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My machine won’t finish booting. What do I do?

My computer will not finish starting up. It’s stuck on the Welcome screen.
When I turn my computer on, it will start to load and then get stuck on the
Welcome screen. I have no Start button or anything else I can click on. I’ve
tried Ctr-Alt-Delete; I’ve also cut it back off to try and reboot; I’ve gotten
nowhere. I can’t do anything at all. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The
night before I ran a Norton 360 and it didn’t find any malware or spyware that
is causing this. This is Windows 7 on a Dell laptop.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #62
, I look at a machine that won’t boot and propose several
diagnostic steps.

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Won’t boot

Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where it could be just about
anything. And that’s frustrating, I know. That makes it very difficult to
diagnose and even worse… trying to diagnose it remotely is almost
impossible.

The things that I would look at are things like potential hardware
failures, recent updates, recent Windows updates.

Diagnostic steps

I would try starting it in Safe Mode to see if that even works.

My guess is it may or may not. If it does, well, that probably tells you
that you’ve likely got some kind of software installation issue or software
issue.

I’d be tempted to run a Windows repair installation.

Ultimately, though, I think I’m going to point you to an article I’ve got,
How
do I diagnose a machine that won’t boot reliably?
” Like I said, there are
just so many different things that could go wrong. That article will at least
highlight the most common.

Ultimately, I’m concerned that you may end up needing to see a technician who
can actually take a look at the machine hands on.

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9 comments on “My machine won’t finish booting. What do I do?”

  1. Something similar happened to me. It turned out to be an external hard drive that I’d connected to the system. Apparently, there was some remnant of a boot sector on the drive and Windows was trying unsuccessfully to read it. Until I got around to changing the boot sequence I simply unplugged the external drive when I rebooted. That took care of the problem.

    Reply
  2. I had the exact same thing happen after Windows updated itself (XP SP3). I started in Safe Mode and ran System Restore (I know Leo hates System Restore) and took the machine back to the state it was in before the update and it worked again.

    As a side note, a few weeks later I crossed my fingers, let Windows update itself again and the process worked without a hitch. I guess MS had enough time to figure out what was wrong with their patch and correct it.

    Reply
  3. There are several LIVE boot disks out there that will help in such a case. I’m at a friends machine and don’t have my refrences handy, but Google for ‘Live boot disk’ and see. Hard to do if you can’t boot so practice Boy Scout stuff and Be Prepared. Oh, and set your boot sequence to boot from CD first.

    Reply
  4. Disconnect anything plugged into the laptop.
    Disconnect the mains power then disconnect the battery for 30 seconds.
    Normally there are 2 catches on the back of the laptop which will release the battery.
    For desktops switch of the mains power for 30 seconds.
    Otherwise a repair reinstall of Windows may be necessary.
    Jp

    Reply
  5. i always have and have had a window os, thanks Leo for your input into it and into MSN, it is better than peanutbutter esp when up to snuff
    — when up on upgrades etc, and as below, mine w-Vista is fast as speed of light, and that is fast…

    i never let the os spend more than 5 seconds booting or otherwise fooling around chasing whoever, or whatevr,,,,,,,

    i start by putting my mouse on its tail, by clicking my cursor all over the screen, usually at about the 3d click the boot or fooling around ceases and i get the screen i asked for

    if, however, is still fooling around in netLAND
    i suspect the disk is stuck so i slam hard and fast and frequently the space bar the backspace and the enter, bang bang bang, 3 bangs each, serially, until the disc unsticks and my command is obeyed, a piece of cake, honest

    – so far that solves my probs, but again if not i surely will ask Leo to help me….

    however, this is on a fairly new machine, an Acer made in tawain where the good olde lollypop computers are made and designed and assembled etc, the machines not the os, the os is a monopoly, almost, by microsoft, and with window vista os which they automatically upgrade and is juicy and nice and fast and always on and at top of the circuits,,,,,

    however, even so, occassionally i can see that the os is sluggish, i.e. takes more than 2 seconds to give me what i ask for ::

    when this happens i first go to tools, bottom of menu, click internet options, clean out all the files with one click or some with some clicks, and, then, without testing to see if up to speed,
    i go to Norton, run it, when done i go to Norton Utilities and run their de frag even tho does it automatically because sometimes norton is shy and skips the de fragging and thus this needs to be done by hand instead of by their auto system

    i already know the above will clean out the spider webs and goblins, so i just proceed in my usual stumbling way, surfing the net, being a pest, etc, but i sure have fun for an olde guy (83y, looking for 100y for sure, then see if i can get more, life is fun so why quit it if i can stay and play?)

    anyway if that does not do it, i would for sure ask Leo to help me find the dust and spider droppings etc, and i know he can help me…..

    Reply
  6. as to my next above, i forgot to give the data on the speed of light which is, or course, per einstein, 186.400 miles per second, or is it supposed to be per nano-second, — i get lost in
    the quantum, o well…………..

    Reply
  7. darn it, i goofed again, speed of light is
    186,000 mpsecond
    (i had typed a period not a comma thus made
    the error read 186 plus a tad mps, big difference, i ought to be whipped)

    Reply
  8. I have an HP DV7 Laptop. same thing. Hangs at start up. Won’t even detect a H.D. just DVD drive.
    It’s not even 2 years old yet bad MoBo.
    Check to see if it will detect H.D, (F2) if not, could be H.D. or MoBo.

    @ bob D above, Vista running at the speed of light, huh?
    Amazing!
    J.

    Reply
  9. Dear Leo and friends:Hello! it’s been a while since i asked a question here.Thank God who helped me get my Gateway up and running again,amen! Ok, new question? I bought a used Dell 8300 with a Pent 4 and Windows XP O.S.factory installed. It came on and worked fine “it was uses at a school” and had alot of Ram and Disk space left. I used the already installed anti-virus to do a quick scan and it found 13 items but only could remove 12.one was part of the O.S. so I opened drive C: and used tools to “fix and repair all files” but now it continues to run chkdsk and not boot on pass the Windows XP screen.Saying code 7 in a check errors which I believe is Disc not being found or read? What can I do to get pass this or do i need a new Drive and reinstall-which I do not have a re-installation start-up disk to use for that even if could . Please help me with this new issue and thank youm Leo for all that you have taught me since i started with computers in 2009.Your friend and faithful reader,Michael.

    Reply

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