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Discussion Starter #1
My Nephew comes to me with his labtop:
Howard Computers Model CL50 with Windows XP
I turn it on and get the safemode screen with the following error code at the bottom.

Windows could not start because of the following file is missing or corrupt.
< Windowsroot>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe

Please reinstall a copy of the above file.

Ok, I am computer literate, but not savy! LOL so does this mean I can just copy a copy from my computer and load it to a disk or flash stick and install or what are my options at this point? LOL This is out of my league. LOL

Reformat.. would hate to do, but if its a must we can, you see he is in college and this computer has his whole life in there. I know I have told him to backup so many times and get some antivirus, but I see now listening and doing are two different things.. LOL.. all and any help would be appreciated in this delima I find myself in.. LOL:pray:
 

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Insert your Xp disk into the CD drive, choose the boot from command prompt option in the menu that you are presented with

At the command prompt, type in the following:

copy d:\I386\Driver.cab c:\system32\ntoskrnl.exe /v

where d is the letter of your cd drive

press enter

Take the CD out when verified and reboot your computer
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ok I dont want to sound like a dork, but do you think maybe you could walk me through it. do I go to like F2 and select set up and then choose from the bios the command prompt. I am a little confused. If I could get a basic walk through that would be so great.
Thanks again for your suggestions and help its grately appreciated.
 

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See this link from Microsoft :
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314477
Let's start with method 2, we'll continue with method 3 if it doesn't work.

You'll need an XP CD, if you haven't gotten any with the computer you can borrow one from a friend as long as you don't use it to reinstall Windows.

Insert the CD, press F2 at startup to access the BIOS (from what you said I take it it's F2 that you have to press on that computer, else simply look for a message telling you to "press XX to enter setup") and change the boot order priority to CD-rom first. You may have to search a little but the option will be somewhere. Then save and exit the BIOS. Note that sometimes there'll be a message directly when the computer starts telling you to press XX to change the boot order priority in which case you don't even need to actually enter the BIOS.

When the computer restarts, press any key to start from the XP CD when prompted to do so. Wait for the setup to initialize then press 'R' to access the recovery console.

From the command prompt, type
bootcfg /rebuild
then follow the instructions from method 2 in the above link from Microsoft.

Restart the computer, set the boot order priority back to HDD first and see if it helped.

This will solve the problem if it's simply the boot.ini file which is corrupt. If you keep getting the same error message then try method 3 from the link above : go back to the recovery console then type
expand d:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ c:\Windows\system32
Provided D is the volume letter that corresponds to the CD-rom drive and C is the volume letter that corresponds to the drive/partition where Windows is installed.

If at any time you get another error message please report here.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well hello, I am here and looking over your directions, give me a couple of minutes to follow your directions, and I will immediately reply back. Thanks so much again for your help and patients in explaining this all to me.. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #6
See this link from Microsoft :
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314477

When the computer restarts, press any key to start from the XP CD when prompted to do so. Wait for the setup to initialize then press 'R' to access the recovery console.

From the command prompt, type
bootcfg /rebuild
then follow the instructions from method 2 in the above link from Microsoft.
QUOTE]

Ok I am at this part, when I get the recovery console, it is a black screen and tells me:
Microsoft Windows XP(TM) Recovery Console.
The recovery console provides system repair and recovery functionality.
Type EXIT to quit the recovery console and restart the computer.
1: C:\WINDOWS
Which Windows installation would you like to log onto
(to cancel, press enter)?
right there it only takes one letter command, I couldnt type the bootconfig thing in there. What should I type? LOL thanks again for your help. :pray:
 

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Type 1 :wink:
At the next step it may ask you for the administrator password. If there's none, simply press enter.

I skipped some steps which you'll find in the link from microsoft.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ok I am in and typed in bootcfg/rebuild, I also pulled up the microsoft link, just when I thought i was going to get to the part where I type in add installation to boot list, I got the following instead:
C:\WINDOWS> bootcft\rebuild
use the bootcfg command for boot configuration and recovery
BOOTCFG/ADD
BOOTCFG/REBUILD
BOOTCFG/SCAN
BOOTCFG/LIST
BOOTCFG/DISABLEDIRECT
BOOTCFG/REDIRECT [PORT BAUDRATE]:[use BioSettings]
/SCAN
/ADD
/DEFAULT
/LIST
/DISABLEDIRECT
/REDIRECT

C:\WINDOWS>
its here on the C prompt that I am to type something. It did not state in the directions to retype bootcfg/rebuild but is this what I am doing, just wanted to check before I typed in anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
you forgot the space between bootcfg and /rebuild
LOL.. ok I typed it right, but got the following and dont know where to go from here:

C:\WINDOWS>BOOTCFG /REBUILD
Scanning all disks for Windows installations.
Please wait, since this may take a while
error: failed to successfully scan disks for windoes installations.
this error may be caused by a corrupt file system, which would prevent bootcfg from successfully scanning. use chkdsk to detect any disk errors.
Note: this operation must complete successfully in order for the /add or /rebuild commands to be utilized.

C: \WINDOWS>

:4-dontkno In the famous words of Forrest Gump.. "and thats all I got to say about that".... LOL

now what can I do?
 

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ok, on for a chkdsk then. Still from the recovery console's command prompt type
chkdsk c: /R
(mind the spaces :wink:)

Wait until it finishes (can take some time). If you're lucky it may solve the problem right away but if you still get the same error message when you retry to boot the computer normally then retry the bootcfg /rebuild step.

If the error message is different then tell us about it. I'm afraid I won't be here when the chkdsk finishes its scan but in case you need more help and no-one answers I'll be back tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok the chkdsk c: /R scan, and it scanned twice on its own and then told me that it fixed something in the process. so i turned it off once everything was completed and tried to reboot in normal mode, and now I do have a new 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.

Ok I am going to try to bootcfg /rebuild again, with any luck this will get it but if not please advise me of my options. thanks again.
 

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Hal.dll missing is still usually caused by a corrupt boot.ini file so you're doing it right. Something caused an error in the drive's file system which was repaired by running chkdsk. If the MBR and the boot sectors were unharmed then all that remains is to rebuild the boot.ini file. How did it go ?

If it didnt' work then there are still several options left that won't request that he formats his drive so just tell us about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hello, just wanted to send you a little note, I did the chk thing again, it didnt correct anythijng this run, I then redid the steps for method #2 the boot/rebuild and still nothing, i have rebooted and now get the new error code. I am here all day, so you just get with me whenever you have a second. I really appreciate you holding my hand through all this.. Your the best. Will await your direction.
Mera
 

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Ok, still from the recovery console type
fixmbr
then
fixboot

Then redo the chkdsk c: /R scan to make sure there are no further errors on the drive and retry bootcfg /rebuild (don't forget the space)

If you still get some error message then type
expand d:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ c:\Windows\system32
with the XP CD inserted (mind the space after expand and the _)

If all this doesn't help then we can always try a repair install. Did your nephew get an XP install disk with his computer or some recovery CD's ? Is there any message like "press XX to start recovery" at startup ?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok, I think I have a problem:

I turned on computer, let it boot from cd. then went to the recovery, hit R, at the C: I then typed fixmbr, and the following came up:

**CAUTION**
This computer appears to have a non-standard or invalid master boot record.
FIXMBR may damage your partition tables if you proceed.
This could cause all the partitions on the hard disk to become inaccessible.
If you are not having problems accessing your drive, do not continue
Are you sure you want to write a new MBR?

That is where I am at, I didnt want to do any further damage to this computer so I will await your direction. Thanks so much, and sorry for the delay in response.
 

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The warning message is normal if indeed the MBR is damaged.

If there's only one hard drive with a single partition (no recovery partition) in the laptop there nothing should go wrong. Enter yes (y) to continue then proceed with the Fixboot and chkdsk /R commands. But please read the following first.

If you have the possibility to do so I'd take one more step to backup the data that's on the hard drive before attempting to repair the master boot record.

You'll need to open the laptop case to access the hard drive so see if you have some computer savvy friend who can do this for you. Once you'll have the hard drive out of the case, see if it uses a SATA or IDE interface. If you're lucky it'll use regular SATA connectors and you can hook it directly in a computer that has SATA connectors. If it's an IDE drive then you'll have to a 2.5'' to 3.5'' IDE (7$ on ebay) or SATA converter to hook it in a desktop computer. Don't use an external USB enclosure as you won't be able to repair the master boot record using an USB interface.

Once you'll have hooked the drive in a desktop computer, see if you can access the files normally. If you can then backup all the valuable data on another drive. If you get some "access denied" error when trying to access the "my documents" folder it's not a problem, see this link from microsoft.

If you can't access the drive at all then try to repair its MBR using one of the following programs. FindandMount is my favourite since it doesn't write anything on the drive (so you don't risk loosing your data) and still allows you to retrieve the data as long as the file system itself is not damaged. Else here are other programs which can fix the drive's MBR and file system :
http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk
http://www.pcinspector.de/default.htm?Language=1
http://www.ptdd.com/ (not free)
 

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On a second thought, there are also bootable CD's like Active @ Undelete which will allow you to boot the laptop from the CD. You'll then be able to retrieve the data from your drive and save it to an external USB drive without the need to open the laptop. Problem is that the free demo can only retrieve very small files (64KB) and you'll need to buy the professional version (50$) to get the bootable CD.

I'll ask the other techs if they know of a less costly solution that doesn't involve opening the laptop.

Edit : UBCD for Windows is free and supports writing to an external USB drive provided that drive is plugged in when the laptop is started. There are several programs which allow to recover the data from a damaged partition without overwriting the MBR (see this link at -Recovery) but I've never used them so make sure you read the help files carefully and the program is able to save the retrieved data to the external drive before you use any of them (you musn't write anything to the laptop's drive while its MBR is corrupt, make sure you save all the recovered data to the external drive).

Note that you'll need some general computer knowledge, another computer and an XP install CD with at least SP1 to build the ultimate boot CD for Windows. Follow the instructions here.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This labtop is just being funky, I have tried the ultimate boot cd but still nothing, I think I am just stuck with reformat.. any suggestions before I do that?
 

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The UBCD was needed to backup your personal files. Were you able to read from the hard drive and save your files on an external drive ? If so go ahead with fixmbr then fixboot and chkdsk /R.

You could also test the hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics utility to make sure it's not failing. If you don't know what brand and model your hard drive is you'll have to open the laptop to read those informations on the sticker that's on the hard drive itself.
 
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