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Hi. This is a really strange one. Sorry about the length, but there's a lot to digest.
WindowsXP computer with 200Gb HDD and 2 partitions and AMD3500+ and was running well. At startup one day it suddenly started to reboot once it got to the Windows logo. Safe mode etc do not work either. No warning of this coming.
I connected the hard drive to another computer, and in windows explorer I can see and read D drive but attempting to access C drive results in an error which basically says it is unreadable, so I can't scan it for virii etc. D drive is fine and readable. Question - if C is unreadable, how can windows get to the boot logo at startup when the drive is put into its "home" machine??
I used Stellar Phoenix to recover all the files from the C drive, and all were there for recovery (at this time I just did the data as a backup). So the files are there. I used Partition Table Doctor to check the boot partition and rebuild partition tables. I don't think they were bad, but doing this made no difference anyway.
I then put the drive back and tried to reinstall windows from the CD, but, while it finds C drive, it says the format is unknown and wants to reformat the drive. Again, how can this be if windows does in fact start to boot? Could someone have converted the drive to another file system??
Now the crunch. This machine had exactly the same problem 4 months ago. I couldn't fix it back then, and in the end restored a ghost image to get it going again, and it worked perfectly until now.
Does anyone have any ideas on what might be causing this before I again restore the image?
I'm almost certain the problem is not RAM or Video card - I checked that stuff to death last time. Restoring the image resulted in the machine immediately working again.
Thanks

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Last Post by gerbil
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Sometimes you just have to learn to let go. If I had a good backup of my data I would just toss the pain in the rear hard-drive and get another. Storage is cheap and you don't need the aggravation.

I have seen this problem before normaly from clients not shutting down workstations properly. IE Holding down the power button till the computer powers off. This might be ok to do once. Save yourself some grief and replace the drive now.

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while Vhex has a point, i believe you might have made things worst by doing the restore boot record while the drive was in another PC. what you should have done is use your windows cd to restore the MBR. If you are able to back up the data why not have windows format the drive.

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Thanks for the input. While I agree with both responses to date, and it would obviously be quicker to rebuild the machine, it would be nice to know what's causing the problem. Recovering the data with Stellar Pheonix takes around 40 hours. There's a lot of it. As for regular backups, I don't think the people keep any.
As for rebuilding the boot record with the winCD in the correct machine, I did that last time and it didn't work either.
Cheers and thanks again

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It is very early on in the loading that the Windows logo screen [with loading bar] is presented. BIOS has read the MBR code and transferred it into memory; that code then scans the partition table for an active partition and the code in that partition's first sector, the boot sector, is read into memory [overwriting the MBR code]. It is the boot sector that contains the particular code enabling the file structure [of the format type] in the boot partition to be read..; and it reads in ntldr. Ntldr reads boot.ini and so finds the partition where the OS is located. Basic hardware configurations are loaded and then that Windows logo is displayed. The next step is to read in kernel files and the SYSTEM reg hive to see which drivers should be loaded [if you pressed F8 and chose Safe Mode at this point a different reg key is used which specifies a reduced set of drivers].
It rather looks like ntldr is experiencing a fatal error at about this point, totally failing to load these items. Obviously the C: root file structure is intact, but it seems like the remaining file tables are being corrupted - this could explain the inability to load HAL or the drivers, or even to locate the reg hive, and also why the drive cannot be read in another sys as a slave. The MBR and boot sector are okay.
Try chkdsk repair option. If the file table is bad [you get the option to keep it during Setup] reinstalling windows may/may not overwrite data files, but even so you may not be able to read it. Drag out the files, format the C: partition and reinstall. [sorry for writing so much, it just refreshes things for me.]

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This sounds to me like the hard disk has a bad low level format, and while parts of it are working, the area with the Windows kernel is damaged to the point where the kernel will not load.

It needs a complete reformat for low and high level, and a reinstall of Windows.

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good day. please this is really making me sick.
i have this acer laptop and the keyboard is giving me trouble. If i depress the M key the windows i am working on collapses(minimizes). also when i depress the R key it brings up the 'RUN' dialog box, the P key takes the computer to standby. I have tried reinstalling windows but is still giving same problem. Someone should assist me

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good day. please this is really making me sick.
i have this acer laptop and the keyboard is giving me trouble. If i depress the M key the windows i am working on collapses(minimizes). also when i depress the R key it brings up the 'RUN' dialog box, the P key takes the computer to standby. I have tried reinstalling windows but is still giving same problem. Someone should assist me

Forum rules state !please don't hijack other persons thread ,start you own ,stating your problem, thanks,and we reply on the forum not through email so don't leave a email address

PS ,some one should assist Me.,really !

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Thanks Gerbil. I actually gave up banging my head against the wall not long before your post, so I couldn't try your suggestion. Maybe next time ......
Thanks for your input.

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Just take care with it - it aint considerate of fools. If you tell it to delete something it assumes you want it deleted. No "Are you sure" chances to back out... :)
It does very good scans for traces of old partitions and files.

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Oops, 6.9 now. Do take care with it - it is not considerate of fools. For example, if you tell it to delete something it assumes you want it deleted. No "Are you sure" chances to back out...
It does very good scans for traces of old partitions and files. The help file is still clunky - just dclick doc\testdisk.html

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