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The Computer Is Working Again; For Now

Posted by on Nov 18, 2008

After literally 12 hours of effort, I finally got my computer back up and running. Truthfully, I’m not sure what did it, but I’m going to detail what went on, which may give information to others who might go through this problem.

What started it all was my trying to get my scanner to work. It just wasn’t having it, and it wouldn’t run with either of the utilities are are supposed to scan items, those being Microsoft Photo Editor, my editor of choice, or its own toolbar; I have a Canon scanner. So, I did what I thought was the logical step; I uninstalled the drivers for the scanner so I could load them again after the reboot.

Okay, the reboot never stopped rebooting. At first I actually just let it go, thinking it would right itself, but that wasn’t going to happen. I then booted up in safe mode to see if I could determine what was going on; nope. I tried loading the Canon program back there, then rebooted the computer again; same issue.

I started trying to think of anything else I’d done since the last reboot. I’ve still been having major problems with the computer shutting down, and I thought I’d traced it to a HID compliance issue (human interface device, used to describe wireless hardware such as keyboards and mice) by adding some files to my computer that I’d gotten from others. That problem didn’t resolve itself, but I’d rebooted after that and the computer came back just fine.

Actually, saying my computer was coming back just fine is a misnomer. For the past week or so, any time I tried to reboot, the computer would hang and just not get it done. But if I rebooted a second time, or if I shut down the computer completely then started it back up, everything was fine. So, there were problems on the horizon.

Anyway, I kept going through the stages of booting and rebooting the regular way and through safe mode, even signing on as administrator, and nothing was working. Then I decided to try to run the Win XP repair option. When I’d accidentally erased my files before, I was actually trying to run a repair instead, but hit the wrong key and ended up doing a full reinstall. With the repair option, and I’m not talking about the Repair Recovery Console, you can have Windows repair itself, almost like a full install because it takes about as much time, but it doesn’t touch those all important Documents and Settings files, which contains all your data files, including your email files. I first had to go into the BIOS and change the boot option so it would look for the CD first, and away I went.

For the uninformed, after Windows loads all its files, it gives you some options. One allows you to hit R to go to recovery; don’t do that if you’re not close to being an expert. More on that one later. Instead, hit ENTER, which looks like you’re going to install, but you’re not at this point. What happens is you’ll come to the next screen where it will give you the option of either repairing or doing a clean install. This is where you hit the “R“. From this point on, you just let Windows do its thing, answering questions as needed, but here’s a very important point: Do NOT do any of this if you don’t have an installation key number! Oh, one more thing. After the install, when the computer reboots for the second time, you’ll want to go back into BIOS and change the boot order back to hard drive, and of course take out the XP CD.

Going on with the story, during the first repair process, suddenly it stopped and was looking for a particular video file. I don’t know why it wasn’t already on my computer, but it wasn’t. I had to go through the process of locating the driver on my laptop, then copying it over to a blank CD (I used a rewritable disk) and putting it into my computer. Of course, things never go easy for me, so it couldn’t find the file. I ended up having to reboot the computer, and when it came back it started the repair process again, but when it came to the file this time and I put the CD in, it found the file. Of course a few minutes later it needed another file, and I had to go back to the laptop and repeat that process, and of course I then had to reboot the computer and start the repair process again. Once it finally had both files, I was good to go.

Or so I thought. Once the repair process was completed, I started the computer again, and it kept rebooting itself; arrgh! I ended up running the full repair process again, just to make sure that it was done properly, especially with what I had to go through with those two files, and this time it ran perfectly.

Good to go again, right; nope! Still was stuck in some kind of loop. Also, it kept flashing a blue screen message, but it was so fast that I couldn’t read it. So I had to boot up in safe mode and go into the My Computer settings to turn that off. I then rebooted the computer, and finally, even though it didn’t boot up, it stopped on the error message so I at least had a chance to see what was going on. I saw the error message and headed to the internet on my laptop. It indicated that there was a possibility that I might have a virus. Oh yeah; you can always type in your error messages, but someone else might not have typed in exactly what your problem is. However, the first two lines of the code will usually get you somewhere close to what your issue might be. I went to McAfee’s site for its Stinger program, which will scan your computer for the latest viruses without your having to load an entire program.

Before I went through this entire process, though, I suddenly thought about opening a restore point and going back to a date when the computer was running fine. Of course, turns out I didn’t have one. Figures, because a few days ago I was thinking I should go in and create a restore point; always follow your first thought.

I booted the computer again in safe mode, then this time I ran the Stinger program. It didn’t find anything, so it wasn’t a virus. I also decided to run two other programs. I ran Error Doctor again, which I’d already run twice, then decided to run this program recommended by PC Magazine called Driver Sweeper, a free utility that cleans out bad drivers, mainly video and audio, but still, it was another check. Then, while I was at it, I decided to run Spybot, a program that looks for spyware and malware, and it found nothing. I also was going to try to run my free AVG program, but it wouldn’t work; odd. And, one final thing, I also installed Service Pack 3, which I’d already had downloaded; you never know when you’ll need those service packs.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I decided to hedge my bet. I backed up all my data files from Documents and Settings, which includes all the My Documents files. I was prepared to run the full install if my computer didn’t boot up properly.

I hit reboot, then waited. And this time, the computer booted up all the way. When I heard that wonderful applause (instead of the normal Windows opening, I replaced the sound with applause; who wouldn’t enjoy being applauded more often?), I was ecstatic. I checked the time, and it was 3:35; I’d spent 12 hours and 21 minutes trying to get this to occur. I decided to just turn off the monitor at that point and get back to everything else later in the morning.

Once I came back, I turned on the monitor to see it ready for me to do something. I had to reload many Windows updates, including reinstalling Internet Explorer 7, but I didn’t care. What I cared about was whether the computer would reboot once all that stuff was installed. It did, and that part of the computer is working well once again; whew!

The one bad thing? The scanner still won’t scan. Hey, I’ll take what I can get!


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22 Comments »

Larry:

Glad you got it back up Mitch, I am starting worry about mine. Plan to buy a backup soon but in the meantime, I ordered a external hardrive to take some files off my main one.

Larry´s last blog post..SEO-What’s more important?

November 18th, 2008 | 6:13 PM
Mitch:

That’s a great move, Larry. I have two external hard drives, which tells me I have way too much stuff.

November 18th, 2008 | 6:42 PM
Jeremy:

Mitch I know how you feel, my primary computer (a laptop) mysteriously needs a new motherboard due to some funky graphic circuitry issue. The real bummer is that it doesn’t actually NEED a new motherboard, but rather needs a simple component-level repair done (likely re-soldering the GPU)

The problem: I can’t find anyone who does component level repairs in my area, and those I’ve emailed in other parts of the country haven’t responded (business must be that good)

Either way, I know what it feels like to be relegated to a non-primary PC and am glad you got yours back up and running.

Jeremy

Jeremy´s last blog post..Nicholas Alexander’s Law of Bros and General Douchebaggery

November 18th, 2008 | 6:55 PM
Mitch:

It’s scary, Jeremy. I like to think I have pretty good knowledge of these types of things, but I just never remember all the parts. I have learned this, though; System Restore!

As for your issue, motherboards are considered as being relatively cheap these days, plus very few folks will work on laptop motherboards. So, it doesn’t look good. Man, I can sympathize.

November 18th, 2008 | 7:17 PM
Jeremy:

If it were a desktop, it would be no big deal. However, given that it’s a laptop, a motherboard is about $400 when it’s all said and done.

A component-level repair should run $150-$200 and for that I would repair it, but for $400 I figured I would make due until the holiday season when I am expecting some decent deals to pop up, likely justifying the purchase of a new machine (with a warranty) for little more than that $400 motherboard.

November 19th, 2008 | 1:19 PM
Mitch:

Actually, your best deals will come next Friday, day after Thanksgiving, and this year they’re going to be even better because retail is hurting.

November 19th, 2008 | 3:14 PM
Jeremy:

(un)fortunately I’ll be out of the country during “Black Friday” and according to the guys over at SlickDeals, this year is going to be a bit of a disappointment — it’s a bit of a catch 22, retailers need money so they drop prices and hope to make up for it in volume. It seems, however, that due to current economic conditions, retailers seem to be hesitant to take the gamble on volume…we’ll see what happens, but I’m hoping to land a decent buy mid-December.

>

November 19th, 2008 | 3:43 PM

Mitch, congratulations. Actually, I envy you. If my computer gives up on me, I call for professional help.

On last Friday night, my computer too gave up on me. I checked all the connections and decided that perhaps there is something wrong with the battery in the UPS. I had replaced the battery only in September and thought that perhaps that is where the problem was. I disconnected the UPS and connected up to the mains directly, and lo and behold the computer worked just fine. I did this with quite a bit of trepidation but luckily nothing went wrong. On Saturday, I called up the UPS blokes who said that the matter could be attended to on Monday as they were already booked for Saturday. On Monday, a Service Representative came, checked everything and tightened up a few nuts and bolts and said that everything is working fine. It was. Even connected to the UPS the computer was working fine. He however suggested that I replace the input cable from the UPS to the CPU. I did that on Monday evening and bingo, everything is ticketyboo since then.

What would life be without such hickups?

rummuser´s last blog post..Down Memory Lane.

November 19th, 2008 | 8:21 AM
Mitch:

Hi Rummuser. I started learning about the internal workings of computers back in 1997 when I kept having problems with my computer, but couldn’t get anyone to work on it in a timely basis. A lot of it is trial and error, and I’ve learned a lot. My only problem is I don’t always take the time to stop and think about which option should be first, and that’s messed me up a couple of times. So, hopefully, the next time it decides to mess up, I’ll log onto the laptop and come here to read what NOT to do first.

November 19th, 2008 | 10:20 AM
Dan:

Glad you managed to get it back up and running! I had a repeating restart issue with my computer before, and found the way to find the error was to stop windows recovering from the error – which is the reason it restarts!

Now this can be done in the system if you are able to log on by going in the system and changing something so that it presents an error message as oposed to restarting. I think there is a way to do it by pressing one of the F keys when loading up, but I can’t find it for the life of me atm I’m afraid!

Dan´s last blog post..How CommentLuv Can Help Find Hackers

November 19th, 2008 | 8:24 AM
Mitch:

Actually Dan, what you have to do is try to boot the computer up into safe mode, then go into the Properties area of My Computer and do it from there. Luckily, you’ll usually be able to get into safe mode if nothing else is working.

November 19th, 2008 | 10:21 AM

@Mitch,
I am going through similar pains… The PC has been in and out for the past three months due to Motherboard and graphics card problems. Since I couldn’t fix it permanently I left it with a friend two weeks back. Unfortunately he left for abroad! Right now blogging from my official laptop for almost a month now!

Good luck with your system!

Cheers,
Ajith

November 19th, 2008 | 10:56 AM
Mitch:

People tell me things like that all the time, Ajith. When I took my computer in, the guy had it for a week, but at least I knew where both it and he were. That’s why I try to do it all on my own first these days.

November 19th, 2008 | 12:02 PM
Jeremy:

Absolutely, I have all of my stuff on a WD 240 gig, but it’s pretty much full at this point and I want to get a TB+ solution, that data storage robot that came out a few years ago has caught my eye, but it’s too expensive for what it is….although raid functionality would be nice

November 20th, 2008 | 11:58 AM
Mitch:

When I get my next computer, I’m having a terabyte drive and I’ll add a terabyte external also; they’re so much cheaper these days. Who knows, I might get a 2TB!

November 20th, 2008 | 12:11 PM
Mitch:

Yeah, I’d hook that bad boy up and start transferring the important stuff, that’s for sure. Course, I’ve got 2 external drives, just to make sure.

November 20th, 2008 | 11:55 AM
Mitch:

Not hardly. One is a 300 GB drive, the other is a 100GB drive. I also have 3 other hard drives from other computers laying around if I need them. I keep the 300 GB attached to my computer at all times, and the other one is my traveling drive, in case I need to work on someone else’s computer.

November 20th, 2008 | 10:06 PM
Mitch:

True, but I like having the extra one because, well, mistakes can happen. Trust me on this one!

November 21st, 2008 | 2:05 PM
Jeremy:

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he mentioned picking up a WD MyBook World drive. Apparently it functions like all of the other MyBook external drives but adds the functionality of a freestanding server, allowing access to the data anywhere in the world.

I thought it sounded like a slick concept, so I figured I’d share.

November 24th, 2008 | 7:16 AM
Mitch:

That’s pretty nice, Jeremy. I found it interesting that the most information you can access off your main computer, from which files are backed up onto the drive, is 500MB, even though the new drive itself can be upwards of a terabyte. You can’t transfer video or audio files through it either; just more information for you. Still, if offers an interesting alternative to carrying around an external hard drive everywhere. And it’s not all that expensive either. Something to definitely think about.

November 24th, 2008 | 10:13 AM
Jeremy:

He did mention a downside, which was having to utilize WD’s pre-installed software which was apparently cumbersome. But he had a friend of his work around it and install some basic form of Linux which he felt to be more reliable.

Jeremy´s last blog post..Clapping For Movies – The Ultimate in Theatrical Stupidity

November 24th, 2008 | 12:02 PM
Mitch:

That means you’d have a friend, but alas, I’d be out of luck. But right now, with the external drive, it’s not really much of a concern for me.

November 24th, 2008 | 3:13 PM