T Nation

Fixing My Computer, Part II


I've been working on fixing whatever the heck was/is wrong on my computer. Heres the earlier thread


In brief heres the rundown
-Computer so slow/effed up as to be nonfunctional. only things it was capable of at this point was listening to mp3s and burning cds
-defragging did nothing
-only 256 mb of ram, but I want to make sure that there isnt an irreconcilable hardware/software problem that would render it simpler to just get a new comp, before I drop the $70 on new ram
-tried scanning with ad aware, ad aware would scan about 60k files and then just stop. it didnt finish, it just stopped, no matter how long I waited
-I tried reinstalling windows, the computer wouldnt let me because I had a later version on my comp than on the cd. I wanted to just reinstall and update with service pak 2, no dice.
-I tried formatting and got this message

Format cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Format may run is this volume is dismounted first. ALL OPENED HANDLES TO THIS VOLUME WOULD THEN BE INVALID. Would you like to force a dismount on this volume?

I said yes and then got another error message saying the volume was in use.

So heres what I did:
-I did everything this site


told me to, which consisted of showing hidden files, reducing my anti-virus programs down to one (avg), ccleaner, adaware, microsoft defender, hijackthis!, cwshredder and kill2me, rebooting in safemode and running all those, and restarting in normal and running some online scans. Didnt really do much.

-Ran system restore, which seemed to help, despite the fact that it was resetting itself to a point AFTER teh initial problem. But like I said, it helped.
-Somebody suggested reformatting thru the cd by having setting BIOS to read the cd as the first boot device, but i couldnt get into BIOS (i think) by hitting F8 when I started teh computer I got this

Windows Advanced Options Menu
Please select an Option:
Safe Mode
Safe Mode w/ network
Safe Mode w/ command prompt

Enable Boot Logging
Enable VGA mode
Last known good config (your most recent settings that worked)
Directory Services Restore Mode (Windows domain controllers only)
Debugging Mode
Disable automatic restart on failure
Return to OS choices

the only OS choice I had was 'start windows normally'

-One of the posts suggest I had bad clusters or sectors on my harddrive, so i ran scandisk. NOW I got somewhere. Much computer lingo spat forth

CHKDSK is verifying indexes
Correcting error in index 4I30 for file 230
same thing repeated several times
Sorting index
Recovering orphaned file
Replaced bad cluster

whatever it was, it did wonders. AdAware scanned my entire comp the very next time :smiley:

So heres where I stand. In order, the major problems are:
1. The SOB wont play WMVs. Not off the web, not off the hd, nothing. MPGs are fine, they get played through Real Player, but with WMVs I get this message 'Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player might not support the file type or might not support the codec that was used to compress this file.' I tried windows suggested fix which prompted me to download somehting called xml parser which when I tried to install it gave me this message "Microsoft XML Parser Setup Wizard ended prematurely because of an error - Your system has not been modified" and then suggested no fixes. I tried running the WMVs through Real Player, it gives be the same bs. It's Windows Media Player 10, so that doesnt need to be updated, I tried installing xvid codec, no dice, WTF is the problem.

  1. Numerous, frequent "Connect to the Internet boxes" admonishing me that the web page is not available offline,despite the fact that I have a cable modem connection that is ALWAYS connected. I have to keep clicking cancel until finally the computer gets fed up and acknowledges that i am in fact connected

  2. Lots of program errors taht end up in "End Program X - This program is not responding - End now"

  3. Finally, today I tried installing a driver that'll allow me to download clips from my digi video cam, and the comp gave me crap about THAT setup program too. I wonder if theres another problem with setting stuff up.

Writing it all out it sounds pretty bad, but I am really happy at the progress, made, at least I can use it on the internet again, I am game for any suggestions you guys have, thanks!


Did anyone suggest you Fdisk it first, to format it?

\|/ 3Toes


Hagve you tried just clicking on "connect"?


Holy crap dude your computer is a lost cause at this point. So much as gone wrong you really can't go back from here, honestly, without continually running into problems.

The only option at this point is to completely format the drive and reinstall. It appears as though you tried to format within windows, hence the errors you got. You need to boot to a CD or floppy and then format it from there, then reinstall windows. If you don't know how to do all of this, find a friend that does and ask for help. The problems you have are not fixable, especially over an internet forum.

Good luck!


So it sounds like you haven't tried re-installing windows.

To get into the BIOS to change the boot order, try pressing the delete key and tapping it a few times as soon as you turn on the computer.

Set the boot order to CDROM Drive first, pop in your windows cd and re-install.

Honestly thats the best way to sort out your pc cause it sounds like there are way too many problems to single out.

If you don't want to follow that route, then for codecs I can recommend looking for a codec pack such as Klite Codec pack, which should sort out your .wmv problems.


Yes, I remember reading your suggestion, but it mentioned using the win98 boot disk, which i dont have. is there anotehr way to run fdisk?


Yes, but the default connection option is America Online, which I used to use and just left installed on teh computer for emergencies. If I hit connect the modem (the phone modem, which isnt even connected, not the cable modem) starts dialing some 555-nonsense.


Good lord man! Just re-install Windows already!!


Sorry dude, I know my post was long, but I mentioned in there that I cant, windows wont let me. It says it wont do it because teh version already on the computer is a later version than teh one on the disk and doesnt give me an option to override it. I would be totally willing to just install the original and download the updates, but the comp wont let me.



Backup everything you need. Restart your pc and boot from a the windows cd. Set it in the BIOS if you need to. It will allow you if it's a fresh install.

Google the procedure if you need to and print it for reference.


All right, I'm gonna have to call Dell or something, cuz like I said I hit F8 and get something called the windows advanced options menu, and nowhere do i see an option to set the cd-rom as teh first boot device. Any suggestions?

EDIT: and I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm being thick, but I really have done my research and I am trying, but im just so tantalizingly close and the darn thing isnt working. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!


You can download a bootdisk maker here.


I just downloaded the Win98SE version and made a disk, and it looks fine.

As long as your computer will boot from the floppy drive, it should work just fine.

I'd Fdisk it, then format it, then you're at square ONE.

\|/ 3Toes


Try pushing the DELETE key as soon as you turn on the pc, the F8 key is for boot sequencing when the pc has already past the ram testing phase.

This should give you the BIOS, where you can set that.


Try hitting Delete instead.



It could also be Insert or F1.

I just continually mash those keys until it gets to the menu.

But if you've got a Dell, don't they usually walk you through thsese things for free?


On most Dell PCs manufactured in the last 2-3 years, you can press F12 to select a one-time boot menu.

What kind of Dell is this and do you have the Dell Operation system CD?


I can sympathise, this sort of thing made me dump my old Dell laptop for a new HP one. It may have cost more money, but the cost in stress and hassle was much lower.


You definitely need to reformat. I suggest checking out computing.net. There is a lot of good forums there that will give you help.

Some others have mentioned booting from your CD. This is exactly how I reformat. Again, hit delete right when the computer starts up. You will enter BIOS with the blue screen. Use left/right keys, enter, esc, etc. to set your CD drive as your first boot device. Put your windows OS cd in the CD drive and restart the computer. Now instead of the computer reading your hardrive first and therefore your current OS, it reads the CD. This will start you on your way to reinstalling windows. You have to be sure to reformat your hard drive or it will simply reinstall in with your currently corrupted crap. Follow prompts as needed.

A word of caution: EVERY FILE YOU HAVE WILL BE DELETED. This includes mp3's, documents, movies, pictures, etc. If you do this, make sure to back up everything you want to keep on CD's, and external HD, etc. Once you reformat, you will not be able to get stuff back. Be careful here as it is easy to lose valuable information for ever.

Good luck

Let us know how it goes.



I do not know what is wrong with your computer but it sounds really screwed up.

One thing that pops into mind is Starforce which is protection software for games. It is pretty malicious from what I have heard and could be causing these problems. If you have installed a game using starforce, then starforce program might see your mp3 files and think "that is illegal" and start shutting down your machine or otherwise stuffing it up. This is a possibility, do a google on starforce.

Otherwise ...

The best way to fix your machine is to buy a new harddrive, install it, set it up with the basics (operating system etc..) and THEN install your original drive as a backup drive, copy off everything you need, then reformat the original drive completely. This is a lot of work but the best solution to get it perfect.

Also you should be backing up your hard drive using something like DriveImage 2000 ...

And you should be doing everything listed here..


Obviously if not using win2k then just do the steps that relate to your system.


You need to uninstall Windows Media Player and reinstall it from microsoft.com, this will solve your media files issues. Also, it sounds like you have too many processes running in the background that causing your programs to freeze and have to end task. Right click My Computer and go to manage. Go to Services and stop anything that you don't need running after start up. Too many programs running will eat up your memory. If you want to, download a startup disk and bootup, go to FDISK and reformat your hard drive and then reinstall Windows. I believe another poster mention something about this. Goodluck.