Pre problem: My system crashed recently while I was in XP. I booted into DOS and ran ScanDisk to check my XP partition (FAT32) and ran a surface scan. Once I was satisfied that the system drive was clean and intact, I tried booting into XP. Unfortunately, it didn’t (quite) work.
Problem: When I try to boot XP, it seems to do nothing, though I can see the HD LED continually flicker now and then. The screen is black and there is a Windows 2000-esque text-mode/ASCII-art progress bar at the bottom of the screen which very slowly inches forward.
Observation: If I try to boot in safe-mode, it looks like nothing is happening for a bit, but then I see the drivers being loaded like normal, except that each one is loaded slowly (~3-5 seconds per file). For each one, aside from the time it takes to load it, I can hear the hard-drive briefly griding (one or two short bursts of noise and HD LED flashes).
Test 1: I rebooted into Windows 7 (on a different drive) and mounted each of the registry hives and exported them to
.REG files. I then repeated it with a very recent copy of the hives and compared them. The files are nearly identical (other than the changes that have been made in the two days between the backup and the crash). Therefore, the registry should be okay.
Test 2: I then copied the entire XP drive to an archive, then expanded that to another drive and compared that to the original XP drive. The whole process went without pause, took just a few minutes and worked without error (ie, no hard-drive read issues). I used an imaging tool to clone the drive and verify it, again without any problems.
Test 3: I was watching a movie, so I decided to let it sit there as long as it needs. It turns out yes, it does boot. First I booted in safe-mode and after several minutes, once it finished loading
gap440.sys, the hard-drive light went solid and Windows loaded and ran as expected. I then rebooted in normal mode and the text-mode progress bar slowly inched forward. After 11 minutes of that, the HD LED went solid and Windows loaded and ran as expected (though it loaded with a new, blank profile instead of mine; I have to edit the profile directory in the registry to set it to the correct one). I repeated the normal boot and it once again took 11 minutes before the XP splash screen was shown.
Question: So what could be the problem? Why would XP be loading the drivers so slowly?