Since yesterday my Windows XP install is stuck on the loading screen (XP logo and "progress bar" constantly moving). I waited more than one hour but nothing more happened.

Before this problem occured I didn't install anything new (no driver, no update...), just read some blogs.

What I did :

  • restored to a previous restore point (successfully). No change. I don't know why but I had only one restore point.
  • tried to boot with "last known good configuration". Problem remains.
  • the computer boots in safe mode, so I did that and used msconfig to try different boot modes. Each time I restarted, the problem remained. I even tried the "load almost nothing" option :).
  • edited BIOS config to reset to default values.
  • back in safe mode : installed Ccleaner and Spybot, ran both. Nothing important detected.
  • ran a full system virus scan (antivir)
  • performed chkdsk with all option checked on all my hard drives.

Nothing on that worked so I went one step further :

  • used windows XP install CD to load the Recovery Console.
  • Performed another chkdsk /R
  • performed a fixboot
  • performed a fixmbr (I know it has nothing to do with it as windows started to load, but I was desperate ^^)

Since I did the "fixboot", the safe mode is also stuck (after the list of drivers loaded, it displays a black screen with only a "underscore" blinking and... nothing more happens).

Now I'm there : can't boot in normal mode, can't boot in Safe mode anymore. Any suggestion is welcome.

Moreover, if someone knows if it's possible to read the windows event log under the recovery console, I'm also interested.

  • 1
    Boy you're screwed, at least you thoroughly described you're problem! +1
    – Ivo Flipse
    Sep 30 '09 at 8:45
  • Although this question is old, and Windows XP is less relevant than it used to be... if I recall correctly there's an "Enable Boot Logging" option in the F8 boot menu that logs the drivers that the OS is loading to the screen. The last one displayed before you get "stuck" is probably the one it's having trouble with (e.g. atisomethingsomething.sys would be your video card driver). Feb 18 '13 at 2:31

If windows hangs at the loading screen it is probably hung on a custom driver. If you can get in safe mode, great, run msconfig and under "BOOT.INI" select the option "/NOGUIBOOT" under boot options and restart. You should see a list of drivers being loaded instead of the normal Windows logo. When it freezes, take note of what driver is trying to be loaded, then use google to look it up. It most likely corresponds to a third party program that you should uninstall.

  • 2
    Unfortunately, I am just seeing a black screen now instead of the Windows logo Jul 16 '14 at 15:53

Susprisingly Yahoo! Answers had a suggestion that seems valid.

It makes you "reset" Windows but leaves your programs and settings be. Probably your best bet.

XP REPAIR INSTALL - print this for easier use. Use of an OEM disk will probable fail. You need an authentic Windows XP Home or Pro disk for this repair.

  1. Boot the computer using the XP CD. You may need to change the boot order in the system BIOS. Check your system documentation for steps to access the BIOS and change the boot order.

  2. When you see the "Welcome To Setup" screen, you will see the options below. This portion of the Setup program prepares Microsoft Windows XP to run on your computer: To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER. To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R. To quit Setup without installing Windows XP, press F3.

  3. Press Enter to start the Windows Setup. do not choose "To repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console, press R", (you do not want to load Recovery Console). I repeat, do not choose "To repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console, press R".

  4. Accept the License Agreement and Windows will search for existing Windows installations.

  5. Select the XP installation you want to repair from the list and press R to start the repair.

  6. Setup will copy the necessary files to the hard drive and reboot. Do not press any key to boot from CD when the message appears. Setup will continue as if it were doing a clean install, but your applications and settings will remain intact.

  7. Reapply updates or service packs applied since initial Windows XP installation. Please note that a Repair Install using an Original pre service pack 1 or 2 XP CD used as the install media will remove SP1/SP2 respectively and service packs plus updates isssued after the service packs will need to be reapplied.

Source(s): Windows XP repair site on the Internet and personal experience with repairing Windows XP

  • I guess that's my last option... "but leaves your programs and settings be" : I'm not convinced and I think I tried that once, years ago. It may restore your windows install but I'm pretty sure most application will need a reinstall. But it's always better that formatting...
    – Julien N
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:40

It seems that having done too much, you are almost out of options.
You can try using a trouble-shooting boot cd, such as the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.
You can try to use your boot cd to roll Windows back to a previous restore point.

If you can't find a solution, you might have to do a repair installation as described by Ivo, and if this doesn't work (horror) then a full installation.

  • I think the repair would be the fastest, if you don't know what the problem is trouble-shooting is like find a needle in a haystack!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Sep 30 '09 at 8:52
  • Repair has the potential to destroy the Windows installation if it goes bad. I would really try first to go back to a restore point.
    – harrymc
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:00
  • Does that imply you don't have restore point's turned off? Or is this a default setting? I use it on Windows 7, but I never used it under XP (stupid me). If you have a restore point: yes go restore!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:31
  • Tried restoring to previous restore point. No change.
    – Julien N
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:41
  • Does that mean that (1) you managed to rollback only not to be able to boot, or (2) that you haven't managed to rollback? If number (1), try to rollback to an earlier restore point. If (2) please update your post with more info about the error first, so we can comment on, because there are still more solutions to try before jumping off into system repair (which looks more and more likely now).
    – harrymc
    Sep 30 '09 at 10:53

Before you try a repair I'd recommend booting to the Last Known Good configuration.

From the linked article:

The Last Known Good Configuration feature restores registry information and driver settings that were in effect the last time the computer started successfully.

This is less drastic than a Repair and you can always try a repair afterwards.

  • Agreed - worth the try, although his system might be too screwed up for this to work.
    – harrymc
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:09
  • Tried that :). Forgot to mention.
    – Julien N
    Sep 30 '09 at 9:40

Another thing you can try is to disconnect all peripherals during boot. It's a very slim chance but worth trying - I have seen this work before when XP showed the symptoms you describe.

Does it always stop at the same point? If not the problem might be something else. I had one PC (with XP) that got stuck occasionally on the loading screen, the problem then got more frequent and it finally started to stop at different points immediately after turning on at the BIOS screen. In this case the motherboard died, a new motherboard sorted the problem in this case.

  • I'll try that. It's always stuck at the same point (it seems, but the windows loading screen is a kind of "black box", I don't know what he's doing...)
    – Julien N
    Sep 30 '09 at 10:00

Could be a damaged sector early on the disk. Try SpinRite http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm

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