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Several times a Windows 7 laptop would not boot without me pressing F2, when it would tell me "Media test failure, check cable", then proceed to boot up. If I pressed F12, the other alternative offered, it seemed to indicate it was trying to boot from a CD, but would not allow me to move cursor to use hdd.

Once booted up, it would not allow me, administrator, to log on by typing in password - until I had logged in as ordinary user first. Even then it would take ages to get beyond a black screen and cursor.

It would not allow me, in my account, to type in Word or Firefox until I had typed in another account first. Word told me I was trying to type with control key pressed - I wasn't. Web pages appeared in strange language - once one webpage - met office - completely resized

I created another admin account, which had no password, and which DID respond to keyboard.

What could be causing this change in behaviour? Is there any way I can fix it?

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It possible that your CTRL key is stuck for some reason, perhaps some soda was split on it.

Additionally your hard drive or even your motherboard may be failing. If your hard drive fails it may try to do a PXE boot and you would get that error. More information would be needed to give a more specific answer.

It would be best to back up all files you care about as soon as possible.

You may want to contact the manufacture of your laptop for support.

Next determine the maker of your hard drive and try to find diagnostic software for that drive. Run the diagnostic software.

You could open a CMD window and copy the following line to your computer. It will set your computer to scan your hard disk drive before windows loads for any bad sectors and repair any errors it finds then force an immediate restart your computer

Echo y |chkdsk /r & Shutdown /f /r /t 1

Good luck I hope it is an easy fix.

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Thank you, I will try chkdsk –  Guy Thomas Jan 20 '13 at 7:56
    
Perceptive answer: the key was stuck. There was a coffee spillage which likely affected the 6yo hardware - solution new laptop! –  Guy Thomas Jan 21 '13 at 19:03
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