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Laptop error message
Old 07-14-2007, 05:09 PM   #1
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Laptop error message

I have a used $400 Dell Latitude D505 that I take on travel. (Otherwise it sits in a closet until its battery is dead.) I bought it used with no CDs or documentation or other utilities-- just the laptop.

Yesterday I hauled it out after six weeks, turned it on, and got the message "Battery critically low! Hit F1 to continue". It wouldn't power down on its own so, after hunting around for the power supply a couple minutes, I plugged it in. The laptop seemed to boot through the WinXP screen but the display didn't come up. After a few seconds it went dark (in retrospect probably the screensaver kicking in) so I held the power button down until it shut off.

When I rebooted it complained about not being able to boot the previous time and asked what I wanted to do. I chose the "continue normal boot" option. It went through the same behavior but I could hear the hard drive searching so I let it run on a while longer. Eventually it went blue and coughed up the following DOS text:
>
Stop: c0000218 {Registry File Failure}
The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SECURITY
or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.

Beginning dump of physical memory
Physical memory dump complete.
Contact your system administrator or technical support group for further assistance.
<

Dell's diagnostics gave me the following on the hard drive:
>Test Results : Fail
Error code : 1000-0142
Msg: Unit 4 : Drive Self Test failed. Status byte = 79.<

Booting to Safe Mode (with or without command prompt) shows a screen of drivers loading. It gets to a file "Mup.sys", stops there, and eventually gives me the same blue screen & registry failure message.

Neither the laptop HD or a CD will boot to anything-- safe mode, a command prompt, a previous restore point, anything. Putting in a WinXP CD is supposed to give me access to something called a "Recovery Console" with a prompt to run CHKDSK /R. (I'm familiar with CHKDSK but I've never had to work with a Recovery Console.) I don't have the laptop's original WinXP CD so I used an old WinXP CD that just tries to delete the laptop's OS partition and start over with a new partition & installation.

Apparently when booting anything with WinXP there's no way to avoid going to the registry, and that registry data is probably written on a bad HD sector.

A Google search confirmed all those messages have been seen before and there are plenty of websites that suggest various solutions, but all of them start with a command prompt. My specific problem is getting at the hard drive to get that prompt.

I poked around Dell's website looking for a recovery utility but if one exists, it's very hard to find. At this point I could continue to mess around with deleting the OS partition and reloading WinXP but I don't know if the HD is even working well enough to make it worth the effort.

It's not a crisis. The data is already backed up so I could work through the reinstallation process if the HD is worth the effort. Before I go down that road, is there any other way to get at the HD's command prompt? Anyone know if it's worth copying GRC's "Spinrite" or some other HD utility to a CD to see if that'll load on the laptop at boot? Does anyone have any other suggestions?
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:25 PM   #2
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Nords, I'm not a techie, but I have had a similar experience with an old laptop that I had bought new. I took it to the professionals and they tried, but......I'm afraid it couldn't be resuscitated. The hard drive was dead.

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Old 07-14-2007, 05:34 PM   #3
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If you ran diags from a Dell CD or from ROM (meaning the operation is totally independent of XP), and got that "drive failure" message, then your HD is really gone.

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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
At this point I could continue to mess around with deleting the OS partition and reloading WinXP but I don't know if the HD is even working well enough to make it worth the effort.
That would be the proper way to double check the HD integrity. XP will give you the option to delete the current partition and create a new one. Take that option. Hopefully that operation will quarantine all the bad spots on the HD so you'll never hit them again. Very little hope, though. Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:55 PM   #4
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You have a bad hard drive, and its really shot if it wont let the windows recovery CD boot. I wouldnt waste a lot of time trying to recover it.

The good news is that they're easy to replace. Maybe $50-60 for a smallish one. Make sure you dont get one thats too thick for the bay.
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Old 07-15-2007, 12:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone, I was afraid that's what was happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
Nords, I'm not a techie, but I have had a similar experience with an old laptop that I had bought new. I took it to the professionals and they tried, but......I'm afraid it couldn't be resuscitated. The hard drive was dead.
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Originally Posted by Sam View Post
If you ran diags from a Dell CD or from ROM (meaning the operation is totally independent of XP), and got that "drive failure" message, then your HD is really gone.
I bought the laptop from a going-out-of-business training center and they had long since lost the documentation, XP CD, recovery CDs, and whatever else Dell gave them. I actually was considering renting a laptop for my last Mainland trip but this Craigslist deal was a lot less hassle. I don't care about having a laptop at home, but at least now I know that I want to have one for travel once or twice a year.

But the HD diagnostic came from the boot ROM and it's the typical Dell dead HD message that shows up in hundreds of Google hits. It doesn't tell you what part of the HD-- whether it's one fuzzy sector or a gouge slashed across a platter by a drive head's dying scream.

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Originally Posted by Sam View Post
That would be the proper way to double check the HD integrity. XP will give you the option to delete the current partition and create a new one. Take that option. Hopefully that operation will quarantine all the bad spots on the HD so you'll never hit them again. Very little hope, though. Good luck.
Yep, that's what the XP CD wants to do. And even so there's no guarantee that the HD won't develop more bad spots and offer another chance to do this all over again in a few months. I should give the laptop to our kid for a repair project and let her do the partitioning, install XP, install Office, iTunes, Limewire, and whatever else she wants.

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Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
You have a bad hard drive, and its really shot if it wont let the windows recovery CD boot. I wouldnt waste a lot of time trying to recover it.
The good news is that they're easy to replace. Maybe $50-60 for a smallish one. Make sure you dont get one thats too thick for the bay.
It's not actually labeled as a WinXP recovery CD. It's an old SP1 WinXP CD that showed up in our house one day after a shipmate came through from a Bangkok trip, so there's no telling what it was supposed to do or could do. I don't think I've ever used it except to look for an obscure driver or library file.

I guess I'll futz around with the latest version of Spinrite, get a feel for the scope of the HD problem, and then see how our kid does with a rebuild. And if it blows up on her then we'll go HD shopping.

Me, I think I'm gonna take some EGLE & DSX profits out for a little Mac fantasy shopping before I decide what I want to do next... a Core 2 Duo or better would be just an unexpected bonus.
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Old 07-15-2007, 10:59 AM   #6
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a little Mac fantasy shopping before I decide what I want to do next... a Core 2 Duo or better would be just an unexpected bonus.
Another little bonus is that those new MacBooks have a user replaceable hard drive. Loosen three screws to get it out. The hard drive has been the only problem my kid has had with his 3+ year old iBook (the old PPC G4 version). That was under warranty and replaced by Apple - that model is a bear to get to the HDD, I didn't even attempt it as it was still covered anyway.

http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/Mac...dDrive_DIY.pdf

Earlier models ranged from, 'not-too-hard', to 'will require cussing'.

If you decide you are not in a rush, you might want to wait until they actually announce the ship date for Leopard. At that point, they usually offer free upgrade coupons.

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Old 07-15-2007, 11:07 AM   #7
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Hmmm...most PC laptops ever made only require removing one or two screws to slide the drive out. The last drive I replaced on a thinkpad required no screw removal...snap out a piece of plastic and tug on a tab to pull out the drive.

Nords...you DO have the windows XP serial number for that machine? Probably on a sticker on it somewhere.

Its worth noting that there are a number of versions of XP, retail, OEM and Corporate. If the 'type' of the serial number on the machine doesnt match the type of the disk you found, it wont work. For example, if the disk is OEM XP SP1, and your serial number is for Retail XP...you'll get an error when you reinstall.

I'm also pretty sure the drive is fried, based on your description.

Dell has a Latitude for around $650, and a Vostro (new name for the inspiron) for $549...if you need to buy a hard drive and a fresh copy of XP, you're $150 of the way there...
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:07 AM   #8
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If you decide you are not in a rush, you might want to wait until they actually announce the ship date for Leopard. At that point, they usually offer free upgrade coupons.
Another Windows user paradigm stripping its gears. Imagine actually looking forward to the release of a new OS without cynical horror.

I'd be more interested in the laptops that go on clearance when new Leopard-optimized models hit the shelves. I doubt that I'd be doing anything more than surfing & word processing.
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:16 AM   #9
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Having personally experienced OS X 10.0, purchased for $129 to upgrade my wifes iMac, and having to get to 10.3 before the product was stable (after reinstalling OS9 and finding that half the preinstalled goodies didnt "come back" ("I'm sorry Mr. Bunny, but the preinstalled applications are only on the original shipped image, and reinstallations dont include them...nothing we can do..."). When I finally did decide that it'd gotten good enough to upheave the machine again, I had to pay another $20 or $30 for the latest version.

OS X 10.0 was later called a product that should never have been released...practically a pre-alpha. Not many apps ran on it properly, it was loaded with bugs, and the usage model was so different that many veteran mac users went back to 9 and waited a good long time to re-upgrade.

Sound familiar?
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:21 AM   #10
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Sound familiar?
Probably because they weren't using Intel chips back then...
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:24 AM   #11
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Sound familiar?
Probably because they weren't using Intel chips back then.

OS X's release was one of the reasons we bought AAPL around $10 in 2001, so when the stock started to take off we heaved a huge sigh of relief and quickly sold at $15...
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Old 07-15-2007, 11:34 AM   #12
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Imagine actually looking forward to the release of a new OS without cynical horror.
Their OS updates have gone well. Most older machines actually run faster with the newer releases, each one gets tweaked for efficiency rather than just adding more bloat.

Quote:
I'd be more interested in the laptops that go on clearance when new Leopard-optimized models hit the shelves.
I'm fairly certain that the Apple 'clearance' laptops would include the latest OS, I don't think they ship they ship anything older once the new is released. At any rate, consider the edu discounts. These prices are usually as good as their 'clearance' prices.

Oh, and to the bunnie's comments:

Laptop removal: I wasn't comparing the ease of the new MacBook's removal to Windows machines , only to the older Apple products, some of which were difficult. Just pointing out that is *not* the case on the new ones.

OS Upgrades: OS9 to OSX? That is ancient history. Hey, I agree that 10.0 and 10.1 (maybe even 10.2) were really not ready for prime time. But I think you will find that people that upgraded from 10.2>10.3>10.4 mostly had very good experiences. There will be exceptions of course, but overall very positive. Even my OS9>10.3 went well for me considering the wide gap between the technologies.

I only offered this info as Nords mentioned the interest in a MacBook. I'm not trying to sell him on the idea, just trying to let him know the options if he is interested. He can do some googling for other input, if he is so inclined. And no, I'm not going to get in long 'discussion' over this with CFB, I've learned that he is ALWAYS 'right', no matter what. Nords is bright enough to make up his own mind.

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Old 07-15-2007, 11:38 AM   #13
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Probably because they weren't using Intel chips back then.
Nah, I've gone through the upgrades on the PPC chip based machines. That's really not an issue.

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Old 07-15-2007, 11:40 AM   #14
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Nah, I've gone through the upgrades on the PPC chip based machines. That's really not an issue.
At the risk of my overlooking an even more subtle punchline, I should point out that my comment was a joke directed at former Intel employees...

Hey, I wonder what would happen to Apple's stock price if someone floated a rumor that they were switching to AMD chips?
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Old 07-15-2007, 12:05 PM   #15
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Never happen. They'd have to install a 20" blower fan into them to keep them cool, and my experience with Macs is that they'd rather let them burst into flames than put a decent fan in the things.

The trick is to keep them from catching fire until they're out of warranty. No way they'd get that done with an AMD chip and substandard cooling
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Old 07-15-2007, 12:39 PM   #16
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A bad registry file *could* be a one-time software glitch, but often it's a symptom of a hard drive on its way out.

Assuming the hard drive isn't too far gone it's possible to recover backup registry files from under the "System Volume Information" folder, but it's not for the casual user to do. Basically you find the last uncorrupted registry backup file set, copy them into place under %systemroot%\system32\config\, reboot and then run system restore to make sure the system files match the registry.

Of course you need read/write access to the drive via the recovery console (from a bootable XP CD) or a product like BartPE / UBCD / Sysinternals ERD.

I managed to recover a system this way the last month. The drive was going bad so I Ghosted it to a new drive. There's a risk of copying a corrupted file over, but so far I haven't heard of any issues and have one happy VP.

Here is the MS KB detailing the process using the system console: How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting . I found it much easier using one of the other products mentioned, but with any tool if too many files (or another critical file or two) are corrupted you'll end up having to reinstall Windows anyway.

(Okay, that's cute. I cut-and-pasted the URL and something converted into a link with a human-readable title.)

By the way, the products I mention above are also handy for recovering your data off the drive if you're just going to start anew on a new drive.
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Old 07-15-2007, 01:01 PM   #17
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A bad registry file *could* be a one-time software glitch, but often it's a symptom of a hard drive on its way out.
Assuming the hard drive isn't too far gone it's possible to recover backup registry files from under the "System Volume Information" folder, but it's not for the casual user to do. Basically you find the last uncorrupted registry backup file set, copy them into place under %systemroot%\system32\config\, reboot and then run system restore to make sure the system files match the registry.
Of course you need read/write access to the drive via the recovery console (from a bootable XP CD) or a product like BartPE / UBCD / Sysinternals ERD.
Here is the MS KB detailing the process using the system console: How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting . I found it much easier using one of the other products mentioned, but with any tool if too many files (or another critical file or two) are corrupted you'll end up having to reinstall Windows anyway.
By the way, the products I mention above are also handy for recovering your data off the drive if you're just going to start anew on a new drive.
Thanks, BMJ, that's the KB article I've been using. I particularly enjoy this helpful tip: "Warning Do not use the procedure that is described in this article if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system. The system hive on OEM installations creates passwords and user accounts that did not exist previously. If you use the procedure that is described in this article, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives."

I'll take a look at those products, but like you I'm leaning toward a new drive.

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(Okay, that's cute. I cut-and-pasted the URL and something converted into a link with a human-readable title.)
Yeah, I've wondered what's on the websites that does that. The same thing that puts the title at the top of the browser's page?
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Old 07-15-2007, 01:46 PM   #18
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I'm not quite sure what they're getting at with that warning. I suppose if the admin account is renamed then there may be a login problem.

BartPE and UBCD are free but require you to build the CD image using an XP CD (or at least the files from the i386 folder). Ideally you want the service pack version in the source files to match the service pack on the machine you're working on since the NTFS driver is slightly different. However you can just remember to run a chkdsk after getting your original system running and it should fix any inconsistencies.

Sysinternals ERD costs money, but I think you don't have to build anything. (Not sure, I've just used a copy at work and haven't obtained it myself.)

If you're a linux-y person you can also recover data (but not write to NTFS) using a linux LiveCD like KNOPPIX, but I really wouldn't send someone that way unless they've toyed with linux before.

Caveat: If the damaged drive is encrypted the recovery process is much more complex if it's even possible.
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Old 07-15-2007, 02:27 PM   #19
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Yeah, I've wondered what's on the websites that does that. The same thing that puts the title at the top of the browser's page?
Ding!
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:08 PM   #20
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Hmmm...most PC laptops ever made only require removing one or two screws to slide the drive out. The last drive I replaced on a thinkpad required no screw removal...snap out a piece of plastic and tug on a tab to pull out the drive.

Nords...you DO have the windows XP serial number for that machine? Probably on a sticker on it somewhere.

Its worth noting that there are a number of versions of XP, retail, OEM and Corporate. If the 'type' of the serial number on the machine doesnt match the type of the disk you found, it wont work. For example, if the disk is OEM XP SP1, and your serial number is for Retail XP...you'll get an error when you reinstall.

I'm also pretty sure the drive is fried, based on your description.

Dell has a Latitude for around $650, and a Vostro (new name for the inspiron) for $549...if you need to buy a hard drive and a fresh copy of XP, you're $150 of the way there...
Dell scratch and dent sale with XP

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Dell Notebooks - Dell Notebooks On Sale At Dell Financial Services
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