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XP SP3 will only boot in Safe Mode


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#1 SusanQ

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 07:05 PM

My husband has an HP Pavilion laptop running Windows XP Home Edition Version 2002 SP3. 

 

He has several old (DOS era, or maybe Windows 95) programs installed on it, that we've never been able to install let alone run on newer operating systems, including the XP emulator on Windows 7. Also he has a couple of old HP printers that are not compatible with newer operating systems. He has a Windows 7 laptop he can use for the internet and more modern software and printers, but we really need to get this old XP running again. He uses these programs in his work, and they're pretty much not replaceable.

 

Some time back the HP XP computer was getting slower and slower, for weeks and months, and then all of a sudden all that would appear on the screen would be the wallpaper with only 2 or 3 icons none of which would do anything, although the cursor would move around the screen.  There was no Start button or taskbar, either.  After awhile (a day or two) the screen (monitor) quit working. 

 

We're actually not completely sure about that exact sequence of events.  He thinks it was as described above, I think it was slow computer, failed monitor, connected to old CRT type monitor and it worked OK for at least a few days, then wallpaper only.

 

Regardless, at that point I (the wife) volunteered to see what I could do. 

 

I moved the HP XP computer out to the kitchen where I have a Windows 7 laptop (where I'm typing this) as well as a Windows 10 laptop.  I connected the HP XP laptop to an NEC flatscreen monitor, and found that I could boot into safe mode OK.

 

However there's evidently an incompatibility between the monitor and the XP settings, somehow, as every time I boot to safe mode I have to adjust in order to get all the desktop icons to show, as well as the Start button and taskbar:
ctrl-esc ==> Control Panel ==> Display ==> Settings ==> Screen Resolution More ==> Apply ==> OK ==> Fn4 toggle monitor off ==> Fn4 toggle monitor on

 

It appears that most of my husband's programs work in Safe Mode, but not the printers, so now I'm trying to get the computer to boot in whatever one calls "not safe mode" - regular mode? 

 

First I tried doing a System Restore back to the oldest restore point available (several months back); he thought the computer had been getting slow before then, but maybe not.  At any rate it didn't help.

 

It took me a week or more to back up the HP XP's hard drive to an external drive, because there were a lot of files with too-long names and other anomalies, but eventually I got it done. I also ran an old-fashioned chkdsk, from the "Run" option under the Start button.

 

I have Kaspersky Pure as well as Malwarebytes on my Windows 7 computer, so I ran both on the external hard drive backup; there were a few PUPs but nothing else.  Then I downloaded Malwarebytes to my husband's HP (still in safe mode) and ran it there.  Whatever little PUP or adware type defects I found on the external drive, I deleted on the HP XP. 

 

Next, I read somewhere that the problem we're having could be due to a corrupted user, so I tried adding a new user, but I never could figure out how to get XP to ask which user should log on. In safe mode it asks, but not on a normal boot. At any rate, after adding and deleting new users with and without Admin privileges, I'm back to just the Administrator and the one other user.  I also think I read somewhere that Windows XP Home won't boot to Administrator except in Safe Mode, so I could believe that the other user is corrupted, except the fact that it never asked which user I wanted makes me think it's quitting before it gets to that point.

 

During all of the above I could log into Safe Mode, adjust the Display settings, and poke around. But whenever I let it try to boot without Safe Mode, it went to the wallpaper only, no taskbar, no Start button. 

 

However at some point, I think while I was adding and deleting users, I quit getting the wallpaper; now when I try to book without Safe Mode, I end up with just a blank screen.

 

The last thing I've been trying, the past week or so, is changing the various options in the msconfig System Configuration Utility - Normal Startup, Diagnostic Startup, different permutations of the choices under Selective Startup.  None of it makes any difference - when I reboot without F8-Safe Mode, here's what happens:

1. Turn on computer
2. Very quick black-and-white HP logo
3. Microsoft Windows XP colored flag with 3 blue dots scooting left to right, maybe 20-30 seconds
4. Then nothing - no display of any kind - this is where the plain wallpaper with no Start button or taskbar used to appear.
5. Plain black screen just stays there; I've left it on as long as an hour; the disk activity indicator light blinks intermittently, like it's doing something.  Neither ctrl-alt-del nor ctrl-esc nor fn-F4 makes any difference.  All I can do is turn it off with the power button, and re-boot in Safe Mode.

 

Oh - one other thing - when I make the System Configuration changes, I always get an error message:
System Configuration
An Access Denied error was returned while attempting to change a service. You may need to log on using an Administrator account to make the specified changes.

 

However the changes do appear to take - I googled the error message and found several folks who said it's a conflict with Norton, that doesn't stop the action going through.

 

Sorry this got so long - I summarize the problem as "Windows XP will only boot in Safe Mode" - thanks in advance for what to try next.

 

Susan



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 07:42 PM

What happens if you tap F8 and instead of selecting Safe Mode you select enable VGA mode? If the monitor works then adjust the resolution and refresh rate.

 

Do you still have the install disks for the old programs and XP? The best option may be to do a clean install and reinstall the DOS/Win 95 programs.



#3 BrianVS

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 09:28 PM

Have you done a surface scan of the hard drive to verify that it is not going bad, or is so fragmented that Windows cannot get the page/swap files it needs? I had the latter problem on a 98se machine.
 
How big is the drive, how much memory on the machine, how fast is it? I just got SP3 onto a Micron Trek 2 333Mhz PII, 256MBytes RAM, 3GByte partition. That was pushing it!


Edited by hamluis, 11 September 2016 - 07:46 AM.


#4 SusanQ

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 07:07 AM

What happens if you tap F8 and instead of selecting Safe Mode you select enable VGA mode? If the monitor works then adjust the resolution and refresh rate.

 

Do you still have the install disks for the old programs and XP? The best option may be to do a clean install and reinstall the DOS/Win 95 programs.

 

1. Oh. My. Goodness.  I did what you said, enabled VGA mode.  I never even noticed that option before.  Presto!  It gave me a choice of several users, including 2 I was sure I'd deleted (!), I chose my husband's that has all his beloved icons and settings and whatnot, adjusted the resolution and it even let me choose to save the settings.  It appears I have a pretty normal looking Desktop, complete with Start button and apparently functional operating system.

 

I have to log off now but will try to get back to it later today.  I am Guardedly Optimistic. 

 

I did notice as I was going through the log on and display adjustments, a System Configuration Utility box, indicating that the Selective Startup with "Load Startup Items" unchecked.  That will surely bear some experimentation.

 

Meanwhile, if anyone can point me to info about this VGA mode thing, just to educate myself about it, I'd be very grateful.  I have vast swaths of ignorance about all manner of computer stuff....

 

2. We do still have the install disks, but several years ago (perhaps as long as a decade!) my husband went through the whole clean install sequence and found out that one of his key programs wouldn't install, or maybe there was some other aspect that wouldn't work.  The software supplier wouldn't help him, maybe they'd changed hands or something, it was a huge hassle, I don't remember how he eventually limped back to functionality, but clean install is an absolutely last resort.

 

Thank you SO MUCH!!! 

 

Further advice VERY welcome; I will try to report back later today, but it might be Monday depending on how it goes.

 

Susan

 



#5 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 07:13 AM

VGA mode is not Safe Mode. It uses the Microsoft generic VGA drivers in normal mode. Check your resolution and refresh rates when in VGA mode. You may also need to reinstall your graphics drivers. If the NEC monitor is not detected then possibly there is a monitor driver for XP on their site.



#6 SusanQ

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 07:20 AM

Have you done a surface scan of the hard drive to verify that it is not going bad, or is so fragmented that Windows cannot get the page/swap files it needs? I had the latter problem on a 98se machine.

 

How big is the drive, how much memory on the machine, how fast is it? I just got SP3 onto a Micron Trek 2 333Mhz PII, 256MBytes RAM, 3GByte partition. That was pushing it!

 

How do I do a surface scan?  While I'm at it, I'd like to do as much diagnostic stuff as I can...

 

I can't remember how to find out how big the actual hard drive is - it's partitioned - My Computer says
C: - Total Size 74.5 GB - Free Space 41.5 GB
D: - Total Size 37.2 GB - Free Space 11.0 GB
E: - Total Size 37.2 GB - Free Space 17.3 GB

 

Intel® Pentium® M processor 1400 MHz, 1.40 GHz, 2.00 GB of RAM

 

Thanks so much --

 

Susan

 

PS this particular computer has been running in the identical configuration, with the identical software, for years.... other than possible hardware failure or malware picked up over the internet, or perhaps inadvertent keyboarding (we are neither of us spring chickens), I can't imagine what precipitated these problems.  By the way, I read on another thread that one really ought not be using the internet with XP.... I hope I remember to pursue that question once I get the computer running again, for sure.



#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 07:57 AM

I believe BrianVS is asking to scan the drives using something like Seatools for Windows. Do the short and long tests on each disk. See if they pass.

 

http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/item/seatools-win-master/

 

How to use Seatools for Windows



#8 BrianVS

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 12:16 PM

Your computer is plenty powerful for XP- something is wrong to be coming up in Safe mode.

 

SOMETIMES- it's the disk is too fragmented, or is developing problem spots. This is where running the Disk Tools to defragment and scan for errors is useful.

 

Bring up Windows Explorer;

Right Click on the Drive Letters, then click on Properties;

Click on "Tools"

 

You can scan for errors, an option for "scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors" should be available.

 

In the old days- this was a "surface scan", scan the disk surface for bad sectors and attempt to repair.

 

It's worth a try.



#9 BrianVS

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 03:26 PM

Do you have the ability to re-install the critical programs on a different XP computer? Good computers are dirt-cheap these days. I've been picking up Panasonic CF-50 and CF-51 toughbooks for $50~75, all have worked.

 

If the problem is hardware related- it might be easier to spend $75 for a new XP machine. I also rely on a lot of older software for work- figure the build quality of the CF-50 and CF-51 will last me for a long time. The Micron Trek 2- bought in 1998, still works but my home office looks like WALL-E's trailer.


Edited by BrianVS, 11 September 2016 - 03:30 PM.


#10 SusanQ

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 03:43 PM

Sorry I've not been able to get time to post - I have been experimenting a bit -

 

I can tap F8 and select Enable VGA Mode to log on more or less normally.  My husbands "must have" programs all seem to work more or less OK.  I haven't tried the printers but his absolutely critical software working is a big breakthrough.  These programs are the reason we can't just do a clean install, nor buy another XP machine and start fresh - the programs are installed on this computer, and need to run from there.  The software vendors are either unavailable or uncooperative, to make the programs work on a re-install.

 

So now my big question is, how can I get the computer to boot normally without having to go through the tap F8 routine?

 

I guess part of the answer lies here:

 

"VGA mode is not Safe Mode. It uses the Microsoft generic VGA drivers in normal mode. Check your resolution and refresh rates when in VGA mode. You may also need to reinstall your graphics drivers. If the NEC monitor is not detected then possibly there is a monitor driver for XP on their site."

 

Is there a way to make VGA Mode "stick" so it happens automatically, without having to tap F8 and select it?  And also make the resolution stick?  I have to re-set it every time I log on. 

 

And/or, how do I "reinstall my graphics drivers"?  Sorry - I've never paid any attention to drivers.  Also how do I know if the NEC monitor is detected or not?

 

I know nothing about hardware, nor the bits of software ("drivers"?) that make the hardware and the software get along...   can you tell?  :-)

 

Thank you all SO MUCH, once again.

 

Susan

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 04:08 PM

If these programs are as critical as you say the first thing I would do is create a complete disk image to an external drive using Macrium Free. If the drive fails or the computer refuses to boot because of file system corruption you can use the image on the external and the bootable media created by the program to recover.

 

Do you have a model number of the HP pavilion? 

 

Click Start > Run. Type dxdiag in the run box. What graphics adapter is listed?

 

dxdiag%202.jpg



#12 SusanQ

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 04:28 PM

"If these programs are as critical as you say the first thing I would do is create a complete disk image to an external drive using Macrium Free. If the drive fails or the computer refuses to boot because of file system corruption you can use the image on the external and the bootable media created by the program to recover."

 

by external drive I guess you mean external hard drive like the ones I used to back up the files?  connects via USB port?

 

not sure what you mean by "bootable media" -- reminds me of the olden days when putting a floppy in the A: drive would make the computer boot from there rather than the C: drive???  nowadays would the bootable media be a CD maybe? 

 

Question:  if I make a complete disk image like you're saying, could it be used with a different computer, to get the software to run elsewhere?  I've heard of the disk image idea before, but was never really clear on the concept.

 

"Do you have a model number of the HP pavilion?" 

 

ZT3000

 

"Click Start > Run. Type dxdiag in the run box. What graphics adapter is listed?"

 

MOBILITY RADEON 9200

Manufacturer: ATI Technologies Inc.

 

And, one of several anomalies when I boot up is an error box that says:

WARNING

The ATI Control Panel failed to initialize because no ATI driver is installed, or ATI driver is not working properly.  The ATI Control Panel will not exit.

 

I tried googling the message yesterday, but got no insight into what an ATI Control Panel is...

 

Thanks!
 



#13 JohnC_21

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 04:37 PM

Yes, by external drive I mean a USB external hard drive. Macrium creates a bootable CD or USB flash drive. This lets you restore the image from the external drive if the computer no longer boots or you need to restore the image to new hard disk. You cannot restore the image to a different computer. You would have problems with activation. 

 

Is there an ATI listing in Uninstall Programs? The ATI driver may be corrupted. Windows is looking for the driver but cannot initialize it therefor giving you a blank screen. 



#14 SusanQ

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 04:37 PM

FYI - I'm going to poke around on the Macrium site to learn about that, and then plan to use their free product to make an image of my laptop, to get familiar with the process.  If I have any questions or issues about that, I'll follow up with their support forum so as not to divert from my main issues here.  Then after I'm done doing the image of my computer, I'll try it on my husband's.

 

Does this sound like a good plan?  Thanks so much for pointing me there --



#15 JohnC_21

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 04:42 PM

Sounds like a plan. Probably best to get the disk image on the hard drive first thing. The only problem is Macrium's Forum is not for the free product. Another product that is free and also has a forum for the free product is Aomei Backupper which I have used with success.






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