While sometimes Windows gets its Registry messed up or corrupted, other times a failing hard drive can cause the problems we see.
I answered a question this week from someone who was having problems getting Windows XP to boot successfully. It would hang at different parts of the boot process, but on rebooting, would usually run successfully. He had run the Windows "Disk Cleanup" (formerly known as Scandisk) and Defrag, and had up-to-date anti-virus definitions.
Amazingly, I had the same, or a similar, problem last week on my desktop. It had crept up on me for a couple months and I hadn’t figured it out because it always seemed to resolve itself with one or two reboots. Finally, though, rebooting didn’t solve it, and neither did power-off and power-on.
I finally realized that, when I tried to do anything that caused the hard drive to try to access any file in the Windows directory (anything, including the act of opening Windows Explorer or the Start Button), my computer would seem to hang. Sometimes it even did it when I was at the user login screen.
I finally figured out that it was a hard drive problem. Since I had purchased Spinrite 6 for that computer long ago, I booted the floppy (It also runs from a bootable CD) — and was immediately warned “WARNING — Drive 0’s S.M.A.R.T. monitoring system reports that the drive is in imminent danger of failure. Back up any data before running Spinrite…”
I had already backed up my data, so I ran Spinrite. WOW, what a difference. Now, I’m looking for a new drive, but I’m not rushing to buy it instantly. Windows is now booting and working perfectly.
Spinrite is available over the Internet from www.grc.