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Windows XP/Unmountable boot volume

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QUESTION: Hello,

I have a 2003 Dell dimension 4550, Windows XP Professional, service pack 3, Pentium 4, 512mb RAM, Toshiba hard drive I think. I was running Avast free edition for antivirus, consistently used Ccleaner/Glary Utilities/Malware bytes/Ad Aware and maintained by utilizing disk cleanup and optimizing performance operations like defrag etc.

It would sometimes work slow. A while back it crashed and I got the blue screen of death, Unmountable boot volume. I was able previously to use a burned version of PandaSafe CD and in conjunction with chkdsk and repair to resolve the issue and it worked okay again. Two weeks ago, it crashed and since it just loops restarting. I'll explain in depth... I start the Dell up, it goes to the dell welcoming screen. At this point, I have a few options. 1)I can let it go, which results in it looping restarts while the blue screen flashes quickly and it restarts. 2) Hit f8 twice, goes to advanced options menu and I have all the options except repair your comp, which I understand xp does not have. Any option I choose, results in the restart. Safe mode doesn't work, no command promt, no networking. The only option that does something other than restart is disable automatic restart, which stops me at the blue screen displaying the error message. At this point, there is nothing else I can do but shut it down to restart. 3) at dell screen, f12 boot menu. Won't boot from cd, just restarts, strike f1, f2 etc. ide test goes through, says test okay. 4) f2, can go into bios, but changing boot menu to try and boot from cd, does nothing but restarts. I've changed numerous things in bios and even a new cmos battery, nothing changes. I can not get the computer to stop restarting. My question is, how can I get working on it when nothing is letting me do any changes? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Hi Mike,
First thing is do not continue trying to reboot the computer as this could only make matters worse.

Unmountable boot volume tells me that you may have a bad hard drive. If the hard drive has not been replaced in 12 years it is very likely bad.

Try using the utility from this website to verify your hard drive is bad
http://www.hgst.com/sites/default/files/downloads/dft32_v416_b00.iso

After burning the image to the CD make sure it is in the CD drive and press F12 and select CD drive to boot from. If you have access to a Windows 7 system, Windows 7 has a utility to burn the ISO to the disk You can run the simple or quick test if you want but definitely run the advanced test. DO NOT RUN THE ERASE OR FORMAT TEST AS THIS WILL DESTROY ANY DATA THAT MAY BE RECOVERABLE!

ISO's files are a single file that contains several other files, kind of like a zip file. The files in the ISO need to be visible on the CD not the ISO file its self.

If the test fails or cannot be tested your drive will need to be replace. If the drive is to "fair gone" your data may not be recoverable.

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

QUESTION: "After burning the image to the CD make sure it is in the CD drive and press F12 and select CD drive to boot from."

I highlighted the above because therein lies my dilemma. I am not able to get it to boot from cd, whether I go to f12 or if I go to BIOS and change the boot sequence. Nothing I do affects the cd drive into work mode. I see the light in front on and occasionally it makes a slight noise as if it's thinking of working, but overall it doesn't run like I've heard it in the past when inserting a cd. I'm essentially handcuffed. I have disks to use in making reparations, but I am unable to get the computer to boot from cd or boot from anything else for that matter. It just has a relentless loop of restarting and not much else. Is there a way to test the hard drive? I mean physically test it, by removing it from the computer and hooking it up to voltage etc? I am wondering if hard drives are able to be bench tested? Thanks very much.

Answer
Hi Mike,
No unfortunately their is no other way to test the hard drive other than to simply replace it.

Did you burn the image to CD or just copy it to CD. In other words when you open "My Computer" and select your CD/DVD drive do you see the ISO file itself or a bunch of other files.

This link may be of help to you burning the Image: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/burn-a-cd-or-dvd-from-an-iso-file

If you did burn the image to CD and not just copy it you may have a bad CD drive. You can test this by trying to boot another computer with the CD.

Windows XP

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