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hal.dll error after successful boot, CMOS battery flat


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#1 peskystarfish

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 03:37 PM

Hi there, firstly just want to say thank you to this forum - I'm newly registered but have followed a lot of advice here to fix machines in the past. Registering now as I need some advice of my own! Sorry for the long post, I just want to be as clear as possibly as I the computer is at my parents' house and my dad might need to run some tasks for me.

In summary:
My computer won't boot XP due to a missing/corrupted hal.dll error, which appeared after a successful boot. The machine hadn't been run for few years and the CMOS battery was flat. After setting the clock in bios it booted to XP fine, then produced error after 5mins. Puppy Linux mounted the drive but was too unresponsive to actually use. Ubuntu live cd won't mount the hard drives, giving exit code 13. My goal now is data recovery - I'll probably try to reinstall Windows or dual boot Lubuntu afterwards.

More details:
I've read lots about my error but nothing given how it appeared I need some advice as I don't want to damage the drive (I just want to recover the data before setting up a new dual boot config). Further details and steps below just in case it helps to isolate the issue, as I've read some people saying that the problem won't be with hal.dll but the boot.ini file (which I'd find odd as it did boot just like it used to). Additionally, whilst the error message said windows could not start, the message was the same when it did boot as well as when it couldn't. Is it just that the drive is still mounted in windows or some of the file system is corrupted?

1. Powered on/off few times trying to get keyboard working
2. Reset clock in bios
3. Booted to windows xp from hdd
4. Logged in, no issues
5. After loading desktop couple of error dialogs appeared (I think i tried clicking the taskbar afterwards)
6. Went away for 5 mins, came back and was at a command prompt with hal.dll error
7. Powered off machine, tried rebooting, same error
8. Tried booting Precise Puppy DVD to mount hdd, booted fine although was running impossibly slow with hdd
9. Puppy gave a warning about ntfs-3 when trying to mount. After about 3 minutes it started showing a few folders inc Windows on the "ACER" drive.
10. The system was so unresponsive I gave up, puppy just didn't respond to anything. I tried clicking to unmount etc but I wasn't getting any feedback, so I (probably impatiently) powered off to try a different DVD
11. Booted into Ubuntu 12.10 live DVD with no issues (have used the DVD before) and got a more responsive desktop
12. Tried to mount both partitions, got the same error message with mount exit code 13
13. Rebooted (from the Ubuntu menu), hitting F8 to get boot options. I thought that checkdisk was accessible from here but my memory failed me 😅
14. Tried XP safe mode, wouldn't boot, powered off
15. Tried checking bios for any other disk checking tools, gave up

What's the best course of action here?

A. Try and run chkdsk from the recovery console?
B. Try and reinstall the hal.dll file from XP cd? I think i only have a copy of XP Pro, but I expect the file is the same?
C. Use some other tool like Testdisk to recover data?
D. Use a Windows 7 DVD to do the notepad/open/explorer trick to copy/paste files?
E. Something else?!

Basically my goal is to backup the data and then worry about getting the machine rubbing again another time. Really wish I had proper backups of this machine!

Thanks in advance.

Machine details:
* Acer Aspire E300 desktop pc
* Windows XP Home SP3
* One hard drive partitioned (by acer) into two: ACER (C:\) and ACERDATA D:\)
* No hardware installed except for a Soundblaster Audigy 2. On-board AC97 disabled in bios, sound was working when it booted

Errors in full - photos of errors attached:
Ubuntu mount error:
Failed to mount '/dev/sdb1': Input/output error
NTFS is either inconsistent,
Error mounting: mount exited with exit 13: ntfs_attr_pread_i: ntfs_pread failed: Input/output error
Failed to read NTFS $Bitmap: Input/output error
NTFS is either inconsistent, or there is a hardware fault, or it's a SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
/dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the 'dmraid' documentation
for more details.

Windows error:
Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

Attached Files


Edited by peskystarfish, 27 April 2017 - 03:42 PM.


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#2 TsVk!

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 05:03 PM

hal.dll is a very system specific file that is chosen from a selection of identically named files in the installer, especially for your setup, and then modified on on first run. You cannot replace hal.dll. An error with this file is one of the few instances where a reinstall is the only option.

 

Do not run chkdsk, it's likely to scramble your drive if it's not mounting properly and if there is a physical problem with the disk you may cause it to fail completely. Mounting it on another running Windows system and then copying your data over is another option that is worthwhile as Windows can sometimes handle NTFS better than Linux.

 

Failing that... you are right adding Testdisk to your list of options. That would be the next step..



#3 TsVk!

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 05:20 PM

On further research I found hal.dll in XP is not as advanced as Win7 and greater, it can be replaced.

 

Here's a how-to.

 

:)



#4 peskystarfish

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 05:44 PM

Thanks TsVk! I've read the same Lifewire how-to and looked like it might help. Some reports online saying they can't write the file to the hdd, but I guess it can't harm?

That was also my worry using chkdsk - I've read that it's intensive on disk usage and, if there is any physical damage, I don't want to exacerbate it.

What would you recommend in this instance? I did wonder if I could get to command prompt on the W7 DVD whether it would allow me to run an xcopy command...

#5 TsVk!

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 06:07 PM

I'd try and mount the disk physically on another Win7 machine (if you can get your hands on one) and copy the files over from there inside the GUI. Failing that I'd use Testdisk. It's slow, but it does the job.



#6 peskystarfish

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 06:55 PM

My laptop is W7, and is my main machine now. I wouldn't be able to mount the desktop drive without a SATA adapter. Would that work?

My main concern here is whether any malware/viruses on the Acer (desktop) hard drive (I can't guarantee it's clean) could then infect the W7 machine. My hope was to backup the Acer hdd to my usb external drive, then scan the the external drive using a live cd before plugging it into my laptop. Essentially sandboxing it. Probably overkill, but would rather be safe than sorry.

#7 peskystarfish

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 06:57 PM

Sorry for all the questions, are there any guides here about using Testdisk? Have no idea what it does really, just heard the name mentioned.

#8 TsVk!

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 07:09 PM

It's highly unlikely to infect your Windows 7 machine unless you run any executables on the disk. After all the files on the XP disk won't be running, it will just be static. Just make sure you have autoplay disabled on your Win7 machine. Bad code is just that, bad code. It does not have magical powers and come to life and attack operating systems around it. It has to be run to have any effect. :thumbup2:

 

If you can hook it up with a SATA connector that would be the go, but mounting it in a USB dock should work fine also.

 

Here's the TestDisk tutorial.

 

Just remember to be patient, do not interrupt it. It can take a long time. (more than 10 hours)



#9 peskystarfish

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:10 AM

Thanks again for your help and patience, TsVk! I'll probably have a look into a usb adapter, as I need to backup some files from my partner's laptop also (it's probably a 2.5" drive).

Couple of questions about TestDisk:

1. It looks mainly to be a tool for repairing the boot sector - is the idea using this tool to try and get xp running again to backup from there?

2. The only reference to recovering files in the wiki is to "undelete" files. Probably a silly question, but does this mean files that have been emptied from the recycle bin? Literally I want to do now is go into key directories (like My Pictures) and copy to the USB drive.

#10 peskystarfish

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:12 AM

Sorry forgot to say - I'll next be round at my parents' house next week, so trying to get as much info together before I go as I'll have limited time there.

My dad is going to try and replace the CMOS battery over the weekend, just on the off chance that it might fix the stupid thing!

#11 TsVk!

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 05:19 AM

I apologise for not providing a better link, it does a lot more than what is shown there. I usually just boot it up and look around the menu until I find what I want. It's pretty straight forward if you are technically minded.

 

What I also realised is I have used it for whole partition rescue, not individual file rescue. It may not do exactly what you want to do. You would probably want to be looking at PhotoRec (also part of the TestDisk project) to recover individual files. You will need to mount the disk on a functioning PC though. Here is a download link, that will also provide how to links.

 

http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download

 

Don't be scared to do your own research my friend. The internet is right there at the tip of your fingers.



#12 peskystarfish

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 09:08 AM

Thanks for your help, trust me I've been doing little but researching this in spare time! Currently have about 20 tabs open on the subject ;) I'm usually fine to research and go, but having never done this before (and frankly the importance of some of the data) I'm just nervous of losing data.

Yep came to the same conclusion about Testdisk and photorec, I like that the latter is read only. I've burned a rescue cd this morning so will give try on my working laptop first.

Pretty certain I'll now clone the disk first, then try photorec, then run chkdsk and see what happens.

Thanks for your patience :)




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