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HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Resolving Startup Problems (Windows XP, Me, and 98)

This document applies to all HP and Compaq desktop computers with Windows XP, Me, or 98.

Use the steps in this document when you’re having problems starting your computer. There are many causes that can prevent the computer from starting up correctly so it is important to further define the symptom so that HP can provide you with more relevant troubleshooting information.

NOTE: If your computer is able to open Windows, but you are receiving an error message or have a different problem, try searching HP Customer Care on the exact error or symptom that the computer is experiencing to find a more relevant support document.

Use the following steps, in sequence, until a solution is found.

Step 1: Begin troubleshooting by removing media and connected devices

  1. Turn on the computer and remove any CDs and DVDs from their drives using the CD/DVD eject button on the outside of the CD/DVD drive.

    If you are unable to turn on the computer and/or eject the discs, continue using these steps. Remember to remove the discs when the computer has power and you are able to open the drive door.

  2. Turn off the computer and unplug the power cable from the power outlet.

  3. With the computer turned off remove all other media and devices that are connected to the computer except for the mouse, monitor, and keyboard. Remove any floppies, printers, USB and FireWire devices, music players, cameras, and flash memory cards.

  4. With the media and devices removed, turn on the computer.

  5. If the computer has the same startup problem, leave the devices disconnected, turn off the computer and continue to Step 2 . If the computer does not have the same problem, continue using these steps.

  6. If the computer is able to open Windows after the media and devices were removed, one of these items was preventing Windows from opening. Find which device or media item is causing the problem by reattaching or reinserting each to the computer one at a time. Restart the computer each time a device or media item is added until the startup problem reoccurs.

  7. Once the media or device that is causing the problem has been identified, do not continue to use it. You can troubleshoot the device or media further. Here are some helpful troubleshooting tips:

    • Now that you know which device is contributing to the startup problem, you can search the Internet or visit the manufacturer Support Web site to find more help and information.

    • CD, DVD, floppy, or camera cards that are damaged, dirty or scratched may interfere with the startup process. Do not start the computer with media in the drives.

    • The computer may try to start an operating system from an external storage device, such as a USB or FireWire drive. You can immediately work around this problem by attaching external storage devices only after Windows has opened.

    • Camera cards that are left in printers can cause startup problems. Do not leave camera cards in printers.

    • Some printers that have media card readers might contribute to startup problems when used with computers that have older BIOS versions. Updating the BIOS on the computer may resolve the problem. For further information about how to find and download BIOS updates for your HP or Compaq computer, please refer to Updating the BIOS .

  8. If the problem still exists, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Continue to identify the type of startup problem

Use the following process to identify the type of startup problem that is occurring and to find the information you need to troubleshoot the problem:

  1. Turn off the computer and unplug the power cord from the power outlet.

  2. Reset the power: with the power cord unplugged, press and hold the power button on the front of the computer for 5 seconds.

  3. Plug the power cord into the power outlet.

  4. Press the power button to turn on the computer and note what happens.

    • If the computer successfully opens to Windows , the problem may be related to a temporary firmware lockup and may never happen again. Continue using the computer normally. If the problem occurs again, test the computer hardware, such as the hard drives, memory, and processor, using Using PC Doctor to help determine if a hardware component has failed.

    • If the computer makes no fan noise, has no lights on the front of the PC, and does not display anything on the monitor , the computer is not distributing power correctly. Turn the computer off, unplug the power cord and refer to the HP support document Troubleshooting Power Supply Issues to troubleshoot power supply problems.

    • If the computer powers on but makes beeping sounds , a keyboard key is stuck, a memory DIMM or hard drive cable is not properly seated, or a hardware failure has occurred. Disconnect the mouse and keyboard and try to start the computer again. If the beeping noise stops, repair or replace the mouse or keyboard that is causing the problem. If a beep code continues, use the HP support document BIOS Beep Codes and Error Message Descriptions to troubleshoot further.

    • If the computer starts but the monitor has a blank screen , the video hardware on the computer may be causing the problem or the monitor may be defective. Use the HP support document The Monitor is Blank after Starting the Computer .

    • If the computer starts to a black screen with only a mouse pointer arrow , a file named lsasse.exe may be damaged. This problem can be resolved by using the HP support document Computer Starts to Black Screen With Only a White Arrow .

    • If an error message displays on the screen , search HP Customer Care using the exact text in the error message and then troubleshoot the problem using any support documents that are found.

  5. If you are not able to identify or resolve the problem, continue to the next step to apply further troubleshooting.

Step 3: Checking if the hard drive is detected

First, determine if the hard drive is being detected in the BIOS. Doing so, will help determine if the problem is related to hardware or software:

  1. Before you begin, disconnect everything from the computer (such as USB devices, printers, floppy disks, and CD/DVD discs) and leave the mouse, monitor and keyboard connected.

    Turn on the computer and press the F1 key repeatedly to enter the BIOS Setup Utility.

  2. Find the hard drive name from the listing of channels or drives. Look for a name next to Primary Master or from the channel device listing (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on). To help you find the drive name, some common examples of hard drive names are:

    • [MAXTOR 6Y160M0]
    • [SAMSUNG SV8004H]
    • [ST3120026AS]
    • [WDC WD800AB-22CB]
    NOTE: It may be difficult to determine between a hard drive and a CD/DVD drive. In many cases, depending on the version of BIOS, you can select the name of the device next to a channel and press ENTER. Doing so may provide more helpful information that can help you determine if it is a hard drive.

    Figure 1: Example of a hard drive listed in the BIOS

  3. Go the appropriate section of this document, depending on what was found:

    • If a hard drive name is listed, refer to the steps in the section Step 4: Hard drive detected .

    • If you cannot find a hard drive name, that is, the text [Auto] , [NOT DETECTED] or [None] is listed next to Primary Master or First/Second/Third Channel Device 0, leave the BIOS Setup screen open and refer to the steps in the section Step 5: Hard Drive is not detected .

Step 4: Hard drive detected

The master boot record is a small protected space on the hard drive that holds important information about the data on the hard drive. If the master boot record or data on the hard drive becomes corrupted, the computer will not start. Use the following procedure to repair the hard drive in the event that the master boot record or data has become corrupted:

NOTE: These steps are for Windows XP. If your computer has Windows 95, 98, or ME, perform a system recovery using recovery discs to resolve the problem.
  1. If you have a Windows XP CD (disc 1) from Microsoft, a Recovery Console CD from HP, or an HP Recovery Tools CD that you have created, place any one of these discs in the top CD or DVD drive and restart the computer to open Microsoft Recovery Console.

    NOTE: If you do not have one of the CDs mentioned above, do the following:
    1. Turn on the computer and immediately begin pressing the F10 key repeatedly until a Recovery Screen appears.

    2. At the Recovery screen click Advanced Options .

    3. Press the Alt + D keys at the same time to open a command prompt window.

    4. Skip to number 4 in this section.

  2. When the Windows XP Setup screen appears, press the R key to open the Recovery Console.

  3. When the login prompt appears, press the number next to the windows version MiniNT (or Windows) and enter the logon password.

    NOTE: If you do not know the password, try pressing Enter . If pressing Enter does not work, you must obtain the main login password to continue. Typically, this is the password that was created when the computer was setup the first time; that is, the password that is used to log into the main administrative account.
  4. At the command prompt, type the following and then press Enter :

    fixmbr /device/harddisk0

  5. At the next command prompt, type the following and then press Enter

    fixmbr /device/harddisk1

  6. At the next command prompt, type the following and then press Enter:

    chkdsk /f

    NOTE: If a message appears stating that the hard drive is in use and would you like to schedule a scan, press the Y key, turn off the computer, and then turn on the computer to check the disk drive for data problems.
  7. Turn off the computer, wait 5 seconds, turn on the computer, and then wait for Windows to open. If Windows opens you are done. If the error persists, continue to the next step.

  8. If the error still appears after following these steps, perform a system recovery using recovery discs. For more information refer to the document below that applies to your computer:

    Performing a System Recovery in Microsoft Windows XP

    HP Pavilion Desktop PCs - Performing a System Recovery in Microsoft Windows 98 and Me

    Compaq Presario Desktop PCs - How to Perform a System Recovery

    NOTE: If you do not have recovery discs, you must obtain a new set of recovery discs or install a new operating system.
  9. If the computer still does not start after performing a system recovery or the system recovery does not complete due to problems from the hard drive, the hard drive is probably bad and should be replaced. If your HP or Compaq computer was manufactured after 2001, you can test the hard drive using a software program called PC doctor. To find more information about PC Doctor and how to test the computer from a floppy or CD, use the HP support document Using PC Doctor .

Step 5: Hard Drive is not detected

Perform the following steps when the hard drive is not detected in the BIOS:

Step 5a: Resetting BIOS

With the BIOS Setup screen open, reset the BIOS as follows:

  1. Press the F5 key to reset the default BIOS settings. Use the arrow keys to select Yes or OK and press Enter .

  2. Press the F10 key to save settings and exit the BIOS Setup screen. Use the arrow keys to select Yes or OK and press Enter .

  3. Turn off the computer.

  4. Remove the power cord.

  5. With the power cord disconnected press the power button on the computer for 5 seconds. This step helps ensure that the power in the system is reset.

  6. Reconnect the power cord and turn on the computer.

  7. If the startup problem is gone, you are done.

    If the startup problem still exists, use the following steps to remove and reseat the hard drive cables:

Step 5b: Disconnecting and reconnecting hard drive cables

WARNING: The edges of metal panels can cut skin. Be careful not to slide skin along any interior metal edge of the computer.
CAUTION: This product contains components that can be damaged by electrostatic discharge (ESD). To reduce the chance of ESD damage, work over a noncarpeted floor, use a static dissipative work surface (such as a conductive foam pad), and wear an ESD wrist strap connected to a grounded surface.
  1. Turn off the computer and disconnect the power cord.

  2. Remove the side panel by loosening the side panel screws and sliding the panel to the back of the computer.

    Figure 2: Example of side panel screws (your computer will probably be different)

  3. Find the cables connected to the hard drive. Disconnect the cables completely and then reconnect them into the same slots, making sure they are securely connected.

    NOTE: Some computers have an IDE hard drive and some have a SATA hard drive. The cables will look different depending on which type of hard drive your computer uses, Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA).
    IDE hard drive
    SATA hard drive
    1 - IDE Data Cable
    2 - Power Cable
    1 - Power Cable
    2 - SATA Data Cable
  4. Find the IDE or SATA data cable connection on the motherboard. Disconnect and reconnect the IDE or SATA data cable from the socket on the motherboard.

  5. Replace the side panel.

  6. Plug the power cable back into the computer.

  7. Turn on the computer to find out if the startup problem still exists:

  8. If the startup problem still exists, try installing another hard drive in computer. Repeat the steps above to determine if the replaced hard drive is detected in the BIOS. If the replaced drive is detected, this indicates that the original hard drive is no longer operating correctly and should be replaced. You can Contact HP (in English) to find support if your computer is in warranty or an authorized service center to assist you if your computer is out of warranty.

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