Stuck in safe mode

Dell / Inspiron 1705
April 3, 2010 at 17:21:53
Specs: XP Media Center
Hi- I made a terrible mistake & I need help. I tried to
force safemode through msconfig because a virus was
preventing me from starting in safemode...and well, that
didnt work out... I've tried a full repair installation,
recovery console, rebuild, fastdetect, etc. etc., nothing
works Please help me undo this horror...

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April 3, 2010 at 21:16:19
Reinstall os, u can back up the files by using live linux disc (linux puppy seamonkey) etc.

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April 3, 2010 at 21:27:59
If you have Xp install disk or recovery disks, set CD drive as first in boot order and boot to the XP or recovery disk and do your recovery or reinstall from there (if recovery does not work, format and reinstall clean). If you need to save any files first, boot first to a live Linux CD (not installed) and save files to USB flash or external drive or to CDr/DVDr disks. If you do not have disks and recovery partition does not work, you can get disks for a fee from Dell or borrow/buy same Xp version disks (use your key).

If for any reason you cannot boot to a bootable CD, look into a hardware problem, especially bad RAM as your main problem. (Memtest to evaluate memory)

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April 4, 2010 at 08:29:37
I really don't know what Linux is... I havent the slightest clue about how to back up the files when I cant even boot up? How would I do that? I have the media center cd- I am trying to avoid a complete reinstall because I cant lose the data...

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Related Solutions

April 4, 2010 at 13:03:12
Don't worry about not understanding Linux. I think the only reason it was mentioned is because it is a way of retreiving your stuff so that if you are forced into attempting a destructive restore of your system (or even tinkering with it) you can do so knowing that your own stuff is all nicely saved.

You need to produce what is known as a "Live Linux CD". With one of these the system can be set to boot to Linux from a CD without altering anything in Windows. It doesn't even use the HD - you take the CD out and you are back where you were.

You will have to use another machine (friend maybe) to burn a CD from what is known as an "image". Everyone has their own favorite Live Linux and mine is "Puppy Linux". This does the job and you can then copy your important files onto a flash drive. Using Puppy is not much different to using Windows. I understand that Knoppix is another Live Linux CD that can do this nicely - there are many others.

Once you have the CD you might need to change the boot order in BIOS (on your dud machine) to ensure that it sees the CD before the HD. It's then a matter of some mouse clicks to save your files.

You are then free to mess with Windows and either sort it out or rebuild it from scratch, knowing you have your own files on the stick. I can help with creating the CD (as can many others LOL).

What's the time?

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April 4, 2010 at 18:31:42
Okay- I actually created the cd, opened puppy in the new machine, now, not sure what to do, how to save, etc. Thanks so much for your help...

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April 4, 2010 at 20:11:46
When you used MSConfig to get into Safe Mode your Boot.ini file was changed to always boot to Safe Mode. Provided you can still boot to Safe Mode edit your Boot.ini file to remove reference to /Safemode. Your current Boot.ini will probably contain a reference to /safeboot:minimal Use a plain text editor such as Notepad or to delete /safeboot:minimal, save the new file and reboot.

Or you may prefer to use the advice here:

Much easier than using a live cd or doing a re-install.

Good luck

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April 4, 2010 at 20:27:30
"OS: XP Media Center"

What did you use to run the Repair installation with?

You can't repair an XP MCE installation by booting from an XP Pro or XP Home CD. It has to be either a Microsoft OEM 2 CD MCE set,
or an operating system DVD re-installation disk, or two operating system CDs that came with the computer. MCE doesn't fit on one CD.

If you did do that properly, you can run msconfig in Safe mode too. If you can now get into Safe mode, run msconfig, and change the setting back.

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April 4, 2010 at 20:34:32
I used an xp media center reinstallation disk... to the other poster, no it will not boot in safe mode- it never could because of the virus-thats why i really screwed up when i set it to always boot in safe mode...

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April 5, 2010 at 07:27:17
Re #5

My knowledge of Linux is limited to file rescue (so the blind leads the blind LOL). It is worth knowing that everything is single click and if you ever have need to write down paths you use forward slashes rather than MS Windows back slashes.

Your drives appear at the bottom of the desktop screen. Note that any USB drives which are connected will show a Flash Drive symbol (possibly a little misleading). When you plug in a Flash drive a new icon arrives - probably sdg1.

Note that if you need to get to My Documents you have to use the full (real) path which is:
Documents and settings/user name/my documents

To copy a file, single left click the HD (probably sda1), which will show the C drive root folders. Single click your way through to the files you need. Pop in the Flash Drive stick and left click the new symbol. Move the Flash Drive Window down as necessary, so that you can see the HD Window as well.

Drag the file from C/... onto the Flash Drive Window. You will then see a pop-up list and you use left click to select "Copy". That's it. Almost certainly the same old block copy keys apply, so if you are not already familiar with them shout back.

You might well find a more elegant approach if you Google around (or ask our Linux forum) but the above works just fine. Apologies if I have over elaborated the steps but its safer for me to do this and risk your chuckles.

What's the time?

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April 5, 2010 at 14:58:49
"I used an xp media center reinstallation disk.."

A DVD ? It won't fit on one CD.
If it was two CDs, you have to be careful that you insert the second disk at the right time, and insert first disk again at the right time, otherwise Windows MCE is not installed properly (there are bugs in MCE's Setup - the disks it asks you to insert have the wrong label [description] , both times that it asks).

Unfortunately running a Repair installation of Windows can't fix every problem. Once you have copied what you want to save to elsewhere, you're going to have to install MCE from scratch, then go the Dell web site and get the software downloads required for your system and load them, or, if the model came with a Drivers and Applications CD, you could load those instead.
If the network adapter drivers are not loaded when Setup is finished, you will have no access to the internet. Either you have to get at least the network adapter drivers on another computer, then load them on your computer, or if you have the Drivers and Applications CD you can load them from that.

If the Windows installation does not have SP3 updates included, the best time to install the SP3 updates is right after you have installed Windows from scratch, BEFORE you have installed anti-malware software.

See Response 6
starting at
"If your XP CD does not have SP3 updates included, the best time to load them is right after you have installed Windows from scratch...."

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April 9, 2010 at 21:17:24
Thank you all for your replies. I used the os reinstallation dvd to
try repair, to no avail. I successfully uploaded ( i guess) linux &
i am not sure i'm trying to copy correctly... I have five drives
showing at the bottom... i open up each drive, each folder, each
subfolder & copy all the files? and another strange thing is
nearly immediately it tells me my hard drive/flash
drive/whatever is full... any tips?

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April 9, 2010 at 21:35:07
To add to the excellent advice you have received so far:
You need a usb attached gig or terabyte drive.
A flash drive doesn't have enough room usually.

Or concentrate on exactly what you need to keep.

Usual starting point is [driveletter:]document and settings\your logon name. This is the default for documents, music, etc

In the case of program contained data you would need to know where that data file was kept and back it up. This is usually something that is listed on the programs web site or there is someone there you can ask.

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April 10, 2010 at 05:10:41
An alternative way of dealing with the flash drive full (although far more messy) is to copy a limited number of files at a time then offload them to another machine. Obviously the bigger the flash drive the better.

Another thought. Is one of your drives a data HD (some letter other than C)? If so you could copy over to that. As long as you don't reformat that particular drive, assuming it exists, then your data will be safe.

What's the time?

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April 10, 2010 at 16:14:41
OK when you boot the computer after the Dell logo to you see a
blue banner with white letters with at the top? If you do when you see it tap the ctrl+F11 at the same time. Only do that if you decide you want to wipe the computer clean and reinstall Windows. You will loose your data bu doing what I said. But as for the linux it is easy to use to boot to the CD and get your data off your C drive.

Just because the OP does not come back in 3 or 4 days to reply, does not mean he will not come back and reply.

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