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Windows 7: Gateway M-Series BSOD with hard drive boot

19 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
(SOLVED!) Gateway M-Series BSOD with hard drive boot

I'm working on a used Gateway M-Series laptop, model number: W650I. The laptop runs fine, but whenever I try to boot into Windows with the hard drive that came with it, I get a BSOD! It essentially reads:

A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer. Check for viruses on your computer. Remove any newly installed hard drives or hard drive controllers. Check your hard drive to make sure it is properly configured and terminated. Run CHKDSK /f to check for hard drive corruption and then restart your computer. Technical info: STOP: 0x0000007BC, 0xFFFFF880009A9928, 0xFFFFFFFFC00000034

Thinking that it could be an issue with the drive, I took it out and put it a drive from a Linux machine, and the Gateway booted up normally. I also took the Gateway drive and put it in the Linux box, and the computer gave me an endless reboot cycle of "Windows is loading files." So the Linux drive works in the Gateway and in its own computer, but the Gateway drive works in neither. Simple, right? Just fix the drive; problem solved. Not so fast.

Now I know for a fact that the prior owner of the Gateway infected the machine with all kinds of malware, and a lot of it was never removed. Since Windows was compromised with so many viruses and other nasties, I simply decided to start with a clean slate. So I formatted and reinstalled Windows 7 on the drive. Knowing that formatting doesn't remove all malware, I also hooked the drive up to other computers and ran:

1.) An Microsoft Security Essentials scan. Results were clean.
2.) An AVG Internet Security version 9 scan, twice, and results were clean.
3.) Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, which took over two hours. Results were clean.

I ran CHKDSK twice on the drive, once from another installation of Windows, and it did report that it had repaired some bad sectors. I used EASUS Partition Manager to run a surface test on the drive, and it came back with a couple of bad sectors. So it would appear that the drive may have been damaged by too many incorrect shutdowns or malware, and wouldn't work at all.

Not true. Normally I would have thought that the drive was toast, since it didn't boot up into either computer. However, I hooked it up to my own custom built computer. . . and it worked! Windows booted normally, installed updates normally, ran its programs correctly, all without error messages. So why isn't it working in the Gateway laptop?

I thought it might have something to do with the Gateway's RAM. So I ran Windows Memory Diagnostic twice, and it did not report any errors. The BIOS recognized all the RAM on its summary page, and emitted no error beep when the system started. The Linux drive also booted up with no problem. Just to be sure, I checked the RAM, each stick in a different module, while booting up from the Gateway hard drive, but still encountered the BSOD. The RAM looks fine, and the contacts were not dirty or damaged. I reseated the memory, just to be sure nothing was loose, but to no avail. Therefore I think the RAM is exonerated as a possible culprit.

Windows also would not respond to any of the F8 commands. If I told it to boot into Safe Mode or Last Known Good Config, it would still bluescreen. I ran startup repair on the drive after one such failed attempt, and I did get an error message explaining why Startup Repair couldn't fix the drive, but I don't remember what it was.

Since the Gateway drive is from Western Digital, I downloaded and ran the WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic program. The drive passed the SMART test and the WD quick test without issue. I was going to run the extended test, but after I saw the estimated time sitting at 19 hours after running it for 120+ minutes, I decided to stop the test. For what it's worth, it didn't report any errors during the first two and a half hours I was running it.

I'm wondering if the BIOS on the Gateway is infected somehow. Sure, I can access it without issue, but maybe it has some sort of malware in it that could be interacting with the Windows 7 bootup sequence, which is causing the BSOD. Remember, the Linux drive booted fine on it, because Linux wouldn't get infected with a Windows BIOS virus. I could try resetting the motherboard, or flashing the BIOS, but since I can't actually boot into Windows, I'm not sure how I'd do that.

The one thing I don't understand is that the hard drive works in my computer, but bluescreens in the Gateway. I've checked to ensure that the drive is properly attached and secured in the laptop before I boot the computer. In fact, Windows gets as far as the startup splash graphic before the BSOD hits, so I don't think it is a bad or faulty connection with the laptop's SATA port.

Maybe there is some malware in the drive that is eluding my AV scans? Is there a really thorough virus checker that will scour deep down into the sectors, where a rootkit or something could be hiding? And can anyone recommend any effective third party disk checkup and repair utilities? Maybe the built in Windows features aren't telling me the whole story.

I hooked the drive up to my Linux box, and ran a short and extended SMART test on the drive. It failed both. The SMART status reported that the drive was good, but with one bad sector in the reallocated sector count.

I hooked the drive back up to my custom computer, but this time I did a test. I have a hard drive enclosure that has both eSata and USB. When I booted from eSata - just like booting from SATA when the drive was inside the computer - Windows booted normally

I've exhausted all of my tricks, so anyone else here is welcome to try their magic and find a solution to this Gateway dilemma!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


With all testing you have done, may be a bad connection.
I would check the pins on the Power & Data connection on the MOBO & HD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2011   #3

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

Just so there's no confusion:

1. When you wiped the HD and reinstalled Windows 7, did you do that on the Gateway or on your other computer?

2. Is the BSOD you now encounter the same as the one you had before the reinstall? Does it happen at the same moment?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

19 Oct 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

I would just try a brand new drive, no more headaches. BIOS viruses exist and are rare, you could flash it with the mobo's utility. Backup the data on the one PC the drive works on and put a new install on it.

Also you could try the diskpart clean all command, in case there is an embedded virus.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2011   #5

Windows 7 Professional x64

Thanks all for your prompt and helpful replies! I will try to answer everyone, so that we can solve this issue!

Yes theog, I have checked the Gateway hard drive bay connections, and I think they are OK. Remember, the Linux hard drive I tested in there worked fine and without issue.

I'll try to be more specific Corazon. I removed the drive from the Gateway and attached it to my PC. After checking the disk for errors, running several virus scans, deleting the partitions, low level formatting the drive, and wiping it with zeroes, I rebuilt the MBR and reinstalled Windows 7 on it.

Yes, I still get the exact same BSOD. I wrote down the first one I saw, and compared it, and it matched exactly. And it also occurs at the same precise moment: the Windows 7 splash logo is appearing when it goes down.

I think that might be a good idea Britton30. Remember, the Linux drive did work, so it could just be a bad hard drive. That would certainly explain why, even after all the work I did on it, it still continues to crash. I just can't explain why it works fine in the PC, and not in the Gateway. I thought it might have something to do with the RAM, so here's what I did:

I ran Memtest86+ on the Gateway, and it crashed on the 6th test every time I ran it. However, no errors were reported in that time, and the Windows Memory Diagnostic reported no errors when I ran it as well. Just to be sure, I tested each module separately, but Windows still crashes, regardless of where I position the modules, or which module I use. So I think the memory can be ruled out as a possible suspect. It could be that the Gateway is overheating, because when I ran Memtest, the fan was running full blast. Even though I cleaned the fan and heatsink, I might have to open the entire laptop up and blow it out, just to be sure that there isn't any dust build up that could cause the drive not to work.

I've never heard of the diskpart command Britton, can I run that from the drive while it's attached to my PC, or do I have to boot to another installation and run it from there?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64

Another issue that I thought was worth mentioning, was that I can't seem to identify this Gateway laptop. If I could do so, it would be a real boon, because then I could order the correct replacement parts for it, download and run the BIOS reset utility as well as any firmware updates. I talked with a Gateway representative, but they informed me that unless I have the serial number, I can't identify the drive. They suggested I check the BIOS, but it doesn't list the serial number there, and there isn't one printed on the bottom of the case. All I know is that it is a M-Series, and that its model number is W650l(or I? Hard to tell.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2011   #7
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

You can run diskpart with the HDD attached to an operating Windows system or from the Win 7 install DVD with only the "bad" HDD installed. The drive will need to be connected to the motherboard and not USB.

To start from within Windows open an Elevated Command Prompt.
Elevated Command Prompt

For the following I recommend having only the one drive attached.
To run diskpart from the install DVD, boot from the DVD as if you're installing Windows. At the screen to Select Language, hold shift and press F10, this will bring up the Command prompt.

When the prompt is open in either scenario above, type diskpart, press enter, after a time the prompt will say diskpart.

Type list disk, enter,this will show all disks, if in Windows note the disk number of the one you want to work on, if it's the only one attached it will list only disk 0.

Type select disk (the disk number) enter, it will respond and say disk x is the selected disk.

Type clean all and enter, go have dinner or a few beers, this takes some time.

What we are doing is writing 0's to every sector on the disk, thereby making it as if it was new. Depending on your disk size, expect 3-4 hours.

After this is all finished you can try a fresh install again and test. If it doesn't work now I think there is a hardware issue, the drive or motherboard. This method will also clean any badware which may not have been deleted by scans.
Credit to essenbe for this method.

You might also consider letting the WD test utility run on it again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Oct 2011   #8

Windows 7 Professional x64

All right! Thanks for the detailed step by step guide Britton! I'll give it a shot, and report back with the results.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2011   #9

Windows 7 Professional x64
Got it working!


I got the computer to boot! No more BSODs!I performed your process Britton, but to no avail. I was still getting those blasted BSODs. I decided to reread the blue screen message, and ran a search on the "STOP: 0x0000007B" error. After consulting the official Gateway support page the possibilties were, and I quote:
The hard disk is faulty.
The hard disk cabling is faulty, or the hard disk cabling is not connected correctly.
The computer is infected with a boot sector virus.
The computer BIOS or the disk controller firmware are incompatible with Windows Vista.
Another program is using the master boot record.
I knew that the disk wasn't faulty, because it booted up in the other computer. and I also knew that there was no virus, because I had totally annihilated the drive, as I stated earlier in this thread, as well as using Britton's approach. I also knew that the cabling wasn't faulty, because I had booted up from the Linux drive. And what sort of program would be using the MBR? None that I could think of; it was a clean Windows install! So it had to be some sort of BIOS incompatibility.

The Gateway website was kind enough to link the Microsoft KB article, so I downloaded and ran the MS Fix It 50470 on the drive while it was hooked to the PC, and it worked! I put it back into the Gateway, and crossed my fingers. Sure enough, the Fix It did the trick. Apparently the Fix It repairs an issue with Windows in which:

During the Windows 7 or Windows Vista installation process, any unused storage drivers are disabled. This behavior speeds up the operating system's startup process. When you change the boot drive to a driver that has been disabled, you must enable the new driver before you change the hardware configuration.
I think I know what happened. Since I installed Windows on the drive while it was attached with the eSata docking station to the PC, Windows disabled the other storage drivers. Therefore, when I tried to boot into Windows after directly connecting it to the SATA connection in the Gateway, the drive would not start.

Interestingly enough, I don't think that the BIOS had an option to switch between IDE, SATA, or AHCI. I tried fiddling with the BIOS' settings with the drive installed, but it still would not boot. So it was a problem with where and how I was installing Windows, which disabled the driver by default. The actual Gateway is up and running, and it appears fine now; it had better! After testing the memory and cleaning up the laptop, there should be no problems with the machine.

Thanks again everyone for your helpful support. I'm marking the thread as solved!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2011   #10
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

Cool, very nice to hear you found the problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Gateway M-Series BSOD with hard drive boot

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