Apr. 7th, 2016

kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
My morning routine is to shower and dress, then munch a bowl of cereal for breakfast while I sit at my desktop PC and catch up on FB, clear out the junk e-mail, maybe check some news, that sort of thing. I was doing that yesterday, nothing out of the ordinary, when Windows 10 suddenly gives me a Blue Screen of Death talking about CRITICAL_STRUCTURE_CORRUPTION. Yeah, that doesn't sound healthy, right? I try a reboot, and as soon as the boot process hands off to Windows and the loading screen appears, it almost immediately locks up. That's no good. So I try it a couple more times with the same result--occasionally there's text on the screen saying something about Automatic Repair, but that immediately freezes as well. But I've gotta get to work, so I just power it down to deal with when I get back home.

So I get home and set to work. Presuming it might be a failing hard drive with some corrupted Windows files, here at the office I'd downloaded the Win10 setup to a USB drive, so I try booting from that to run a repair.. and it won't boot from the USB. The latest copy of Windows I have on cd is 8.1, but I figure that's better than nothing if I need to reinstall anyway, so I try booting from that instead.. and it won't do that either. Every time, the PC goes through POST, but then as soon as it hands to Windows it freezes. I try some BIOS tweaks, I try the PC's boot menu, nada--it won't boot from the hard drive or anything else. I try getting to Windows' own boot menu to try going into Safe Mode but that won't even come up, and in fact starts giving me errors about disk read/write problems, which again makes me think it's a failing hard drive. That's actually not so bad, since I always dedicate a hard drive (or partition) to the OS, and keep all my data files on other drives so I can always format and reinstall the OS without losing much. But I want to try ruling out everything else before I get into that, so I go so far as to open up the PC, re-seat the RAM, disconnect and reconnect the hard drives, just to make sure everything is solid in there. Try booting up again, and still no dice.

I'm just about to swap out that hard drive with a spare I have lying around and do a fresh install, but before I do that I do one more search online for suggestions on PCs that freeze at boot. And I come across a forum post somewhere, guy says his PC wouldn't boot so he unplugged all his USB devices and then it worked. And guess what? I unplug everything USB aside from the mouse and keyboard, and the thing boots right up. Sheesh. So I figure maybe my USB memory card reader locked up somehow, and that was the whole problem. Though I swear I went so far as to turn off the power supply at some point, which should have powered down the USB ports and cleared that problem. But then again, maybe I didn't. So anyway, all that hassle and frustration and it was as simple as unplugging a card reader! Hopefully I'll remember that next time. :)

Jeez, I've been pretty absent in these parts lately. I should do a catch-up post that isn't quite so geeky and boring. Hope you're all well, anyway. :)

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