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Windows 7: Extra drivers causing startup problems

24 Apr 2012   #1

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
 
 
Extra drivers causing startup problems

Let me preface this by saying that my actions over the last couple days haven't been the smartest, and were done mostly out of stupid curiosity. Also, sorry for the lengthy post, but I want to get as much info out there as possible.

This all started when I started having issues with my laptop screen a few weeks ago. Something's wrong with it and the back light refuses to stay on for more than a few minutes (if I'm lucky). Long story short, I got fed up with the issue while waiting for a replacement part to get in, and had this brilliant thought: "Why don't I just stick my hard drive in a different computer and boot to it there?" I figured I could just plug it in, boot it up, and install all the drivers for the hardware that's part of the computer I stick it in. But that's not all! I also figured that it would be cool to just put MY computer into Sleep mode before taking out the HD, so that when I was done using it in the other computer a couple hours later, I could just plug the HD back in to mine and have it resume to where it was when I hit sleep. It must have been late because now I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea.

Surprisingly, this idea seemed to work great. After testing my sleep mode theory by just unplugging and re-plugging the HD into my laptop while in sleep mode. Everything resumed normally like nothing had happened, so I put it to sleep again, took out the HD, and hooked it up to a different computer. It booted up just fine, and Windows was able to install most of the drivers it needed right off the bat. The main ones that were missing were the network drivers, and the PCI controller drivers (or something similar to that).

So I hopped onto a separate computer, pulled up the driver support page for the Acer Aspire 7750Z laptop I now had my HD plugged into, and downloaded the Ethernet and chipset drivers onto a flashdrive. I copied these onto the Acer laptop (after it had already installed the other drivers it could find and restarted without a problem) and ran the setup for the chipset drivers. I don't remember if I also ran the Ethernet driver setup, but I think I did.

At this point the family member that owns the Acer laptop I had been doing all this on said they needed it so I shut everything down properly and plugged the HD back into my laptop. I hit the power button to resume windows like before, and it did so without a hitch, just like before.

But this afternoon, I tried to turn my computer on (I shut it down last night without having any signs of any issue) and discovered a problem: it will boot through the Windows logo/animation, but at the point where it should load the login screen, I get an extremely brief flash of a BSOD and the computer restarts. The BSOD is gone too fast for me to see what it says at all, but I can tell that it's very short (the white text only goes about halfway down the screen).

I've let it run chkdsk at startup like it asked, but to no avail. I've also booted to the installation disk and let it run startup repair a couple times. When I try to do a system restore, it tells me I have no restore points (even though I could have sworn I did). I opened the command prompt and ran bootrec /fixboot and /rebuildbcd with no effects. (I don't really know what these do, but after a google search they seemed like my best bet) When I try to boot into safe mode, it gets up to the loading of driver "CI.dll" and then flashes that fleeting BSOD screen for an instant before restarting again.

Just to be sure it wasn't a sudden problem with my laptop, I plugged the HD back into the Acer again and got the exact same behavior.

My best guess is that installing those chipset drivers onto an OS that already had other chipset drivers is causing this mess, but I'm certainly not very expert in this subject. If someone could tell me how to wipe all the drivers (and make the OS reload them all just like it has to do when the OS is first installed) I think that should fix this problem. Any other suggestions are also appreciated.

I REALLY DON'T want to have to reinstall my OS because I have roughly half a terabyte of programs installed and configured just how I want them, and reinstalling and reconfiguring them all would be a HUGE pain. So that's an absolute last resort.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Apr 2012   #2

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
 
 

Also: after a little searching it looks like I should be able to run some variation of the "sysprep" command, something like "sysprep /oobe /generalize" to remove all the drivers and let them be reinstalled. But I figured I should check with people who know about this kind of thing before running a command that I don't know anything about.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2012   #3

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
 
 

Anyone?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Apr 2012   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I am not sure I can help you here. But for sysprep I would ask Gregrocker. He knows these things. Send him a PM.

And next time you make experiments like that, do yourself a favor and make an image beforehand.

Your theory regarding the drivers sounds plausible but it could also be some corrupted .dll which happens frequently.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2012   #5

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
 
 

Thanks for the info, I'll send him a message. And unfortunately I don't have a big enough storage medium to create a backup image on for this hard drive. I thought I was covered with system restore points, but apparently not.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2012   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Restore points are very unreliable. As for an image, figure 60% of the amount of your data on C: will be the size of the image - at least if you use free Macrium which I can highly recommend. DO NOT use Windows imaging. It is just as unreliable as restore points.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2012   #7

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

May be my suggestion is coming after the horse has bolted from the stable, but it may be of use in the future. If the 500 or so gigabytes of programs are likely to disappear on re-installation then in future you ought to partition the disk and then change the location of the Program Files Folder to another drive. By doing so your System Volume Drive size would get substantially reduced and then you can image it, as whs has suggested. This image, you can store elsewhere and may be on the same drive in which you relocate the Program Files.

In case it becomes necessary to restore this image, it shall upon restoration pick up the path to the programs in the Program Files Folder on the other drive and you shall be back in business without any problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2012   #8
Microsoft MVP

 

You cannot expect Windows 7 to start on new hardware without adjusting it using SysPrep, Paragon Adaptive Restore, or during reimaging using Acronis with Universal Restore. It requires more than just removing the drivers since the SID and HID changes required can be sensitive. That you got it to start was unusual - asking it to start again on the old hardware is a bridge too far.

It's likely too late to SysPrep now so I would try to get my hands on the PAR disk which was freely available up to a year or so ago. Boot it and point at Windows 7 on the native computer to see if it will make the necessary P2P adjustments.

You can copy out your files using the Windows 7 DVD or Repair CD with this method: Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console or using Paragon rescue disk to recover data. There is 25gb free storage available on Skydrive with each Windows Live ID right now with a free promotional upgrade from the normal 7gb.

If necessary follow these steps to Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 which are the same as for retail.

I would not unplug a HD from a laptop which is only sleeping and still has power to it's RAM as it is risky behavior. You want all power drained by removing battery and power cord, holding power button down to discharge residual power.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2012   #9

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
 
 

@whs- Oh, that's impressive. I didn't know they would compress so efficiently. I might be able to do that in the future then, and I'll be sure to use Macrium. I've heard lots of good things about it.

@wanchoo- I was actually going to do that when I set this hard drive up, but I got excited using Windows 7 for the first time, forgot about that, and already most of my core programs installed by the time I remembered that I wanted to change it to that kind of setup. But from now on, any time I set up my own OS, I think that's what I'm going to do.

@gregrocker- Yeah, I guess it would have been better if it had just refused to work at all on the other computer. Would have saved me a lot of trouble. I'll find that PAR disc you're talking about and see what it can do for me. As for data backup, I have some adapters I can use to hook it up as an external HD and copy them wherever I need using other computers, if I end up needing to. I also have some Linux recovery CDs I can use for that purpose. Although the method using the recovery console is pretty neat, I'll have to remember it.

@Everyone- I talked to a tech teacher I have at school about this. She guessed that since the safe mode boot hangs on loading that "CI.dll", that dll (and possibly more) are probably corrupt in some way. So first I'm going to see if I can run the sfc /scannow command on the hard drive from the recovery console or something and see if that can repair it.

I've also heard that there's some way you can rip the main Windows resources (such as these required .dll's) directly off the Windows installation disc somehow. If the sfc command fails, I'd like to try that and see if I can manually replace any corrupt .dll's. If neither of those get me anywhere, I'll give all the other helpful suggestions a try. But has anyone else heard of this method of ripping resources, or can point me to a tutorial for doing it or something?

Thanks again everyone, I appreciate all of your input. I'm prepared to do a complete OS reinstall, but only as a last resort. Reinstalling all my programs won't be that hard, I'm just dreading the process of reconfiguring them all to how they are set up now. I like to customize EVERYTHING...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2012   #10
Microsoft MVP

 

All repair commands, tests and fixes are automated in Startup Repair. If it fails then run SFC -SCANNOW Run in Command Prompt at Boot from DVD/Repair CD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Extra drivers causing startup problems




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