PC keeps rebooting, toughest case PLEASE HELP

May 18, 2011 at 21:27:19
Specs: Windows XP, 3.0 Mhz/4GB
Last Tuesday I was browsing the web when my Avira AntiVir gave me 3 infection notices. I usually click "deny access", maye have clicked "move to quarantine", not 100% sure. Right after that I got a small pop-up stating "permanent hard drive failure". I closed that pop-up. My PC either re-started or shut down. While trying to power-up I went through the Elitegroup screen for BIOS and Boot selection, then the black screen with the Windows XP logo. Before reaching the blue welcome screen however my PC would simply double-bleep again and go through the same process over and over. --> I believe that I have some sort of worm or virus activated be me closing the po-up screen that has now damaged my registry and/or boot files.

After trying to unsuccessfully change my BIOS (back to default for safe measures) and choosing the HD (2TB) directly I got a black screen giving me the selection to start up normally, in safe mode, safe mode without networking, etc. Nothing worked, same loop. I then used my laptop to research the recovery and repair functions (yes, I know they are 2 separate steps). Neither worked. I went through both with my original windows XP disk in tray. I tried repair first. After all files had loaded I was supposed to get a screen that gave me the option to repair my Windows installation. I never got that option, it simply was not there and went on to the install Windows screen. I then tried the recovery console. I was supposed to get to a screen that lets me chose my windows installation, e.g. 1: C:\WIN or something like that. That option was missing, so this did not work.

I then made a big mistake: I thought that I would possibly get to the right screen by going to the next menu after clicking a "new" Windows installation, I thought before installing it new I would have some sort of option that asks "all your data will be erased, are you sure?, etc.". My PC went straight into a new installation of Windows from my disk, I panicked, and manually shut down my PC. Yes, bad move.

After doing some research I decided to see if it was a BIOS error. In December, I had used Acronis TrueImage to copy my then 500GB HD to my now defunct 2TB HD. I unhooked the SATA and power cables, used my 500GB HD, works like before. At this point I am ruling out a BIOS error.

I hooked up my 2TB HD as an external with a SATA to USB Adapter. It read 456GB used space, the rest unallocated. Funny thing is that my 500GB showed the exact amount of used space like my 2TB, kind of impossible since I have added a lot of files since last December after cloning.

I then decided to run FIXMBR and the other steps associated. Chkdsk did not work. The change that occured was a new error "NTLDR is missing". I then called Microsoft Technical Support and spent 3 hours with them. Steps we took were copying boot.ini files, copying i386, running forms of checkdisk in DOS through the Recovery Console, copying ntldr and another file from the Windows XP disk, still the same error to this day. Another change is that my 2TB has 2 partitions: a FAT32 partition with about 10MB of information (when looking at what is stored on it I have an unknown file with the Infinity symbol (!). Microsoft asked me under Disk Management to change the unallocated space to a new partition, about 1.3TB.

I have been most concerned about saving my data. I downloaded testdisk (steps are over my head), FileRestore Professional (got to recover some of my files though they now have been saved as duplicates or triplets with FR-1 or FR-2 names added, many of my photos have errors, "invalid jpeg marker". I also have Minitool Partition Wizard Home Edition. I have been able to use the latter to look at some of my files and recover some as stated above, but I honestly have no clue how to address the boot up loop with it or even come close to fix it.

The last thing I did tonight was to run checkdisk on my now external 2TB damaged C drive with both fix options checked. Just powered PC, pressed F11, selected the 2TB, same NTLDR error.

---> Has anyone run across this scenario before? My goal of course would be to fix registry or boot on my 2TB HD and power it up my PC with it - am I dreaming? I would be very grateful for some advice, good news/bad news, not a problem, my fault to start with. I am of course willing to answer any questions, provide any screenshots, documentation, etc. Are any of the tool programs I downloded useful for this problem in either solving it or running diagnostic tests? If there are any programs out there like e.g. by EASEUS, the Ultimate Boot CD, Advanced System Optimizer, etc. I am of course more than interested in trying them, would just need some advice what to actually do and which tests to run - even the Best tools are useless in the hands of people who do not know how to use them.


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#1
May 18, 2011 at 22:24:55
There's a lot here I don't understand, like why there was no Repair Install option on the XP disk, and why there's a small FAT partition on the C drive. In Disk Management, is that partition marked Boot or System? If so, it's probably hijacking the boot-up.

The answer is supposed to be chkdsk, fixboot, fixmbr, bootcfg (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314... but that hasn't worked. Note - if you use the auto-recovery facility you may have to run it three times with reboots in order to rewrite everything properly.

At this point you may have done further damage via the New Install miscue. Why not extract all your user files, wipe the drive and do a new install? Or re-clone the old drive and start from there?


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#2
May 19, 2011 at 05:24:49
Hi, I don't know why the disk repair funcrion did not work. The small FAT32 partition showed up after Microsoft asked me to copy the boot files fom the disk. I just checked the properties in Disk Management and I am getting 2 different properties: On the top where all partitions are listed I have a volume E, File System FAT, Healthy Active, 10 MB capacity, Free Space 4 MB. Below I have volume F, NTFS, Healthy, 1397 GB. However, when I look below at Disk 1 (my 2TB) I get E: 465 GB FAT, Healthy Active and F: 1397 GB Healthy. 2 conflicting statements. RE Auto Recovery Facility - do you mean the repair or recovery function? When I have my 2TB HD hooked up as my C drive it loops and I don't think I have a clean restart, have to manually shot off the computer. Extracting the files and doing a clean install is what I may have to do, I will loose a lot of picture files that way. Or do you mean do a new install on the e.g. F partition to get the disk working again as a C drive and then do a file recovery?

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#3
May 19, 2011 at 07:09:14
Yes, I meant to try to recover your user files. You can copy them over and deal with them later. User files should always have a backup copy.

Re “auto-recovery”: I was referring to the auto-repair function in the Recovery Console.

I don’t know what the MS tech had you do, but that FAT partition is marked Active, so it’s controlling the boot process for that drive, for better or worse. That it has two labels points to registry or MBR corruption. I would change the label to something else, or remove the label altogether. System Reserve partitions should be marked Hidden as well, but Disk Management doesn’t support that so you would have to fire up Partition Wizard. But more importantly, unless he intentionally set up a Vista-like system reserve partition to control the boot (and I don’t see why he would), the XP partition should be the one marked Active (there can only be one Active partition per drive). This is probably why you got a ‘no bootloader’ error and why the Recovery disk didn’t see the XP install for repairs.

I would make those changes and then run the recovery console commands again - again, booting up after each one. If that fails see if you now can do a Repair install.


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Related Solutions

#4
May 19, 2011 at 07:25:52
I have always been pretty good in the past backing up my system using Windows system tools back-up, problem is that my secondary HD has become too small to accommodate all the data. I ordered a new HD yesterday, will most likely if nothing else works re-install windows on the new one, then copy my files over.

"Change/remove label" - should I just delete the FAT partition under Disk Management? I am still wondering about the unknown file with the unfinity symbol in it - does that have anything to do with the neverending looping? If I say delete that partition I assume it will then become unallocated space, right? Should I create a new one then, merge with the other partition? I originally had set up the 2TB as one partition only.


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#5
May 19, 2011 at 07:32:57
I would remove the label and set it to not Active. You can delete it later once everything is working. Once deleted it will become unallocated. Whether it's worth recapturing the space depends on its actual size.

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#6
May 19, 2011 at 08:04:02
Sorry for the question, but how do I remove the label and not make it active? I checked under disk management and I do not see that option.

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#7
May 19, 2011 at 11:06:20
Using Disk Management, right-click the partition in the graphic.

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#8
May 19, 2011 at 13:43:41
When I right-click the partition E the only options I have are OPEN, EXPLORE, CHANGE DRIVE LETTERS AND PATH, FORMAT, DELETE PARTITION, PROPERTIES, AND HELP. MARK PARTITION AS ACTIVE is grayed out.

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#9
May 19, 2011 at 15:15:18
If you are concerned about your data then use Linux Live CD (I use Puppy Linux) created on another computer. You have to use "burn an image" feature to produce the CD, then set the CD on the dud computer ahead of the C drive. You boot with the CD in the drive and it will load and work only between the CD and RAM.

You can then browse the HD and get your personal files onto a flash drive by using drag and drop (assuming it is still readable). Note that everything is single click in Linux.

Please come back and let us know the outcome.


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#10
May 19, 2011 at 15:56:26
Derek, I am concerned about my data. I used Filestore Professional to recover a good amount of my data though some is missing or unreadable for some reason. A Linux Live CD - would that guarantee me getting all my data back or duplicate the efforts of other File Restore programs?

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#11
May 19, 2011 at 16:24:01
If Make Active is grayed then that partition is already active. You need to make the XP partition Active.

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#12
May 19, 2011 at 16:33:53
I can't guarantee anything but it can do no harm (unless you deliberately delete or change something on the HD while using it). On a working computer it allows you see files in their normal readable form, so it depends if they are visible. Seems worth trying, to see if it can save a bit more of your own stuff onto a flash drive.

When you take out the CD and boot you will be exactly back to where you are now.

Please come back and let us know the outcome.


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#13
May 19, 2011 at 20:03:36
@paul1149 - OK, I will mark the second large partition on the 2TB as active, the small partition as Inactive, or will tha be done automaticallt? Can there be 2 active partitions on a physcial HD? I assume I will then have to boot up on the 2TB?

@Derek - OK, will look into burning that CD. I can do that from my PC since I have my original HD running as C:, the defunct 2TB HD as a slave drive.

BTW - is there no way to e.g. go through a restore process on the 2TB? It crashed on May 10, could I go back and do an earlier system restore? Would it have to be the actual C drive to do that or could I do that on a slave drive as well?


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#14
May 19, 2011 at 21:14:32
If you can access the defunct drive as a slave then you will be no better off using Puppy to access it - sorry I hadn't read this post carefully enough. It might be handy item to have to hand for some future situation but that's all.

For restore you must have the same situation as before. It is OK to have a missing second drive, as it will just say it can't restore that particular drive. Restore goes with the system files and registry on a particular C drive disk. So the short answer is no.

Please come back and let us know the outcome.


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#15
May 20, 2011 at 13:35:20
@Paul1149 - I marked the other partition on my 2TB as the active one. Restart, F11, chose the 2TB, Error message is "NTLDR is missing, Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart." ?

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#16
May 20, 2011 at 15:44:09
As I said, you'll now have to go through the Recovery Console routines. Please reread this thread.

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#17
May 20, 2011 at 19:11:38
paul1149 - sorry, yes. Run the recovery console off the XP disk. Will try that You also mentioned repair install - do you mean run the repair function off the disk or a new clean installation?

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#18
May 23, 2011 at 14:05:19
@paul1149 - I tried to go through the recovery console. On this screen http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixth... all I get is a C: prompt, no No.1, no Windows. I am also not sure what commands I need to get my HD to boot again. Any ideas?

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#19
May 23, 2011 at 20:52:25
I'm not sure why it doesn't see the existing install, unless the aborted overwrite really wiped it out. It might help to install the drive as the C drive before running the console.

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#20
May 23, 2011 at 21:03:28
Hi, I did, at least I changed the cables that were attached to my HD.

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