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XP Pro will only start in Safe mode

XP Pro, version 2002 SP3 Pentium D 3.2GHz, 2GB RAM

stops to black screen before logo or choices. This is my grandson's computer that is remarkably free of programs other than the game, Diablo II, that he has used on this machine for several years.
I have:

tried last known good configuration
msconfig, disabled everything but MS
removed AVG free with remover tool
installed and run ComboFix
installed and run Malwarebytes (several files cleaned)
disabled all sound, video and game controllers
run chkdsk /f
restored to a point 6 months ago
removed dual monitor video card, using on-board video, there are no other cards
both sides off case, no heat build-up
fix mbr

and as long as I have fought this, I must have tried other stuff.

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.


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well, ah...thanks

In reply to: Google is your friend . . .

I have been doing searches and lurking on forums for several days. After your ... suggestion, I spent another hour or so finding posts & being sure I had exhausted all I could find on Google. Again.
Google is my friend. They found this forum of experts for me.

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Try this page . . .

In reply to: well, ah...thanks

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different problem

In reply to: Try this page . . .

I guess I wasn't clear. The machine will not boot normally. The only way I can get it to boot, to make changes, is to use Safe Mode. MS config shows boot.ini almost exactly matching the one in your reply. The only change I made, troubleshooting, was to extend the timeout to 60 sec, in case it just needed more time to initialize. I think though, it locks up pretty quick. No HD activity and black screen.

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Hold on . . .

In reply to: different problem

We were led to believe it will only start in Safe Mode. What happens if you try a normal start? What does "not boot normally" mean exactly? I've been troubleshooting boots only into safe mode.

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In reply to: Hold on . . .

please forgive my misleading subject line. The only way it boots at all is in safe mode.

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OK, tell me EXACTLY . . .

In reply to: sorry

what happens if you let it boot normally.

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screen freezes

In reply to: OK, tell me EXACTLY . . .

Since I did 'bootcfg /rebuild', I now have 4 choices of operating systems.

Windows XP
Windows XP Professional

and the countdown timer runs.

If I allow it to boot to 'Windows' (the first selection) the screen flips to the choose options to boot 'Safe Modes' screen with the 'Start Windows Normally' highlighted. If I select it the countdown timer freezes, showing the second I pressed 'enter', if I allow the countdown timer to run, it freezes when it reaches 0.

If I select any other than


then 'Boot Normally,' the screen freezes at the second I presses 'enter'. If I allow the timer to count down, it freezes at 0.

If I select


then I get this message:
Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll. Please re-install a copy of the above file.

Safe Mode still works.

Thanks guys for your help.


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OK, try this . . .

In reply to: screen freezes

1.) Boot to Safe Mode. Click Start, Run, and type cmd When the command (looks like DOS) window opens, type sfc /scannow. This will run the System File Checker and replace any missing or corrupt system files. Have any copy of XP Pro handy. If the system asks to insert the CD, do it. After it finishes, reboot. If it boots normally, you're done.

If not:

2.) Boot to Safe Mode. Get a Safe Mode stable desktop. Insert the XP Pro CD. You should get a window to install XP. At this point choosing Yes will do an "over the top" install and at the same time will leave all your personal files and folders intact. Windows will reinstall all system drivers and fix/replace corrupt or missing system files.

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If Wayne's suggestion ...

In reply to: well, ah...thanks

doesn't work (it should unless your Windows Directory is WINNT or you have it installed on a different partition or physical drive) do you have the Installation CD so you can run the Recovery Console?

If you can run the Recovery Console you would log into it and type the command bootcfg /rebuild which will rebuild the boot.ini file.

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I have a CD

In reply to: If Wayne's suggestion ...

for one of my own XP Pro machines. I think I did this a couple of days ago, but since I have mentors now, let me run through it again. I will reply in a bit.

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see above

In reply to: If Wayne's suggestion ...

the post 'screen freezes'

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