XP won't start, even in Safe mode.

April 23, 2008 at 11:37:59
Specs: XP, Intel
My mother in law called me in to fix another computer problem ... This is an HP Pavilion a1020n. When I try to start it, "Windows did not load successfully" and asks me if I want to boot from last known good, or in Safe mode, but it can't no matter what I try (it tries and then the machine restarts, I'm told this is the equivalent of the old BSOD.)

So I tried to boot again and pressed F8 to try to go to the Windows recovery console. I get a blue screen with the error, "Unmountable boot volume." (The hard drive is the default boot volume, and there are no disks etc. inserted that it is trying to boot from instead. I checked the BIOS and I'm sure it is trying to boot from the hard disk.)

So my questions are:

1. is my MIL's hard drive dead? I've never had one go bad on me before.
2. Can I still get her files off of it (like if I booted from a WinXP CDROM), or is it pretty hopeless?
3. If I do replace the hard disk, where will I reload WinXP from? There was no recovery CD that shipped with the machine, last time XP got garbled I just used the recovery console. Will that work with a brand new blank hard disk, or do I need to ask HP for a CD?

Thanks in advance.

gotgoatee ... at yahoo dot you know what.

See More: XP wont start, even in Safe mode.

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April 23, 2008 at 14:37:49
1. Can't say. Use test suite for hard drives to diag them.

2. Yes, I prefer live linux cd's. You can use the xp cd or even a Vista DVD to recover files.

3. Without a known good backup or image you would have to reload the OS and applications. The data may still be on the hard drive and you may be able to access it. You'd have to know how HP stored the data. Sometimes you have ISO images or the restore cd.

"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, are in my top 10

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April 23, 2008 at 19:05:40
I remember this happened to a friend who's pc had
only one hd,I used the UBCd LiveCD to get into
windows and used this two commands on the
command prompt.

chkdsk /r

Here is the site that helped me...

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April 23, 2008 at 20:21:15
What to Do When XP (or 2000) Won't Boot;

It's a good day when you learn something

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Related Solutions

April 24, 2008 at 08:40:56
1. "is my MIL's hard drive dead?"

"Use test suite for hard drives to diag them."

Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If the drive itself passes the long test, you can fix virtually any software problem Windows has, and there's many things we can suggest you could try, but if it's a real puzzle you may have to re-install the original software for the system, or buy a regular Windows CD, load Windows with that, and get the drivers for your system for the model from the HP site.

2. "Can I still get her files off of it ?"

If there's nothing wrong with the drive itself, sure.
If there is something wrong with the drive itself, maybe, maybe not. You must be able to access at least parts of the drive.

You can do certain things booting with a regular Windows CD, but there are better ways to recover her personal files, such as connecting it to another computer as slave on either IDE or as master on the secondary IDE.

3. "If I do replace the hard disk, where will I reload WinXP from? There was no recovery CD that shipped with the machine"

The common thing these days is brand name systems at most come with one Recovery CD; often they come with no CDs at all.
What you are supposed to do is use a program supplied by the brand name system builder, in this case HP, that is already on the hard drive and accessible in your Programs list, to make a single Recovery disk if the system didn'y come with one, AND a Recovery Disk set, while Windows is still working fine.
Brand name systems always have two partitions on the original hard drive. The second partition is smaller and is nearly full - it has all the data necessary on it so that you can use a single Recovery CD to restore all the original software that was on the first partition, C, when you got it, or to reload some software that isn't working properly, if you need to.
The second partition is sometimes visible to the user as the D drive, and may be called the Recovery partition or similar, in which case you are often warned not to alter it's data contents or are prevented from doing so when you attempt to access it; sometimes it is invisible to the user and your D drive is something else, usually the (first) CD or DVD drive.
The single Recovery disk requires that the second partition is intact as it was when you got the computer and has no data errors.
If the second partition is not there or has been altered or has data errors on it, or if the hard drive is faulty and you can't access it, the single Recovery CD is useless, and you can only re-load all the original software on a good existing drive or a new drive using a Recovery CD set.

Unfortunately, most people who buy a brand name system neglect to make a single Recovery CD if the computer didn't come with one, and/or the Recovery CD set.
Some brand name system builders these days have made making the recovery CD set mandatory when you first start up the computer after first getting it.

If you have (she has) not made a Recovery CD set, if the model is new enough (say, no more than 3 to 5 years old) you can probably order a Recovery CD set from the HP web site, using the exact model number found on a sticker on the outside of the computer case.
e.g. I got a Recovery CD set (6? CDs) for a friend's HP computer for $5x including shipping. It got to me in about three days. You boot with the first CD, load the rest when prompted. The hard drive requires no preparation beforehand - if it already has data on it it will be wiped. You don't need to do much other than load a CD when prompted.
More info available on the HP site - look up Recovery.

If you can't order a Recovery CD set, you have no choice but to buy a regular Windows CD, load Windows with that, and get the drivers for your system for the model from the HP site, and possibly also get the main chipset drivers from the main chipset maker's web site.
E.g. you can get OEM XP Home SP2 for under $100 from smaller places that have lots of computer parts and software, or from the web, but you must buy at least some minimal hardware, such as a mouse, at the same time to qualify for buying it.

Whatever way you go to reload the hard drive, you must then go to the Windows site and Windows Update and get and load at least all the Security and Critical Windows Updates (the ones you find with Express).

"....used this two commands on the
command prompt.
chkdsk /r

chkdsk /r does everything chkdsk /f does plus it checks the entire partition including the free space, and more -
you don't need to run chkdsk /f if you run chkdsk /r.

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April 24, 2008 at 09:04:37
Thanks for your responses ... I am going to try some of these and see how it goes.

gotgoatee ... at yahoo dot you know what.

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April 25, 2008 at 07:09:26
UPDATE: The problem is solved. It so happens that I have a spare XP Home CDROM which I don't use (it's not the recovery disk for this machine, but it was sufficient). I booted off the CD and ran chkdsk on the C drive, and that fixed the problem. So the hard disk wasn't dead, much to my MIL's relief. Thanks for your help, folks.

gotgoatee ... at yahoo dot you know what.

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