I recently had my system apparently die on me and wanted to share the symptoms and the apparent cause in case anybody else comes across this issue.
- Tried to reboot my computer (first a warm reboot – restart, then a cold reboot – shutdown, wait, power up again) saw the POST (power on self Test) then saw the initial Windows logo with the little animated “runner marquee” at the bottom. Then this cleared and… nothing. What should have happened next was that my blue XP “Click your username to login” screen should have appeared. I needed to kill power to my PC in order to do anything in both cases.
- Then resorted to starting up in Safe mode – in XP you don’t even need to fiddle with the F8 key, you are presented with this option if the system detects a failed startup attempt – simplifies things. When starting in safe mode you get to see all of the drivers being listed as they are loaded. And each time I attempted this (I tried a couple of times) the last driver loaded was agp440.sys.
So you know the environment that I am using to know if the solution below is relevant to you:
- Powerspec 8922 – from Microcenter
- 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 processor (with HT technology)
- 1 Gbyte of RAM (upgraded from default 512 Mbytes)
- 120 Gbyte 7200 rpm ATA/133 Hard Drive
- ATI (VisionTek) XTASY 9600 graphics card (to drive dual monitor configuration)
- Belkin USB 2.0 hub
- Windows XP Home edition – with SP2 applied
- SanDisk Cruzer Mini USB 1 Gbyte Thumb drive
That’s everything that’s relevant to this issue – of course there is the usually panoply of routers, monitors and other USB devices.
I grabbed my wife’s laptop and did some Google searches on agp440.sys and found that this appears to be a red herring. I believe it just happens to be the last of the drivers loaded before services start being initiated.
Several folks did some experiments where they renamed or otherwise disabled the agp440.sys driver and found that the failure then occurred on the next previous driver.
Someone then mentioned that they disconnected their USB mouse and things seemed to work after that for them. Others mentioned that they had to perform chkdsks which found and corrected bad sector info on their hard drives.
Anyway, I had plugged my thumb drive into the computer to check some stuff a while ago and hadn’t bothered to remove it.
I had just shut down the computer and then turned off the power to my USB hub, routers and modem as I wanted to reset them. I did this by powering off my UPS. I suspect this was a harsh shutdown for the thumb drive, even though it was not talking to the computer anymore.
With my computer in safe mode just sitting at the agp440.sys I reached over and just yanked out the thumb drive. *Presto* the computer then continued to boot up in safe mode.
Apparently there was some issue initializing the thumb drive and as long as it was plugged into my usb hub I wasn’t going to be using my computer any time soon.
In safe mode I instructed the system to do a chkdsk /R on my only drive (C:) and then restarted. Cannot get a lock on the primary partition’s NTFS formatted disk after the OS has been set up.
WOW! It takes a long time to chkdsk a 120 MByte drive when about 70 Gbytes are in use… expect this to take a couple of hours at least.
Anyway I let that run overnight and in the morning everything was right as rain.
Later I inspected my thumb drive – hmmm… no problems here. Even did a chkdsk on it (not sure how relevant that is…). But I can only surmise that there was some inconsistency caused by the harsh shut down of the thumb drive.
Hopefully this information can be useful to other people who encounter this issue.