Problems booting Vista!!

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Problems booting Vista!!
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Jim Hillier
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May 15, 2010 - 7:33 pm
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Hi All - Hope someone can help with with this problem. Just as a preface; this is my wife's computer which she uses just to pay bills and exchange emails....not much else. So I knew the chances of any malware infections were very slim:

My wife's HP desktop computer (running Vista) was soooo slow it was taking forever just to navigate around. I noticed that the hard drive busy light was on continuously....mostly solid and just flickering every now and then. Monitored the HDD busy light for around 15 minutes and it was still glowing busy; we rarely switch our machines off and just let them go to sleep so first thing I did was reboot. Windows would not load.

I got a message to 'Repair' or 'Start Windows normally'. Selected the 'Repair' option and got a BSOD message. So, tried booting again, no go...Windows would not load. At this stage I am thinking software issue so I used Acronis boot disk to restore an image I had created just a few weeks back.

After restoring the image, Windows seems to boot OK but keeps re-booting itself after about 30 second (before the OS has fully loaded). Just clicks off and starts over in a never ending cycle.

So now I am thinking hardware. Don't think it is a RAM issue because that normally reflects in graphics (or lack of). Could be wrong about that of course...often am! The machine is around 2 and a half years old....could this be a symptom of impending hard drive failure?

Any other suggestions/ideas most welcome.

UPDATE: The 'Repair' option (at startup) has now completed OK but still no change. Also, CHKDSK ran (all by itself...clever little thing) and still no change. I have also disconnected all peripheral devices....still no change.
TIA......Jim

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Chad Johnson
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May 16, 2010 - 1:10 pm
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Step 1) Format C: /y
Step 2) Install Linux.

Seriously though. You mention the blue screen you were getting but not the error code of the blue screen, which may or may not be an indication of what's going on.
From the description the first place I would think would be the HDD. Chkdsk didn't find anything, which is good, but the next step would be to do a physical sector scan (I'm not sure the command in Vista).

If a computer won't finish booting, there are usually three or four suspects:
1) HDD - if the hard drive can't access all sectors, then you'll get strange errors.
2) Power Supply - If the PS overheats or has irregular voltage, the MB will shut down to prevent damage (assuming your computer was manufactured in the last ten years)
3) Software - If Windows has been corrupted, it won't boot (obviously). I think you ruled this out with your restore.

To test the P/S issue spin up a live CD and boot from the CD (using RAM). If this is successful, your power supply is fine. From the live CD, you can do a thorough scan of the HD and determine if it has any errors.

EDIT: --Oh!! If you have a spare hard drive sitting around, throw it in and install Windows from scratch and see if the problems follow the fresh install. Could be enlightening.

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Mindblower
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May 16, 2010 - 3:08 pm
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Not so fast with the thinking. First the image you stored might be defective. Next, you say you keep the computer on 24/7. Is this done connected to internet? What protection software are you using - and when does it run it's checks (might explain why light is on). You just mentioned it's an old HP. No added details of size, speed, how full, etc.

From what I see, you're jumping too quickly without following any protocol, and you might have more than one problem right now (that's before you read this post - since each action you take has spin offs).

If you can add another copy of Windows, this would be best (providing you can then finish booting). Save any data, check if possible it is good data, and then the Ziggie fix makes sense (replace Linux with Vista though), Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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Jim Hillier
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May 16, 2010 - 7:15 pm
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Thanks for the replies fellers:

I think I may have now isolated the problem. The machine was connected to the internet wirelessly via USB receiver which was plugged in the back of the tower. I had originally left that in place, not even thinking that could possibly be the problem (it is just 6 months old). Anyway, after removing that, the machine seems to be back to normal. I'm taking the device into town this morning to get it checked out.

Isn't it Murphy's law; I disconnected every piece of peripheral hardware and it turns out to be the very last one!!

[b:2sauwou3]Ziggie [/b:2sauwou3]- Proved the P/S was fine when I booted the Acronis disc. Yep, proved it wasn't a software issue by restoring the image and retaining the exact same problem. So, I was definitely with you...most likely suspect, HDD.

[quote:2sauwou3]but the next step would be to do a physical sector scan (I'm not sure the command in Vista).[/quote:2sauwou3]
Couldn't have done that mate without diagnostic software on some sort on bootable media, the machine would only stay on for about 30 seconds.

[b:2sauwou3]Mindblower[/b:2sauwou3] - [i:2sauwou3][b:2sauwou3]Old[/b:2sauwou3][/i:2sauwou3] HP?????? Not quite mate...it's 2 and a half years old. It's still got a long way to go to catch up to me!
[quote:2sauwou3]you're jumping too quickly without following any protocol[/quote:2sauwou3]
LOL. Good one!!

Most of what was happening was being dictated by the behaviour of the machine, not me. The reboots (after load fails) were automatically cycling through 'Repair' and 'CHDSK' options, I had no control over that. Besides that, I thought I followed the protocol pretty well:

At first I thought it would most likely be a software issue. Malware was highly unlikely because of my lovely Wife's surfing habits and I couldn't get the machine to stay on long enough to check that anyway....so:

Restored a full system image which, if made no difference, would rule out software as the culprit. Retained the exact same problem so began checking for as many hardware issues as was possible.....sounds about right to me.

Anyway, thanks again guys. I'll get back to you with the verdict on that rotten little USB receiver as soon as I know myself.

Cheers....Jim

[b:2sauwou3]UPDATE[/b:2sauwou3]: Back from in town and the USB receiver was tested and proven to be quite OK. However, my mate at the computer shop gave me a couple of ideas, one of which turned out to be gold:

We live near the beach and there is, naturally, a high concentration of salt in the air...this is very hard on computers (and everything else, for that matter). Anyway, my mate suggested some of the USB ports could be affected by corrosion. Sure enough, after trying 3 I finally found one which did not throw up these problems with the USB device connected and.....all good now!! BTW: I had tried the USB device in several different ports previously....just happened to pick the wrong ones!!

Thanks again....Jim

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Chad Johnson
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May 17, 2010 - 10:03 am
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That settles it then Jim. You're going to have to move away from the beach. Indiana is nice...

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Jim Hillier
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May 17, 2010 - 4:21 pm
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That settles it then Jim. You're going to have to move away from the beach. Indiana is nice...[/quote:ldhgvi3l]

LOL.

Ziggie - This USB device is not working properly in so many of the ports...on reflection is seems rather unlikely that each one of them could be affected. Is there something on the motherboard, a connection, which would be common to them all??

I'm thinking it is more likely that something common to USB on the motherboard is affected by corrosion than all the individual ports?

Bundaberg is also the dustiest place we have ever lived and the dust is of the volcanic variety. Just about every computer here is affected and it's generally the RAM which plays up most. After about 3 years the machine will begin to exhibit strange behaviour, generally affecting the graphic display. Or there will be no display at all. The usual cure is to remove the RAM, use a can of compressed air to blow out the RAM slots (on the mobo) then clean the contacts on the RAM strips and put them back. I come across heaps of them....did another one just the other day.

If you live near the beach, as we do, you have the double whammy of the dust plus salt air.....the poor old computers don't stand much of a chance.

Cheers mate....Jim

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Chad Johnson
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May 18, 2010 - 8:32 am
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Ziggie - This USB device is not working properly in so many of the ports...on reflection is seems rather unlikely that each one of them could be affected. Is there something on the motherboard, a connection, which would be common to them all??

I'm thinking it is more likely that something common to USB on the motherboard is affected by corrosion than all the individual ports?
[/quote:afyfcvrx]

Are these ports on the back of the machine? If so, they'll most likely be directly attached to the motherboard. The ports up front will be connected by wire and plugged into the Motherboard -- and that connection could very well get corroded by ocean air. Have you tried something else in the affected ports? (a mouse perhaps, or keyboard).

And as for the volcanic dust / sea air combination -- all the more reason to get the heck out of dodge.

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Jim Hillier
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May 18, 2010 - 6:56 pm
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Hey Zig - Typical configuration - 2 USB ports in front and 4 in back. I tried a USB mouse in all the ports and had zero problems. It only seems to happen with that receiver device. Yet my mate at the computer shop tried it in two machines and had no problems at all......very weird!!

Anyway the device seems to be cooperating where it is currently connected, no issues for 2 full days now so.....fingers crossed.

Thanks mate.....Jim

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Chad Johnson
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May 18, 2010 - 7:48 pm
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How...odd.

Out of curiosity did it finally end up working on the front or on the back?

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Jim Hillier
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May 18, 2010 - 8:14 pm
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Only in the back...would not work in either front ports. I'd had a printer permanently connected to one of the back USB ports so I unplugged the printer cable and plugged the receiver device into that port and that's the one which seems to be working fine. Plugged the printer into a different port and that is also working fine.....like I said, very weird!!

Cheers mate...Jim

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