Let's get to it, then:
I have a Dell XPS 630i.
The problems began when one day (August....19th, I believe?) when I got a BSOD. I figured "Okay, I'll reboot and see if it persists." If I remember correctly, here I was poking around the program WinPatrol, and I think I may have accidentally deleted something I should have. I believe it was in the Hidden Files section (which I definitely
shouldn't have poked around in)....
Alas, just as I begin to search on the internet for Dell drivers, I get another BSOD. "Here we go again...."
and after the Dell load screen, I am greeted with a glorious black screen of death, with only a cursor, no error message.
I tried using another computer to search the internet far & wide to figure out what to do here.
I know I needed the Windows XP disc, so I got that.
I tried everything I could find:
-repairing the startup
-Making a bootable flash drive
Each of these did not help.
I could not try fixmbr, however. I was afraid, because of a rootkit virus I had a while back (that the lovely folks here helped me very greatly with).
I believe it was after I tried using the flash drive to boot, instead of a blank screen, I received at least a hal.dll error message. Saying the file was "missing or corrupt", and therefore Windows couldn't start.
So I got around to installing a second WINDOWS on my hard drive (I have a feeling this could definitely be leading to some kind of issues) to try and access the file from the original WINDOWS. I figured I could copy simply the hal.dll file from the fresh installation to the old (I could access the WINDOWS files from WINDOWS2), but it was not that easy.
Finally, I'd stumbled across a website that seemed like it had fairly-understandable and not incredibly difficult to follow instructions on how to get to System Restore. The site was here.
Little did I know, it had substantial errors in Recovery Console grammar, so I tried going around a few steps, and it worked.
The article says to make files of the C:\WINDOWS\system32\config folder to a Temporary folder, in case something goes wrong.
The 'copy' and 'delete' functions would not work for me, so I hoped for the best and skipped that step.
I also skipped the next step, because (despite those commands not working either), I didn't need to get into that installation of Windows - I had the 2nd one I just made. So I used the 2nd Windows to find the Snapshot folder of a System Restore point (from the primary WINDOWS) from before the incident occurred. I took these system files, and copied them into the Temporary folder we had to make in the beginning of this process.
So I went into the Recovery Console to copy the files from that Tmp folder to a folder in the core of the WINDOWS installation (I don't know why I didn't realize I could do this from Windows, like I'd just done the other. :|
Another interesting note needs to be brought up here, as well:
ONLY this time using the Recovery Console, I was asked for an Administrator password after selecting which of the two WINDOWS installs I'd like to use the Recovery Console for. I am the only user of my computer, and the Administrator. I thought this was odd, because every other time (of the innumerable) I used the Recovery Console for this problem, I was not asked for an Administrator password. Stranger YET, no password was suffice. Not the one to log-in to my profile on the computer, not an old password, and not even just hitting the Enter key.
After becoming incredibly frustrated, I wondered what would have happened if I went to the WINDOWS2 installation, and used the 'cd' command to the change the directory to the standard WINDOWS. For some miraculous reason, it worked. I copied the files into the system root, and upon reboot, alas, FINALLY, I could boot safely back into my regular WINDOWS!!
The only problem from here on was that I was still receiving some BSOD's. The ONLY thing I could have attributed them to was my ATI video drivers. These were a real hassle to try and update: I'd updated them before, I didn't think it would be difficult to do it again. I'm not sure why, but during the install I kept receiving a timed-out error, and the driver was not installed. After multiple tries, for some reason it finally worked.
And this brings me to the problem I have now.
I noticed that I was no longer receiving BSOD's. I figured it was safe to try a task that would take a small amount of time to complete, so I went to put in an audio disc to import in iTunes. The computer froze. I looked on the internet to try and find any solutions for why my iTunes or computer would do this to me. I found one poster that had recommended to uninstall iTunes and the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. And so I did. After I got iTunes to install again, I tried to load another disc. And it froze yet again.
And that is how I got where I am now.
I'm terribly sorry this information is as sporadic and random as it is. It's been a terribly exhausting, up-all-night demeanor for the past week or two. :/