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And the nightmare continues

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  #51  
Old 12-25-2006, 04:17 PM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

you're not even going to believe this, gary. it crashed again and took out windows again! if it werent so annoying it would be funny.

this time it crashed when using filter forge. i do NOT think it was filter forge's fault. frankly, i dont quite know what to blame. i'm about ready to take this piece of trash down the river and dump it. i got the same blue screen of death i've been getting, only this time it took out the HAL.dll.

on trying to recover it, i went into the repair console and it wouldnt even come up in c:\windows. it came up in only c: . it wouldnt even look at the windows dir. it simply said 'access denied.

so, i've removed the sata ii drive and installed my ide 120 gig drive, which was previously removed to minimize problems on the other installs. this time i've got lots of space on c: and i'm getting quite proficient at installing windows. lol/groan.

so, no real help required here. i'll simply keep trying drives till i run out and if need be, i may go buy a new power supply just in case that's what's doing all this.

i did find out one thing i wasnt sure of before; i do seem to have one other spare drive that's going bad. i was going to install on that one and during the initial process of loading all the windows stuff to get ready to install, the system rebooted by itself. never a good sign. i called it back up again and i was getting a regular clicking noise. and as best i could tell, it was coming from that drive. so, that one seems suspect also. it's also an older ide drive.

so, i dont really know if the sata ii drive is any good or not. it's currently suspect at this point and is currently disconnected physically from the system. i may check it later.

i'm not even going to activate windows for a couple of weeks just in case this thing goes haywire on me again. i'll give it that time to test run stuff.

i have never, ever had so much trouble with a system before. i suppose there are Edsels no matter what you buy and i seem to have found one with this rig.

anyways, seems this thread just isnt going to die. if you have any advice i'm all ears. but mostly i'm just posting this as info.

hope you, and everyone had a merry christmas and will have a happy new year!

p.s. i set the home page this time before installing zone alarm
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  #52  
Old 12-25-2006, 06:45 PM
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Cameraken Cameraken is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

Hi Craig

I’ve been following your problems with interest. But I have not had anything to contribute so far.

However I’ve also known someone who had HAL problems.

HAL is the Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer. It is responsible for configuring your machine’s hardware.

Try running your PC in Safemode. You will probably find that everything is OK.

This problem can be caused by incorrect drivers. Try going to System > Device Manager and check that all drivers are Signed by Microsoft. If any are not then look for an update, or disable the device.

This should get the PC stable again.

You may have a faulty Motherboard or I/O controller, but it would be worth checking the drivers first. I would be surprised if all your hard drives were faulty from what I have read here. (Are you using VIA I/O?)

Hope this Helps

Ken
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  #53  
Old 12-26-2006, 03:39 AM
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Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

Don't know if I've posted this before, but this is a useful set of instructions for re-formatting and re-installing.

http://spyware-free.us/tutorials/reformat/

It was written with infected computers in mind, but will work fine with a re-install for other reasons.

The batch file is useful for listing all the drivers you'll need.
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  #54  
Old 12-26-2006, 12:54 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

ken,

one of the problems with these crashes has been that i cant get to safe mode or any other mode. the crashes have been wiping out critical system files and such that would allow safe mode to work. when i F8 during a boot i normally get the menu list that would allow me to go to safe mode or another function, but they dont work. it tries, but there's not enough of windows left to get there and the machine will give me the same error message when trying to load up windows. this is really quite odd since xp is actually pretty robust about recoveries.

the only thing i've been able to do is to load the windows install cd and either do the recovery console or the re-install route. and on this last one, i couldnt even get the repair console to work right. that thing is almost worthless anyways. you cant copy to other partitions and they've limited your other options as well. i MUCH prefer the old DOS system.

also, the option of 'boot with last known working configuration (restore point) doesnt work either. it just comes up with the same error message.

now, one thing i've done differently this time is, on previous installs i'd always have a number of devices in device manager that now needed drivers. i have two disks that handle these, one for video and one for the other nvidia drivers (this motherboard uses the nvidia chipset). in previous attempts i've always loaded everything that nvidia had on the driver cd. this time, i only loaded those that had the yellow exclamation point next to the device in device manager. so, i may have had driver conflicts from loading drivers i didnt need before, like the usb drivers. so, you may be right about incorrrect drivers.

as for the harddrives, i know, without question, that one is bad, the old c: drive. and i suspect that one other, an 80 gig, is going also. i'm quite surprised about the 200 gig sata ii, though. that's brand new and probably still under warranty. i'll be testing that out later to see. the drive i'm using now seems ok. it's a 120 gig maxtor and isnt more than a year or so old. i had plenty of space on it so i just put windows on one of the partitions. and i only have the one drive hooked up. i only had the one sata drive hooked up too on the last install and it seemed fine also...then.

but, i never rule out operator error. i may be doing something quite daft and not even know it. but i also dont rule out multiple hardware problems or driver problems or software problems. silly things like a fingerprint on a cd can result in goofy installs sometimes. and i've certainly seen bad power supplys and bad motherboards. i've also had oddball bios's which had to be tweaked rather severely to get things running smoothly.

so, part of the problem is finding the real problem. i know drives have been part of it, but just not sure if that's all of it. drivers are always suspect, especially video drivers and i thought i'd handled that part and the problem with the last install and getting new drivers from the nvidia site. heh... seems that wasnt the only thing going on here.

but the really odd part of all this is, i've had crashes with xp before, but never one that completely took out windows and safe mode and system restore and basically all functionality of windows. and it's done it with a different error each time. if it was all the same error each time, i'd highly suspect some sort of virus or trojan horse. but these have all been showing different parts of the system being corrupted. and whereas i dont rule the possibility of a trojan horse being present somewhere, since i'm carrying over some data from old drives, no anti-virus or hijackthis or anything else has found anything. and in most of these re-installs i havent even had time to put java back on the machine, so it's not one of those slippery java things either.

and gary tells me that a rootkit cant survive a reformat, so it's unlikely it was that either.

i do know, from previous experience and study after a bad crash once, that windows will attempt to correct itself on rebooting. it will attempt to rebuild the registry and if it cant do that, will actually wipe errant files out to try to keep functionality. that seems to be what's going on, except that it's just not able to recover enough. why, i dont know. but apparently these crashes are taking out large chunks of windows and it's just too much to rebuild. even safe mode wont function or boot up.

and that, more than anything else, is why i suspect a hardware problem more than a software one. bad drives, bad ram, funky power supplies, bad motherboards and incorrect bios settings tend to cause more severe crashes than software problems. and these have been severe. but, never say never.

so, i'm going to do this a little differently this time. i did change the driver installs this time. i'm also going to backup a bunch of stuff on dvd's before putting a lot of software back on the machine. in previous installs i'd not gotten around to backups because i wanted to set the machine up fully and then back up. heh... i never reached that 'fully' mark, so never backed up to external sources after the reinstalls. no service pack 2 till things settle down and maybe not even any critical updates for a bit yet either. i dont even currently know what version of directx i've got on here. i've also been erasing a lot of old junk that is no longer tied to an active registry, just to clean up the drive a bit. heck, i may even just go out and buy a cheap off-the-rack machine for doing my daily stuff and play around with this one on the side (or toss it in a dumpster ).

for all i know currently, i may have a power supply that's pushing twice the voltage or current to the drives and eating them up, so it might be time to dig out the old, trusty volt-ohm meter and do some testing. i had a machine years ago that was pushing 190 volts to the drives. that's back in the 8 bit days when drives were using 120 volts normally. so, 190 wasnt quite as severe as it sounds now

and yes, getting back to drivers; it may well be that i shld check the nvidia site for updated system drivers or maybe even a bios flash update. it certainly wouldnt be the first time i've had to flash a bios.

and gary, thanks for that site. and thanks to everyone who's helped or tried to help out here. just be careful, this machine is evil and will suck you into its jaws and eat you alive
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  #55  
Old 12-26-2006, 01:36 PM
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CharlesBell CharlesBell is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

Heat will do weird things.
Cold also.
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  #56  
Old 12-26-2006, 01:56 PM
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Cameraken Cameraken is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

Hi Craig

HAL is part of the Registry. It sounds like you are loosing different parts of the registry when XP crashes.
Here is a little program that is excellent for registry recovery when XP can’t recover.
You can backup the registry from windows and then restore the registry from a floppy (or CD) when XP won’t start.

Hope this Helps

Ken

Canned

Backup Your Registry with ERUNT
  • Please use the following link and scroll down to ERUNT and download it.
    http://aumha.org/freeware/freeware.php
  • For version with the Installer:
    Use the setup program to install ERUNT on your computer
  • For the zipped version:
    Unzip all the files into a folder of your choice.
Click Erunt.exe to backup your registry to the folder of your choice.

Note: to restore your registry, go to the folder and start ERDNT.exe
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  #57  
Old 12-26-2006, 10:58 PM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

charles, yup. suspected heat for a while, but not now. but thanks

ken,

yeah, i'm making backups of lots of things. a startup disk would be a good idea. i'll probably also make an iso (image file) of the drive and save it to cd or dvd. i've been burning things all day and that one's on my list.

i've also got something that came with this gigabyte board. it's some sort of base level backup. you hit F9 near the start of a boot up, much like you'd hit F8 to get the dos options menu, and it takes you to a small little built-in app that has something to do with backing up something. not sure what yet... maybe bios itself or maybe the master boot record or maybe even critical windows stuff. gotta find out more about that one.

i'm putting very little on the machine right now until i get more of this stuff backed up on cd's and dvd's. i'm using Nero Express for the burns and will use the same for the iso's. i've used this before and it seems to do a good job.

ideally, i'd just have a dvd burn of an iso of the entire drive and if things go haywire again, i'd just start over with a nice iso of the entire system all set up. my dvd burner is a dual layer type, so i could burn about 7 gigs onto one dual layer dvd.

i've also got Ghost and a nice 120 gig external drive that i can use either for iso's or straight files or compressed files in the ghost format.

i think when i get all this stuff backed up and image files done, i'm going to put some nice, heavy graphics-intensive stuff back on the machine and try to crash it on purpose just to see if i can isolate what's really going on here. i just cant live with a machine that is going to crash every other day or every other week.

so, thanks for the link. i may well use it.
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  #58  
Old 12-30-2006, 02:05 AM
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plugsnpixels plugsnpixels is offline
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Lightbulb Re: And the nightmare continues

Craig,

Life is too short for this OS BS! Here's what I would do (seriously):

Get an Intel Mac (any one). Install Windows XP or Vista via Boot Camp (where you reboot into it) or Parallels (where you run it at the same time as OS-X). I have both options running on this low-end MacBook, and both approaches work great. That way you can avoid Windows hell except for when you need it (Filter Forge, PSP--both of which I run).

You can make a disk image backup of your Mac installation for future use. And get this--you can quickly and easily copy (I said simply COPY) either your Parallels or Boot Camp Windows files straight across to another machine fast, and have Windows running on the new machine in the time it takes to boot it up!

I am an IT Consultant in higher ed, managing about 100 Macs (half of which are Intel iMacs) and I have done these very things in a lab setting. I set up one partitioned Mac with everything on it, and copy the files to all others using a disk image of OS-X (to restore onto the target Mac via Disk Utility) and simply drag and drop the bare Windows files to the next Mac). It works!

The Intel Macs kick butt in terms of speed, so no loss there. And the MacBooks are just under a grand. You don't need to go on like you're doing!
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  #59  
Old 12-30-2006, 10:23 AM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

plugs,

i actually did look at the macs when my last machine lost the motherboard. it was tempting then and it's tempting now and that's certainly still an option. but, i've spent about $800 on this *#$@$$ rig and i'm not going to simply scrap it at this point... he said stubbornly

what i've got going now is a new thing for me. this gigabyte motherboard has a small little app built into the bios. it's a backup utility you access BEFORE windows loads during the boot sequence. this means no matter how bad windows gets corrupted, i can just hit F9 during a bootup and windows and the entire partition it's sitting on will be restored. so, it's like a restore point or an image file, except it's 5 gigabytes large and sits at the end of the primary partition. i had to move some things around on c: and then defrag it so that the image file could be placed there. so, i've got the current windows install with service pack 1, directx 9.0c and all the drivers loaded onto this thing. if the rig fails again, at least it shldnt be too difficult to restore a clean install.

it also bugs me that i've not been able to diagnose the problem here. i've had difficult times with computers and windows before, but never this bad. and i'd really like to know what's going on rather than just throwing everything out the window. so far, it looks like a combination of bad drives and wrongly installed drivers, a combination that's sure to cause havoc to any installation.

since this new install, i've had only one crash but it was only a crash back to the desktop and that's actually encouraging. in prior installs that may well have wiped out windows. so, hopefully, i'm on the right track here.

but getting back to the macs, yes, i think apple has a winner with the boot camp and parallels stuff. i've also looked into vmware as a possibility. you can actually run vmware 'o/s modules' of different flavors and mac is one they are working on. you could hypothetically run a module of mac, windows, linux, sun and all the others on the same rig in a kind of 'shell' environment and in a similar way to what you're saying about transporting from rig to rig, vmware modules would or could do the same thing.

but for now, it's ok. i'll just continue debugging this rig as best i can. in a way it's almost fun, albeit a very strange way. and i am learning new things and getting quite familiar with how to install windows and with the new gigabyte backup in place, i'm now attempting to put the rig under heavier loads to try to force a crash. might as well find out if it's going to hold up or not or if i need to dig deeper on the root problem. and with the last crash only being one of crashing back to the desktop, i'm encouraged.

so, i appreciate the advice/suggestion and please feel free to offer anything else. the one thing i've really learned here is that i know far less than i thought i knew about windows and pc's. consequently, i'm quite open at the moment to any help i can get
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  #60  
Old 12-31-2006, 07:13 PM
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1STLITE 1STLITE is offline
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Re: And the nightmare continues

Craig, you know I wish like hell that i could help you. I truly feel for you!! Good luck, and thanks for keeping up updated on your progress.
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