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Ed

Need computer help!

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My computer at home crashed! Can someone give me some guidance?

When I start it up it gives me an error message saying that Windows did not start up properly. It gives me different options: Start up in Safe Mode, Start up using the last known configuration that worked, and start up normally. None of these options work, I did get a message saying that a file was missing or damaged: "<windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe"

So I got my Windows XP disk and tried to reboot via disk. It then gave me two options, one I had to push "R" (sorry I can't remember what for) which eventually led me to a C:\ prompt. The second option was to reinstall Windows XP. It told me it had to format a partition to be able to reinstall.

What do I do? If I format will I loose all the data on my hard drive? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Ed

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well im no wiz with computers.... but i know a little. You most likely got a virus of some sort... maybe a worm, and it destroyed an important .exe file. If u can get ur computer to start up and go to the start menu, try running some anti virus software if u have any... preferabley norton anti virus. If u cant work around this problem and cant fix it. You may have to do a system restore if u have the restore disks, often they can be found on the internet tho. Try also running AD-aware SE or 6.0. good luck! ill keep checkin back to see whats happening

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Well, if you can find someone running the same version of XP with the same service pack installed, you might be able to copy the NT kernel from them, and using that DOS prompt, insert it into your system32 directory.

This isn't neccesarily virus or ad-ware related. It used to be fairly common to walk into major retail stores and find PCs that were crashed out with the same (or similar, depending on software release) condition.

Most common cause - Windows terminated unexpectedly...power outage, kernel panic, system fault...or act of God. The OS didn't shut down properly and the kernel was corrupted.

Second most common cause - Hard disk failure...or impending hard disk failure. Drives don't often fail all at once...they usually start to produce read or write errors as time goes on. This is even more true now that PCs run at higher temps and may not be properly ventilated.

Other possibilities - As Zman said...virus, or some other malware. Most virii prefer to cause problems with a working system, as it's more satisfying for most virus authors. Ad-ware would not do anything that could take down a system because, without a functioning PC and internet connection, how could they make money?

My copy of ntoskrnl.exe is 1.9mb...too big for a floppy. If you can get it from someone, it'll need to be on CD.

However, a full restore might be required. In order to keep your existing data, take the hard disk out of your PC and install it in someone else's PC. Hopefully, they have enough drive space to copy all the information from your disk to thiers...after that's done, you can wipe your drive, reinstall, and then either swap the drives again or copy the files back using a LAN.

EDIT: OR you can do it Steve's way...but where's the adventure in that?

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Ed,

If you can get the computer into "Safe Mode" then you can do a "System Restore" to a previous state. Do you have any friends that have a Win XP system? You could take your hard drive out and install it as a slave in their computer. You could then save files to CD's or some other format. Then do a clean install on your drive (in your computer) and then put the saved files back on the drive. It sounds like you may have a hard drive failure. It does happen for almost no reason some times.

Is it a desktop or laptop? Laptop hard drives can be slaved into a desktop but you'd need an adapter.

Don't hesitate to ask more questions and give us some more info.

Chris A.

Whoa, Kelly types fast, his info is spot on. As is everyone else's so far.

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I run into this problem a lot at work...

More than likely even if you replace that file, it won't boot up anyways.

Your best option is to reinstall Windows XP over itself...this would reset all Windows XP options, but leave all programs and data files intact.

You would have to reinstall all Service Packs and critical updates as well, but you'd keep your files and programs working.

1. Boot from your Windows OS disc...

2. press enter to setup Windows XP

3. I think press F8 to accept license agreement

4. Make sure your XP is highlighted, and press R to repair Windows XP

5. You'll have to re-activate your copy via Microsoft and install all updates including service packs.

PM me if you have any problems Ed. There are ways to fix if you want to spend a LOT of time on it--but it isn't as easy as replacing that file.

More than likely you have a bad sector (or bad block)....when you reinstall it will skip that file.

You could also try recovery console and type c:\chkdsk /f /r at the prompt to scan the partition for errors, but doubtful this will help.

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Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Steve, I went to your link and the symptoms were spot on. Only bad thing is the fix didn't work.

ChrisA, It won't go to safemode. Also it's a desktop.

Once I get to the Recover console.

C:\

It won't change directory to windows, or system or anything, it responds: The path or file specified is not valid.

When I type DIR it responds:

An error occured during directory enumaration.

I typed CHKDSK

It got to 26% completed, then it responded:

The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems.

I borrowed a windows XP disk from a friend. To reinstall the entire OS it told me that it had to format a partition. Will I loose any files or data if I do this?

Thanks again guys.

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Ed,

If you format, everything that is on the harddrive will be gone...

It sounds like the drive is going bad.

In the mean time, I would remove the current drive, get a new drive, install it and set up windows on it to get you back up and running.

Most new drives come with utilities that allow you to copy the contents of your old drive to the new drive-from the sound of it, you will have lost some data, but the copy process will not change the contents of the original drive, meaning you could also try some of the hard drive recovery utilities as time permits.

WIll

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Ed, I believe you were on the right track when you got to the point where you press "R".

Here's what I suggest (if the machine will let you):

You first need the machine to boot from the CD. Change that setting in the BIOS.

Insert your Windows XP compact disc (CD) into your CD drive, and then restart your computer.

(You can also boot with a Windows 98/Me Startup disk with CD support and run WINNT.EXE in the I386 folder on the CD)

When the "Press any key to boot from CD" message is displayed on your screen, press a key to start your computer from the Windows XP CD.

When you see the following message displayed on the Welcome to Setup screen, press ENTER:

To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER.

At this point an option to press R to enter the Recovery Console is displayed. Do not select this option.

On the Windows XP Licensing Agreement screen, press F8 to agree to the license agreement.

Make sure that your current installation of Windows XP is selected in the box, and then press the R key to repair Windows XP. You shouldnt lose any files.

Follow the instructions on the screen to complete Setup

Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

Chris A.

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Do you happen to know what kind of hard drive it is? (I.E. - Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor) Find out what kind of hard drive it is and you can download a diagnostic disk on a friends computer. Run the diagnostic disk on the hard drive and it will confirm the errors on the hard drive. (Most of them are self booting, so you can run it without the OS being up and running) More than likely it will tell you that you have some bad sectors...etc...etc. If you format the hard drive you "Will lose all data on the drive". Nowdays hard drives are pretty cheap...you may want to spring for a new hard drive in the mean time, keep the other one around until you get the new one loaded with the OS and see what you can recover from the old drive. Sort of a "Best of both worlds" type of thing. Let me know if you need more info...etc...etc

webdawg1

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As Andy Griffith once said, "Call the man Aunt Bea". Take your computer to local repair guru and have them copy what they can from your c drive on a disk(s). At least that way you will have most of your files left on something somewhere. My hard drive did the same and I must admit I am not as good as the guys here with debugging these things, so I was scared I would perform the wrong function and wipe the whole thing clean

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As Andy Griffith once said, "Call the man Aunt Bea". Take your computer to local repair guru and have them copy what they can from your c drive on a disk(s). At least that way you will have most of your files left on something somewhere. My hard drive did the same and I must admit I am not as good as the guys here with debugging these things, so I was scared I would perform the wrong function and wipe the whole thing clean

I hear ya. Pulling the hard drive and borrowing another or loading onto another computer sounds easy enough and I'm sure it is for you guys that have done this. But, I'd rather adjust my valves blindfolded then take my CPU apart. Don't get me wrong guys, I really appreciate your help and I was hoping for an easy fix. But it's not looking that way.

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I talked to a local computer guru and he also confirmed that my hard drive bit the dust. He said if I can't pull up the DIR from the C:\ then the hard drive is probably bad.

Now I have two options. I can take my computer to a shop here in town and they can fiddle with it for a couple of weeks. Or... I can go over to Wally World buy a new internal hard drive for 90 bucks and try to do it myself. Hmmm?? How hard can it be?

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If the drive really is toast, there's no sense in handing it over to some people that will charge you for no reason.

A new drive fresh from the box will be auto identified by your BIOS, providing the computer was made sometime within the last 15 years. Since you were running XP, that sounds like a non-issue.

Now, do you actually HAVE the XP cd, or did your PC just come with a "system restore" cd? A lot of manufacturers actually keep all the windows files on the hard disk in a maintenence partition. If the hard drive dies, so does your copy of Windows. If that's the case, you can get ahold of a cd from someone near you. I figure you legitimately paid for it, I see no reason why you shouldn't have an honest to god copy.

Just make sure that the jumpers on the back of the drive are set to either MASTER or CABLE SELECT and the PC should do the rest, initially. Once you get everything going, you may need to visit your manufacturer's website for drivers.

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Ed,

If you can get gas in a rental car with a locking gas cap, you can do this!

The drive will come with complete instructions, and I will give you my cell# is you happen to have problems.

Will

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Also Ed, they can get the files off what is left of the hard drive. They have some sort of magic spell they perform on the thing. My computer would barely boot and when it did it was the ugliest screen and noise you had ever heard/seen. I was totally bummed about all of my work files but they got them back, so don't toss it!!! Good luck...OH,,Hey Will, how's it shakin

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It's really not that hard.... When loading up the OS (Operating System) all you really need is the CD key off your XP CD. XP should pick up 98-99% (Perhaps 100%) of all your devices in your computer. You might have to download a driver for one or two devices, but other than that it pretty much painless. You've got more than enough help from all us gear heads to walk you through the process.....

webdawg1

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I talked to a local computer guru and he also confirmed that my hard drive bit the dust. He said if I can't pull up the DIR from the C:\ then the hard drive is probably bad.

Now I have two options. I can take my computer to a shop here in town and they can fiddle with it for a couple of weeks. Or... I can go over to Wally World buy a new internal hard drive for 90 bucks and try to do it myself. Hmmm?? How hard can it be?

That's not really true. What does the he mean by bad? It sounds like software to me not hardware and hence there drive is not 'bad'. I've fixed that same problem on my wife's computer w/o losing her info. If you lived closer, I bet I could fix yours. Are you using an XP cd while trying to run the system restore?

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I cannot help but weigh in on this thread. I am a Desktop Support Engineer (Computer Geek) at a large dot com that survived the crash. If you work on cars you can work on computers. The best path is to purchase a 2nd hard drive.

I started to right up instructions but it would be easyer to speak with you. So now you have 2 of us that you can call. I will send you via PM my cell phone #

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I had a similar problem losing a hard drive and the Geek Squad at Best Buy recovered everything off my old HD and installed me a new one for me.

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As Andy Griffith once said, "Call the man Aunt Bea". Take your computer to local repair guru and have them copy what they can from your c drive on a disk(s). At least that way you will have most of your files left on something somewhere. My hard drive did the same and I must admit I am not as good as the guys here with debugging these things, so I was scared I would perform the wrong function and wipe the whole thing clean
I love that episode!

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That's not really true. What does the he mean by bad? It sounds like software to me not hardware and hence there drive is not 'bad'. I've fixed that same problem on my wife's computer w/o losing her info. If you lived closer, I bet I could fix yours. Are you using an XP cd while trying to run the system restore?

Steve, I have the XP cd in the cd drive when It starts up. Then when I get to the system restore screen with the C:\ promt I will put in a command and it won't execute. I've tried to bring up a dir and it tells me that "An error occurred during directory enumeration".

It won't let me change directory either.

To all you other guys, thanks for the input. I really appreciate it. I believe I will go over to Wally world and pick up a new internal hard drive. If I can recover some of my files that would be great. And you guys make it sound like it's really easy so, I'm going to give it a shot.

Owenk, I got your PM.

Thanks guys.

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ED---

No matter what anyone says, I would highly recommend you at least test your hard drive--this problem for me has occurred on drives that are perfectly good and it's not an indication of a defective hard drive. The OS has a problem, more than likely a file is on a bad block. A bad block is NOT an indication of a bad hard drive. It's like a 'scratch' on a record. Many utilities such as checkdisk or scandisk check for bad blocks--they don't fix them literally, but they do make sure that the OS IGNORES them and doesn't use them to put data there. As long as data isn't put there, you're fine. A good hard drive may have many bad blocks. Brand new hard drives could have many bad blocks as well--it's not a measure of a good or bad drive.

And more than likely, if recovery console had worked, and you were able to put that file back that it was saying was corrupted, it would list another file on next boot up, and so on....

I'd recommend--testing the hard drive with some drive testing software, and if it's good, install Windows XP over itself.

Somebody recommending a new hard drive right off the bat is the 'service technician disease' IMO...most techs in a service company have to work quick, and to say 'just buy a new hard drive' is a quick way to fix the problem. It fixes it, but it isn't the most effecient fix for the consumer, and isn't necessary. It could be that you need a new hard drive, but more than likely you have a bad block with this data on it, nothing more. if OS reinstalls itself, it always does a checkdisk on the drive when installing the OS and will ignore the area with the bad block and not write data to it.

phew...enough writing!

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Go to this link:

http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT

Follow the instructions, although it is a Hitachi test, it will check ALL hard drives that are IDE, SATA, and SCSI (most scsi).

If the hard drive is an IBM or Hitachi drive, and it finds bad blocks, it will ask you if you want them repaired--say yes.

Bad blacks on a non IBM/Hitachi drive--you have to somehow run checkdisk on the drive to fix it.

To run checkdisk Ed:

1. slave drive into another system

2. Boot your desktop with Windows PE (a bootable version of Windows XP)

At command prompt type c:\chkdsk /f /r (both switches seem to do the same thing but I always just use both, which are for fixing)...for explanation of switches just type c:\chkdsk /? and press enter will explain what /f and /r mean.

Hope this stuff helps man.

PM me if you would like more personal help--and leave your phone # if need be and I'll call you.

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Dave,

Have you rebuilt a starter or replaced it? Most testing that is performed on them really does not go past replaceable and inexpensive brushes, but...the labor involved means most of them get replaced not repaired.

While I will agree a bad block by its self is not necessarily an indication that a hard drive is going bad, the growth in numbers of bad blocks is. A growing number of bad blocks in absolutley indicative of read failure in a drive be it due to changing head geometry, or failing media..

Ed is in an area he is not familiar with. Yes, he could download the right set of utilities from the existing drives manufacturers web site and properly test the drive, but EVERY manufacturer states that the only true test of a drives health is made by destructive data testing-that is NONE of them will authorize a warranty replacement for a drive with symptoms like EDS without the drive failing to reformat. With this test he looses all data, and the ability to recover it...in Eds situation, this is not a good answer. There is a chance the drive is not actually going bad, but if the drive will not pull a directory, then the file allocation table has been corrupted meaning that the drive no longer is sure of what it contains, or how it is organized. More often than not, this is a precursor to drive failure. While Ed has not reported that he is getting a "Bad CRC" error, the odds are that is where his drive is heading. If It was my drive, I would replace the drive, and use the utilities that came with a new drive to attemt to copy the contents of the old drive, then thoroughly test the old drive, but I have been servicing drives since before the controllers were addressable with "debug G=C800:5", when the tools I used most were a soldering iron and an oscillascope, and when replacing a board was never a cost effective repair. For the cost of a new drive, he could save some of his data which does seem to be important to him. If the data and time was not important, the testing would be a viable option.

It all comes down to the most economical repair, do you spend a time testing and hoping the drive will pass and continue to function, or do you spend a little less time for a sure thing? Depends on value of the data, the labor rate, and the cost of a drive.

Will

BTW you said:

"Somebody recommending a new hard drive right off the bat is the 'service technician disease' IMO...most techs in a service company have to work quick, and to say 'just buy a new hard drive' is a quick way to fix the problem. It fixes it, but it isn't the most effecient fix for the consumer, and isn't necessary."

I will be happy for you to pay me for the time that would be spent doing this testing and not replace the hard drive, I would get a great deal more of your money (and you would have a much higher bill) than I would by simply replacing the drive.

Funny thing about that "technicinan disease", it saves customers money even if the drive tests good(a replcement drive costs less than the time it would take an onsite technician to sit through a test) Let's not forget Eds time is worth money too, and he has a learning curve as well.

In addition the utility you link will not test drives which are linked to a raid controller, or in some systems that require drivers for the controller-so they may or may not work on a particular system though they will work on every drive under specific conditions.

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