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Slow computer, Windows XP, can't boot in safe mode via F8


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#1 MIW22

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 08:10 AM

My computer (running Windows XP Home with Service Pack 3) has been running slowly. AVG Anti-virus (run in normal mode) does not find anything. Spybot finds RightMedia but hangs when I try fixing it (within Spybot). Ad-aware found tracking cookies which were removed.

I decided to go through the "slow computer" steps and discovered that I could not get it to start in safe mode via F8. So I next created a boot disk. I decided to test the boot disk, and it does not boot any differently with the boot disk in the A: drive. It has been a while since I booted from the A: drive, but I think something should be different when I do so. I am reluctant to use the system configuration utility to get it to boot in safe mode until I am sure that I can boot from the A: drive or the CD drive.

Advice please?

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 08:50 AM

In order to boot to the A: drive it must be listed as the first boot device in the BIOS, but you don't need that for XP
You can boot right from the CD
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#3 MIW22

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 09:50 AM

I have the original Windows XP recovery CD, but I've never tried it. Should that work as a boot CD for this purpose? Would it be better to create a boot CD and if so, how?

Or should I try to change the BIOS so that I can boot from the A: drive. I am not sure how to access the BIOS on this machine, it is a Micron PC.

#4 joseibarra

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 10:06 AM

If you cannot boot in Safe Mode with F8, then I think I would try to figure that out instead of trying to figure out how to boot from a floppy.

You might really "need" Safe Mode same day, so if it really doesn't work for you that is a problem. It could be a defective F8 key, malicious software thwarting attempts to remove it or something as simple as timing your tapping.

You said "I could not get it to start in safe mode via F8" - does that mean you did not get a boot menu while you were pressing F8, you got a boot menu and chose Safe Mode and it didn't work, etc.

Sometimes catching the F8 option is tricky and you can just plain miss the F8 window of opportunity, have to boot up normally and try again and maybe again. It sometimes takes some practice and since you probably don't use it that much, a skill that can grow cold. It really should work.

Being able to boot from your XP CD is also something you might have to do someday, so you should make sure that all your boot possibilities are functional.

I think I would put floppy booting way at the bottom of the priority list.

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#5 MIW22

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 02:27 PM

Sorry I wasn't more clear. I tried pressing F8 repeatedly, tried pressing it once, tried pressing and holding it, etc. and tried more than once, the boot menu never came up. Worked fine on another machine we have.

So I tried bootsafe and that worked.

#6 joseibarra

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 03:18 PM

I have the best luck with repeated and quick strokes of F8, and since it works for you on another computer, you have been introduced.

I think you would have to time it just right (with few visual cues) for one tap to work and I have never tried holding it down, but I read that it does not work in some cases.

You said "bootsafe" which is a third party program that allegedly achieves the same result as checking the /SAFEBOOT option of the boot.ini tab in MSCONFIG. Which one applies to you? Either method will need to be disabled to get back to a regular boot, but what if you just can't boot normally to manipulate the /SAFEBOOT switch?

If you have MS Word you can open a new document and in the bottom middle of the screen you should see EXT greyed out (Extended Mode). If you press F8 it should light up, press ESC to turn it off - then you will know your hardware is okay and you are either missing the F8 window or something is keeping you from it.

I don't want to belabor the point, but if I could not boot into Safe Mode with F8, I think I would be quite cranky until I figured it out!

Oh well - it appears you can now get into Safe Mode by another method to proceed with your troubleshooting, so I'll just go back to lurking...

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