my computer won't start not even in safe mode

December 2, 2009 at 04:35:39
Specs: Windows XP
Hi I know very little about computers. I recently backed up my computer with a WD portable HD, turned my computer off. When I next came to turn it on, it won't start not even in safe mode. It just restarts itself back again. Is there anything I can do or do I need to pay someone professional?

Thanks in advance Laura

See More: my computer wont start not even in safe mode

Report •

December 2, 2009 at 06:18:23
Is this happening with, or without the external drive connected?

How did you backup? Did you image your internal hard drive? Did you use a commercial program? What?

Do you have a WinXP CD or restore disks for your computer?

Try entering the BIOS screens (setup) and checking the boot order. Set for CD first then hard drive.

Also watch the messages that do appear during the boot sequence. They will help diagnosing the problem.

Report •

December 2, 2009 at 08:39:23
When I'd finished backing up I 'safely removed hard ware' and took the usb connection out from the external hard drive and my computer. I have not reconnected it since.

I used WD smartware to back up, it was a WD external hard drive and came with the hard drive I just followed the instructions.

I have restore disks but I am keen not to use them if I can get back into my computer any other way so I don't have to delete my data off my computer, from my little knowledge this is what restore does?

It boots up almost like normal, but then I get the choice of last know good confiuration, start windows normally, safe mode etc. selecting any of the options just restarts me back to the same page again. I can get into advanced options using the F8 key but it has the same effect. I also pressed F10 but I didn't understand any of the options so exited.

Thanks again.


Report •

December 2, 2009 at 08:59:00
Try enetering the bios, some computers use a F key, some use the delete key. Select boot from the hard drive that as primary listed in the bios. Then restart the computer. HTH

Report •

Related Solutions

December 2, 2009 at 12:55:14
I am not familiar with that software. If you select to clone your hard drive to another drive then the internal drive may no longer be marked as the active drive.

There are many ways to reset the internal hard drive active. One of the easiest is to use fdisk, which is included in Win98 boot floppies. Do you have a floppy drive?

Report •

December 2, 2009 at 14:30:50
I am experiencing the same issue except I didnt do any backup

When I turn on my pc, it goes to the screen for
safe mode
safe mode w/ networking
start windows normally blah blah

but after choosing any of them, the pc just restarts again
and eventually goes to the same page

but there are times when it completely boots up and goes to windows, but as soon as I open any program, the pc shuts down just as if somebody unplug the power cord

when this happens, there is still a green light that blinks slowly on my cpu, so i had to unplug the power and wait a while before i can turn it back on

PS: I cant access BIOS, i just get a black screen

Report •

December 2, 2009 at 14:34:53

You need to start your own thread. Your problem is NOT the same as the poster in this thread.

Be sure to provide system specs and details of what is wrong and how it started.

Report •

December 3, 2009 at 06:41:26
Thanks guys, I don't have a floppy drive,I'm on windows xp media centre edition also.

I really have very limited knowledge of computers, could someone explain to me what BIOS is? and how I get into it, if that's the correct terminology.

Then I can follow any instructions I'm given.

Thanks again


Report •

December 3, 2009 at 08:00:44
This might be the single most common problem with Windows XP, and usually you'd first look for harddrive malfunction and if there are none you usually end up reinstalling Windows. You can try and perform artificial breathing but it almost never works in the long run, at least not if you expect the computer to be fast enough to work with without going nuts.

I admire your commitment to try and solve it yourself, and I'm sure you could, given enough detailed instructions. But sometimes it's just better to let more experienced people do it, it'll save you a lot of time and energy and you'll get a good end result. So unless you're really determined to learn how to troubleshoot a computer I'd say you're better off turning it in to a repair shop and tell them you want to have it reinstalled. Don't forget to ask them to save any files you might want to keep, since reinstalling will delete everything on the harddrive (that's why it's so effective in the first place).

Report •

December 3, 2009 at 12:37:45

It is doubtful a shop is going to retrieve the personal files for Lozi.


The BIOS may be called "setup" on your screens. Watch the messages on the screens when you first start up the computer.

If you have a custom computer the keystroke will be Del. If you have a OEM computer like Dell, Gateway, Emachines, etc the keystroke will be on of the F keys on the top of your keyboard.

We should be able to solve this problem for you. Do you have any restore disks for the computer?

What is the brand and model of your computer?

Report •

December 3, 2009 at 15:39:13
I would consider taking it to the shop and letting the pros deal with it, but I did that two weeks ago and now I'm in the same position with the same problem, so I don't see why I should pay someone to do nothing! They also said it wasn't my hard drive as they had run checks on it and that it was fine, they thought most likely a software problem?

They did manage to save all my work and the computer looked like it did when I gave it to them, but it runs incredibly slowly and CPU % in task manager is constantly at 100% meaning if I opened more than one programme at a time it stopped running and I had to close it down.

I have restore CD's I did when I first bought the computer there on about 5 seperate disks.

I have a HP Pavillion dv6000

Thanks guys

Report •

December 3, 2009 at 16:02:04
Now I am confused. Your #10 response indicates you CAN get into Windows. Can you or not?

Did you find the prompts on the start up screens indicating how to enter the BIOS (setup)?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 06:42:08
No I can't get into windows, when I was talking about CPU etc. I'm talking about before this happened, but after the guys in the shop fixed it last. Now I just get the safe mood, start windows normally options with that going round in a continuous circle,restarting itself.

I get the options before that screen to either press
ESC = to change boot order

i'm guessing I go for F10?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 06:51:55
Okay I have just got into BIOS I'm in 'Boot Order' there are a list of options

USB Floppy
Notebook Hard Drive
USB Diskette on Key
USB Hard Drive
!Network Adapter on the right hand side of this one it says 'the boot capability will be disabled if the Device with the excalamtion mark.'

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 07:13:46
Accepting that you are not (yet) very experienced with computers..., no-one is until they start to have a go at fixing things when necessary (and clearly you are keen enuff to have a go - so good on you!).

One issue to address first and whenever a system suddenly starts to misbehave - in any way... Safeguard data - FIRST.

Ideally one would have (regularly made) copies on optical media and/or an external hard-drive. If it's really important info etc. make both optical and hard-drive copies; and keep them safe and regularly update them too... Then when things do go pear-shaped etc... data is not a risk during repair stages...?

So get yourselk either a Knoppix or Ubuntu CD/DVD (they seem to require a dvd these days as these two versions of Linux hath grown over time. Onceyou have a Linux variant boot up with the that CD/DVD and you will (hopefully) end up on a windows style desktop - but Linux style. Then you can access the local hard-drive as resource for that OS and access its contents. Having done that you can then copy "all" those important files to optical-media etc...; and then verify they are truly accssible on at least one other system too. Then you can safely go about resolving problems various?

F10 is how you get to setup; as in enter the bios settings... One goeth in there (very) carefully; and if in doubt at any time - simply exit without saving "any" changes... (The exit option is (usually) on top menu bar...) Once in there you can work your way through the various menus etc. and see what is where...; and if needs-be change thijngs - but again carefully!

You are saying that you can to safe-mode selection...; but then having started to load... it goes back to a reboot?

Likewise did you try last known good config - from the that boot-menu listing?

Do NOT at this time consider using the recovery disks or partition (if exists. If you do use either of those options you WILL lose all data on the drive... First safeguard data; then consider other repair approaches...

Need more help on Knoppix/ back; it's not hard to get across and many here will help you...

Incidentally whereabouts is you located?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 07:39:00
You have some options then. Assuming the backup image you have on the USB external drive is good you could simply change the boot order and boot to that drive. Restore to the previous state.

It is good that you were trying to prevent data loss by creating the backup. That said, IMO the best use of a complete partition image is to save time in re-installing, should that be necessary. Unless you use the program daily you still risk losing important files.

I suggest you develop a system that protects new files on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in learning more about this say so.

Going back to the immediate problem. As I stated in my first post I think the internal hard drive boot partition is no longer marked as active. This can happen when disk cloning software is used because the intent is to migrate everything on an old disk to a new, larger disk.

I could be mistaken and all that is wrong is that the boot order is set wrong. So the first thing to try is to set the boot order to the notebook hard drive. If the laptop will not boot into Windows after that then select the boot order to USB hard drive as the first device.

Disregard the network boot option as it doesn't apply in this case.

If you get an option to choose what partition (drive letter) to restore to, be sure you choose the correct one. If you only see one then don't worry about it. I only mention it because the restore partition may show at that time. It should be too small in capacity to place 33GB on anyway.

If that doesn't work then we can talk about how to copy your personal files and then just use the restore disks.

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 08:12:21
mmm Missed that you had made a backup of the whole system. Presumably you "did" include data folder(s) too? If not... then again I advise you make that first port of call?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 08:35:55
tyrlr, thanks for the words of encouragement, I'd like to be able to fix it myself. I wouldn't have got this far without the help of everyone on here I'm so grateful. I'm in the UK have noticed there is odd time differences between replys from people!

Also trying to start in any of the options safe mode, last known good config etc. all result in a reboot.


As for learning how to back up more effectively I would like to learn how, but maybe thats for later :)

As far as I can make out from my external hard drive my whole computer C: has been copied.

From memory I think the correct hard drive to choose from what your saying is C: ? D: I think is what you are calling a partion hard drive that would restore my computer back and I would lose all my data?

So I should choose drive C: ?

Does the fact that '!Network Adaptor' is showing up like that mean that is what caused it not to boot into windows in the first place?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 08:50:42
I don't have time to read all of the posts but has any one suggested a Windows XP Repair Install yet? If not its seems that you may need to do this because one of your main system files may be corrupt which is preventing you from even booting into safemode. Try this...

Be very careful when doing this because if it is not done right you may wipe your drive. As suggested above, if you can get the help of a professional.

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 09:12:30
Re--installs, repair-installs, and restores are wisely last on the list; for the very reason you suggest - data loss issues... Which is why also there is more than a little emphasis on data security/safeguarding - first...

For "lozi" - again via any bootable OS on a CD (Knoppix/Ubuntu etc.) one can also view the boot.ini; this will allow one to determine just where the OS is installed - which drive/partition etc... Similarly if the drive is slaved to another working system, or connected via a usb adapter... And also via either method one can also view the drive and see its partitioning and what is where... These approachees can assist in determining just which partition has the boot/start-up files etc; and thus which partition is likely to be the active one in many (most) - but not all - situations.

But I agree with "ace..." that there may well be damaged system file(s) etc. Although how/why etc. following a full backup (of sorts)???

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 09:29:47
The how or why is most probably a Black Tuesday Update or a Rootkit Virus.

If it is the latter I would suggest you do a virus scan of the backed up data. I suggest using Malwarebytes. There is a free trial and it seems to knock out rootkits.

It is most probably a Black Tuesday update that did it. You got to love Microsoft.

Just my 2 cents on the how or why.

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 09:42:57
mmm Now that would be interesting... There is another post current here too and had symptoms similar to this one. Except the system wouldn't even start a boot as the drive wasn't found; yet drive was OK via WD tools; and also accessible etc. in another system via usb adapter etc..

.I was much across it to and gradually came down to the rootkit virus pest (a virus that affects the bios - for those who aren't familiar with teh exact pest...). For whatever reasons.. the system that was failing to even start to boot... decided after many attempts to actually boot up properly. User then did a full Avast scan and then started malwarebytes scan too - while he was reporting his "good news" that Avast had found a few nasties etc...

So who knows (as before - only The Shadow...).

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 10:03:00
I've scanned external hard drive for infections with Kaspersky anti virus nothing was found, would you still suggest scanning with Malwarebytes? I don't think it was a Microsoft update mostly because I haven't connected to the internet on the computer in question for at least a month, this may rule out a virus or anything also unless it was dormant for a month then decided to attack?

When trying to boot from network hard drive do I just move it to the top of the boot order list?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 10:22:25
Well the last reason, and no one wants to hear this, is that the drive is getting ready to fail. If the controller messed up when updating the MBR and is causing Windows to reboot then this too could be the problem. If this is the case then the only thing you can do is to boot to another OS boot-able CD like Linux or Windows or whatever, and backup your data and reformat the drive.

Even with that you may want to get a new drive because if the drive is on the verge of failing then you do not want to rely on it.

Lets hope that it was just a Windows Update. You may want to test your drive. If you boot from your Windows Disk into Recovery mode it will bring up a command prompt. Then type the following command...


This will check to see if your drive has bad sectors. Also if the drive has S.M.A.R.T then you can do a test through the BIOS. If you do a test through the BIOS make sure you do not do a Destructive or Volatile Test. These are test where they write zeros to the drive to make sure it is working properly. This will wipe out your data so be careful. This is why every one wants to get you to backup your drive before they give you any solutions because they could wipe your data if not done right.

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 11:51:03
When you say windows disk what do you mean?
I did back up disks of the factory settings when i first bought the computer is this what you mean? They are on 5 different disks.

I did back up my drive its on an external hard, immediately after that my computer crashed which is how this problem started.

Should I not try booting from my 'notebook hard drive'?

If I should try that can you tell me how?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 11:51:13
When you say windows disk what do you mean?
I did back up disks of the factory settings when i first bought the computer is this what you mean? They are on 5 different disks.

I did back up my hard drive its on an external hard drive, immediately after that my computer crashed which is how this problem started.

Should I not try booting from my 'notebook hard drive'?

If I should try that can you tell me how?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 11:53:41
also through BIOS i can do a 'primary hard disk self test' it says that it will take 48 minutes it does not say it is volatile or destructive

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 11:56:36
When I say Windows Disk it may be labeled as System Disk or Operating System disk. One of those 5 disks has Windows on it and should be labeled as such. This disk will be bootable which means that if it is inserted into the CD ROM Drive it will boot off the CD and not the Hard Drive. Then you can boot into a recovery console.

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 12:25:05
So I shouldn't try changing the boot order to boot off the notebook hard drive first?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 12:40:12
As I stated above I think the boot partition of your internal drive is not set as active anymore. The problem COULD be the MBR is corrupted but you indicated the laptop was working fine until you used that backup program.

Did you look at the boot order using the Esc key?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 12:56:55
boot order says
3.Notebook Hard Drive

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 13:22:40
Confirm - if you insert a bootable CD - can you boot the laptop with it? If not.. then there is sumat amiiss for sure. If you can then providing you do NOT have a bootable cd/dvd in that drivebay at boot up time... system ought to boot from hard drive - after first attemtping to do so via a CD\DVD...

If the first item in the list isn't bootable (in this case when no disk in the optical drive will = not bootable) bios looks to second (in this case the HD itself) and tries that one...

If that fails then one "may" need to look at the drive partitions and verify if it is indeed set active.. Personally I've not come across any instance of a backup programme changing that seting/flag during its use...; but who knows?

similarly the boot record may be suspect; but againm I can't see how...

Either way one would need access to the Recovery Console facilities to check/verfit/resolve that...

When you go into devices section (in bios settings) is the HD listed there? That it's second in the boot-order doesn't mean tits' actually been detected...That list is just how/where it will appear in the boot sequence (iwhen found to be present physically).

re' Disks... You say you made (wisely) a restore set as usually advised by notebook vendors theese days; and that can be one or more disks - depending on which you used (CD or DVD). They will if used put you back to factory gate/delivery to you status...; all data on system will be lost.

Your own back up if accessible from the external drive - and you need a bootable system to get at it - will put you back to where you were immediately before the problem arrived (i.e. to how system was when you made that later, most recent backup).

Form my own (limited) experience with recovery disks - be they provided by manufacturer/vendor or made by user - I'm not aware that they allow recovery console opotions... That is only available via proper XP disk (Upgrade or full version). Although one can download and make a bootable Recovery Console disk on its own...

If you can borrow a standard XP CD (Upgrade/Full version doesn't matter which; and equally can be either Pro or Home) try booting with that. You do NOT need to apply any license keys etc. to do this; and do NOT actually accept any offers (at this time) to install, repair or otherwise... Just verfiy you can boot up with it.

Again at this stage avoid writing anything to the drive until all else has been explored?

Report •

December 4, 2009 at 13:56:53
When you get to the entire boot device list you can move the USB hard drive to the top. Try highlighting it and using the up arrow key or the page up key.

You need to get the USB hard drive to be the first device if you want to restore from it.

Report •

December 5, 2009 at 06:09:56
I recently backed up my computer with a WD portable HD

Ever try starting computer without that drive connected ???

Report •

December 8, 2009 at 04:24:53
One thought I have on this. I assume you have a notebook or laptop. Well they have an option to add an external monitor. I have a feeling that your display adaptor has switched from using its own screen to using an external monitor. That could be why its restarting as soon as you select an option. Windows is looking for the monitor dosnt detect it and restarts. So try putting a external monitor on it and then see if it boots normally. If it does in display properties switch it back to using its own screen, ok it then shut it down remove the external monitor and try rebooting.

Report •

Ask Question