General Question

JoshLake's avatar

How do I return my computer to factory blank after I have screwed it up royally?

Asked by JoshLake (73points) February 10th, 2010

I have a Dell running a Xeon processor and Windows XP. I decided I was tired of using Windows, and the constant problems (I’d been having graphics card driver issues causing screen of death episodes) so I decided to install Mandriva, and get my Linux flippers wet. That was the end. I ran the install disk on a separate partition, but it was never recognized on start up, but went straight into Windows every time. Things went downhill from there. The screen started flickering, and now on the boot screen, if the monitor is on at all, it is randomly substituting letters. Often a C for an S, like Windowc, or dick. The numbers have a tendency to be their corresponding symbols, like 1=!, 5=%, etc, although there are other less obvious subs. Also, ones, zeros and equal signs everywhere. Then the Windows emblem loads, runs through its start up, and then the screen goes black. I deleted the partition, reformatted and reinstalled windows on my primary drive, but it hasn’t changed anything. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? If I could wipe the whole thing out and start over I would…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

10 Answers

jerv's avatar

First off, it sounds like your graphics issues are hardware-based. I don’t see any driver helping that out.

Second, I typically find that running FIXMBR and/or FIXBOOT from the WinXP install CD tends to do a good job of wiping out a faulty GRUB/LILO install. Trust me, I’ve screwed that up before, and it isn’t fun :P

spiritual's avatar

If you still have the operating system disk that came with it, it should be an easy fix.

Just insert the CD into the cd-rom. Restart the PC, and as it’s booting up, it should say, “Press any key to boot from CD” and from there it will be a step by step procedure on re-installing Windows.

Or use f2 to get into setup then find the ‘restore factory settings’ option in the BIOS.

njnyjobs's avatar

Is this a Dell laptop or desktop?

After formatting HD and installing Windows XP installation, did you run the Dell Drivers for the video, audio, etc..?

Is the problematic video card factory installed?

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Normally I’d say:

“If you have DOS operating system on disk, you can boot from disk and format C, or whatever letter drive your OS is located on. I’d suggest making a copy of your drivers first.”

But, since you say you already reformatted your computer, it must be either a hardware issue or possibly a boot sector virus. (The link also suggests various methods of removing these viruses.)

If it is an unknown hardware issue, may whatever dieties you happen to believe have mercy on you.

Best of luck,

jrpowell's avatar

Can you open the case and make sure all the fans are running? I would even yank the video card and try putting it back in.

jerv's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna That is why I like running FIXMBR and FIXBOOT from a CD; it reaches those hard-to-clean areas that a format/partition job can’t touch.

JoshLake's avatar

The video card is factory installed, as is everything else. I can’t even access the Recovery Console from install CD anymore. When I choose the installation it reboots before I can enter a password. I am getting screens like “Please waid while Cetup co’ies filec to dhe Windows insdallation folderc. This night take several minutec to co,;lete.” When I run the repair windows option on the boot CD. I just need a step by step guide to starting from absolute scratch. I’ve already lost any data on the drives, I have all my install disks. I just need to wipe the thing out and start over. Is there a guide for this sort of thing anywhere?

jerv's avatar

Just because it was factory installed, that doesn’t make it right. Cards can blow (I have the soot stains to prove it), and they can also come unseated if the system is ever moved… like, say, from the assembly line into a box, or shipped to a store, or from the store to your house… you get the point. I’ve unseated mine quite a few times over teh years since I have a tendency to sometimes knock the VGA connector when I go to use the USB plugs on the back of my rig.

If you are getting screens like that when you boot from a CD without even touching the hard drive(s) then you have some funky stuff going on that no guide will help fix. Hardware-issue type stuff. We’re talking, “Step 1:Remove and replace component X and don’t bother with step 2 until you do!” here.

Given that you were having graphics issues before you even tried Linux, I would wager that your video card is shot and has been for some time. It sounds like you are doing everything else right except that you are not replacing broken hardware! Change out that video card and then try doing what you have been doing the same way you’ve been doing it. I think it’ll work out better.

JoshLake's avatar

Okay. Changed out my video card for an identical one I had laying around. All the wonderful artifacts stopped coming up, but Windows still would not open. The whole thing would just hang when it was supposed to switch to the log on screen. I uninstalled all the drivers for the video card (An nVidia GEForce Quadro4) and windows starts like a dream. Thank you so much for helping me out of this one. I’ve been banging my head against a wall for a week.

jerv's avatar

I find that the worse the symptoms, the simpler the solution usually is :D

Glad I could help.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther