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  1. #1
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    Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop appears to be locked

    Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop with latest BIOS was working fine for a long time. All of a sudden it won't boot the OS. When started, it runs the POST and then displays a cursor in the upper left corner of the screen. Nothing we have tried will cause Windows XP SP3 to boot.

    The machine passes ALL diagnostic tests including the hard drive (which is relatively new) so there is NOT a hardware problem.

    The machine does NOT have hardware passwords enabled.

    The machine acts as if it thinks it is stolen and does have a hardware password although it does NOT ask for one.

    We thought the machine "might" be stuck in suspend/stand-by or hibernate mode but since the OS doesn't boot, that seems unlikely.

    If anyone has run into this and found a solution, please let me know.

    Thanks .. Don

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    So have you tried all of this http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/266435/EN

    If you can boot up into Safe Mode by either of the methods described in the article, then go to the Dell support site and download the Chipset/Video drivers.

    If that still doesn't do it and you have a XP install disk then follow these steps to fix the Master Boot Record (MBR) http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixthe.../repairmbr.htm
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-09-11 at 20:50.

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  4. #3
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    Yes, we have tried all of the above. We are knowledgeable computer people.
    As stated earlier, when attempting a normal boot, POST runs and then everything stops with a cursor in the upper left corner. It doesn't appear to ever attempt to access the hard drive (which tests as good).
    When attempting to boot from a Windows XP installation CD, after pressing a key to boot to the CD, a message about checking system configuration appears, then everything stops with a blank screen. Windows setup is never loaded.
    All of this leads me to believe that the machine thinks it has been stolen and won't boot the OS since that gives the user a number of options not desirable to give to a thief.
    The hardware is NOT password protected. I did try instituting a password and on starting the machine would be asked for that password, which after entering result in the same blank screen with cursor in upper left.

    The hardware and memory are relatively new, have worked perfectly for several years, and pass all diagnostic tests.

    The only think I can think of that caused this might be an accidentally pressing some weird key combination to put the machine into some kind of protected mode????

  5. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Anything amiss in BIOS. I assume you've gotten in there and looked around.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
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    Yes, we have the latest BIOS and have checked all settings, etc.

  8. #6
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    The only think I can think of that caused this might be an accidentally pressing some weird key combination to put the machine into some kind of protected mode????
    I doubt it. It looks to me like you're in for a repair install.
    You should also consider making an image of the drive if successful.

    Have you looked into the possibility of an NTLDR issue?
    NTLDR is Missing
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2014-09-12 at 01:41.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
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    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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    Can you actually get into Safe Mode to select with Command Prompt and run a chkdsk /f or just chkdsk in read-only mode ?

    Another option is to create a Kaspersky Rescue Disk and boot up with that http://support.kaspersky.co.uk/viruses/rescuedisk/

    You will need to wire up for it to use the Update Center and then run the Scan C:

    This scan can take a number of hours to complete.

    There's also the Hiron's Boot Disk you can create to use the tools on that.

    http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/

    This is what it contains http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd

    And one for ImgBurn to burn the ISO for either http://filehippo.com/download_imgburn

    Edit
    Couldn't find this link before - if you need it for Kaspersky http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/36403...r-infected-pc/
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-09-12 at 06:40.

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  12. #8
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    As mentioned earlier, booting from CD doesn't work. The CD is read and a screen is displayed then everything stops.

    I have imaging software and an image but can't do anything since the bootable recovery CD stops after displaying the opening screen.

  13. #9
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    The Kaspersky and Hiren's Boot disks boot up and work outside of Windows so it won't be trying to load Windows for it to stop.

    I would try the Kaspersky Rescue Disk - it pulled me out of the mire when I only had a black screen with just a big white cursor arrow to look at and I couldn't even get it to boot from a Win 7 install disk.

    The link I've posted under my Edit in my last post is a How to use guide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudo15 View Post
    The Kaspersky and Hiren's Boot disks boot up and work outside of Windows so it won't be trying to load Windows for it to stop.

    I would try the Kaspersky Rescue Disk - it pulled me out of the mire when I only had a black screen with just a big white cursor arrow to look at and I couldn't even get it to boot from a Win 7 install disk.

    The link I've posted under my Edit in my last post is a How to use guide.
    I tried the Kaspersky Rescue Disk and it DID boot. It did a virus check (I did the entire computer) and found nothing.

    The computer still will not boot .. stops after the POST completes, same as before. I assume you had a virus which the Kaspersky Rescue Disk eliminated to solve your problem. Our problem is NOT a virus (and we had Anti-virus protection in place).

    I suspect something has caused the computer hardware to think in has been stolen and has therefore locked it up.

    This computer has been donated through several owners to the local Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team so we can't really "prove" ownership so going to Dell is not likely to get results.

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    My problem wasn't a virus but the result of someone inserting files which screwed up my Startup and Shutdown and when I tried using the restore points - it hung and after about an hour and three quarters, I felt I had no other option but to hit the power button which left the laptop in limbo.

    When the scan eventually completed, I hit Shutdown and it started a chkdsk /f as it not only scans for viruses, it also rescues.

    How did you do "ALL diagnostic tests" and what were they ?

    Have you tried removing one RAM stick (I assume it will have more than one) - swapping slots and then doing the same with the other stick to see if it will boot each time ?

    Try this on just AC with the battery removed.

    Looking at https://atservice.intel.com/help.action and if it has this installed, then it would have had to have been done remotely and given the number of years you've had it in use, I think it's unlikely that a previous owner would have decided to activate it.

    Would it be possible to back track from the local Sheriff's office the last donor and take it from there to see if any of the previous owners had installed this lockdown facility of if any past members of your team could have installed it as a safety measure ?
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-09-12 at 19:24.

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  18. #12
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    When the scan eventually completed, I hit Shutdown and it started a chkdsk /f as it not only scans for viruses, it also rescues.
    Huh? Chkdsk /f (or a more thorough /r) only scans and fixes disk errors. It has no virus scanning capability.

    Jerry

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwitalka View Post
    Huh? Chkdsk /f (or a more thorough /r) only scans and fixes disk errors. It has no virus scanning capability.

    Jerry
    This is what the Kaspersky Rescue Disk does http://support.kaspersky.co.uk/4131 but somehow after I hit the Shutdown button, it started a chkdsk and going by the length of time that took, I assumed it was just a chkdsk /f - but you could be right in that it had the system run a chkdsk /r, but for either, it must have found corrupt system files as well as scanning for infections - it took over 9 hours for the scan to complete before it initiated the chkdsk on clicking on Shutdown.
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-09-12 at 19:50.

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  22. #14
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I suspect something has caused the computer hardware to think in has been stolen and has therefore locked it up.
    Surely you'd know if you had some form of 3rd party "protection" software installed on the machine?
    This computer has been donated through several owners to the local Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team so we can't
    really "prove" ownership so going to Dell is not likely to get results.
    I hope you have clean installed after getting this machine donated to you?
    Otherwise you really don't know what your getting.

    I tried the Kaspersky Rescue Disk and it DID boot. It did a virus check (I did the entire computer) and found nothing.
    So you are able to boot to CD/DVD?


    Take the drive out of the laptop and attach it as a secondary drive to another computer, preferably a desktop,
    where you can scan it for AV/AM and then pull the data off of it.
    You may need to purchase a SATA to USB connector or cradle.

    After the above the drive can be formatted and returned to the laptop for clean installation.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2014-09-12 at 20:49.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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  24. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudo15 View Post
    My problem wasn't a virus but the result of someone inserting files which screwed up my Startup and Shutdown and when I tried using the restore points - it hung and after about an hour and three quarters, I felt I had no other option but to hit the power button which left the laptop in limbo.

    When the scan eventually completed, I hit Shutdown and it started a chkdsk /f as it not only scans for viruses, it also rescues.

    chkdsk didn't happen when I shut down. I haven't been able to figure out any way to cause the Kasperski program to run chkdsk.


    How did you do "ALL diagnostic tests" and what were they ?

    The computer has a built in high level Diagnostic program package that does a thorough testing of all components, memory, hard drive, etc. All tests passed so there is not a hardware problem.

    Have you tried removing one RAM stick (I assume it will have more than one) - swapping slots and then doing the same with the other stick to see if it will boot each time ?

    Try this on just AC with the battery removed.

    Looking at https://atservice.intel.com/help.action and if it has this installed, then it would have had to have been done remotely and given the number of years you've had it in use, I think it's unlikely that a previous owner would have decided to activate it.

    I looked at this and if it had been installed it would have kicked in years ago so I'm sure this has not been installed.

    Would it be possible to back track from the local Sheriff's office the last donor and take it from there to see if any of the previous owners had installed this lockdown facility of if any past members of your team could have installed it as a safety measure ?
    I am the immediate previous owner, my grandson before that, his employer before that. I replaced the ram and the hard drive and it has run flawlessly for several years.

    This problem occurred right after installing some new software - Adobe Acrobat - so the possibility of corrupted Windows files would be a reasonable possibility SO running chkdsk /r would make sense.

    I could not figure out any way to run chkdsk under the Kasperski Rescue Disk. The machine will boot that CD ONLY because it is Linux based. I found a package designed to run chkdsk from a bootable CD, HOWEVER, it attempts to boot to a version of Windows which doesn't work.

    So at this point it looks like the only way I can access the hard drive is by booting a CD based on Linux.

    Thanks for sticking with me .. you help much appreciated.

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