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Thread: Help wanted with unkown pc problem...

  1. #1

    Default Help wanted with unkown pc problem...

    Recently I have received a coworkers laptop because he asked me to fix it. Like clockwork I inquired about the problem and was told that it wouldn't boot. Looking to see what he meant I brought it home and turned it on. It booted up to the point where the splash screen disappears and you get a mouse cursor for a second or two, then it shows a screen that says something to the effect of "Windoze is preparing your pc for first time use.". After that the screen goes black and the computer reboots and does the whole thing over again. Even trying to boot it into safe mode produces the exact same result. What I'm asking is if I missed anything or if anyone has experienced this problem before and how you fixed it.

    What I have done so far is as follows:
    Malware check comes up clean by 4 different programs: AVG, Malwarebytes, Spybot, and SuperAntiVirus. Scanning was done by removing the drive and connecting it to another machine where the scan could take place. While this is the first thing I do, the nature of this problem is largely ruled out as most malware writers are out there to steal [your life/time] from you, not be a pain in the ass.

    Hard Drive fragmentation was surprisingly minimal (2%). Problems of this nature do sometimes popup like this if hard drive fragmentation is left unchecked. But this was not the case.

    Hard Drive integrity check also came up good with no bad sectors. I do not use the hard drive checking tool windoze provides either; instead, I use a program called Spinrite and let it sit on a level 3 scan for a day. Totally clean.

    Memtest86 also ruled out the RAM. I let that one sit for at least a day. Nothing.

    I don't know what else I can do and if possible I want to try to avoid re-installing the OS as its a pain in the ass to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2


    Hmmm... search for a common list of worms and then run a complete system check for any files. Worms are literally just meant to be a pain in the ass, trust me, I deal with them all the time, though not one quite as bad as that.

    If all else fails, ask him what files he wants to save and completely reformat the entire drive.

  3. #3


    try combofix which is a pretty strong issue fixer, try creating a new user profile because the old one might be corrupt, third try running a hard drive fitness test on it, fourth try running check disk on it. if it's an XP machine try creating a bootable of bartpe, which I believe you can use to create an additional profile, if not [email protected] is a good choice but I don't think has free trial licenses.

  4. #4


    @PrettyFox: Ill try that but I don't think I'll find anything. Also I am probably going to end up asking him what files he wants to keep. His computer has a key on it and I have a cd that will work for it.

    @Jewbacca: thanks for the link. Ill try that too. Unfortunately the pc reboots in the manner described under every circumstance, making it completely unusable. Also, allow me to refer you to the third thing I tried which was to run spinrite as opposed to a simple check-disk operation. While past experiences with data recovery did not go very well (it's hit-or-miss), It has successfully mapped out bad sectors on many drives I scanned before. One more thing: It runs Windoze 7.

  5. #5


    by data recovery you mean /f and /r right? The OS does boot up, even though it's super brief?
    I'd really suggest trying to find out what type of issue there is with the Hard drive, if any, through something like Hitachi Drive Fitness Test, because if it's something like a S.M.A.R.T. error, the issue could very likely comeback even after the reinstall.

  6. #6


    It sounds to me more likely that your co-worker has been fiddling with things he shouldn't have, rather than a hardware problem . I would try this:

    Connect the hard drive to another PC. Open up the registry editor (Start -> Run -> regedit). Click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE then click File -> Load Hive.
    Navigate to the Windows directory on the other hard drive then open System32 then config. Select the SYSTEM file and choose OK.
    You will be prompted to give it a name. Call it OtherSystem, or something like that.
    Once done, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\OtherSystem\Setup. Set both OOBEInProgress and SystemSetupInProgress to 0
    Once done, click back on the OtherSystem key and choose File -> Unload Hive.
    Connect the drive back in the old system and see what happens.

    Good Luck!

  7. #7


    I agree, definately sounds like a software, rather than hardware, problem. If its running Windows 7 you could try the startup repair tool;

    Startup Repair - Windows 7 features - Microsoft Windows

  8. #8


    Sounds like it was reinstalled. Badly. Maybe using some damaged installation media.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9


    @Jewbacca: The laptop doesn't even finish booting. I don't even get a welcome screen. HD fitness test checks out fine.

    @crew435: As useful as that wasmight have been, it didn't work. I really do appreciate the thought though. I hate messing around with the registry.

    @Chrisb: Even that couldn't fix it. To me that isn't so surprising as microsoft states that it only fixes "certain" problems. I never had very good luck with microsofts own fixit tools because the problems I encounter are such so that even they (figuratively) go "wtf?".

    @Macky: I have a sneaking suspicion of that. The HD tray that secures the HD to the laptop frame is missing both screws and one of the tabs is bent. Seems to me that the hard drive may have been replaced in the past. I have no way to prove it though; but I'm not concerned with that either.

  10. #10


    I have a feeling that someone has installed windows onto that hard disk from another machine, based on the evidence of the state of the had drive tray.
    If you complete stage 2 of an install on different hardware then it won't boot when reinserted. Just like this.

    I would recommend a reinstall using appropriate media.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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