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XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-01-02 12:37 PM
WinXP Home (fully updated), 1.4G AMD TB, Asus mobo (I want to say it's the A7V266-E, but I'm not home at the moment to verify), 512M DDR, Maxtor 30G 7200rpm (model escapes me), Pioneer CD-RW, Phillips DVD, LinkSys 10/100 NIC. Graphics card is a special issue I'll treat below:

The background: Last Friday, rebooted after the system locked. Thought it might have been Zone Alarm Pro 3.0 and/or PC-Cillan, which I had just purchased and installed. Upon making it to the desktop, it would load a few of the tray items in and then spontaneously reboot itself. Not entirely sure what it was choking on, although after doing some snooping, I suspect something got munged in the Nvidia tray app that was causing the system to reboot (similar to the situation outlined in MSKB Q293078).

Subsequent failures began to take place: All of a sudden the "Activate Windows" dialog popped up (mind you, nothing in the hardware changed...yet) and eventually lost video altogether. Suspecting that my GeForce2 MX200 crapped out, I went out last night and picked up a new GeForce4 MX 440 "Xtasy" (VTek) and installed it.

Current state of affairs: I have video again, but both the Activate Windows issue and the spontaneous continual reboot after about 5 seconds past the splash screen. System will work in plain vanilla safe mode, but if I attempt Networked Safe mode, Debug, etc., same basic scenerio. I've frogged with the system config app to turn startup options on/off, to no avail. Thought there may have been a conflict in both firewall software and anti-virus, so uninstalled BlackIce Defender, Zone Alarm Pro 3.0, AVG 6.0, and ATTEMPTED to uninstall PC-Cillan, but I suspect it's put a hook in the early startup to check boot-sector virii and has thus far been resistant to removal in safe mode.

Additional Plans of Correction: After pouring over the forums here at linking to some potentially relevant MS Knowledge Base articles, I've planned the following:

o Will try to boot up in "VGA Mode" from the startup options menu and, assuming success, purge the old nvidia data files (particularly the .dll files, which I suspect have somehow corrupted.) Additionally, may crank back the video hardware accelerator options to nothing and slowly bump it up to check stability.

o Going to check the system clock to make sure something didn't go wonky there and consequently "outdate" the activation cert. Additionally, although the Activation dialog hasn't been blank, I may follow the instructions provided in Q314935.

And finally...HELP!

Providing none of the above works, is there a plan of action I might pursue that I've overlooked? Getting just a touch desperate here... have gone almost a full week without my "Dark Age of Camelot" or "Dungeon Siege" fix. Seriously, would like to hash this out myself if possible, otherwise I'll have to cart the beast down and let Jimmy-Jo-Bob-Bubba tech have a crack at it (at close to $60/hour!)

Okay, long enough...volley is yours.


2. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lbyard May-01-02 02:45 PM
In response to message 0
Check the CPU fan. A computer rebooting itself usually, but not always, has a hardware problem. Very nice writeup! Larry-Jo-Bob-Bubba

3. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-02-02 06:13 AM
In response to message 2
Thanks for the reply Larry-Jo-Bob-Bubba.

I went back to basics last night and pulled and re-seated all the cards, firmed up all the cables, battoned down the hatches, etc. I then followed my plan of attack, eliminating likely scenerios as I went along. Here's what I'm coming up with...

It is almost certainly software related. I attempted to do a (R)epair function with the XP boot disk, but after logging in as the administrator, it just sat there with the "doe in the headlights" look at the command prompt. So I went into safe mode, and did an "Upgrade", which appears to have brought it further along than it was.

It is no longer spontaneously rebooting. However, at the point where it was previously restarting, I'm getting the XP equivilent to the "Blue Screen of Death." Blue screen with text, "Windows has stopped loading to prevent damage to your machine...", yada, yada, yada. It provided some cryptic long hex strings, presumably which mean something IF you happen to know the codes. I think I recalled seeing something of a lookup table on MSKB site, will have to check it out.

I suppose it could feasably be the BIOS, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the setup. The one thing that bugs me is that the PC-Cillan "hook" it puts in place to check the boot sector continues to load-up, despite my best efforts to squash it, and this could POTENTIALLY be the root of my problem. The notification comes up right after the POST memory test, just before the system auto-scans for available devices. I'm almost thinking now as I'm typing this I may be able to re-write a pristine bootblock...if that hook is being interpretted as a virus, it might be bringing the whole thing down. Although oddly, safe mode still works fine.

Okay, early morning, pre-coffee rambling now. Any further insights would be greatly appreciated.

Tech Wannabe

4. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lbyard May-02-02 10:49 AM
In response to message 3
I think I would do a clean install. Larry

5. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-02-02 12:16 PM
In response to message 4
I'm saving that for my trump card, if all else fails. I have documents, receipts, listservs, images, etc. that have not been backed up yet. If I could write to the CD-RW in safe mode, I'd be able to archive the files and then do a clean install. However, for some reason, XP won't let you access the write capability while running safe (if you can somehow, the means has eluded me thus far.) Being able to burn my backups would make the decision infinitely easier to wipe the system and start over.

Any super-secret means of accessing the burner while safe?

Thanks again...this is helping.

6. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lbyard May-02-02 02:40 PM
In response to message 5
I don't recall if XP has the capability to boot in the step-by-step mode prompting for selectively loading drivers, etc. like 9x... Larry

7. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-02-02 10:47 PM
In response to message 6
Wish it did. Would make life much easier. But that's "progress" for ya.

I did, however, dig into my old bag of Windows tricks and I *FINALLY* got the system back up. Did the old "hide the Windows folder and reinstall the OS on the same partition" trick. I'm back in action again. Not an elegant solution, but I tried playing nice to no avail, it was time to start some desperation moves.

Once I burn all the content I need to off the HDD, I'm going to format it and start from a pristine system. Too much mucking about, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Windows figures out what I did and tries issuing calls to the old installation.

Thanks again for all your help. Much appreciated.

8. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lbyard May-03-02 11:05 AM
In response to message 7
It looks like there may be a Zone Alarm/Windows XP problem. A customer called me this morning and his computer has a similar problem, except it does not ask to be activated. It started right after an aborted Zone Alarm install. I'll be working it Monday. Believe I saw another XP rebooting problem in these forums not too long ago. Please tell me more about the hidden Windows folder trick. Thatís something one does while watching the submarine races, right? Larry

9. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-03-02 01:54 PM
In response to message 8
> Thatís something one does while watching the submarine races, right?

DOH! I'm taking the 5th on that one!

Seriously, it's a rather low-brow approach to the problem. In my case, I popped the WinXP CD in, booted off that (might have to configure BIOS to prefer the CD in the boot sequence) and put it into (R)ecovery mode. Logon to the appropriate partition (in most cases, the one with the OS installed) and if necessary provide the administrator password. You're put into a sort of "limited command shell" of sorts...the only folders you have access to are %Systemroot%\Windows and the CD-ROM that you booted from.

Here's the dicey part, not for the faint of heart...issue a "RENAME WINDOWS WINORIG" command and hit <ENTER>. Once you issue that, there's no turning back. Reset the machine and boot again off the CD. This time do an install. When it asks which partition, give it the root partition (in most cases C:) and (watch this) MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT CHOOSE THE OPTION TO DELETE THE CONTENTS ON THE PARTITION YOU CHOOSE!!! (Assuming you want to have access to your existing files.) This will go through the same process as if you were putting a fresh installation of Windows on the device, INCLUDING a re-write of the registry, which I suspect is where the little booger that kept trashing the system resides.

Once it gets done churning away, you have essentially two copies of the OS on the same partition. You may also notice when you first power up that you have two identical OS's to choose from...choose the top one, or just let the machine auto-select after it times down for 30 seconds.

Now, a few things to point out:

1) Although your original files will be intact because of the new registry, it will likely not allow you to use many of those applications (MS Office, for instance.) That's okay for my purposes; I simply needed access to my irreplaceable files (documents, address books, this year's tax forms, etc.) Once I back these up, the whole enchilada gets reformatted and re-installed.

2) This was done with an original "fresh" install CD, not an upgrade. I'm not sure what sort of validation routines an upgrade disc will use, but you may want to have your copy of Win98/2K/ME around to pop in, just in case.

3) I opted NOT to (re-)Activate Windows XP at this time, and for two reasons: a) I plan on wiping the system and re-installing as soon as I back up my files, and b) in the process of trouble-shooting the system, I wound up replacing both the video card and NIC, and don't want to get zapped by Micro$oft for too many changes to the setup. So for now, I'll put up with the "occassional" reminders that pop up.

Hope this helps. Again, was neither pretty nor elegant, but served my purpose of getting at my files to back them up. Good luck. Let me know how you make out with the machine next week.


10. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
Anchor 100 May-06-02 04:03 PM
In response to message 9

It may seem a small thing but when I was re-building my present system I contacted PC-cillin and asked if there was any problem with
PC-cillin and AMD processors??

They responded stating that "after instillation before re-boot disable start up scan? as there was a problem with PC-cilln and this process and AMD processors" so I have done that from the outset?

I had a problem with with auto re-start in XP contacted Microsoft direct they advised that a Problem existed With Easy CD Creator direct CD and old files in XP since i updated Easy CD Platinum to 5:1 using the rixio update from the site no problem

Microsoft did suggest re-installing XP in to a new directory and then deleting the old!!! I did not fancy that so I did the update

I have discoverd from my local PC shop round the corner that Gforce MXMX400 single data cards are not happy with XP if you use the latest Nvidia drivers insted of the XP included ones

I hope this helps
Just before I posted this this I have just e-mailed microsoft some detailed stop codes that I have recorded concerning MXMX400 gforce difficulties


14. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lbyard May-06-02 05:13 PM
In response to message 8
Well, I fixed my customerís computer that was flashing a blue screen and then restarting after he had an aborted Zone Alarm install. After reviewing Microsoft knowledgebase, etc, for a fix, which I did not find, it took about five minutes to correct. Simply Start in the Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key when Windows XP is about to start-up, wait for the menu with the Yes to start in the Safe Mode and No to Recover from a Restore point, choose No, and restore from the most recent restore point just before the software change. This procedure is not supposed to change user data and can be reversed (according to Windows XP). Worked great. My customer was so happy after I showed him how it was done that he doubled the ten bucks ($10) I said it would cost him. Larry

15. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
DAoC_Rox May-07-02 11:12 AM
In response to message 14
Roger: Kind of suspected PC-Cillan was the culprit...it was particularly resistant to being removed from the system. I may try a re-install, de-activating the boot-up scan (I found out I can also toggle the boot-scan via BIOS.) I figure if worst comes to worst and it re-frags my system, I'll just format and start over.

I had also heard of certain conflicts regarding the Roxio products and XP in upgrading an existing install (the Microsoft Experts forum this morning also indicated there is a problem with the latest version of Nero Burning ROM from ahead software and XP.)

Larry: Great idea! However, in my case, something must have happened to my copy of the restore database as it melted down: it actually reported that I had *NO* restore points!!! Hence, my former dilemma. At least with this thread, we have some working solutions and work-arounds when the logical recovery methods fail to work.

Thanks again for the continued input, it's been (and hopefully will continue to be) quite valuable!


16. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
Anchor 100 May-12-02 05:53 PM
In response to message 15
You may find this difficult to belivee but I downloaded the all embracing security Patch for IE6 from Micosoft but forgot that I had get right installd and fully active (YEP I done it with get right!! big big mistake)

When I updated the XP icons and all the system acess points kept stating refusing to acknowledge that they were XP system actions

The worst impact was the continual re-boot yes continual re-boot a heck of a game

Safe Mode no result
restore no acess
All Windows etc. no acess

So I came to the conclousion clean install was the only answer did that a long job
The only residual problem is the 3D function had to disable it to get the Graphics to function

I asked Microsoft why? am awating a reply I can guess

So a lesson in XP do not download Microsoft Patches with non Microsoft download software?

My question Tim did you do the same or similar?


17. RE: XP Continual Reboot Loop
lonsome luey May-29-02 07:55 PM
In response to message 16
well I have seen this if the power supply is weak, but being a fairly new PC my question is how many watts is the power supply. With a burner and zip drive, cd rom, 2 hdd's, I have seen new power supplies go bad in 4 or 5 months. This "only work in Safe mode" is a common power supply problem. The Pc only has enough power to opertate in Safe mode because all the hardware is not started up and communicating with the OS here. Try swapping the power supply out with a new one, higher wattage, or unplug everything but the Master hard drive and booting into normal mode.
Good Luck.

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