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System won't boot. "missing or corrupt hal.dll" (recurring)


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#1 NorrinRadd

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 04:03 PM

I hope this isn't too wordy.  I'm going to be as thorough as possible.

 

 

2006 Dell desktop, Windows XP with SP3 and all subsequent MS updates that the system automatically downloads and installs.

 

System was running normally until about a month ago.  It froze, and the only choice was to reboot via the power button.  When it tried to boot, it paused and eventually coughed up the infamous "missing or corrupt hal.dll" message.  AFAIK, I had made no changes to the system; I think it may have occurred right after the latest round of updates from MS, but I'm not certain.

 

Ran a couple of different virus scanners, nothing found.

 

After Googling the error message, I tried everything listed on this page:

 

1)  Just try rebooting again.

 

2)  Verify boot order in BIOS

 

3)  Run System Restore from command prompt.  (Not possible; the error does not let me get that far.)

 

4)  Run bootcfg /rebuild from the Repair Console

 

5)  Run fixboot from the Repair Console

 

6)  Run chkdsk /r from the Repair Console  (It took a long time, it appeared to stall for a while around 70%, but ultimately it "found and repaired errors," and completed.

 

7)  Expand a clean hal.dll from the CD

 

8)  Perform a "Repair Installation" from CD

 

9)  Perform "Clean" installation.

 

That final step was the only one that worked.  I reinstalled the OS, drivers, SP3, other updates from MS, and some of my software.  Everything seemed to be going well.  Last night, Firefox froze.  Task Manager was unable to terminate it, and after several tries, the entire system froze.  The ony option was again the power button, and on reboot, the hal.dll error returned.

 

I would *like* to be able to fix it without another reinstall.

 

This time, I have tried a few other steps:

 

-- I downloaded the SeaTools disk diagnostics.  (The hard drives in the Dell are Seagate drives.)  Ran the "short" or "quick" test, found no problems.

 

-- Wanted to try viewing and editing boot.ini manually.  From the Rescue Console, ran attrib boot.ini at C:\.  Showed r a s h attributes all set.  Tried attrib -r -s -h boot.ini (since the Rescue Console attrib command does not include the "archive" parameter).  Tried repeatedly, in upper and lower case, and in all cases, it tells me I'm using an invalid paramenter, but I can't tell from attrib /? what I'm doing wrong.

 

-- Verified that hal.dll is indeed present in system32 folder.

 

 

I suspect that "buy a new computer" is the best option, but I'd still like to hear any less drastic suggestions.

 

 

 



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#2 SpywareDoc

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:19 PM


Langa Letter: XP's No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option



#3 hamluis

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:38 PM

Please run the long/extended hard drive diagnostic, using SeaTools.  The short test is not as reliable, since it is not as comprehensive.

 

FWIW:  Dell Guidance

 

Louis


Edited by hamluis, 04 September 2013 - 06:40 PM.


#4 NorrinRadd

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:48 PM

Ok, did the Dell stuff, which was basically a small, very slightly modified subset of the stuff from the pcsupport page.  No change.

 

Did the "long" SeaTools diagnostics.  1 TB drive, took about two-and-a-half hours.  No errors.

 

I'm going to look over the Nondestructive Rebuild info.

 

Thanks for the help so far.



#5 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 12:11 AM

Tried Langa's nondestructive repair process.  No go.  After the reboot at "Screen Ten" on this page, it simply returns to the hal.dll error.



#6 SpywareDoc

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:46 AM

Langa Letter: XP's Little-Known 'Rebuild' Command

... many "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." problems can be fixed with these five shortcut steps:
  • Boot from your XP Setup CD and enter the Recovery Console
  • Run "Attrib -H -R -S" on the C:\Boot.ini file
  • Delete the C:\Boot.ini file
  • Run "Bootcfg /Rebuild"
  • Run Fixboot

It really can be as simple as that!
[...continues...]

 



#7 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 07:22 AM

Langa Letter: XP's Little-Known 'Rebuild' Command

 

... many "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." problems can be fixed with these five shortcut steps:
  • Boot from your XP Setup CD and enter the Recovery Console
  • Run "Attrib -H -R -S" on the C:\Boot.ini file
  • Delete the C:\Boot.ini file
  • Run "Bootcfg /Rebuild"
  • Run Fixboot

It really can be as simple as that!
[...continues...]

 

Or not.  As I said earlier, when I try that with attrib, it tells me I'm using an invalid parameter.



#8 SpywareDoc

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 08:11 AM

The exact command is:

 

attrib -h -r -s c:\boot.ini

 

(Double-checked to make sure it works here on Windows XP Pro with All updates [except Bing])

 

 

 



#9 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:02 PM

The exact command is:

 

 

attrib -h -r -s c:\boot.ini

 

 

(Double-checked to make sure it works here on Windows XP Pro with All updates [except Bing])

 

 

 

"The parameter is not valid.  Try /? for help."



#10 SpywareDoc

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:26 PM

What happens when you try the command:

 

attrib c:\boot.ini



#11 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:14 PM

What happens when you try the command:

 

 

attrib c:\boot.ini

 

Same thing!  WTH?  The only thing that "works" is attrib /?  That does what it's supposed to do -- tell me the allowable switches for the command.  But other than that, the command always seems to return "invalid parameter."



#12 SpywareDoc

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:18 PM

Did you try copying and pasting either of the above commands?



#13 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:46 PM

Eh... How would I do that?  I'm online here on a laptop running Linux Mint (because the Windows 7 installation on this system is ALSO somewhat boned).  The desktop in the next room only boots to the XP installation CD.



#14 SpywareDoc

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:50 PM

Then I'm afraid I'm fresh out of ideas. The two commands I posted above work as expected on two different XP setups.

 

Hopefully someone else will drop in soon with some other ideas you might try.



#15 NorrinRadd

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 06:14 PM

Thanks for trying.  Clearly something weird is afoot.  I'd like to get it running, but I'm loath to start over from zero again, given that the hal.dll error recurred so quickly.  I'd like to have some degree of certainty it wouldn't happen again, and that if it did, it could be fixed easily.  The fact that attrib doesn't work is just freakin' weird.

 

Realistically, since XP dies in about six months, I'd probably need to blow some money on a new system soon anyway.






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