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Very strange boot problem


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#1 MaximRecoil

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:39 AM

It started when I tried to download an updated version of ImgBurn from http://www.imgburn.com/. Using Firefox, the download of the file refused to complete (it would get stuck on 1 second remaining). Canceling the download was difficult because something was consuming resources, slowing the PC down drastically. So I tried different mirrors listed on the site to the same file, and the same thing happened every time. Then I tried a different browser (Internet Explorer), and the same thing happened. I was able to download other files without issue (for example, I downloaded the madFLAC DirectShow FLAC filter), but for some reason, the ImgBurn exe wouldn't complete.

 

During one of the attempts that resulted in severe computer slowdown, I got annoyed waiting for responses to input and I did a hard reboot using the power reset button on the PC. At this point the PC froze on the first screen which appears (the Asus motherboard's proprietary splash screen). So I powered down completely and started the PC again, and it made it past the splash screen this time but it went to the disk boot failure screen:

 

l1aq.jpg

 

So I restarted and pressed F8 at the splash screen, and instead of the usual black Windows-generated screen which gives you the option of safe mode and various other options, it went to a "Boot Menu" which appears to be BIOS-generated:

 

pmgf.jpg

 

I selected the "1st Master" hard drive and it booted fine, although it wanted to check my small FAT32 page file partition for consistency first.

 

So I figured the problem was solved, but the next time I went to reboot I was back at the disk boot failure screen. So I repeated the F8 thing, and it again brought up that BIOS-type screen, and I selected the "1st Master" hard drive and it booted fine again (and it didn't need to check any of my partitions for consistency this time).

 

I decided to run the recovery console, so I booted to my XP installation disc, and in there I ran FIXBOOT and FIXMBR, and it claimed to have done both of those operations successfully. I also renamed the existing copies of ntldr and NTDETECT.COM and replaced them with new copies from the i386 folder of the XP CD. This all resulted in zero change.

 

And here's something that's really strange: if I reboot with the XP installation disc in the drive, and I don't press any key when it prompts to press a key to boot from the CD, it will complete the boot process without issue. If I don't have that CD in the drive, I always end up at the "boot disk failure" screen, and I have to restart and do the F8 thing to get it to boot.

 

My boot.ini file seems to be fine:

 

[boot loader]
timeout=10
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional (Backup)" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

 

The screen where I have 10 seconds to select "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" or "Microsoft Windows XP Professional (Backup)" comes up as usual once I avoid the "boot disk failure" screen by either doing the F8 thing or having the XP installation CD in the drive but not pressing a key to boot from it.

 

Oh, and I determined that the problem with downloading the ImgBurn exe had to do with my antivirus software; for some reason it was hanging up while trying to scan it before allowing it to complete downloading. I temporarily disabled the antivirus software and the file downloaded fine.

 

Any ideas?


Edited by MaximRecoil, 27 October 2013 - 01:54 AM.


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#2 MaximRecoil

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:51 AM

Okay, I fixed the problem. I have three hard drives in this PC, so I shut down and unplugged all of them, then I started the PC. This of course gave me the same the disk boot failure screen I've been getting, but for good reason this time. Then I shut down and plugged in just the boot drive, and the PC booted to Windows without issue. Then I shut down and plugged in the second hard drive, and the PC booted to Windows without issue. Then I shut down and plugged in the third and final hard drive, and the PC booted to Windows without issue. Then I rebooted just to make sure it was fixed, and it was.

 

As I said, this was a strange problem, evidenced by the fact that I fixed it by doing something that didn't actually physically change anything. Maybe what I did forced it to redetect something, or whatever, but given the fact that it was previously able to boot to Windows when I selected the "1st Master" hard drive from the Boot Menu, and it was able to boot to Windows when I had a bootable CD in the drive but didn't press a key to boot from it, it obviously already "knew" where everything it needed to boot was located. I guess this is just another of countless inexplicable things I've seen PCs do over the years.



#3 hamluis

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:49 AM

Glad you resolved it, happy computing :).

 

Louis



#4 cryptodan

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:26 AM

Just a quick recommendation, the paging file should be on the same drive and located within the root directory of that drive. It should not be on its own partition, and you should be letting Windows manage the paging.

#5 rotor123

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:34 AM

Hi

By the way F8 is the Asus Boot device manager button.

 

You have to wait until it gets past that screen and then be really fast to get the F8 options in windows. Or hit F8, Select the Boot drive then as You hit enter start pressing F8 again.

 

Are You sure Your CMOS battery is good? What You described is classic for the Bios settings for boot options getting scrambled

Older Asus motherboards were a pain as related to adding drives messing up the boot order.

 

Roger


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#6 MaximRecoil

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:06 PM



Just a quick recommendation, the paging file should be on the same drive and located within the root directory of that drive. It should not be on its own partition, and you should be letting Windows manage the paging.

 

According to Microsoft:

 

 

To enhance performance, it is good practice to put the paging file on a different partition and on a different physical hard disk drive. That way, Windows can handle multiple I/O requests more quickly. When the paging file is on the boot partition, Windows must perform disk reading and writing requests on both the system folder and the paging file. When the paging file is moved to a different partition, there is less competition between reading and writing requests.

 

 

There is however the following caveat:

 

 

However, if you remove the paging file from the boot partition, Windows cannot create a dump file (Memory.dmp) in which to write debugging information in the event that a kernel mode Stop Error message occurs.

 

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314482

 

The compromise is to have a paging file on the boot partition and another one on a different drive, and supposedly Windows will "use the paging file on the less frequently accessed partition over the paging file on the more heavily accessed boot partition", and this allows Windows to retain the ability to create a dump file.

 

In the dozen years I've been using XP, most of the time I've simply created a small FAT32 partition on a different physical disk for the paging file. Sometimes I haven't bothered. Sometimes I've set it to a fixed size and sometimes I haven't bothered. I've never actually noticed a difference in performance regardless of what I've done with the paging file, and I've never run into an issue where I needed a dump file. I suppose I could do the compromise thing, just in case I ever need a memory dump.

 



Hi

By the way F8 is the Asus Boot device manager button.

 

You have to wait until it gets past that screen and then be really fast to get the F8 options in windows. Or hit F8, Select the Boot drive then as You hit enter start pressing F8 again.

 

Are You sure Your CMOS battery is good? What You described is classic for the Bios settings for boot options getting scrambled

Older Asus motherboards were a pain as related to adding drives messing up the boot order.

 

Roger

 

Interesting. I built this particular machine in 2006, and I've used F8 quite a few times over the years, and I've never seen that Boot Menu screen before; it always went to the Windows F8 options. I guess I was always lucky with my timing.

 

My CMOS battery should be fine. It is only about 3 years old. The original battery that came with the motherboard in 2006 died prematurely in about 2010 (I have PCs kicking around here from the '90s that still have good CMOS batteries, and SNES games using the same CR2032 battery that are even older, so that battery that came with my motherboard dying in only 4 years was ridiculous). When it started dying it didn't have any boot problems, but the time and date kept getting messed up, and my BIOS settings kept going back to default. I haven't noticed any bad battery symptoms with this battery that I bought in 2010. Also, if boot options got scrambled, why would it boot to Windows without issue as long as the XP installation disc was in the drive?

 

I think whatever happened happened as a result of the hard reset while my antivirus was consuming all the resources due to its confusion over the file I was trying to download. It would be a major coincidence if it wasn't the result of that, since the hard reset was the exact point in time in which the problem first happened in the 7 years I've been using this hardware. I still have no idea what happened though. The fact that it would boot to Windows without issue as long as the XP installation disc was in the drive is what makes it so strange.


Edited by MaximRecoil, 27 October 2013 - 01:12 PM.


#7 rotor123

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 02:02 PM

I solved the Whole paging file issue by switching to a SSD boot drive that is large enough for everything and 7200 RPM data drives or USB3 drives. That way the boot drive is the fastest drive in the system and paging file usage is not really noticeable.

 

I put a 120Gb SSD in the Financial Laptop, and it is less than 1/2 full. I suppose I could have gone smaller, However that would impact the SSD life. Due to Wear leveling have less free space to work with.

 

Roger


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