|"Windows XP PC shows a countdown message saying it will start in x amount of seconds, ..."|
What were you doing just before that ?
You don't normally get a countdown like that, unless you were running Setup from the Windows CD, or unless you were installing some major Microsoft software package.
You have MANY alternatives other than using the XP reinstall CD or a Recovery disk to re-install Windows from scratch, or re-install all the brand name supplied software. (Most brand name computers that have XP installed on them have an XP re-installation CD, rather than a Recovery disk that re-loads the original contents of C from files already on the second partition on the hard drive). Doing that is a LAST resort. All your personal files you have added to the hard drive will be gone if you do either, unless you have copied what you do not want to lose to elsewhere BEFORE you run the procedure.
(If you have an XP re-installation CD. you often also have a Drivers and Applications CD, or similar, as well. The XP re-installation CD does not install all the drivers needed for the system. You can save yourself some time by installing at least the drivers from that CD, rather than having to get them by downloading them from the brand name's web site, from the downloads for your model. )
E.g. TRY THIS FIRST !
You may be able to use System Restore to get your computer working properly.
Remove any bootable CDs or DVDs you have in drives.
Press F8 repeatedly - do not hold down the key - when the boot choices menu pops up, choose
You will see a bunch of lines about things loading, it will stay that way for a while, then you should see a black screen with white text at the top, then your your logon screen, if you normally have to logon, then (after you have logged on) a black Windows desktop screen with a window box that asks if you want to run in Safe mode - answer NO.
A System Restore window will pop up.
Click on Next.
Pick a restore point with a recent date and time BEFORE you had your problem, when Windows was still working OK. The newer the better.
If choosing a certain restore point doesn't help, you can boot into Safe mode again and try a slightly older one.
How to do an XP Repair installation , step by step:
HOWEVER....there are things you should be made aware of ....
If you have a brand name system, you MUST use
- an XP re-installation CD that came with the computer ( or that you made yourself by using a program supplied by the maker that was in the original software installation)
- or - you can use a regular Microsoft OEM XP CD for the same version, Home or Pro, along with the Product Key that's on the official Microsoft label, that's probably on the bottom of the case on the laptop - such an OEM CD has "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it
(If you have an XP MCE version, it's more complicated. XP MCE versions DO NOT fit on one CD - I've never encounted it on a DVD, though that's possible . If the brand name computer did not come with an XP MCE re-installation DVD, or two MCE CDs, then you must buy and use the OEM 2 CD XP MCE set to run the Repair installation
AND - because of bugs in MCE's Setup, you CANNOT load the second CD's contents. You can quit Setup at the point where it asks for another CD the first time , but if whatever is wrong requires software to be loaded from the second CD, Windows will still not work properly after Setup is finished. Both CDs MUST be inserted in the same drive. The MCE Setup bugs prevent the second CD being recognized as a valid source when you run the Repair installation.)
- the XP CD MUST have at least SP1 updates integrated into it in order to be able to recognize hard drives larger than 128gb in Windows ( = > 137gb manufacturer's size).
Regular Microsoft XP CDs have SP2 or SP3 printed on them if they include those updates; if they have SP! unpates all the ones I've seen with them DO NOT have SP1 printed on them, but the volume label - the label you see in Windows for the CD for CDS with SP1 updates included is different from those for CDs with no SP updates at all - you can search using the volume label to fibd out if it has SP! updates or not. An XP re-installation CD that comes with a brand name computer usually hasSP1 or SP2 or SP3 printed on it if it includes those updates.
If you DO have hard drives larger than 128gb in Windows, and you DO NOT have an XP CD with at least SP1 updates included, you MUST make yourself a "slipstreamed" CD , preferably a CD-R, that has at least SP1 updates integrated into it - you might as well integrate SP3 updates into it - and use that CD instead of your original CD. .
- there must be NO PROBLEMS with reading the ram or with reading the CD while the Repair installation is running.
Make sure the CD is clean and free from major scratches.
Eject the optical drive's tray, and with no disk on the tray, wipe off the obvious laser lens with a tissue or soft cloth to make sure it's not "dirty", BEFORE you run the Repair installation.
If you are unable to complete Setup, the existing Windows installation will be trashed. If you quit Setup before it's fiinished, you WILL NOT be given the choice of running a Repair installation when you boot the computer with the XP CD again.
DO NOT exit Setup if you have problems - e.g. you may need to Skip loading files as many times as it takes - Setup must finish.
You can copy files off the hard drive that you DO NOT want to lose, as long as your hard drive is physically and logically okay itself, BEFORE you take the risk of doing anything, or even after a Repair installation fails, by connecting the hard drive to another computer one way or another, or by you booting the computer with an operating system on a CD such as Linux, and copying the files to somewhere else.