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  1. #1
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    So, we have this Dell E310 that had a strange second partition that I never (consciously) created. In trying to eliminate it, I did something (I think I damaged something in the file system) and now when trying to boot, I get a message "NTLDR is missing" and I can't get past it.

    I was able to back this machine up to a WD Passport drive before I started fooling with it because I had a fear that the fix might be dangerous; so I decided to just do a complete reinstall including reformatting the HDD. I checked the BIOS settings and found them to have the right settings (no FDD, 1 HDD, 1 CD/ROM and boot sequence first from CD then from HDD). During this process I discovered that I had set an admin password - which I remembered - and had to unlock the BIOS change function which I did successfully.

    After exiting setup and saving changes, I loaded the WindowsXP-Pro CD in the drive and powered up. I pressed the F12 key to boot from the CD then pressed enter and pressed 'any' key after the prompt. It hit the CD and proceeded to load drivers etc. then came to the menu that allowed me to select the Recovery Console function (pressed the "r" key). It then asked me to choose which Windows installation to log onto after displaying: 1: E:\WINDOWS and 1: H:\minint. I have no clue what the latter one is and assume that the installed HDD still has 2 partitions because it's showing Ewhich should be the CD/ROM drive) as the place to find windows. If you see anything wrong with any of these assumptions and deductions, please interrupt me at any time.

    After choosing the first option, "1" and pressing ENTER, I get a prompt to "Type the Administrator password:" I tried to enter the same PW that I used in the BIOS setup but it says that the PW is not valid. OK, I thought, maybe it wants an Admin PW that is from the WindowsXP CD. I happened to have the instruction booklet that came with my XP CD (I'm a pack rat/hoarder) and scanned through it until I found a reference to entering the Administrator PW where it instructs to log on to Windows by typing "Administrator".and then the PW assigned to the admin during Setup.

    I tried typing in the Setup admin PW and go the message "The password is not valid. Please retype the password. Thinking I had phat-phingered something, I typed in the Setup admin PW ever so carefully - and got the same message - PW not valid. I tried it a third time and got the message "An invalid password has been enetered 3 times. To restart your computer, presss ENTER.

    I went through the whole hoopla from powering down and back up and selecting all the right options to entering the admin PW 3 or 4 times. I even went back and verified that I was using the right Setup admin PW by unlocking the system from Security in Setup. I even tried hitting the enter key and entering 'admin' and 'Admin' and "administrator" and "Administrator".

    These admin PW alligators have almost made me forget that my original objective was to drain the swamp by un-partitioning the HDD and reformatting it to a single partition.

    I am stuck. Please help.

    TIA

  2. #2
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    OK. Knowing it is very bad form to answer your own posts for help, I'm doing so anyway because I have managed to change symptoms of the problem.

    First, I decided to abandon the attempt to fix the problem from Recovery Console when booting from CD and instead just pressed ENTER to proceed with an install. This took me to the screens wherein the HDD partitions are displayed and options given, among them to delete the partitions. I had a partition named "-:" which I deleted and confirmed its deletion. I had another one that I deleted (have NO clue where they came from, but his is my wife's computer ) then I deleted the C: partition because I wanted to format the entire HDD and install WinXP Pro as a fresh new copy. I was prompted with all kinds of warnings about the danger or deleting "C:" and that I would have to reinstall the OS if I proceeded. OK, I want to format and reinstall so I confirm the deletion prompt by pressing "L" and ENTER and got the screen prompts for formatting the HDD. I chose the full format option (not the quick option) and pressed ENTER and got the following message: "Setup cannot format the partition. Your computer may not have enough memory to perform this operation or Windows XP CD=ROM may contain some corrupted fiels. Setup cannot continue. To quit Setup, press F3."

    This is progress, at least, because I got to the disk partitioning prompts. But I have no idea what the error message is about. There are 2GB of RAM on this computer and the XP CD has been used before to format and reinstall (which I realize doesn't mean that it is pristine but I've never gotten any kind of error message including read errors.

    ??????????????????????

  3. #3
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    Now that the partitioning is complete have you tried restarting setup from scratch and trying the format again?

    It seems as though you've got some hardware problem. Could be almost anything at this point. Disk seems most likely since you had the "NTLDR missing" error first. Since the E310 is a desktop do you have a spare (or old) disk drive you could try to see if you can install to it?

    Joe
    Joe

  4. #4
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    More bad news.

    I got past the NTLDR missing error when I attempted to format the hard drive again. This time, I got to the point where I selected the full reformat (not the quick one) and it displayed an old DOS-like screen saying that it was formatting. Then, a few seconds into the formatting process, I got a message saying that there had been an error and that it couldn't proceed further.

    I'm going to download an ultimate boot disk and burn both a DOS boot CD and a WindowsXP boot CD and see if that works. I DID run the Setup HDD diagnostics on the drive and it 'Passed'. I'm thinking that the MBR has been zapped or corrupted and that I'm going to have to do something to get a new MBR.

    Any other ideas?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobH View Post
    Any other ideas?
    First, the MBR is not in play when you are formatting the drive. There is no MBR yet.

    You might want to run some memory tests since the HDD passed tests. You've got something flaky with RAM or power.

    Joe
    Joe

  6. #6
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    Problem solved.

    It finally dawned on me that this might be a CMOS problem. I found info on the Dell E310 CMOS reset and followed the instructions to change the mobo jumpers for 5 seconds then change them back. This allowed me to boot from the CD, reformat the HDD and reinstall Windows.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobH View Post
    Problem solved.

    It finally dawned on me that this might be a CMOS problem. I found info on the Dell E310 CMOS reset and followed the instructions to change the mobo jumpers for 5 seconds then change them back. This allowed me to boot from the CD, reformat the HDD and reinstall Windows.
    Glad you found it and got things resolved. Thanks for posting back.

    Joe
    Joe

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