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Old 05. Aug 2013, 03:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, good luck, and do let us know how you get on.

One more thing, I saw in one of the threads that computer can be stuck because of a stuck laptop key... so do check for that, just in case.
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Old 05. Aug 2013, 10:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
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OK, time for some feedback.

1. Hard reset does nothing when the computer is restarted - it still boots into the hung HP Invent screen.

2. Reset BIOS does nothing - the computer keeps beeping for a long time but does load the HP BIOS update screen.

3. Removed the CMOS for 10 minutes (instead of the recommended 5) - the following happens:
  • The HP Invent screen appears for a short time.
  • Next, the above disappears and there’s a blinking curser in the top left for a short time.
  • Next, I get the Windows Error Recovery screen that says “Windows failed to start...”
  • Choosing “Start Windows normally” just goes to a blank screen for a long time.
  • Shut down by holding the power button.
  • Restart just goes to hung HP Invent screen.
  • Remove CMOS for 10 minutes again.
  • Restart and pressed F9 to change the boot order - this works but I see the CD ROM drive is already set at “2” with the HDD at “3”. At the bottom there’s a “<Enter Setup>”. There’s no No. 1 position.
  • Pressing “Enter” leads to “Windows failed to start...”
  • Choosing “Repair Windows” goes to another screen that says “Windows is loading files...” which again produces nothing for a long time.
Incidentally, the CMOS is really a button cell battery about the size of a US 5 cents coin. It looks nothing like in the manual. Also, each time it goes to the hung HP Invent screen I have to remove the CMOS again.

I notice too the HDD light only comes on briefly in the last bullet of 3 above, otherwise it remains off.

What I also tried:
  • Took out the CMOS for at least 5 minutes.
  • Insert a Parted Magic disk.
  • Push the power on button.
  • As soon as the HP Invent screen appears, I tap F9 to ensure the CD ROM drive is 1st in the boot order.
  • Press Enter.
  • Parted Magic begins to load but fails with these last lines:
  • [3.311713] Fixing recursive fault but reboot is needed!
  • [3.930813] Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init! Exit code=0x00
  • [3.930813]
  • After this it gets no further and just freezes.
From my observations and noob understanding, I suspect something is wrong with the Boot Loader. Parted Magic does include a program/utility called ms-sys. It is supposed to be able to create a Microsoft-compatible boot record. I’ve looked at its documentation but I’m afraid that sort of thing is way over my head. I spent many hours and I feel I’ve done all I can, so I’ll tell my sis she’ll have to take the laptop to a repair shop.

Also, my sis never create repair or factory restore disk. I don’t know anyone I can borrow those disks from either. If I had those I feel I may have had a chance at repairing her laptop.

Although I wasn’t successful I won’t count it as a total waste since some good lessons were learned.

Lastly, I’d like to thank those who tried to help.
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Old 05. Aug 2013, 11:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The errors you are getting when trying to load the Parted Magic disk appear to resemble reported linux bugs so may have nothing to do with the laptop.

Maybe you could try booting a few different Linux live disks to see if you can get one to load?

You could also try any Windows install disk you can get hold of to see if you can temporarily install a new version of Windows on the laptop. Obviously you won't be able to activate it but it may give you an idea if the laptop is still functioning correctly from a hardware/bios point of view?

Of course, if there are files on the laptop that you need to recover then the best choice would be a Linux live CD rather than trying to install a new OS.
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Old 05. Aug 2013, 11:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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That Parted Magic CD loads on my laptop without those errors, so I figure it's not Linux bugs?

Yes, there are personal files on the laptop. That's a good idea about the Linux live CD Sope. It had actually occurred to me to recover the files like that, but I guess I was concentrating more on repair than file recovery. I think I'll have to turn my attention there now.

I've never tried Linux before, but I don't think it'll be that difficult to figure out. (BTW, the Parted Magic disk is Linux-based, I think ). Which distro would you recommend for just a simple file recovery job? Would PuppyLinux do?

I'm still hopeful about getting either a Vista disk borrowed or the NeoSmart recovery disk. I hope to visit the US in 3 months (My sis hardly uses the laptop anyway). There, I think my other sis has a laptop with Vista. Hopefully, it'll be the same version, otherwise we'll have to spring for the NeoSmart disk.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 08:12 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Interesting. Quite strange that laptop hangs on the HP Invent screen everytime, and CMOS battery has to be removed. Are you still not able to get into BIOS? If you are able to get into BIOS, try resetting the settings to default.. maybe some setting is causing the problem? If it's an old laptop, you can also try replacing the CMOS battery with a new one. It comes really cheap. Sometimes, CMOS battery can give problems if it becomes quite old.

Still, it's strange that such problems are occurring with startup, whereas issues should be with the Windows OS.

I think it would be a good idea to post about this on the HP forum, and get some feedback as to why laptop hangs at HP Invent screen, and everytime CMOS battery has to be removed. They will have better understanding of how HP laptop works, and they might be able to clear things a bit. Are you sure there is nothing external attached to the laptop which might be causing a problem?

If there are personal files to be recovered, it would be good to use a live Linux CD, and boot computer with it, and use it to copy data from the laptop to an external hard drive. Any Linux distro should be able to do this job. Puppy Linux will do it.. I have used Puppy Linux for such a job in the past.

And it really did a great job, because the hard disk that I was trying to get data from, had gone bad, and normally, it wouldn't start properly, and was not able to boot Windows properly. But, when I booted with Puppy Linux, I was able to successfully retrieve all data from it, without any problems.

After recovery of data, I think you should repair Windows OS, but for that you will require a Vista CD. So, best would be to perform a factory reset on the laptop. All modern laptops have that option. You will get from the manual how to do it. It's usually a function key that starts the process. You don't even need a Vista CD for that. Just make you save the personal data on the hard drive to somewhere safe.

How a Linux live CD runs on a computer depends on the hardware... and so, while it may run fine on one computer, it may give problems on another. So, Sope may be correct that maybe PartedMagic was not able to run properly on laptop of your sister. Try running Puppy Linux.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 09:50 AM   #16 (permalink)
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If you still cannot boot past BIOS, then remove the hard drive and recover data by attaching it to a working computer. Plus you could try replacing the motherboard, but that means more complications.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 10:06 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_L View Post
If you still cannot boot past BIOS, then remove the hard drive and recover data by attaching it to a working computer. Plus you could try replacing the motherboard, but that means more complications.
It's a laptop, so don't think he can change the motherboard. And don't think the motherboard is having a problem anyways.

If hard drive has to be attached to another computer, then an appropriate enclosure will be required to be able to attach it, because laptop hard drives are different from the regular desktop hard drives.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 10:27 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Yup, you will find that some Linux Live CD's (or indeed Linux based utility CD's like Parted Magic) will load fine on one PC but will fail on another, usually depending on the particular hardware present.

You may have to try a few different distro's to get one that is suitable for this particular machine. Anupam's suggestion of Puppy Linux is a good one as it's small and lightweight. You don't need a feature rich distro for your purposes. In fact, there are a number of Linux based rescue CD's designed specifically for repair or recovery of files from Windows. An internet search will turn up loads of info on this subject.
Once you have the live session successfully up and running it shouldn't be too difficult to find your way around.

I'm guessing that the problem is not hardware related as it sounds like the laptop was running normally immediately prior to the registry "cleaning" episode. Still, as JL suggests, another option to recover important files would be to remove the HDD and connect it to another PC.

Once you've rescued your files, IMO the best option would be a fresh installation of Vista either via a factory reset or installation from disc. Would save a lot of messing about in the long run.

Good luck.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 08:46 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I downloaded Puppy Linux Precise 5.7.1 and checked the md5sum then burned it to a CD. I booted the CD on my laptop and it boots fine. When I try to boot it on my sis' laptop it fails. Everything appears to be loading okay then all of a sudden the screen is filled with a shifting colored checkerboard. After a long while, it returns to the hung HP Invent screen.

I've read some about Linux rescue disks like Hiren's, but at this point I'm in no mood to download more Linux distros or rescue disks.

Guys, I'm really grateful for all the suggestions, but I'm sorta off the deep end too. I've decided enough is enough, so I'd suggest to my sis to take the laptop in for repairs.
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Old 06. Aug 2013, 09:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I agree... it's no point keeping at it, when nothing seems to work. Without being experts, we can only guess at best about the problem. It's time the experts had a look at it.

Would like to know what's the problem. Do share when you do come to know.

It would be a good idea I think to ask your brother, if he did anything else other than running antivirus scan, and registry cleaning. Because the issue occurring is really strange.

Colored checkered screens can be associated with bad RAM. Maybe that's why its getting hung at the start? Dunno.

Anyways, it will be good to take it to a repair shop.
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