Windows XP/Win xp not booting


QUESTION: Hi I'm using my kid's pc. Its quite old. Desktop MSI 2.4 g processor 512 ram 64meg onboard display (without agp slot). 80 gig hdd partitioned into 11 gig and 60 odd-master. 160 gig hhd-slave. I'm using Win xp sp 3 built 2, Symantec antivirus, I hope this is enough info. Last week I switched it on and when it was supposed to show the windows logo it was just a blank black screen (no cursor in the corner).  I assumed that windows was corrupted so I reinstalled windows on the 11gig partition, after formatting. I really can't say how long it took, since I fell asleep and it was done the next morning. That was win xp sp 2. Same thing happened. Black screen. I swapped ram, enabled delayed transaction out of desperation. I have no idea what to do now. That was the only entertainment in my house after my TV died and my gigabyte pc needs a bios update that I downloaded and is now on the kid's pc. I'm desperate and bored. Please help.
Thanx. Joe  
By the way, I'm curios to know why you say vista, 7 and 8 are garbage.

ANSWER: Hello Joe. For the computer that is not booting up, check the BIOS for the "boot order"/"boot sequence" and once there, make sure the hard drive is made to be the first option. Given you have two hard drives, depending on your BIOS, you may have options to tell the BIOS which hard drive you want it to try. It is possible the primary booting hard drive is incorrectly selected. Figure out which drive is the 80 GB drive and make that the first option.

If everything checks out and/or the changes do not work, jump back into the BIOS and look for a page that shows all connected devices on the Master and Slave controllers (If this page is not visible [usually on the "Main" page] you may find the page as the option as "Drive Configuration" somewhere else in the BIOS. If it appears that it can not detect the drives, the controller option(s) may be off, or the pins on the hard drives themselves may be incorrectly installed.

If the slot on the device in the BIOS shows "None" or "OFF", change the option to "Auto" for that particular controller. Once done, save changes and restart. If a no go, jump back into the BIOS and go back to the drives page and look to see what the drives show. If they are showing "Unknown Device", this means the pins are incorrectly installed.

If this is the case, turn off the computer and unplug it. Recheck both drives for proper pin configurations. Some drives may have directions that are posted upside-down causing the jumpers to be installed on the wrong pins. Other times, I've encountered drives that have a "Master" and "Master w/ slave" jumper setting. Keep that in mind as you are doing "Master w/ slave" for your particular setup. One last thing that gets a lot of people in trouble is directions given for two different count of "heads". Some drives come with 15 heads, others come with 16 heads. Most drives at 80GB (if not all at this size) use a 16 head setting. Many drives will combine the "Master"/"master w/ slave" settings with the head settings. After checking everything out and making changes if needed, reseat the IDE cables on both the hard drives and the motherboard to eliminate the chance of a faulty seated connection.

Turn on the computer and check the BIOS drive settings once more. If a no go still, look at your motherboard with a flashlight if possible, otherwise just have some good light behind you and check for bad capacitors. Sometimes IDE controllers will not work properly or not at all with bad "caps". In most situations, the capacitor just "bulges" the top upward. You can rub your finger across the top of a good cap and a bad cap to better know the difference. In more serious situations, the cap may have some browning near the top or bottom from leakage of the electrolyte liquid inside the capacitor. Here is a guide to identifying bad caps here: . The guide has pictures to help determine the difference between a good and back cap visually.

If the board has bad caps, it can be fixed, but you'll need to find someone who is willing to do it. Most computer companies will not touch it just because it is not worth it to them. It is a very cheap repair and if you are good with a soldering gun, it can be done quickly and easily as long as you have the knowledge to do so. I repair motherboards with bad caps here at home all the time. It is a common thing to find in non-functioning computers and I often replace the cap with a stronger, higher voltage one so whatever caused the original cap to blow will have little to no chance of blowing the new one.

Hope something here helps. Have a great day! If you still require assistance after trying everything I've typed down here, feel free to message me again. Have a great day!

Forgot to answer the Vista, 7, 8 part of your question. As most people know, Windows Vista was a bad operating system. It was like another Windows ME for those who know how that system worked in the older days. Vista is unstable, its memory usage is ridiculous, drivers often fail or get corrupted, program support is pretty bad in comparison to Windows XP (I have some programs that no matter what you do, they just don't work on Vista, 7, or 8. and they are 32 and 64 bit programs as well, not 16 bit), boot time is ludicrous slow for what it should be, and the security is horrible. Windows 7 and 8 are built off the same kernel as Windows Vista as an attempt to improve it. Some improvements were made, but the bottom line is the kernel is still bad and Microsoft has most people on a leash with these newer operating systems.

For stability, I've seen situations where the computer would freeze after coming back from a simple screensaver or the computer would work, but the display would get screwed up to a point where you had to restart the computer manually.

For memory usage, they say 2GB of RAM is enough for Vista. Most computers sold during the time of Vista was 1 or 2GB as a standard. In reality, Vista needs 4GB or more just to run properly, and even then it is still slow. The only machine that actually runs fairly decent on Vista that I've come across is a quad-core desktop with 8GB of RAM and a high end graphics card to take care of the transparency which takes a good amount of power to smoothly run. With a fresh install of Vista, about 4GB of RAM was all the way used up. With a fresh install of Windows XP, a measly 92MB was being used.

That was physical memory. Now comes virtual memory because that plays a huge role in performance. Because Vista would use such a huge amount of RAM, a large portion would also get sent to the page file (the file on the hard drive that acts like RAM when there isn't enough physical RAM) The hard drive is extremely slow compared to physical RAM, so your computer would only be as fast as the hard drive, which is dire slow for actual use. This extremely heavy usage of the hard drive with the page file would also lower the life of the hard drive considerably given heat build up from the heavy use without much of a break to somewhat cool down. Windows XP uses such little RAM that the Page file barely gets touched in comparison, giving a more responsive feel to the computer rather than something that drags. If you look at a Vista machine and an XP machine, you'll notice the hard drive indicator light being on almost all the time, even at idle. The hard drive being constantly used for swapping memory back and forth also considerably slows down program loading times and transfer speeds

For drivers, I've often run into drivers that often get corrupted which will make certain devices unstable or not work. Wireless cards, graphics cards, sound cards and other misc I/O end devices may randomly loose functionality and would often require a re-install of the driver itself or a Windows Recovery off the backup partition if the driver was a system critical one. With Windows XP, out of the hundred of machine I've installed it on, I've yet to have one come back with a driver issue.

For some programs, they do not work with Vista. I have a game and a few other programs that works on every computer with Windows 2000 and Windows XP, was built to work for more platforms than just those two, and yet do not work on Vista, 7, or 8. Setting Vista, 7, and 8 to run a program in compatibility mode often doesn't work either. If you notice in the Compatibility menus of computers with Vista, 7, and 8, the compatibility option is default set to Windows XP SP3....see the connection?

Boot time of Vista is often 1 minute to 5 minutes depending on the hardware and setup. If the computer takes more than 40 seconds to boot with Windows XP, something is wrong. The average boot time of Windows XP is about 20 seconds on all my machines. That's pretty fast if I don't say so myself. They greatly improved boot time in Windows 7 and Windows 8, but by this time, the hardware had greatly improved in speed, making it seem like it got faster. Put Windows XP on a machine of great power today and expect it to boot in 10 seconds or less. So why get a new computer that is going to be just as slow because the operating system itself is like a governor on operating speed when you can use older hardware that's actually more durable.

Speaking of durability, notice these newer laptops becoming extremely easy to break compared to the older laptops? Thinner isn't always better. They also run hotter because the heat-sinks placed on the CPU and graphics chips are more and more pathetic and clog up with dust fast than barely a years use. Though hardware doesn't have anything to do with the operating system, I'm just pointing out that buying a new laptop is always going to be coupled with the newer, crappier operating systems which just make the situation worse.

Now finally with security. Just because with Vista, 7, and 8, you have to deal with the ridiculously annoying "User Account Control" which would stop an unknown program from starting possibly causing malicious damage to either the operating system or your personal information, doesn't mean it actually does so. Viruses have been created to bypass that days after Vista came out. You could be infected and not even know it. With Windows XP, the probability of someone trying to hack into Windows XP has dramatically lessened because most people are not focusing on that operating system like they used to. Macs for example can get viruses, and very easily. hackers just don't focus on them as much because they don't make the majority of the market. Windows XP is also more straight forward, smaller and filled with less security holes, which by now, most have already been patched up through all the updates and service packs. By keeping up to date, you constantly open yourself to digital infection. I'm sure you've heard of the saying "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." That plays big as Windows XP just works, why update anything. If it works, leave it alone. Do some light maintenance once in a while, that computer could last 20 years if treated properly.

On a side note, the Symantec security you have is also garbage in the tech world. It is filled with many holes which actually makes your computer more prone to infection than with no security at all. If that wasn't enough, Symantec really bogs down the performance of the computer greatly and often bugs you to death with unless messages. It doesn't update the virus definitions enough which is just another problem. If you paid for it, I would still take it off the computer(s) as it's worth getting real security now and not getting infected between now and the next expiration date.

For security, I recommend "Avast! Antivirus" You can get it for free by Googling "avast free" and clicking the link for the CNET website. Once you get the program and install it, open it up and go to the "Maintenance" tab. Click "Registration" right under that and click "Register for free license" (or something along those lines as the dialog may have changed slightly over the program updates). You can put in bogus info in the fields and it will still work. You'll get 365 days of protection (which is freely renewable every year) and daily automatic updates. It also gives extra features for "boot-time scan" which allows for scanning of the critical Windows files before Windows loads on the next restart. It can also stop a virus from say a friends flash drive or external hard drive from spreading to your computer. It will stop it in it's tracks and let you choose what to do. Let's just say I haven't gotten a virus since I got it about 5 years ago.

Hope this information helps you out. My hands hurt from all this typing. Hope it suites you well. Have a great day!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi thanx very much for your time helping. I appreciate it very much. I wasn't able to rate, thank or comment since I was at my sister for Christmas and I didn't want to bother you either. I feel I wasted your time by forgetting to tell you the boot sequence was correct. Jumper settings on hdd's were also correct and since you mentioned hdd's with the settings for master alone and master with slave, I do have one. Its my slave (western digital caviar). But thanx, I've learned  something, I checked all the caps and they are all fine. I used to think that if a cap is blown the board won't start. Anyway you're probably getting tired of reading. My point is I still have the problem, got new pc now. I think that the master hdd was the problem, because I tried to load windows on the same hdd with the new pc and it failed the whole time. I got it rite with other hdd and that one is now a slave. I haven't tried a different hdd on the old one yet, but I guess that's the problem. Thanx again for your effort. If you do have anything else to add I'll appreciate that. Season's greetings. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas.

Yeah, I do have just a little to add. In many cases, a board having bad capacitors will make it not boot at all just as you guessed, however there are instances where capacitors that pertain to just a particular part on the motherboard that isn't critical to POSTing may still allow the board to boot, but some hardware devices on the board to not work. On the other hand, the power supply for that computer can also be unstable, causing capacitors to blow more easily.

A side note, I have an IBM desktop with just about every capacitor blown on the motherboard from something that happened with its last owner. Believe it or not, the computer is still fully functional, but this is due to the extremely high quality power supply that comes with IBM machines. Even though the caps on the board are popped, the voltages coming from the power supply are so stable, that the required power is still being supplied to the components on the motherboard. Think about it this way. Capacitors are designed to hold extra power for more stressful loads at a stable rate. Without the caps, the power would fluctuate between different loads and the components of the motherboard would not have enough voltage to run correctly or at all.

Hope this further helps some deep down motherboard questions and possible future self-diagnosis problems you may encounter in the years.

I greatly appreciate you holding off on asking during Christmas time. Have a merry new year!

Windows XP

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I can answer most questions regarding installation of Windows XP, speed optimization, recommended minimal installation specifications, any hardware issues you may encounter, dual booting, best anti-virus software to go with without spending a dime, and much more. If you'd like to dual boot any Linux OS with your Windows XP, I can guide you through that as well. If it is not related to Windows XP, please choose another expert who can help you.


Experience includes repairing hundreds of desktops and laptops, upgrading some computers from Windows 7 or Vista to Windows XP (yes, this is actually an upgrade), using Linux operating systems for data recovery, diagnosis and more! I've also done capacitor repairs on motherboards with a high success rate. I regularly speed up customers computers to like new speeds or faster

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