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Vista won't boot (blinking cursor after splash screen)


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#1 SiRaff

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 05:11 PM

Hi,

I'm having quite a severe problem with my laptop and I'm hoping somebody might be able to help me find a solution! My laptop won't boot - it gets past the Fujitsu Siemens splash screen and then just gives a blinking underscore in the top left corner. I have tried several things already:

Pressing F8 to try to boot to safe mode. There is a slightly longer loading time then I get the same blinking cursor and no boot menu.
Changing the boot order (putting the hard drive as the prority). No change.
Pressing F10 to access recovery options. Same symptoms as pressing F8.
Booting from my friend's recovery disk (I have either lost mine, or never made one - can't remember). Wouldn't let me use the disks on my pc.

I have a recovery partition on the hard drive but don't know how to access it. I'd really appreciate any help as it would be difficult for me to afford a new laptop right now! Also, could anyone suggest whether it's likely to be a software or hardware problem? I'm considering buying a new Vista disk or XP (might be cheaper) and using this to access the recovery partition - but not much point if the HDD is broken!

Thanks in advance for any help!

One more thing - I never installed any service packs, not sure if that makes a difference.

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#2 Allan

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 05:16 PM

What is new or different since the last time everything worked properly (ie, new hw, new sw, virus, error, etc)?

#3 SiRaff

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 05:31 PM

Last time it was working, it powered off as the battery ran out (battery life on my laptop is pretty low these days and I forgot to turn the power socket on at the wall, so it just powered off without warning). This has happened quite a few times before so is nothing new (I know it's probably not good for the machine!) - it doesn't manage to hibernate, just instant power off. I can imagine this could be a potential source of the problem - forgot to mention it in my original post!

Another couple of things worth mentioning in case they're relevant - last time it was powered up, I disabled and re-enabled the sound card in Device Manager as the sound wasn't working in a game I was playing. Seemed to work fine after this. Also, it kept making the USB connection/disconnection noises (like I was plugging in a removing a USb device, except I wasn't!). This has never happened before so could be relevant?

Finally - I installed Empire Earth 2 the other day - can't remember if there's been a successful reboot since then!

Thanks for your reply Allan :)

#4 Allan

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 05:45 PM

First thing I'd suggest you do is download the diagnostic utility from the website of your hd manufacturer, burn it to cd, boot to it and run it.

If the disk checks out, you can download the recovery console .iso, burn it to disc, boot to it and run fixboot and fixmbr to see if that helps.
http://astatalk.com/release/53132/1/XP_Recovery_Console_ISO/

#5 SiRaff

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:02 PM

Thank you Allan, this sounds like a good suggestion and I've found the diagnostic utility (it's a Western Digital hard disk and they have an iso on their website). I don't have any writable cd's to hand (could get some tomorrow but I really want to fix this now!!!) but I do have a USB stick - do you know if there's a way I could put the iso (or zip) onto the USB stick and make it boot from that instead?

Thanks!

#6 SiRaff

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 01:55 PM

The Western Digital diagnostic utility is running now - I managed to write the ISO to a bootable USB using UltraISO software. The only thing puzzling me is that the link you provided is to the XP recovery console, but will this work for my Vista machine? I'm currently downloading the 120MB recovery disc iso from neosmart as I've read that that is supposed to help - fingers crossed!

#7 SiRaff

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 04:09 PM

Getting somewhere now, I've downloaded the vista recovery disc (as found on NeoSmart) and put it onto a bootable USB stick. I can now load the recovery options. I have tried Startup Repair, but it concludes that there isn't a problem (odd, since it tests everything including boot logs and surely these would have some record of the problem?).

System Restore is no good as my computer has no restore points (I don't know why but I've never been able to tell it to create them automatically in the past). I don't have a backup disc so the Complete PC Restore option won't be any help.

So really we're left with the Command Prompt but I really don't know which commands will help...anybody got any experience with this and might be able to help?

Btw - I ran a hard disk diagnostic utility from my HD manufacturer, and it didn't detect any problems, so I think the hardware is all okay. I'm really confident this can be fixed but just don't know how to do it via the command prompt!

Thanks so far for your help Allan!

#8 Allan

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:06 PM

Sorry about the link - forgot you're using Vista. When the system first boots have you tried tapping F12? That should take you to the recovery partition option for your system.
http://www.ehow.com/how_7342532_restore-fujitsu-laptop-factory-settings.html

#9 SiRaff

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:24 PM

F12 seems to give me boot options - I can choose to boot from CD or HD. I have a feeling recovery can be accessed from F10 or F11, but these don't seem to work! I now have the Vista recovery disc on bootable USB and can run it. Startup Repair finds nothing wrong with my system and I can access the Command Prompt. I have run chkdsk and it all comes back with no errors. I have tried using bootrec /fixboot and this doesn't work (it says that the volume does not contain a valid file system, or something like that). bootrec /fixmbr reports successful but doesn't fix the problem. bootrec /scanos and bootrec /rebuildbcd both do not work - they say that the total number of windows installations is 0!!!

I'm not sure how to proceed from here... :(

#10 Allan

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:30 PM

Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. The fact that the system is booting directly to a black screen with a cursor says it's not finding the OS. That's why I wanted you to try to rebuild the boot files and/or MBR. I'm not sure what exactly is going on, but it doesn't look good. You might want to slave the hd to another system and look at it from within the OS on that system just to see if there actually is anything on the drive.

#11 hamluis

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 06:49 PM

Typically...a black screen with blinking cursor in upper left corner...indicates an MBR problem.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

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#12 SiRaff

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:47 AM

Typically...a black screen with blinking cursor in upper left corner...indicates an MBR problem.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Louis


This sounds likely, from what I've heard here and elsewhere. Here's an update on the situation:

1) Recovery tools can see my OS located on C:. I can also see the Windows directory via command prompt and it contains files and folders (as expected!)
2) Chkdsk reported no problems BUT it couldn't write to the event log with status code 50. I don't know if this is relevant.
3) bootrec /bootmbr returns "the operation completed successfully".
4) bootrec /fixboot returns "The volume does not contain a recognized file system". This is confusing since chkdsk identified C: as being formatted with NTFS.
5) bootrec /scanos and bootrec /rebuildbcd both return "Total identified Windows installations: 0". Odd since recovery tools can see my Vista installation!
6) I have tried the instructions for completely nuking the BCD and rebuilding it from scratch, as found at http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Vista+Bootloader+from+the+DVD"
7) SFC /scannow doesn't work: it returns "Windows Resourcew Protection could not perform the requested operation." I have no idea why this is but it would be great to get this to work as it might fix the problem!

I know next to nothing about this stuff but it seems to me that there is a problem with something other than the BCD. But I have no idea what! Any ideas/suggestions would be much appreciated!

#13 Allan

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 07:52 AM

As hamluis and I have suggested, the most likely cause of your problem is that the master boot record has either become corrupt, infected, or otherwise unreadable. At this point I would slave the drive, extract all important data, and reformat and reinstall the OS. I rarely suggest a reformat, but in this case I believe it's the best option for you.

#14 SiRaff

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:40 AM

I think unfortunately you are probably right! :( I'm happy to reformat - I can recover all the files I want to keep to a USB stick - but without the Vista DVD, is there any way for me to reinstall the OS? My laptop shipped with Vista pre-installed and without any disks whatsoever. Could I install from somebody else's discs but with my product key, or download discs from the web?

#15 Allan

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 07:58 AM

If you have a valid product key then yes, it is perfectly acceptable for you to borrow a Vista disc (of the same version you have installed). Alternatively, there may be a recovery partition on your system which you can restore. You'll have to check your system documentation / web site.




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