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Question XP Desktop Stuck At Boot Screen

Jul 7, 2020
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Hi all

Appreciate this is an old PC, but after working fine, my XP desktop PC today decided it won't boot and sticks at the boot options screen.

Unfortunately it's not responding to keyboard input either, so I can't enter the boot menu. I've tried two separate ones - a USB one which I was using on the machine as recently as the weekend when it last booted/worked ok, and a spare PS2 one. I've also tried different USB ports on the machine.

I've searched online, including this forum and removed the only battery I can find, leaving it out for 5 minutes, then re-inserting. This has no affect.

I then switched the only jumper I could find on the board. Where it already was, the PC starts but sticks at the boot screen. On the other two of the three pins, it won't start at all and taking the jumper off the pins altogether, the fan began whirring but the machine wouldn't start up.

Is there anything left to try? Appreciate any help in advance and am happy to provide any further details/images which may help.

Apologies if this post is in the wrong section.

 
Apr 25, 2020
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Hi @jlackin , how many RAM sticks you have installed?
If you have 2 try removing 1 and try to boot, maybe 1 has gone bad.
It is not a guarantee that the RAM is the problem but at least it will eliminate 1 possible cause.
 
Reactions: jlackin
Jul 7, 2020
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Hi, thanks for the reply.

I can give it a go and see. Anything is worth a try. I do have two RAM sticks, so you never know...

To update - I opened the case, and gave it a clean out of dust etc.re-checked all the connections.

Also found a tutorial online to test the power supply with a multimeter and it (as well as the power cable) both seemed fine.

I also had a spare old tower, so tried that power supply, but still nothing...

Genuinely no idea why it's just sticking at that screen and not recognising keyboard input. Think it might be broken down altogether maybe. Will see if the RAM suggestion helps.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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So removing a RAM stick got it to pass the first screen!

I did have an error which wouldn't go away, regarding "\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download\……..\usedelta.state" being corrupt and unreadable, but on restart, the checkdisk seems to have sorted this.

I also now get an FDC error, and press F1 to continue, which at least lets it boot. On googling, this is Floppy Drive Controller apparently, but the PC doesn't have a floppy drive...Any ideas on why I would suddenly have this error? (other than the machine is just falling apart by the sounds!)

Once I can save my data off (hopefully) I will be wiping the PC back to factory settings, but not sure if that's going to resolve everything.

For the RAM issue, on testing, it seems to be one of the sticks the PC doesn't like. Both are 1GB, so will have to find out how much the board can support and get some more. Any advice on that would be helpful.

Thanks in advance for those who have provided help - I really appreciate it.
 
Last edited:
Okay, at this point I would boot a live cd of memtest and run it. If you're having memory corruption issues that can also affect what the system is reading off the drive.

As far as data recovery, just remove the drive and connect it up to another system via a usb enclosure or dock. You can even image the drive and then write that image to a new drive later to reinstall in the system.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Is there a best site to get memtest from? I've seen lots of different google results and not sure which is correct. Then burn it to CD and boot from that?

UPDATES: I eventually got in to the BIOS somehow and managed to switched the Floppy Drive to 'Auto' which stopped the FDC error.

Also enabled the support for my keyboard prior to Windows booting, so now at least I can select things!

The current state now is that sometimes it starts, sometimes it doesn't. If it does, it will usually crash after a few minutes and restart itself (even when in Safe Mode). I have managed to get as much of my personal data off the drive as I think I can get however, which is something.

Tried to wipe the drive and start over, but now when using the Windows Recovery Disk to install it, it can't find the EULA so won't continue (I believe that might be on the corrupted drive somewhere?).
I have my serial/product key on the sticker on the machine, but guess I need to find a bootable disk of XP now? Which should be fun..
 
Jul 7, 2020
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The machine didn't seem to like any of the disks I was trying to use (including the Recovery Disk I had used days ago). However, I've managed to get the memtest ISO from their site and that is running at the moment.
Not sure if the results will tell you anything once it's finished??

Yeah I do appreciate that, however I couldn't get it to boot and stay on, so trying to run any tests/check for anything was a nightmare. I was having to force it to try booting from a disk, but then sometimes it wouldn't and was giving me a new error each time.
I was hoping to wipe the drive, freshly install Windows and then could look in to what might be wrong, once the machine would actually boot up and stay on!

Please don't think I'm not grateful for the help, it's just extremely frustrating trying to get it to do anything at the moment (and not chuck it out the window!) I'm thinking a new machine might be the best option, the way this is going... :(
 
Apr 25, 2020
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Memtest takes typically few hours to finish (depending on PC speed and RAM size), if the test shows any Errors - it means you have a bad RAM stick, if it finishes with 0 Errors - it means RAM is good.

If you backed up your data from the HDD it is also worth a try to install Windows fresh (select quick format) from a bootable XP CD.

The Power Supply from a spare old tower you mentioned, can it power the old tower without any problems? Are we sure that it's a good and reliable Power Supply?

Also check on the front panel if the power and reset button are good and are not stuck or pushed in.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Please see memtest screenshot below. I had to exit it in the end as it was going on for hours. I guess the errors mean bad memory, even after taking out one of the two sticks?

I tried installing windows from the disk, but unfortunately as mentioned above, it cannot proceed as
it can't find the EULA, so won't continue (I believe that might be on the corrupted drive somewhere?).
I have my serial/product key on the sticker on the machine, but no idea how to get windows back on to the drive - can it be installed on the drive remotely, if I connect it to another machine in an enclosure?

Yes the other power supply is fine and still powers the other machine. Both tested with a multimeter also. Buttons on the front all seem ok.

 
Jul 20, 2020
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It's a board from 2004. There's likely to be bad capacitors on it somewhere, the Capacitor Plague was rife back then and millions of them were installed in electronic products. Basically what happened was some Chinese dudes stole an incomplete electrolyte formula from a capacitor maker, and made millions of caps with the dodgy blueprint.

Check the board for any bulging tops, or any leaking electrolyte. If there's none it doesn't mean they're good, they don't have to look bad to be bad internally, they could have dried up inside.

First step though, try some new/known good (you likely won't get the RAM for that brand new!) RAM first, and if that doesn't cure it, I'd scrap the board. Not worth getting it repaired TBH.

Have you tried a CMOS reset? Run through setup and disable anything like Floppy, and stuff you don't use. is the CMOS battery good?

Regards,

Your friendly caped SuperGeek
 
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Jul 7, 2020
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I should be able to source some RAM from somewhere to try.

I removed the battery and then replaced it after 15 minutes - is that the way to reset the CMOS on XP, considering I can't boot it up. I could possibly replace that battery, but there are no signs that it's not working...would that help?
 
Jul 20, 2020
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I should be able to source some RAM from somewhere to try.

I removed the battery and then replaced it after 15 minutes - is that the way to reset the CMOS on XP,
Resetting the BIOS is OS independent, I.E it's the same on any system, whether it's XP, 10, or 7, or even Linux. Just take the battery out, but first make sure the AC is disconnected and any flea power (residual) is drained by holding the power button for 5 seconds. If the AC is still connected the CMOS won't clear as there's still power to the system. The battery keeps the settings while there's no AC connected.
 

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