Computer won't start up

My laptop will no longer start up correctly. I don’t know of anything that might have caused this, it just stopped working. First it failed to recover from hibernation, then the next time I tried to start it it froze. Now every time I try to start it goes to the Windows XP is loading screen for a minute, then the screen flashes blue and the computer restarts. I can boot from a CD but the only boot disk I have from Toshiba will erase everything and restore the computer to its initial settings, which I would prefer not to do unless it’s absolutely necessary. Does anyone know how I can fix this or at least how I might get data off of the computer?

I have a list of suggestions. But re-reading your post I will offer only one:

Call your computer-geek friend, cook (or order) him(her) dinner while he fixes your computer (or tries to).

(your comment about not having a bootable CD gave you away).

Getting your favorite computer knowledgeable friend to fix this for you is always a good solution, and is usually very much less painful than the alternative.

But to answer a specific question:

As long as the hard drive isn’t shot, getting the critical data off is usually as easy as taking the hard drive out of the laptop, installing temporarily in another system, then copying the data to some backup media like a thumb drive, external USB drive, CD, DVD, etc. You then reinstall the drive in the laptop, do a wipe and clean install of Win XP, then copy your data back from your backup media.

But you may not need to that. Sometimes turning off the option to automatically re-start on a system failure can allow you to see an error code, and that may allow you to more correctly troubleshoot the problem.

Try this:

Go to Start → Control Panel → System
Go to Advanced
Under the Startup and Recovery section, click Settings…
Under System Failure un-check “Automatically restart”

Then reboot and see of you get any usable error codes.

Try pressing F8 and running in Safe Mode. If you can do that, look at the Event Logs. They should tell you what’s wrong. Quite often IME all you need to do is run CHKDSK on the disk with Windows installed (technically, it’s called the system drive). CHKDSK may say that it can’t run and ask if you would like to run it on the next boot - say Yes.

But having got in, the first thing you should do is turn off the auto-reboot. Right-click My Computer, click Properties | Advanced tab | Settings under Startup & Recovery | ensure Automatically Restart is disabled | OK | OK.

Reboot and it should run CHKDSK and work fine. If it doesn’t, it will stop at the blue screen. Copy everything down, but you’re primarily interested in the paragraph which says STOP. You want the first hex number and the last word in caps - often INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE or KMODE_EXCEPTION_ERROR. Plug the number into MS’s knowledgebase and proceed from there.

Edit: dammit, I’m sure RJKUgly’s post wasn’t there when I started.

Well, I’ve been trying to get into safe mode and got in once, but the computer froze completely before I was able to change anything. Since then I haven’t even been able to get that far.

Were you able to toggle the restart on system failure to get a bluescreen and error?

Laying bets on UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME :cool: tosses in a $10 chip

If you have SP2 installed, there should be an option in the F8 menu structure under “Advanced Options Menu” called “Disable The Automatic Restart On System Failure”. or similar. (Does the same thing RJKUgly and Quartz said). Fixing is unlikely until you’ve got an error code.

The options for saving data are varied, depending on your technical proficiency, what hardware you have access to, and how much you want to spend. You could
[li]Get an external notebook USB enclosure, put the drive in it and hook it up to another PC. (Pretty easy, always a handy thing to have around anyhow)[/li][li]Install the disk in another laptop that has 2 HD bays (not the norm, but not super-uncommon either)[/li][li]Get a live CD and copy your data off to another system. (Free and fast, but finding your files and the xfer may be confusing if you’re new to Linux)[/li][li]Continue with troubleshooting; unless the HD is going bad anyhow, few Windows repair steps are going to kill your data. (Those that might usually warn you, even if those advocating their use don’t)[/li][li]Install 2K or XP again to another directory. It’s not going to fix your PC, (and is no good for running most installed programs), but requires no extra hardware, and lets you copy off data before re-imaging.[/li][/ul]
Oh yeah; I’m gonna go with PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA. :smiley:

I haven’t been able to change any settings, but by watching carefully when the error message flashes on the screen I saw that it is indeed “UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME”, but I couldn’t read anything after that.

If it does become absolutely necessary are you sure that this CD will wipe everything? It is quite common for manufacturers to ship recovery and restore CDs with the computer. The recovery part of the CD saves everything in “normal” places to save things (My Documents folder), makes a temporary partition and then proceeds to restore to factory defaults.

Does your CD see restore and recovery, not just restore? Even though if it does just say restore it may recover anyway. This is just something to be aware of and in no way should it replace any of the above advice. Just saying if the data isn’t that important, or if you are poor ass or whatever, you may still recover some things even if the worse case happens.

EDIT: read the whole thread before posting :smack: . Try this:

handy dandy Microsoft article

I’d crack the case and check the hibernation switch.

I’m going with hibernation failure induced corrupt file system.

Don’t crack the case - nothing useful in there.

This is tricky to solve. The easiest solution is to boot up with a BartPE disk (bootable windows CD) and run chkdsk -f on the boot volume. You need to find someone who has or can build one (requires a Windows Install CD and a working system, instructions on the internet).

LiveCDs (linux CDs using NTFS-NG) won’t mount the NTFS volumes if they are marked dirty or otherwise corrupt. No help there.

Otherwise, boot up with a Windows Install CD and go to console mode. This may not work if the FS is badly corrupt (and you say you don’t have a disk).

Final option - remove the drive from the laptop (usually pretty easy, often behind the battery), use a USB caddy with the appropriate interface (2.5" IDE or SATA if it is recent), mount the drive on a working Windows PC and see if you can run chkdsk. If not, there are data recovery tools that will try to rebuild the data by scanning the drive and inventing data structures (PC Inspector is one that is free). This can be slow. Once you have copied data off, format the drive, check for bad blocks and re-install if the drive seems to be ok.