XP installation failure- hardware problem?!?

March 12, 2010 at 10:04:41
Specs: XP Pro, AMD 3800+, 2Gig generic DDR2
Hi, Really stuck here!
Trying to reinstall XP; Using a new Samsung 1Tb HDD (installed withoutnproblems last week, but then screwed up, and decided to do it afresh to get a really pristine install). Now, the install does the format and partition sequence, loads files, reboots.. and goes back to the beginning again.
I have changed the boot sequence to restart from the HD, but this gives a read error.
I have exactly the same problem on another HD (WDCaviar 500Gb) which was previously running XP, and which I switched to when the new Samsung HD did not accept the install.
I have run memtest, and checked the HDs via their manufacturers utilities (from Ultimate Boot CD)- all tested as OK.
I have two installation discs (tried both) and two optical drives (tried each).
I've even swapped the IDE cable to the CDROMs.
I'm prety uch a novice at this stuff, and cannot even be sure whether I have an issue with hardware (and if so what?), or software.
Can anybody please help me here?
Many thanks,

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March 12, 2010 at 10:25:26
Setup only requires you press a key to boot from the CD while booting ONCE, when you initially boot from the CD. It will automatically reboot and run from the CD until Setup has finished.
If you press the key to boot from the CD again while booting, Setup will start over from the beginning.

If Setup does NOT get to the end of a stage where you see "Re-starting the computer in xx seconds" or similar, then you have a hardware problem.

You should get NO ERRORS AT ALL when reading files from the CD during Setup. If clicking on Retry or similar does not help...
If you DO / DID get errors, something was not right !
See Response 7 in in this,
starting at
"Errors reading from the CD can be caused by....."

You must run the LONG memory test.

Some ram manufacturer's modules do not strictly adhere to the JEDEC standards that most mboards bioses use to determine ram settings.
In that case, the ram settings in the bios Setup that the bios has automatically chosen may not be correct.
Check the ram settings in your bios - the ram voltage, and the ram timing numbers - those should be the same as for the specs for the modules themselves. Often the ram voltage and timing numbers are printed on the label on the modules.

If the voltage setting or timings settings in the bios are different from the specs for the ram, change them in the bios. The timing numbers must be as close as you can get to the same, or slower timings (higher numbers = slower) - you won't notice the difference the slower settings make.

If you have a mix of different modules
- don't mix ram that different voltages arespecified for - the bios will force the ram to use the lowest voltage, if "by spd" or similar is used (default settings) - ram that a higher voltage is specified for is more likely to not work properly in that situation.
- the bios settings must be those for the slowest timing settings of all the modules, or slower (higher numbers = slower).

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March 12, 2010 at 11:00:07
Hi, and thanks for the fast response.

On the install, I did not press the key to restart from CD- I allowed the red bar to time out after 15 secs and the PC to reboot, both with and without the CD in the drawer.
The issue is that on the restart after this stage, the installation routine restarts.
If I remove the CD, the PC just reboots constantly, looking for a boot device (presumably this means that the HD is not registering as a valid boot device, depsite having run the initial stages of the installation. There is a boot.ini file, the contents of which exactly match the text that Microsoft publish.

The RAM is a matched pair. It tested as OK using a fast Microsoft utility, and a long memtest86 run (one full pass completed, c70 mins).
The BIOS RAM settng do match the DDRAM 533Mhz spec of the modules- I am not sure how to check the voltage..?

The load routing for XP did not have any errors at all. (I have carefully watched this too many times for comfort now).

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March 12, 2010 at 12:00:49
Delete the partitions and re-partition. Then do a full format,not the quick one (at least on the partition you are installing on). Although you should be able to install XP on a partition other than C, install it on the C drive.


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Related Solutions

March 12, 2010 at 12:20:16
Is this an SATA HDD? How are you going about installing the SATA driver?

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March 12, 2010 at 12:35:05
I am using a SATAII HDD. Connection to the mobo via SATA cable to port 1.0. Mobo spec confirms that it is specified to take SATAII drives
I have not loaded drivers; and was assuming that the Windows setup would do this automatically.
Certainly BIOS recognises the HD device
Although I am just using the one HD, I have not set any jumpers to specify that is the master- on this HD, there is no way to do this, as the pins that should be jumpered according to the label on the HD are not fitted to the drive). I should also add that i have previously successfully installed XP onto each of these two SATA drives without having to load drivers separately.

Also, I have done the full (i.e. not quick') format previously, on both HDs (separately) in an effort to get one of them to install. To my horror, the formatting seems to have erased not just the primary partition, but the entire HD, so I have not since done the full format, in the hopes of still being able to recover some of the data. What an idiot I've been not to have realised that this would happen...

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