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Running Battle with booting into windows.

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#1 Lightningcount4


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 02:08 PM

So I was contracted to do some work for an insurance office. The guy told me he wanted me to wipe three computers clean and reload windows xp pro sp3 onto these machines. The machines are stock Compaq Evo D510 model computers. Two of the three machines gave me no trouble what so ever. After 6 months though, one of the machines would not boot into windows normally. It would go through a loop asking do you want safe mode blah blah blah. Eventually after about 20 attempts, the machine would boot normally. But the problems would return the next day after the computers were shut down each night.

At first I thought it might have been a virus, or a combination of a virus + the multiple AVs these people loaded onto the machine. (Btw I already told them to never install more than one AV ever again.)So I ran Rkill, TDSSkiller, Microsoft Security Essentials, Super Anti spyware, and MalwareBytes. (7 rootkits removed as well as a few things found from MSSE and MWB.) For about two weeks, this seemed to fix the problem. The computer in question booted normally every single time. Then I get another phone call, it started it up again.

So I started a three day long testing process to try and find out what is wrong. I ran everything from Memtest 86, Checkdisk in the XP install, a couple of hard drive checking programs from UBCD, and finally ran the manufacturer scanner and it found absolutely nothing wrong at all. So I am faced the the unfortunate conclusion of reformatting a business computer. So backups of important Emails and client data were made, all virus scanned, and then the computer was reformatted. The day after it was formatted, it gets the same error, but there was a bad storm the night before so I told the person to restart it while I was on the phone and it worked just fine.

For about two weeks now, off of a fresh install, the computer has been working just fine. Until today. I get the call telling me that it gave the dreaded disk read error press ctrl-alt-del to restart and bend over to kiss this hard drive good bye. The worker had to restart it about 20 times. This should not be happening at all. I went to the office and tried recreating the error myself but was unable to. It started normally every single time. I ran a fix MBR on it and it booted back into windows afterwards, but I am almost positive that it is going to mess up again tomorrow.

So far the guy has paid me over 400 to fix this machine over the course of 2 months, and now he is threatening to sue if I cant get this thing fixed asap. I am at my end here. There is no reason this machine should be acting like this.

Hard drive scans as good on several different programs.
Memtest 86 3.5 and 4.0 says ram is good.
Power supply tester shows strong connections from all the molex, 24 pin, 4 pin, and the floppy connectors.

Short of changing the IDE settings to of the optical and HDD from master to slave and slave to master on the HDD and Optical drive respectively, I dont know what to do. Has anyone encountered anything even remotely like this?

Edited by hamluis, 20 March 2012 - 02:23 PM.
Moved from XP to Internal Hardware.

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#2 Lightningcount4

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

Update: So I just received another phone call. A power outage just caused the computer to repeat the error, and they were unable to get it up and running. On a hunch, I walked the person through setting the boot order and the disk read error problem went away instantly... Now it cycled over the safe mode selection again and again.

There are no blue screens, its just the normal safe mode screen. The person selected normally, safe mode, networking, and all the other options several times while on the phone with me. Finally it booted normally into windows. The woman then shut it down on my suggestion and it booted normally into windows again. While trying to recreate the error, I had the girl physically unplug the power strip with the PC still on. It started to cycle again with the safe mode selection screen.

A wild idea, but could this be a bad or almost dead CMOS battery?

Edited by Lightningcount4, 20 March 2012 - 02:34 PM.

#3 rotor123


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:56 PM

Well, as cheap as a CMOS battery is I'd change all three computers. Those D510s are getting older so I hope you also advised them about proper backups.

I'd suggest a NAS as a minimum with mirrored drives in it. Then all three could back up to it.

You should also remind them that a Insurance office has a duty to keep customer data safe and the fact that you found all sorts of Malware means somebody is not practicing safe computing.

At a minimum I'd be running Norton internet security, and a paid malwarebytes antimalware for active protection on each computer.

You could also suggest a inexpensive computer setup they can use for non work related or work related internet. Mention do not open attachments in email.

Good luck

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