape the connector in place.
(There is a slight projection or bump on one side of the outside of the connector that "latches" it into the socket - it's easily broken off or damaged)
Also - the connector on the end of the data cable should enter the socket straight on, near where it is plugged in - it should not be at an angle there.
"During the past weeks the PC has become very unstable."
Are you using a new mboard, or one you had been using previously?
What is it's make and model??
Your system MUST be stable while doing Windows Setup!
You MUST cure whatever the cause(s) of that is(are) FIRST!
You can get weird problems if the cpu is overheating, or because of improper installation of the heatsink or the heatsink/cpu thermal compound.
If you installed the cpu/heatsink/fan yourself, are you SURE you did that right? E.g. some thermal pastes containing metal particles are conductive, and if you put too much between the cpu and heatsink, it can squeeze out and cause problems. Too much thermal paste or thermal grease of any kind can cause problems.
If the cpu fan can be installed either way ontop of the heatsink, it MUST blow TOWARDS the heatsink - you should be able to see the entire fan blade from the top - no supports or central non moving core visible on the top side of the fan itself.
Make sure the cpu is not overheating - look at the current reading in the bios Setup for that, after the computer has been on long enough for it to reach a stable temp.
DO NOT fiddle with overclocking or upping anything (outside of possibly upping ram timings) until AFTER your system is stable.
Some mboards have a jumper that "over-volts" the cpu core voltage, and the higher setting may NOT show up in the bios readings, although a higher "idle" cpu temp than average will - check your mboard manual to see if it has such a jumper - if it does, make sure it is in the normal position (I have an Asus A7V600 mboard that had that jumper in the wrong position, when brand new; the box it was in was still sealed).
Some heatsinks must be installed in a certain direction - if they're not installed that way, they may not be sitting flat on the cpu, and in that case the cpu heats up a lot faster and to higher temp than it normally should.
"Blue Screen of Death Failure Codes:"
Those Stop: messages are generated by XP (or 2000) during Setup or after it has been installed, NOT by the mboard's bios.
The Stop: 0X000000xx error , and the matching error_message_with_underlines_between_ words, if present, is usually all you need to quote, once.
Usually the stuff in the brackets is useless because Microsoft has no findable info about what the strings mean, other than in a very small number of cases, other than possibly the first string within the brakets, e.g. 0xC0000005 in
(0xC0000005, 0x80538F3B, 0xF765647C, 0x00000000), and the strings after the first one, or all of them, are often different every time for the same Stop error.
Sometimes there is also info about a particular file that is causing the problem - quote that if you see it - you may need to click on "details" or similar.
The errors you are getting can have many causes, but they're probably most commonly caused by a ram problem.
STOP: 0x0000000A ... IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL - obviously the strings within the brackets were different in every case.
That error has many possible causes, but sometimes you get it simply because the ram is not making proper contact with the contacts in it's slot(s). You can ALSO randomly get all sorts of other Stop: errors if you have that problem.
It's also quite possible it's only the ram timings or the ram voltage it's the bios is using that isn't right that is causing the problem.
This behavior may occur if one of the following conditions is true:
One or more of the random access memory (RAM) modules that are installed on your computer are faulty.
The RAM configuration is incompatible with Windows XP.
STOP: 0x0000004E PFN_LIST_CORRUPT
This is a Windows 2000 (and XP) Executive character-mode STOP message. It indicates the memory management page file number (PFN) list is corrupted.
So it's a memory related problem too, that in theory can be caused by ram problems, or can also be caused by you having or installing incompatible hardware.
- See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
You MUST unplug the computer, or switch off the AC power source to the computer, whenever you fiddle with any component or connection inside the case and/or connected to the mboard, because ATX mboards are always powered in some places as long as the ATX PS is getting live AC, even when the computer is not running, and that includes some of the contacts in the ram slots.
If you did not do that every time you fiddled, you may have damaged the mboard circuits, or anything connected to it.
DO NOT touch the contacts on the modules with your fingers after you have cleaned them!
Some mboards must have the ram installed in certain slots first if not all slots are occupied, otherwise it may not work 100% correctly in all situations. You have to install matched pairs of ram modules meant to run in dual channel mode in certain slots - if one is in the wrong slot (that has the right number of contacts - some mboards can have two types of ram installed), it should not cause ram problems, but both modules will then be in single channel mode. See your mboard manual.
- see the last part of Response 6 starting at:
"Your ram may not be detected properly by your mboard bios."
and make sure the settings in the bios are correct for the ram you are using, or you could try setting the ram timing to higher numbers (higher = slower settings, more likely to work in all situations).
- run the memory diagnostics again - as I said before, it's in theory possible that may pass even when the timing and/or ram voltage setting(s) in the bios Setup is not right.
- if you still get Stop: errors when trying to run Setup....
- try unplugging everything that is not essential to running Setup - if your mboard has onboard video, if you are using a video card, unplug it and try plugging the monitor into the onboard video port.
- if your keyboard and/or mouse are USB connected, try a PS/2 one(s).
- if there are two video ports, on the mboard for the onboard video, or on a video card, if the monitor can be plugged into either port with or without a DVI to VGA adapter, you may need to plug it into the Primary video port - see the mboard or the video card manual, or if you get the errors when it is plugged into the one port, try it plugged into the other one.
- if you do not have onboard video, try a different video card if you can.
- you haven't tried a CD-rom only drive yet, but as you have said, it's unlikely that all the optical drives you have tried are incompatible with Setup.
When you no longer get the Stop: errors.....
- if you still get the "ERROR SXS.DLL: Syntax error in manifest policy file "D:\i386\asms\io\msft\windows\gdiplus\gdiplus.man" On line 4
then doing this:
"I am also going to attempt to make XP install disks using an external floppy drive I just got."
will probably NOT help, unless you have copied the \i386 folder from the CD to the partition you want C to be on and you run Setup from there, AND you may need to replace CONTROLS.MAN in that.
Loading the XP floppy disk set is meant for old computer mboard bioses that can't boot a bootable CD, or for use if the Windows CD is not bootable (some Upgrade CDs) - it does not have the entire contents of the CD or even the \i386 folder - it only gets you to the first screen in Setup after the initial files have been loaded from the CD - you still need the Windows CD, or you need to run setup from the \i386 folder. If it's the optical drive model that's causing the error, you will probably still get the error if it's connected to a data cable, whether you have a Windows CD in it or not.
"However, when I tried running install from the C:\ drive using c:\i386\winnt.exe, the install would stop with "the *filename* is either corrupt or absent", "press esc to skip or A to abort".
You should NOT get "the *filename* is either corrupt or absent" if the files were copied successfully and you were not having ram or hard drive problems - the files in c:\i386 should all be prefectly fine - you don't need any other files, and you don't need the Windows CD to be in a drive (Setup may default to looking for files on the CD - change where it looks if it does that - point it to C:\i386) . If you had an optical drive data cable connected at the time you did that, and the model is not compatible with Setup, you may need to disconnect the data cable to it while running Settup.
"For all of the install attempts I have tried I would use the NTFS, or NTFS (quick) formatting. Just for kicks, I also tried using the FAT32, and the FAT32 (quick) formatting on the smaller partitions under 8000 meg."
When XP (or 2000) says it is partitioning, it is actually partitioning AND formatting the partition. It is always a good idea to NOT use the quick partitioning the first time you set up a partition - the "full" slow partitioning checks the partition space thuroughly for possible undetected bad sectors while partitioning - if you re-partition a partition shortly after having done that the slow way, using the quick partitioning is fine - it merely re-writes only the two partition tables (FAT 32) or the MFT (Master File Table; NTFS) - it does not check the partition space for bad sectors.
If you re-format a partition without deleting it, a full format checks for bad sectors too (a quick format does not), but it may not be as thurough as a "full" partitioning.
"burned just the man.dll file"
Where did you get the idea you needed to fiddle with that file?
You MAY need to make the CONTROLS.MAN file, and copy it to replace the one in \i386 if you copied that folder's contents there, or if you want to make a burned disk with that file replaced, you could copy the entire Windows CD contents to a folder on another computer, then make the CONTROLS.MAN file and replace the one in \i386 in the CD contents in that folder, then make a bootable burned CD (you need the normally invisible Microsoft whatever.iso file to be on the CD for it to be bootable).
See the part in response 6 starting with:
"- some insist the problem is caused by a file on the CD that is corrupt - CONTROLS.MAN - "
"I would then type xcopy d:\I386\*.* c:\i386\*.* /s/e. "
It sounds that should work, IF you are having no problems with your system, but apparently you were....
"Whenever I tried this (about 6 or 7 times), the computer would either hang/crash, or a blue screen would come up with one of the aforementioned codes before all of the files could be copied over."
There are several other things you could try.
1. Install the hard drive you want to have the Windows partition on, on a working XP computer, connected (some mboard SATA sockets are connections an operating system on a drive cannot be booted from - use one of those) and/or connect to any free SATA header, with the boot order in the bios Setup set so you are not booting from it.
Partition and format it in XP (e.g. at Control Panel - Classic view - Administrative Tools - Computer Management - Disk Management) - if you have any doubts existing partitions might be corrupt, delete them first.
With the (Control Panel -) Folder Options - View settings set on that computer to show hidden and system files...
copy the the entire contents of the \i386 folder from the regular XP SP3 CD to the partition you want Windows to be on - usually that's the first one.
Make the CONTROLS.MAN file as above, and replace the one on your drive with it, in \i386\etc.
Install the drive you prepared in your own computer.
A - Boot the computer using the original XP SP3 CD.
HERE Let the initial files load and press R at the first screen that asks if you want to Repair Windows, if you don't get any BSOD Stop: messages before that, or hold down Shift and press F10, which apparently takes you to the Recovery Console too.
- If you get the GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 error,
QUIT setup, either by typing exit in the recovery console, or by pressing F3 if that prompt is on the screen, then see B below.
HOLD the power button in until the computer shuts off, or the computer will reboot at that point.
- If you do not see the GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 error, go to c:\i386 and run winnt.exe - it should work fine.
- if the prompt does not show C:\ or C:\(a subfolder or subfolders), then type C: (press Enter)
- if the prompt does not show C:\ (no subfolders; it may show C:\Windows), type cd.. (enter) as many times as it takes to get to C:\ (no subfolders)
then type: cd\i386 (enter), then type: winnt (enter)
B - Boot the computer using the XP Setup floppy set
- if booting using the Windows CD produces the GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 error, you need to disconnect the data cable on the optical drive(s) in case the drive is what triggers the error.
Then boot using the XP Setup floppy disk set
Then do the same procedure as in A, starting at HERE.
Some who got the the GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 or other similar errors found this worked fine....
Windows often generate error messages about a problem with a file that's actually FALSE because it's caused by something else Windows has no error message to display about.
If your problem is caused by CONTROLS.MAN, it is only on the CD, and/or in the \i386 folder wherever it is - it is not copied to the Windows installation.
2. Install Windows by using the original XP SP3 CD on the partition you want Windows to be installed on, when the drive is master and connected BY ITSELF on another computer that you DO NOT get the GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 error on, then install the drive in your own computer, so that it is booted from.
- XP may boot fine, and load drivers and settings appropriate for your mboard while booting the first time (that may be slow).
- If the difference in mboard chipsets and/or other onboard hardware is more than a little different, XP (or 2000) often cannot deal with the change and will not boot all the way into Windows - typically you see the first bit of Windows graphics, then a black screen with a blinking cursor top left and nothing further happens.
In that case you need to run an XP Repair Setup, often called a Repair install.
In the case of drastically changed hardware, it will set Windows to the new hardware situation.
You will need a Windows CD of the same version as the one of your Windows installation, and the Product Key, preferably the one that was used to install it, but it can be one for the same version as the one of your Windows installation.
How to do an XP Repair Setup, step by step:
3. In either case, after Setup is finished, you will need to load all the drivers for your own mboard and card(s) after Setup is finished.
Whenever you load Windows from a regular Windows CD (or DVD) from scratch, after Setup is finished you must load the drivers for the mboard, particularly the main chipset drivers, in order for Windows to have the proper drivers for and information about your mboard hardware, for sure, including it's AGP or PCI-E, ACPI, and hard drive controller support. If you have a generic system and have the CD that came with the mboard, all the necessary drivers are on it. If you load drivers from the web, brand name system builders and mboard makers often DO NOT have the main chipset drivers listed in the downloads for your model - in that case you must go to the maker of the main chipset's web site, get the drivers, and load them.
Since XP Setup is seeing your SATA hard drives, your mboard bios settings must have the SATA controllers/SATA drive detection in IDE compatible mode or similar (the labelling varies) - that's a good thing - Setup can then see the SATA drives no problem in that case.
You can always load the SATA controller drivers after Setup is finished, and set the bios to SATA or SATA RAid mode after that, if you so choose, to take advantage of the 300mb/sec max data burst speeds (although, those speeds can only be used for very short periods of time, and you may not notice much difference between that and the 133mb/sec max burst speeds IDE compatible mode provides).
Windows Setup cannot see SATA drives if that setting in the bios Setup were set to SATA or AHCI or similar mode, or SATA RAID or AHCI RAID mode or similar, and you would have to provide a floppy with the SATA drivers on it at the beggining of Setup (you press F6 near the beginning of Setup), in a regular floppy drive, or in one of a very few USB connected floppy drive models Setup recognizes (most of them are no longer being made), or you would have to make a bootable slipstreamed CD with the contents of the XP CD with SATA drivers integrated into it.
Does your mboard have a floppy data cable header? If it does, a regular floppy drive works in all situations, as long as it's before any CD drive or hard drive listed in the computer bioses boot order - a USB floppy drive does not work in the early stages of Setup, unless it's one of the very few (mostly old and no longer made) models 2000 or XP Setup recognizes, and does not work in some other situations, and it costs a lot more if you buy it new. Even if your case has no bay in which you can install a floppy drive so it's accessible from the outside, you are better off using a regular floppy drive, even if you only use it for emergencies or while installing Windows for loading SATA or SATA RAID or SCSI or other drivers.
"...I created one partition using the entire disk, with only 8MB not being part of the partition"
When XP (or 2000) partitions a hard drive, it always leaves the last ~8mb on each physical drive unallocated (it is not part of any partition).
When you prepare a drive with something else, the program may not do that, and the drive still works fine in XP (or 2000), but some diagnostic (e.g. Seagate's Seatools) or partition manipulation (e.g. Partition Magic) programs find something wrong with the last or only partition when they examine a drive meant for XP (or 2000) use that does not have that - it's best to have that there.
"The partition would be around 78,000 meg for my 80 Gig HD."
80gb is the manufacturer's bogus decimal size (e.g. 1 kb = 1,000 bytes; 1 gb = 1,000,000,000 bytes) - they've always specified it that way. The mboard bios and Windows sees it as it's binary size, which is always smaller (1,024 bytes/kb, 1,024kb/mb, 1,024mb/gb; 1,073,741,824 bytes/gb), so ~80gb manufacturer's size is ~74.5gb as seen in the mboard bios, and in Setup before the drive has been partitioned and formatted; partitioning and formatting use up more drive space, so the drive ends up having about 74gb of usable space in Windows (NTFS partitioning/formatting takes up a lot more space than FAT32 partitioning/formatting on larger drive partitions).
At the very least I recommend two partitions on the drive, the second one about 5gb or more on large drives, to give you a place to backup personal data, drivers, etc., you don't want to lose if you ever have to load XP fron scratch on C in the future (some people frequently re-load Windows from scratch when they can't figure out problems they are having).
Better still is three partitions or more, especially if you download a lot of music, movies, videos, etc,, etc. so you don't have to reload them when you re-do C. Any programs you installed on other than C will have to be re-installed, but any personal files and settings that are on those other partitions for/in those programs will still be there.
e.g. A friend of mine has three hard drives, and they have three (on a 160gb; 64gb FAT32 for C), two (on an 80gb), and two partitions (on a 500gb). Occaisionally I have had to re-load C for her, but getting everything working again is a lot easier when everything was not on one partition. I back up her Outlook files and other stuff that was on C to (an)other partition(s) etc. before I run Setup from scratch, if possible (you can set Outlook to regularly backup it's personal to other partitions in any case).
I often choose to make C FAT32 for XP (or 2000) because there are more programs you can use and more things you can do to fix a problem if Windows is on a FAT32 partition rather than on a NTFS partition. XP (and 2000) will not let you make a partition larger than 32gb FAT32 - I used a Win 98SE Startup floppy, with the fdisk version on it replaced with the updated version, to make that 64gb FAT32 partition - or you can use a Win ME Startup disk's fdisk, or a free hard drive manufacturer's drive preparation program to do that.
"...I have made the partition for XP many different sizes."
I should not make any difference what size it is, as long as XP can see the full size of the partition or the hard drive.
"I have also burned through about 13 or so SONY Accucore DVD+R RW DVD disks. I have burned a version of XP SP3 install disk. Burned just the I386 directory, burned just the man.dll file, burned a bootup disk for XP SP1, and one for XP SP2. None of them would get XP to install. I would get the same GDIPLUS.MAN on line 4 failure."
So - you always get the same error?, and obviously - the problem is not the CD, although...
All optical drives are somewhat particular about which media (brands and types of disks) you use in them - some are fussier than others. There are usually lists of which media the particular model works fine with on the manufacturer's web site, some media makers have lists of models of optical drives their media works fine with, and sometimes is you search using review and the miodel number, you find they have tested the model with various media and show you the results, good or bad
Similar to the situation for ram, if you don't find the brand and type of media mentioned somewhere as working properly in the drive model, it MIGHT work fine, but it might NOT.
"Now, if the XP disk only works with a CD-only device, why have I read on Multiple tech sites, that burning it to a dvd works fine, or even better in some cases than a CD? "
I have not heard of that at all - I HAVE heard CD-R disks are the best to use.
On the other hand, CD-R disks have been around the longest and they are the ones most likely to give you no problems in any optical drive, CD-rom thru DVD combo drive.
Of the DVD disks, DVD-R disks have been around the longest, and should probably read properly in any DVD drive.
I addition to that, burned CDs or DVDs made in one drive model, other than probably a CD-R, or a DVD-R, may NOT read properly in drive they were not made in.
But that's probably not what your problem is, and in any case, the original XP SP3 CDs should work fine, in any drive.