This laptop was working fine. All of a sudden it blue screened. After the blue screen, when we went to turn the laptop back on, it would get to the Dell home screen portion where you can opt to go into BIOS or the Boot Menu, and it gets past that fine, but it doesn't load the Windows load bar like it has been doing fine.

We are running Windows XP Pro on a Dell XPS M1330 laptop.

I can also get into BIOS fine, as well as the boot menu. Also, if I hold down F8, I can get into the Windows boot menu and choose to boot in safe mode, etc. When I try to do that though, the same thing happens. Black screen and no load bar.

First I thought maybe the video drives went bad or something with Windows XP, but I left it on until it might get to the point where the login screen comes up to see if maybe I could still here the login screen noise, but that didn't work as well.

We have some very important documents on here that, even if we cannot get the laptop to work again right now, we need to find a way to get access to anyway. It's imperative.

Any ideas of how to:

  1. Fix the laptop.
  2. Get the files off if we cannot fix the laptop.


We let it wait for a while and we eventually got this message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

How the heck do we fix that and maintain the current state of the hard drive?

2 Answers 2


Fist thing I'd try is to re-seat the memory. There should be a access panel on the bottom of the laptop. If that doesn't work I'd recover the data before going further. Remove the hard drive and connect it to a working computer with a SATA to USB adapter designed for hard drives. These adapters typically also have connections for PATA hard drives.

Based on your update: You can boot from an XP disk and perform a repair install. I'm guessing you don't have the disk though as most people don't. Try a google search for the missing file and you might come up with some solutions. Link for some things to try. If the data is critical, remove the drive and recover the data first.

  • If I have the adapter for SATA->USB (or whichever it needs), is it tough to get file access from a hard-rive that is a Windows XP install? I've never done that before.
    – Scott
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:45
  • Once you connect it to a working computer (XP or above) it will appear as a removable disk under My Computer. Just browse for your files and copy them to the good computer. After the data is safe you can go about trying to fix the problem or do a clean reinstall of XP on the laptop.
    – murisonc
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:49
  • I think that is the safest way to go about it. Thanks.
    – Scott
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:51
  • Here is the type of adapter I'm talking about (not an endorsement) cablestogo.com/…
    – murisonc
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:59
  • Would an external laptop hard drive enclosure work as well?
    – Scott
    Nov 19, 2010 at 15:14

If you've got critical data on the drive, my advice would be to connect it to another computer as a second drive and extract your important files FIRST.

If you elect to attempt repair first, boot the XP installer disk and go into the Recovery Console (I think that's what the option is called?). After you log in, type:

expand d:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ c:\windows\system32

You'll get asked about overwriting the current file. Say yes. You can EXIT from the recovery console and try to reboot.

  • I see murisonc beat me to most of what I said. Let me just add -- remain calm! :)
    – kwbaker
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:51

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