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I removed some malware and after restart, I get the infinite reboot. I have all the files saved, so I formated and reinstalled XP. That caused it to hang without ever booting. I then tried Windows 2003, which gave me boot.ini error. I then tried XP again, and now it attempts to boot to finish the installation, but it goes into the constant reboot loop again.

Before I formated, but after the initial restart, I put the drive in an external case and plugged it into my laptop. Windows 7 said the drive needed to be formatted before it could be used. I didn't format it then. When I reinstalled XP the first time, it said the drive was unusable and needed to be formatted. Since it still doesn't work, is it safe to assume the drive is junk?

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Have you run error checking or checkdisk on the drive? – Not Kyle stop stalking me Jan 19 '11 at 16:52
up vote 2 down vote accepted

When it is connected to the W7 PC, delete the partitions on the drive using disk management, then create a new basic partition and do a long NTFS format. Long format will do a surface scan of the hard drive platters, it should find any problems if they are present. If it finds errors, replace the drive.

Put it back in the other PC and try to install XP again, try to use a XP install disc with SP2 or higher.

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After deleting the partition and formatting, Windows reinstalled. – user63816 Jan 20 '11 at 14:41

(Maybe I should read the whole post.) Try going into the recovery console, and running chkdsk -r using the command line.

Is the drive SATA? This sounds to me like an issue that I had with an older XP install, where the default SATA drivers on the CD were causing random machines to crash. A couple of ideas you can try:

  1. Boot into your bios, and look for the 'SATA MODE' or something close to that. It may be set to 'native' mode, and toggle this setting to on if it is off. Now try to reboot. If this works, then update the chipset and all drivers, and then set it back to what it was previous.

  2. Boot into safe mode with networking, and try the same thing.

  3. Download a utility that will allow you to streamline updates, by adding them to your CD. NLite is a fantastic tool, but I am not sure if you can use it on w WIN7 machine to fiddle with the installer CD.

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