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Thread: Odd Problem with booting

  1. #1
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    Odd Problem with booting

    I was choosing and transferring some pictures yesterday from my Memory Stick Pro to my computer. Some I had taken "sideways". Windows has a neat feature when viewing pictures in which you can click at the bottom to rotate it 90 degrees CW or CCW. I forgot I was viewing the picture on the memory stick in a USB card reader and clicked to rotate. I then remembered that this tends to lock up when I do this. Sure enough I let it sit for a minute or so but nothing happened. I decided to restart the computer and when I did the "End Now" popup appeared and I chose "end now". Windows seemed to shut down normally but when it tried to start again it would not boot.

    After a single beep and the logo for my Matrox card appears (that's normal during boot) then I get a dark grey screen which sticks there. It will not respond to ctrl-alt-del, I can't boot to a floppy or CD. I can shut it off by hitting the power button and it shuts down immediately, I don't have to hold the button.

    I can hit "del" when trying to start and get into the BIOS, everything there looks normal as far as I can tell.

    I was going through the BIOs screens yesterday making pics of all the setting as I was going to restore the defaults to see if that would help. I tried booting one more time (before changing BIOS) and it suddenly started normally.

    I tried to start it this morning and the same thing occurred. After several attempts and a lot of time in the bios I decided to get my card reader and reattach it to the computer. This time the computer started normally. I really can't remember whether the card reader and/or stick were attached when it restarted yesterday because it hadn't occured to me that they could be connected to this problem.

    With the card reader attached I went into disk management but could not see the reader. So I removed it first via the icon at the bottom, detached it, inserted the memory stick and reattached. After the computer recognized it I reopened disk management (Control Panel-Admistrative-Computer management-disk management). This time not only was the removeable media seen, it was marked "Active". It is assigned drive letter "I".

    Did the memory Stick somehow get assigned as the active partition. I have a screen shot below showing what it looks like. When I try to assign another partition as active it is greyed out except for the "Restore" partition.

    1. Is the memory stick being marked "active" likely the source of the problem?

    2. Which partition should be marked active and how would I do that if it's greyed out. I don't want to mark the "Restore" partition as active as it's just for storing cloned images (which I haven't been able to get to work but that's another story).

    3. If this is not likely the problem, what is?

    I do have a copy of Partition Magic somewhere although it's not installed. I'm afraid to restart my computer now though so I don't want to try that if this can be done through windows.

    I did recently (about a month ago) install new memory.

    Here is a screenshot of disk management screen.

    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  2. #2
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    It's quite OK for there to be an active partition on the removeable drive. Some flash memory drives have a structure like a floppy and with no partition table and can only have one partition on them so cannot be marked as active. Others do have partition tables just like a HDD and so partitions can be marked as active on them. Any number of drives (drives with partition tables) can have one active partition on each of them. All this means is that when that particular drive is chosen as the boot device the bootstrap code knows which of the four partition tables to look at for ongoing bootstrap code.

    However booting to USB "HDDs" is still very problematic even on systems that purport to allow booting to such USB drives. There presence at boot time can confuse the BIOS and result in a failure to boot.

    Check that your BIOS is set to boot to the correct IDE device and dont attach the USB device at startup. Its possible the presence of the USB drive is converting IDE0 to IDE1 since it is usual for the C (system) drive to be IDE0 - particularly if it is the primary master.

    When I try to assign another partition as active it is greyed out except for the "Restore" partition
    That too is normal. Only active partitions can be marked as active so apart from the System Drive (which means that it is the current active partition on that HDD) there is only the Restore partition on that HDD that you could change to become the active partition (which if you make active will certainly result in a failure to boot). The two logical partitions (Backup and Storage) cannot be marked as active.
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Paul. I'm not sure I follow exactly though. The main hard drive is SATA and it appears that I can't get it to boot unless I DO have the USB card reader attached.

    It is perhaps coincidence that it booted when I reattached the card reader.

    If the card reader is not part of the problem, what likely is? If the computer seems to go through the preliminary chaecks, motherboard beeps once normally and then nothing, won't respond to ctrl-alt-del, won't boot to floppy or CD. Is the motherboard bad? Could there be a virus in th eboot sector?
    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  4. #4
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    Well its a thorny one for sure and I understand your reticence to switch the system off - even though it would be nice to know whether the sytem would consistently boot-up normally when the USB reader is attached. I seriously doubt if a boot sector virus is the problem but if you want to grab a copy of the mbr(s) you could zip it/them up and upload the zip file here.

    If you dont have a disk editor Mirkes.de's Tiny Hexer. Under WinXP >> File Menu >> Drive >> Open Drive. Highlight the relevant PHYSICAL DRIVE and OK. Then do File >> Save As and choose any name you like but mbr01.dat should be unambiguous for example. It should be exactly 512 bytes. Zip it up and upload if you want to.

    This does sound more like a hardware problem causing a failure to boot and that it was coincidence that it booted with the reader attached. Loose cables/failing PSU/failing Drive/Bad RAM/etc etc - In other words all the usual culprits. If it were me I would detach all drives and see if you can get into the BIOS. Then have just the FDD (no ATA/ATAPI/USB devices) and see if you can boot to it. Then Add back the CDROM, SATA, PATA sequentially.
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

  5. #5
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    When you use a memory stck it becomes and active partition/drive whilst in use (hence the need to stop it prior to removal)

    Have you tried "Last Known Good Boot" (or whatever it is properly called)?

    As soon as you switch the computer on press F8 and keep pressing it (like a morse key) and htis should bring up a list of options. I think it is the 3rd or 5th in the list. Try selecting that and it should boot to the last available boot, wiht oyu loosing any work not saved before the problem occured.
    Ernie

    The difference between perseverance and obstinancy is that one is made from strong will, and the other from strong won't
    Henry Ward Beecher
    Do you have reading problems? Don't let it deter you. This is what YOU can do if you try http://www.erniek.eclipse.co.uk

  6. #6
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    it becomes and active partition/drive whilst in use
    The reason for "stopping" (making safe to remove) such drives is to ensure no file i/o operations can take place. If a drive is disconnected during file i/o then this can corrupt the file system on the drive and result in data loss. Once windows is up and running, the fact that partitions are active or not makes no difference. The significance of an active partition is only during booting when if the drive chosen as the boot device has a normal mbr with four partition tables, the system knows which one of them to choose. Active partitions on other drives just don't come into play at all.

    It is however certainly worth trying F8's "Last Known Good" or "Safe Mode".
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

  7. #7
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    As per usual PAUL you are correct.
    Ernie

    The difference between perseverance and obstinancy is that one is made from strong will, and the other from strong won't
    Henry Ward Beecher
    Do you have reading problems? Don't let it deter you. This is what YOU can do if you try http://www.erniek.eclipse.co.uk

  8. #8
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    I am going to go ahead and try to reboot. Since I run a busy internet store off of this computer the potential of being down is no little thing.
    I copied advice already given below.

    1. Any other suggestions for things I could do to minimize downtime if I cannot boot again?
    2. How likely is this to be the motherboard?
    3. How likely is this to be related to the SATA drive? I believe my board was a relatively early one to offer SATA and it may be finicky about settings.
    4. The thing that is so disturbing is being unable to do anything. I can't boot to a floppy, can't boot to a CD - nothing at all. If it continues I'll try the suggestions below but what do I try if nothing works at all? Try the hard drive in another computer? Usually the activation issue with XP makes the system crash if it sees another chipset doesn't it?

    4. I'd really like to have a clone of my system to get going quickly if I have to start over but I have not been able to find one I trust. Ghost completely locked up computer and I had to wipe and start over. Neither Image for Windows or Image for DOS would work at all. From comments I've heard, Acronis is "iffy" with SATA drives sometimes. I do have my documents, downloads, favorites and email data saved but restarting from scratch is a lot of hours over a couple of weeks which I do not want to spend.


    "Check that your BIOS is set to boot to the correct IDE device and dont attach the USB device at startup. Its possible the presence of the USB drive is converting IDE0 to IDE1 since it is usual for the C (system) drive to be IDE0 - particularly if it is the primary master."

    "This does sound more like a hardware problem causing a failure to boot and that it was coincidence that it booted with the reader attached. Loose cables/failing PSU/failing Drive/Bad RAM/etc etc - In other words all the usual culprits. If it were me I would detach all drives and see if you can get into the BIOS. Then have just the FDD (no ATA/ATAPI/USB devices) and see if you can boot to it. Then Add back the CDROM, SATA, PATA sequentially."

    "As soon as you switch the computer on press F8 and keep pressing it (like a morse key) and htis should bring up a list of options. I think it is the 3rd or 5th in the list. Try selecting that and it should boot to the last available boot, wiht oyu loosing any work not saved before the problem occured."
    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  9. #9
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    Usually the activation issue with XP makes the system crash if it sees another chipset doesn't it?
    If you simply attempt to boot up the drive on another system (that has disimilar enough hardware) Windows Activation will not usually let you in and you will have reactivate by telephone quoting a ref number that the system will generate.

    This is different from crashing because of different hardware. The usual way to avoid that (assuming that WinXP supports the new hardware) is to insert the HDD into the new PC but don't initially boot to it. Boot to the installation CD and run a Repair Installation. This sets up all the hardware and should leave your data and programs intact. You will again have to reactivate the system - but more like the normal method with the full 30 days grace.

    So getting your system running on another PC could well be the way to minimise downtime. Suggest you first clone the drive directly to another drive using the maker's utilities or partition magic or bootit-ng. I would add a controller card (they are not expensive) to the another PC and make the clone that way from within any windows running from a separate (probably PATA) drive on the mobo; this should ensure you dont boot to the old installation prematurely - which is one thing you want to avoid.

    I suggest also getting an equivalent or larger SATA to clone-to for now and then later-on you could use it to setup a RAID-1 mirror (this would be a way of utilising the controller card in the absence of on-board RAID support).

    If ImageForWindows wont work from within Windows this was presumably with PhyLock installed. If you hadnt installed PhyLock you would need to grab it from http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/utilities.html

    The only other thought would be to copy stuff via a Network (though that would depend on your whole setup) and see if you could get any imaging done that way and then restored onto a second computer.
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

  10. #10
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    Thanks again Paul.

    I have tried doing a repair installation before and could never get anything to work. How is that done? Actually I don't have any computer available that will take a SATA drive anyway.

    So I could clone to a PATA drive using something like partition magic or MAXBLAST? Of course that is if I can ever get it to boot again. I assume trying to hookup an internal hard drive without shutting down is not recommended.

    What controller card do you mean? Are you talking about some kind of RAID card? I'm afraid I know nothing about RAID. How would that be used for cloning and later how does RAID work in general? I don't expect a full explanation of that but pointing me toward a good source to research it would help.

    I am pretty sure that Phylock was installed, yes. It definitely was some of the tries I have made. I got so disgusted with the extremely (for me) hard to follow instructions (steps left out, no explanation for what's wrong when it won't work) and the amount of time I wasted on trying to figure out how to use Image for Windows and/or Image for DOS that I gave up. Phylock should not be necessary for Image for DOS from a floppy I wouldn't think but that absolutely would not work either. I have invested hours trying Image for Windows/DOS three different times as I have seen it highly recommended and wanted a simple, clean clone program. I feel sure that I could eventually get it working but I resent the (IMO) unnecessary learning time so much that I give it up. I should be ranting at terabyteunlimited instead of here, sorry.

    I still have the USB card reader attached with the data (Pictures and picture folders) intact. I was going to delete everything possible off this card before trying to reboot. Any problem with that foreseen?
    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  11. #11
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    Actually I don't have any computer available that will take a SATA drive anyway.
    That was the reason for suggesting a card. PCI SATA Controller cards are not expensive see http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...&InnerCata=410 for some examples.

    You can (as with on board SATA) use them to configure RAID but dont have to and you can also use them to just access two (or more) SATA drives.

    Booting from the cards on systems that also have IDE drives can be problematic that's all. Both on-board and pci card controllers are generally booted from the SCSI interface. I would think that USB devices can also be. But one point of consideration is that (certainly on older BIOSes) it was wise to either have only SCSI or IDE as the boot devices on a system; i.e. not have them mixed.

    Dont hot plug/unplug your HDDs. Dont.

    Repair Installation details.

    Cant explain why you have had such problems with the TBU utilities - I have always found them particularly straightforward - perhaps I'm just lucky - or perhaps you have an underlying hardware problem that is at the root of all your problems.

    So I could clone to a PATA drive using something like partition magic or MAXBLAST?
    The cloning itself shouldnt be a problem though I have seen this trip a need to reactivate by phone; just an irritation there and not a consistent thing either.
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

  12. #12
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    Oh, that makes sense about being able to use a SATA drive by adding a SATA controller card, thanks.

    I was kidding about trying to hot swap a HDD, I knew that much.

    The suggestion that there is some hardware problem underlying all of this may also have some merit. I do notice that my system partition drive is marked IDE1 and my backup drive, which was added later, is marked IDE0.
    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  13. #13
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    Well, my computer decided to reset itself and would not reboot. Same thing, just a dark gray screen with no response to ctrl-alt-del, wouldn't boot to floppy nothing. I reattached the USB card reader and it booted normally again.

    I went into BIOS and the boot order is floppy-CD-HDD with "try other boot devices" set to "Yes". I set that to 'No" and the computer will not boot. Set it back to "Yes" and the computer will boot.

    Any ideas what has happened and how to fix it?
    MSI 865G board with "D Bracket"
    P4 2.4 Ghz 800mhz FSB
    2 sticks of 1GB Crucial PC3200
    Samsung 160GB SATA Drive 8MB cache
    Western Digital 160GB ATA 133 8MB cache
    Antec Truepower 430 PS
    Qwest DSL Modem
    Lite On 16x DVDROM
    Lite On DVDRW
    CTL 21TF monitor
    XP Pro
    Matrox P650 video card
    XP SP2
    http://thegoodsleepstore.com

  14. #14
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    Is it possible for you to change one of the devices in the boot order to SCSI or SATA or RAID. If so - do so. It looks as if it can find the SCSI/SATA interface as "other boot device" but not from the 3rd HDD option. Are you sure it just says HDD or is it IDE-0 or HDD-0 or some other value?
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

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