XP Won't Boot WIth Large Hard Drive

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KertDawg

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Hello,

Hardware is Dell Inspiron 9300, Windows XP MCE + SP2. I installed a 250GB WD hard drive in January 2008, and removed the existing 80GB drive. The new drive is IDE, as this seems to have been the last Inspiron made without SATA. The following story has happened three times since January.

I booted the WD Data Lifeguard Tools CD 11.2 and created a partition of size 250GB. I booted Dell's XP CD and installed XP without incident. The computer runs fine for a while. After some time, the computer boots to an empty text screen with a cursor in the upper-left corner. This is right after POST and before anything Windows-related happens. So, F8 doesn't work, safe mode doesn't work, and there's no Windows logo. The only thing that I could think of that worked was to delete the partition and recreate it.

The first two times that this happened, it was after about 2 months of using the computer. Everything worked very well in that time. I can't think of anything that happened out of the ordinary on the days when the computer stopped booting.

The third time, I did a few things slightly differently. I installed CentOS (and a swap partition) on two other partitions. I installed GRUB as well, thinking that this might help diagnose the problem. It turns out that XP stopped booting after less than a month. GRUB works fine, and I can boot into CentOS without problem. When I try to boot into XP, it shows the "rootnoverify" and "chainloader" lines on the screen, and then nothing more.

Here's a list of things that I've tried, in no particular order:

I ran FIXMBR and FIXBOOT from the XP recovery console. This removed GRUB, but it didn't boot into Windows. I reinstalled GRUB after this.

I ran chkdsk from XP recovery console.

I checked the NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files. They match the files on the XP install CD.

Interestingly, I can read the files from the XP partition in CentOS. I've been able to back up my files *after* the boot problems each time.

Anyone have any ideas? I appreciate the help.

- Kert
 

cdtplug

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have you tried just booting from the dell xp disc and deleting the partition and then make the new partition, doing a full format rather than a quick format.

may be worth a try
 

lawnmowerdeth

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I have just run into this exact same problem with a 160GB drive. It worked fine for about 2 months, and now just boots to the cursor screen you described.
FIXMBR and FIXBOOT didn't resolve the problem, neither did an XP repair install.

I can hook the drive up to another PC via USB and verify all the data is still there.

Did you find any solutions to this?
 

callahs

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Sounds like a hardware issue. Track '0' on the HD is bad or the IDE chip. Whats the model? Stuff out of china is crap anymore! Try running the tools from seagate or WD.
 

Lee Jay

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It's not a hardware issue. I'm having the same trouble with my 8600. It might be related to the old 137GB limit.

The only thing we've found that fixes it is imaging the drive and putting the image back on there. Mine has now failed again a week after doing that.

I wish I knew the cause, but my next solution is going to be to image the drive onto my 120 as my boot drive and leave the 250 for the data drive and see if that fixes it.
 

lawnmowerdeth

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I think I figured it out!
I'm now fairly sure it is the 137 GB limit, so if your hard drive is huge, this is sort of bad news.

I used a partitioning utility to shrink the C drive and move the other partitions (dell and utility), so that the used space was below 137GB. I left the remaining un-partitioned, and at the far end of the drive. So I lost about 20 gigs worth of my 160. I used Paragon Partition Manager 2005, with the drive plugged in via a USB caddy on another PC

Put it back in the laptop, and Windows booted normally, like the problem never happened.

Apparently Windows didn't have a problem addressing the extra space, and would show the full size drive. My theory is that once any data actually got written past where the BIOS believes anything should be, we get the blinking cursor.

Hope this helps.
 

jbrener

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I have the same problem with my Inspiron 8600. I ghosted the original 80 GB drive onto a new WD 250GB Scorpio drive supplied by Dell. It booted a few times and showed the correct contents and free space. Then suddenly it stopped booting and I got the blank screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. Bios (Phoenix A09) now only showed 137 GB. F8 was ineffective on boot but F12 worked and I ran Dell diagnostics which found no problems with my hardware. So I replaced the new drive with the old 80GB drive and the machine booted flawlessly. I then upgraded the Bios to A14 and put the 250GB back but to no effect - no boot - blank screen with blinking cursor. Does anyone know why one cannot scroll down on Page 1 of the Bios to select another option for the Hard Drive?
:pfff: :ange:
 

jfelten

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Try defragging. I had a dual boot windows XP/Linux 160GB drive that worked fine that I upgraded to a 250GB drive with a 180GB XP partition. All was fine for awhile then one day windows wouldn't even start to boot yet Linux continued to boot fine. I won't go in to the deep details here, but the XP CD wouldn't boot either (hung with a message about checking hardware)! I also downloaded the microsoft recovery console .iso and burned that to CD and it wouldn't boot either. XP filesystem still accessible from Linux. chkdsk /R (drive in external enclosure) didn't help. Oddly running a defrag "fixed" it (plus the XP CD would then boot as well). Unfortunately it soon happened again. Again a defrag "fixed" it. That is where I am tonight.

I'm starting to think now that once files get a certain distance in to the partition, windows chokes on boot. Defragging moves them back closer to the "front" of the partition. But what is causing this and why does it seem to only afflict a minority of computers? I'm using a Dell Latitude D810 laptop. Is everyone here having trouble with Dells?

Hope this helps someone. Try defragging. It won't fix the problem but it may get you booted again for awhile. You'll probably need to put your drive in an external enclosure though to defrag it, which may not be an option for everyone.
 

jfelten

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> funny, my twin 1TB drives work fine...

At the risk of feeding a troll . . .

Yea, and the 1.27 Petabyte fibre channel SAN I use at work works pretty dang well too. And your point is? What model laptop are you running twin 1TB drives in exactly?

End of feed.
 

jfelten

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Dell Inspiron 9300 = Laptop
Dell Inspiron 8600 = Laptop
Another Dell Inspiron 8600 = Still a Laptop
Dell Latitude D810 = Laptop.

I think it is safe to say that everyone here knows that windows XP is generally capable of handling file systems larger than 128GB. We are trying to find out why XP on our Dell laptops suddenly won't even try to boot without warning after working fine for some time. It looks like an issue with the Dell BIOS on my 3 year old Dell laptop. Your posting sounded like you were simply bragging about 250 USD worth of hard drives. I for one certainly appreciate any helpful postings.

 
What are the brand of HD's/motherboards you are all using? Its not Windows, so assuming the BIOS haven't been touched, its either the HD's or the Motherboard itself acting up.

Its been ages since i brought a Dell, i thought the Inspiron was their desktop line... :pt1cable:
 
G

Guest

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Hi Dudes,
got the same thing since I exchanged a 80GB with a 160GB hard disc. All of sudden on a start up, blinking cursor. :cry: first I thought it's the HD, did reinstall, bought a new HD. Still the same.

Dell Inspirion 8600. BIOS A03. Samsung 160GB.


Try to solve it with shrinking the partition :pt1cable:

cheers
 
G

Guest

Guest
I think this is my 2nd and last post.

I've just resized the hard disk to 132GB and my Notebook is starting fine. Just want to confirm the message of the other guy. It really works to just resize the drive.

good luck and good night
 

kecso

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Hello, I have Dell Inspiron 6000.
When I replaced my 60 GB HDD with WD 250GB (WD 2500BEVE) approx. 2 months was working (booting perfectly) but after that simply didn't boot.
Cursor was blinking in the upper left corner as described above. Here you write that resizing the drive helps.
But what when I have sensitive data on the drive ? Can I save them somehow ? Is it somehow possible to connect this large HDD via USB for example and save the data ?
Thanx for the help
 
G

Guest

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My question is that if f I partition my my WD 250 gig drive and put the XP on the C drive using less then 137 gig, can i make the rest for the drive another letter and put things like pictures and music on the second half of the drive? or do I have to leave the rest of the drive unassigned?

Thanks,
Jeff
 

markerb

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Jeff,

I'm sure that will work, to keep the boot partition all within the BIOS' addressable space. If you make a boot partition bigger than the BIOS can see, at some point some important boot/OS information is going to get stored above that limit.

I'm just about to try a WD 250 G drive on my 9300 with EIDE, and split it into two partitions. I'll let you know (although it can take months to know for sure, according to the stories above).

Mark
 
G

Guest

Guest
I finally was able to test what this post said after backing up all my data. I used a linux system resource CD to boot and then ran "wizard" which it tells you to do to run a GUI session of linux after it boots to a prompt. Then I ran GPart I think - whatever the partition software was. I reduced my partition to 130GB and it booted just like everyone said! Finally. Thank God!

Savance
In Out Board specialist
www.eioboard.com
 

huff1013

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Add another Dell Laptop to the list...Same stories as above...
Dell Inspiron 6000
Bios = A09 - (Setup showing HD as 137gb - that's a clue)
OS = WinXP Pro SP3
HD = WD Scorpio 160gb - WD1600DEVE
Checking Dell Support - says this model has IDE drivers for WD40, 60, and 80gb HDs...nothing higher?
Also BIOS A09 is the only available...sigh...dated 2005
Defragging it as a slave to another machine...looks like the data will be moved all to the 1st half of the drive, so keeping fingers crossed, but I will also resize the partition below 137gb just to be safe.

Thanks for all the comments guys!
I was really beginning to question my skills (over 27 years since DOS 3.3)
Todd
 

Bob Denny

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You guys are GREAT! I also have an i9300 and this happened to me when I installed a 250GB IDE. I thought the drive was bad so I returned it for a 160, same problem. Then I thought I might have had some malware... nope. Clean scan.

Shockingly I imaged the "bad" drive with Acronis TrueImage, and restored the "bad" image and it booted! Now I'm restoring but with the active partition set to 135GB, leaving about 14GB empty at the end. Of course it booted, but I won't know if this worked for a few weeks :whistle:
 

JimPort

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I have never posted anything before, but wanted to add my grateful comments to this string, which I found quite helpful in getting me down the right path (especially the post by 'lawnmowerde'!). And I am pleased to say I have found a relatively easy solution to this issue.

First, some background. I was trying to replace a dead 40 GB HDD on my Dell Inspiron 600m laptop, and bought a WD Scorpio EIDE 250 GB HDD to replace it. I installed it without partitioning -- in other words, keeping the C: at a full 250 GB -- and loaded back Windows XP from the original installation CD (SP1), and then had to load all the drivers, applications, etc. from the other Dell disk as well. Of course, then I had to update XP with all the updates, and back all the way to SP3. Finally, I reinstalled my programs, files and shortcuts to get it back to working order. In any event, I got the new HDD and laptop back to working mode as normal. I could boot, reboot, and reboot to my hearts content, without any problems - but only for a while. (Most of this can be avoided if you had a ghosted or cloned backup, which I didn't.) Anyway, I thought everything was fine, and I could run (& even reboot) as normal.

As I usually leave my laptop on continuously, I didn't have any issue until about a month or so later, when I had to reboot after loading a new program. Then it wouldn't reboot and I got the infamous flashing cursor after the BIOS screen splash (hence my Googling & finding this string!).

After looking through these forums, I decided to try the theory some new data had been written above the 137 GB point on the HDD. I figured if I could resize and/or repartition the HDD to below the 137 GB level, I'd be OK. I would need a good Partition Manager software to do this. So here is what I found that worked:

1- Ran out and got a copy of Partition Commander 10 from my local OfficeDepot ($50). I read this has a self-bootable 'Boot Corrector' application, which allows you to put the disk in your CD/DVD drive, boot from that drive, and run the app directly from the disk. (You first need to hit F-12 on the BIOS screen during the startup to change the one-time boot order to the CD/DVD drive so the program will load.) I also looked at (and even downloaded) Norton PartitionMagic 8.0, but it didn't seem to have this crucual self-bootable capability, as did PC10.

2- Run the 'Boot Corrector' app, which will allow you to fix: MBR, Boot Partition, Registry, etc.

3- Then I ran the main partition manager program, which allowed me to resize my C: drive from the full 250 GB to below 137 GB (I used 120 GB).

4- Ran 'Boot Corrector' once more, just to make sure it 'took' after partitioning.

5- After running these steps, I was able to boot directly again off the HDD! And the best part was all my files were still intact!

6- I then created a second partition on the HDD, which would be labeled D:, or E:, depending on what else is assigned already (mine showed as E:, since my D: was already assigned to my CD/DVD Drive), so I didn't waste the other (roughly) half of the available disk space. I made this drive the balance of the HDD, or 130 GB.

7- The only issue I had: I did have to re-load some of the Windows XP files (and subsequent updates), since some of them may have been lost during the boot correction and/or partitioning. But all my files & programs were still OK. Just to be sure, though, I reinstalled some of my applications, so they could recognize hardware (my LogiTech Webcam Software, for example).

8- One quirk, which I guess makes sense: I did have to reauthorize my iTunes library (which, fortunately, was also intact) to the computer, since after repartitioning, it probably "looked" like a different computer to the library. (I first "de-authorized" the computer, and then re-authorized, so I wouldn't have 'two' computers authorized to my library.

So, it is possible to get rid of the dreaded 'flashing cursor', as well as get beyond the 137 GB limit, and if you install a new HDD larger than this, first partition it with C: less than that limit!

Thanks to everyone for their posts - it truly helped me!

JimP
 

No88Fan

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My thanks, also, for telling me what I need to know about this same issue I'm having with my WD2500BEVE. No need to return the HD for another that would act the same way without these fixes.

I do have a question, though. I have nothing on my Latitude D800 that I need so I plan to reinstall WinXP Pro and format an NTFS partition in the process through the WinXP install CD. I haven't tried it yet but:

1. Can I tell the WinXP installer to make a 135 GB partition to put WinXP in and then run Acronis Disk Director to add another partition for the rest of the drive?

2. Can I get WinXP to make two partitions, one 135 GB and the other of the rest of the WD2500BEVE?

3. Must I tell WinXP to partition the full 250 GB (really only about 232 GB, right) and then use Acronis Disk Director to resize it and make another partition?

4. How do I do this in a way to preserve C: as the main Windows/Program Files/etc. partition, D: as the CD drive, and let E: be the second partition on the HD for My Documents? I think Disk Director will let me reassign drive letters after the fact but maybe you a way to do it through WinXP or the BIOS.
 

JimPort

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Hi No88Fan,

I believe you can set up multiple partitions during th initial WinXP installer, but not certain. (It's certainly much easier to use a partition software progam like Partition Commander, or in your case, Disk Director either before or after the fact, especially if there is no hard data on it to worry about.)

So, #1 should defintely work, and #2 should also work, I believe. I don't think you need to do #3, although that software would probably still allow you to resize (shrink) the first partition and set up a second partition, while preserving your data (or at least the boot/system portion.

For #4, you have to make sure that the C: is the Boot partition, which should be the default if using WinXP installer, etc. And also make sure that C: is the only partition that is listed in the Properties as "Active" (This is the term for the "Bootable" partition - You can't have multiple "Active" partitions and expect it to boot up.) In my case, C: is the Boot partition ("Active"), D: is my CD Drive, and E: was automatically set up as my 2nd partition ("Non-Active"). (Your sequence my differ if you do it from the WinXP start-up, as oppposed to using the partition software after the fact, as I did.) And yes, with those programs (at least the one I used) you should be able to reassign the drive letters, but I didn't want to push my luck once I was up and running again!

Note - In my case, I first tried partitioning the 250 GB HDD into a 135 GB + a 115 GB partitions, but it didn't seem to recognize the 135 GB partition (and wouldn't boot up), so I backed it down to 120 GB (+ 130 GB) which worked, but it may have been because of the older BIOS that was installed, or something else it didn't like for my system. ("Your actual results may vary" as The Man says!)


Hope that helps, and good luck!
 

Prudence

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Jim,

I have a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. I replaced my 30 gig (ha ha) drive with a Scorpio 160GB ATA-100 8MB 5400RPM Mobile Hard Drive last November. All has gone extremely well until the other day and it would not boot up, just a flash of “Dell” then black screen. I tried using my xp cd to repair it…. Nothing worked. I was blaming it on a group of windows update, thinking the sp3 had snuck in their without my notice.

This is interesting about this “size” issue – never have used partitions. I do know that my files all seem intact when I check it through a usb on another computer, and on my laptop using my old hard drive (as I am doing now).

I welcome any advice you have – this particular issue is uncharted territory for me.

Also, If I were to have to reformat and reinstall windows xp at some point, should I avoid sp3??

Prudence
 
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