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Error Loading Operating System

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#1 colin


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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:16 AM


I'd be grateful for anyone's thoughts on this one.

I downloaded the latest security patch from MS [the one about remote takeover of computers] installed it, restarted and then got a horrible error message - error loading operating system. Its like an old fashioned command prompt that you see in the movies - just that single line on a completely blank screen with a flashing cursor awaiting instruction.

I'm running a dell 8200, with windows XP home, service pack 2 and all other patches etc. installed. Everything was fine prior to this. What happens is that I switch on, the graphics card details flash on the screen [as normal] followed by the Dell splash screen with F2 and F12 prompts and bios version [a08] then the above blank screen. Nothing works once the above screen is reached.

From reading the web I've kind of figured out that this is a problem on the bios and that, somehow, my bios has become corrupted. One solution offered on a few sites seems to be go into bios and then change the hard drive access mode from auto to large, but i'm not sure about this and it sounds a bit scary.

Any thoughts?

My prime concern is that I have a lot of data on my hard drive [stupidly only partly backed up - I know!!!] and I'm really worried about losing it.

I should confess that I'm a bit of a newie at these things and my technical knowledge is very limited so please, phrase any replies in simple terms.


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#2 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:27 AM

My prime concern is that I have a lot of data on my hard drive [stupidly only partly backed up - I know!!!] and I'm really worried about losing it.

Rightly so, but who among us have not been caught in this situation?

Without addressing your original issue, I just want to speak to getting the data off of the hard drive. You could always remove the hard drive and install it in another computer as a 'slave' drive. The working computer should still boot up from the 'good' Master hard drive, and then you will be able to navigate (start > my computer) to the slave drive and recover your data. More info on how to install a second drive can be found HERE.

But of course, if you need help with this or any other procedure you can just ask for help here and we can explain it in more detail or refer to somewhere on the web where it will be explained more fully.

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#3 colin

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:04 AM

Thanks Albert,

Thats one option I hadn't thought of, but I must admit it sounds a bit daunting.

I'll keep it as a last resort but, if I can regain access via adjustment of the bios, the very first thing I will do is back up all my data. And once bitten twice shy - you can be sure I'll never be caught like this again.

I'd appreciate any views or comments on the bios adjustment. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

I should just add that I haven't changed the system for some time, apart from normal updates to Norton, adaware, spysweeper etc. The last prog. that I added was itunes but that was some time ago and all was well, so I don't think that it is the cause.

Oh my - that reminds me. I've got a huge non-backed up music library as well!

#4 usasma


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Posted 09 January 2006 - 11:50 AM

First, let me say that I agree completely with Albert's assessment and think that you should take immediate steps to backup your information. There's no telling what state your hard drive is in right now - and any messing with it may just make it worse. That's why the need to back it up is so pressing (I'm the "voice of experience here", having lost 3 years worth of stuff due to a hard drive crash without a backup!)

If there is a problem with your hard drive, writing any data to it at this point could actually destroy some of the data that's on the drive.

Next, I must say that without knowing the basics of this problem, it's very hard to say that enabling "Large" will fix the problem. Right now, all we know is that your system won't load the operating system. But we don't know what's causing it. Have you tried to boot from a DOS diskette to see if you can see the hard drive? What else can you tell us about your system and this problem in particular.

If you're determined to go through with this, probably the best thing to do is to reset your BIOS to default, and then try to boot it up.

Here's the instructions from DELL on how to enter your BIOS( http://support.dell.com/support/topics/glo...2573#dimension2 ):

Dimension 4200, 8100, and 8200 Systems

To enter the BIOS, CMOS, Setup, or the System Setup for the Dimension 4200, 8100, and 8200 systems, perform the following steps:

1. Restart your system.
2. At the first text on the screen, or when the Dell logo appears, press the <F2> key every three seconds until the message Entering Setup appears.

Once in the BIOS, on the bottom of the screen, there should be an option for SAFE or DEFAULT values. Select it and save the settings when you exit.

Another way to do this is to short out the CMOS jumper on the motherboard (you'll have to read your manual to locate this), or to remove the battery from the motherboard for about 30 minutes.

If this doesn't work, then you can try going back in and setting the hard drive from Auto to Large. If it causes problems - just use one of the above procedures to reset it to default values again.
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