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I have a PC with an 18-month-old motherboard/processor and as of this morning, it won't start up. A standard start up freezes with just (C) Microsoft Corporation at the bottom of my screen (very faintly), Safe Mode loaded a bunch of modules but fails to complete (it stops on \windows\system32\drivers\crcdisk.sys) and finally, the original install discs show a white "Windows is loading files" bar which fills and then hangs.

In case this was a comedy of errors ending in a bad install disc, I tried both the 32-bit and 64-bit discs from my "Windows Ultimate" purchase, so it's safe to assume both weren't bad.

I ran the built in memory test which worked and returned no errors.

My only other guesses at this point are processor / motherboard related -- but if one of those were bad wouldn't it fail to do anything at all? Is there a way to test that?

I've also attempted to boot from a Ubuntu CD so its pretty obviously a hardware problem. I'd just like to know how to figure out what part so I don't have to replace things randomly until it starts working again.

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Home built rig? if not what make and model? – Moab Jul 14 '11 at 23:13
If you can afford – Moab Jul 14 '11 at 23:14
Moab: Home Built. And for that link ... at $329 that's a few dollars shy of a shiny new MB & Good Processor. – Erik Jul 14 '11 at 23:26

It doesn't sound like hardware issues as much as it does the OS. Download a linux LiveCD like Ubuntu and see if you experience the same issues. Doing this will not touch your computer's OS or data but would eliminate the possibility of hardware malfunction.

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I don't see how it could be anything but hardware -- the OS on the CD can hardly be corrupted on both disks. The odds are staggeringly against. I have a RedHat CD around here somewhere, I'll give it a go with that for giggles. – Erik Jul 14 '11 at 23:12
If the LiveCD does work then it could be your OS or your Hard Drive. – kobaltz Jul 14 '11 at 23:13
You can also download the LiveCD to a ThumbDrive to avoid using the DVD Drive on your computer and set your BIOS to boot off of a thumb drive. Download the LiveCD ISO Image and use UNetBootIN to copy the ISO to the thumb drive. – kobaltz Jul 14 '11 at 23:15
Not that I expected otherwise, but after burning & verifying an ubuntu .iso and trying to start from that, also resulted in failure. Which brings it back to the original question: how do I know where the failure is -- how can I test fo rit? – Erik Jul 14 '11 at 23:33
You can try to remove everything from the case and try booting the mobo outside. It could be a short with the case. Other than trying a different CPU I don't know. – kobaltz Jul 14 '11 at 23:37

Unfortunately I don't think there's a way to test the motherboard if it's already POSTing. (if it weren't you could use something like this.)

In your case, I'd recommend trying a Windows Repair from the install disc and, barring that, testing each RAM stick individually to see if anything changes. I know you tested it with the built-in test, but RAM is tricky in my experience. If the install disc hangs for more than an half hour, I'd say, and doesn't work in another PC, then you can assume the disc is messed up. If not, hardware is definitely the problem. Try another DVD drive just in case.

Testing the processor would mean you have to have another compatible processor for your motherboard handy to switch in and check for changes in behavior.

Power supplies are also known to create unpredictable behavior. If it's making weird noises or you bought it on the cheap and/or it's not supplying enough wattage, that could be an issue. No one really suspects the power supply.. if you added new hardware, this could be it as well if the amperage draw is too high for it to function right.

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the only new hardware was a video card -- have unplugged it and am using Motherboard's built in video, same results all around. I can say its safe to assume its not the Install Disc as 2 windows vista discs and a Ubuntu disc all fail – Erik Jul 14 '11 at 23:52
If 2 Windows Vista discs and the Ubuntu disc fail it could be the DVD drive or the RAM, too, don't forget. Discs like that load all their files into memory (RAM) in order to function without writing to hard disk. – darvelo Jul 15 '11 at 0:04

Power supply or hard drive would be my suggestion. As David Arvelo said about the PSU, it does weird things. Hard drives are cheap enough now a days to just try. Try loading the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, then running a CHKDSK on the C:

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