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I'm in a Gr. 12 computer engineering class, and we're setting up these old Pentium 4 machines, installing some software, and Ghosting them to get to know the Ghosting process.

So I was lucky and picked a machine that had no problems. Then I did a fresh install of Windows XP Professional SP2. In the beginning, I installed Firefox, and LibreOffice. After the weekend, I went back to the machine, and it hung for about 5 mins at the Welcome Screen. I rebooted, and the same thing happened.

A kid came over, and jokingly pressed Ctrl + Alt + Del, and what do you know? The HDD starts making sounds, the HDD light starts flickering, and the desktop and taskbar showed up. I thought it was a coincidence, but it still hung at the Welcome Screen every time I boot. The HDD light rarely flashes, nor does the HDD make any sounds, until I press Ctrl + Alt + Del. Why is this happening? Can't be a coincidence every time.

Specs:

  • HP d530 CMT
  • Pentium 4 (I'll find and add the # tomorrow) > 1.5 GHz
  • 1 GB DDR (4x 256MB)
  • Intel Graphics "Extreme" 2
  • 2x WD400 Caviar IDE (40GB each, not in RAID)
  • 1x WD400 Caviar IDE 40GB
  • Windows XP Professional SP2 SP3 32 bits

Extra information:

  • Motherboard battery is drained, BIOS settings aren't saved sometimes, and time stops after shutdown.
  • No passwords
  • 1 User account
  • No "Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to login" dialog
  • The board banned us from connecting these machines to the Internet. I get no updates, and I have to download everything from the school's computers, and transfer via flash drive. There is wireless but we don't have receivers.

Update:

  • Installed SP3
  • Finished drive cloning/ghosting, and removed the clone drive for storage inside my teacher's cabinet
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try installing SP3? are you sysprepping these systems before ghosting? –  MDT Guy Feb 21 '13 at 21:16
    
Similar: During Windows XP startup, why do I sometimes have to press Enter or Esc at the welcome screen?. Is it ONLY C+A+D that wakes it up, or do other key presses also work? Have you tried starting it in safe mode? Does it behave the same way? How about with a NOT dead BIOS battery? How about with no KB/mouse attached? –  techie007 Feb 21 '13 at 21:17
    
Also, have you seen and tried things suggested in How to diagnose a freeze on startup in Windows XP? –  techie007 Feb 21 '13 at 21:19
    
I'll see if I can find the time to test all this tomorrow. I'm in the process of installing SP3, and I have to do the ghosting tomorrow, but we pretty much get to use these machines whenever we want. Hopefully I can find and fix the problem before it vanishes –  Alex Yan Feb 21 '13 at 21:21
    
ATM I'm always in a hurry to install something so I can get to the ghosting, so I've only tried C+A+D –  Alex Yan Feb 21 '13 at 21:23
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