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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Windows XP Pro no longer boots up. I'm on a Dell Inspiron 600m; Win XP Pro; everything is regularly updated. I'm running zone alarm and AVG and I'm behind a router.

The laptop is over 4 years old; its original hard drive died less than year ago and I installed my OEM XP on the replacement drive. Everything's worked fine since.

Yesterday, the computer started hanging immediately after running through the POST (I think that's what MS calls the quick self-test that the laptop does - it shows a Dell splash screen, but doesn't make it to the XP startup screen).

I can boot up from the XP reinstallation CD and get to the recovery console. From there, I can still see the directories on my c:\ drive (my unpartitioned hard drive), so the drive is hopefully not completely hosed. On the other hand, when I booted up Ubuntu from a CD, it couldn't find the hard drive (I'm a complete Linux novice).

Anyway, from the XP recovery console, I've run
- chkdsk /p /r
- fixmbr and fixboot (might have been a mistake to try that)

Separately, I've also chosen the option "To repair the selected Windows XP installation, press R" but the repair didn't work (can't remember what messages I got, but I've tried it twice without success).

When I instead choose the option to reinstall windows, I get a message telling me about my partitions (there's only 1 -- the c: drive [NTFS] with no unpartitioned space). I know I don't want to delete that partition (my understanding is all data will be wiped out); I can't create a new partition since there's no unpartitioned space; so that leaves "To set up Windows XP on the selected item, press enter."

Doing so gives me a warning: "You chose to install Windows XP on a partition that contains another operating system." From reading the reinstall xp sticky here, and whatever else I can find elsewhere, it looks like if I proceed, I might have two copies of XP on my c: drive which might cause problems.

I back up my files pretty regularly - if I can just pull a couple of very recent files off the hard drive, I'll be satisfied; if I can get everything working again, I'll be happy.

Suggestions?

One last thing -- I think that the last thing that I did when the laptop worked was pull a USB stick out of computer just after switching it on (yeah, I know that that's dumb - I just wasn't thinking). When I first got the laptop years ago, I'm pretty sure windows prompted me to save some kind of file related to the xp logon password onto the USB stick. No idea if that caused these problems, but I haven't done anything else weird to the computer.

Sorry for the length and thanks in advance.
 

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Have you checked the boot sequence in the BIOS? It's possible that your CMOS battery has died and you are losing your bios settings. If your hard drive is no longer in the sequence the computer will not boot, but you should get some kind of message instead of just hanging. However, checking it is easy and it might just be the cause.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, but I'm not sure I know what you mean. Is the boot sequence the order that the computer searches for the OS?

If so, the boot order is set up as:
-Internal Hard Drive
-CD/DVD Drive
-USB Storage Device

As far as I know, it's still searching the HD first, and I'm pretty sure that I've forced that first option as well.
 

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Yes, and it does look ok although most people will set the CD ROM drive first for those times when you need to boot from disc even if your HD is good.
Well,that's not the problem....
 

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Have you tried Windows XP Live? Or Damn small linux or something from small linux OS? I have had many problems with Ubuntu... so you should try booting up with Some of the Live CD's to save your files elsewhere.
 

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This is a long shot, but worth a try:
First, if any external USB devices are connected, disconnect them.
Remove the USB device from the boot sequence and try to boot.

I'm suggesting this because my desktop at times will not boot with an external hard drive connected and turned on while I'm booting up. I don't know why this happens but as long as I don't turn it on until after I boot I'm fine, and my boot sequence also lists a USB device last.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Have you tried Windows XP Live? Or Damn small linux or something from small linux OS? I have had many problems with Ubuntu... so you should try booting up with Some of the Live CD's to save your files elsewhere.
Thanks - I'll see if another OS will at least give me access to my files.

This is a long shot, but worth a try:
First, if any external USB devices are connected, disconnect them.
Remove the USB device from the boot sequence and try to boot.

I'm suggesting this because my desktop at times will not boot with an external hard drive connected and turned on while I'm booting up. I don't know why this happens but as long as I don't turn it on until after I boot I'm fine, and my boot sequence also lists a USB device last.
I had similar issues when I left the USB memory stick plugged in (which is why I tried ripping it out right after I turned the computer). I just deleted the USB device option from the boot sequence, but still no go.

Once it finishes its first self test, the screen clears, I getting a blinking cursor, the disk drive stops spinning (interestingly, the fan will sometimes kick in and will sometimes speed up), and nothing else happens. I never see the XP logo. I can easily restart with ctrl-alt-delete or by powering off and on.
 
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