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Author Topic: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig  (Read 5938 times)

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RoyalCAD

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    • Experience: Beginner
    • OS: Windows 7
    Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
    « on: August 26, 2013, 06:26:27 PM »
    Main Goal:  gain access to my files so I can save them without doing anything that would damage or erase my files because the files are what's important to me, I don't mind if I have to

    reformat as long as I can save the files first.



    Hello everyone, this is my first post on here and I would greatly appreciate any help.

    I want to give as much information as possible so you have a more accurate picture and you don't have to drag information out of me but at the same time I just experienced, over the last

    few days, a slew of problems with my laptop and have been recovering little by little over the last 3 days.  So I want to just address the Subject (Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open

    msconfig) I entered first instead of writing a novel about how after my laptop powered down:

    (1)CHKDSK started after a restart, did a bunch of crazy stuff including "Replacing invalid security id with default security id for file XXXX."  Did this on nearly 400,000 files.
    (2)Then windows wouldn't boot so I did a boot repair that didn't work.
    (3)Then tried to do a system restore but the first one didn't work and was "damaged or deleted" in the process.  I thought the second one didn't work either and tried it twice since I
    didn't get the "damaged" message on this restore point and then gave up for the night (the "novel" will include the error messages I received each time).
    (4)Then when I turned on my computer this morning it miraculously booted to the desktop but then said that Windows was not genuine (it is genuine).  I think the 2 and 1/2 hours that the

    computer was trying to use the 2nd restore point ended up restoring enough that I could get my system running somewhat as this was the first time for me to restart it after the 2nd restore

    point failed both times.  I thought "oh well, I can see files on my desktop and that's all I care about, saving my files."  Well, when I tried to copy them from my desktop to an external

    hard drive I received a prompt that said I didn't have access to C:\ (which is what 80% of my data is on along with Windows and all other programs).  Went to Windows Explorer and when I

    clicked on OS (C:) I was denied access (this has NTFS by it when I go to my Computer, I've seen people talking about that before but I don't know what it means but figured it could be

    important to know exactly what type I have).  I tried to change ownership and permission and still can't get into it (It worked on an individual folder on my desktop and by "worked" I mean

    it changed ownership and permission but I still couldn't move the folder.  When I tried to change the ownership and permission on the C drive it didn't work at all, it failed).  I can't

    even access individual files that I can actually see on my desktop.  I have another drive that I can access, DATAPART1 (D:).  Both the C: and D: have 500GB.  I can also access the external

    hard drive that's plugged in.

    So those are the CliffsNotes of the novel.  If I need to I can write the novel with a whole lot more about every different avenue I have taken so far to get where I am.  But I have seen in

    several places where people had the same problem but were able to gain access and copy their files while in Safe Mode.  Unfortunately I've had problems the last year or so using F8 to get

    to Safe Mode so I always had to use msconfig and then restart it but now that's not working.

    In regards to booting in Safe Mode these are the steps I've done so far:
    (1)  Pressed F8 repeatedly before Windows started
    (2)  Held down F8 before Windows started.
    (3)  Pressed F8 + Fn (Function key) repeatedly before Windows started
    (4)  Held down F8 + Fn (Function key) before Windows started.
    (5)  Went to Start>Search programs and files, typed in msconfig and nothing happens, no results
    (6)  Went to Start>Search programs and files, typed in cmd and nothing happens, no results
    (7)  Went to Start>All Programs>Accessories>Run, then typed in msconfig and prompted with "Windows cannot access C:\Windows\system32\msconfig.exe"
    (8)  Went to Start>Search programs and files, typed in System Configuration and nothing happens, no results
    (9)  Went to Run again and typed something in suggested online but I can't remember what the line was but it kind of seems like it might have been "C:\Windows\system32\msconfig.exe"  I

    tried to look at the dropdown next to the Open field but didn't see that previous entry I made so I'm not 100% sure that's what I entered.

    I read somewhere msconfig is saved on the C:\ drive.  I'm not sure but maybe that's why I can't access it because I can't access that drive.  However, I would think if that was the case

    then I couldn't get on Internet Explorer like I am now since it's also on the C:\.  I find that some programs and parts of the system work and some don't.

    I did find that if I go to Run and type in cmd that the Command Prompt does pop up if that helps any.

    So to wrap things up I just need as many alternative ways to get to the Safe Mode without damaging or deleting my files so I can see if I can save them in that boot mode.  I don't care

    about the system, if I can get my files off I will just wipe the whole thing off and start from scratch (or use the Dell DataSafe Local Backup that I did when I first got the laptop).  So I

    beg of you please don't confuse me with any suggestions that will save the system but will delete my files because that would be devastating.  I only care about my files that I cannot

    replace.  If I can get the files saved then maybe after two nights of not being able to sleep I can finally get a good night's rest.

    If I still can't access Safe Mode or if it still doesn't work in Safe Mode then I'll come back on here and either start a new topic or add back onto this one with a full explanation (my

    novel) of what has happened over the last 3 days (Actually some guidance on whether I should continue with this thread or start a new topic would help too).

    I do well with directions that are very specific, step-by-step, and that don't assume I know what I'm doing...because I don't, I'm not that computer savvy.

    Rest assured, after this I will be the best good-little-boy ever about backing up my files.

    THANK YOU for any help I get!  It's a great thing that you people do on this site!
    (sorry to be redundant, I don't care about the system, only the files)



    System:
    Windows 7 Home Premium
    Don't know what Service Packs I have
    C:\ - main drive that I can't access
    D:\ - alternate drive that I can access (already moved files off of it)
    Dell Studio 1749
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU   M 520 @  2.40GHz  2.40GHz
    (RAM)  8:00 GB
    64-bit Operating System

    Calum

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    Re: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
    « Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 02:25:40 AM »
    There are two ways to do this that I can think of.
    First way - do you have either a desktop PC you could hook the drive up to, or another PC of any description with a USB to SATA converter?  If so, you could hook the drive up that way, and copy your files off.
    Second way - do you have a Windows 7 install disk?  Not a restore disk, but a full install disk?  If so, you can install Windows back onto the C: drive, and your old install will be saved into a folder named windows.old.  Your files will still be there, so you will be able to copy them off and then delete the windows.old folder afterwards.

    Oh, bonus way - if you can download and burn a Linux LiveCD, you could boot from that, and try to copy your files from there.  Puppy Linux is what I usually use as it's quite easy to use, and has enough tools to be useful without being overwhelming for a Linux novice like myself.

    Regardless of the method you use, I'd be inclined to do a format and clean install of the laptop after you have your files safely stored away, sounds like something's gone really haywire there and even if you could get it up and running normally, I wouldn't trust it myself because you never know what else may be lurking.

    Hope this makes sense, if there's anything you're unsure about just ask, oh and welcome to the forums!

    RoyalCAD

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      • Experience: Beginner
      • OS: Windows 7
      Re: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
      « Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 02:37:32 PM »
      Thanks for your reply Calum.

      I thought about doing something like using an adapter but the thought of taking my hard drive out myself scares me a bit.  I've been thinking I would probably rather take it to the Geek Squad and let a professional do it for $150.  I'm kind of considering it as a one-time insurance policy to make sure that I get my data backed up before I start getting too creative with fixing this thing.  The last time I took something out of a laptop (my last laptop) I took out a cooling fan/heatsink/cpu from it so I could replace it and whatever attached it to the motherboard was sort of ruined when I did it because it was melted on and I haven't been able to find that exact part to replace it.  So I've had a bad experience.

      Unfortunately Dell didn't send an install disk.  I guess I figured that if you needed it that you could just go to the Microsoft website, download it, and then enter your Product Key.  But I guess I was wrong.  Looking back through the box it came in all I find is the Product Key for Office and another piece of paper saying, "Your computer does not ship with the Operating System disc.  It is recommended that you create a system recovery media as soon as you set up Microsoft Windows."  It suggested to use Dell DataSafe Local Backup and I did do that when I first got it and I put it on a USB key.  I've just been afraid if I try to use the backup that it would wipe my files.

      As far as installing another operating system I am a little scared to do that too.  The first time I attempted to switch out an operating system was in high school (this was a little different because I was trying to replace the OS instead of adding a secondary one).  The computer came with Linux and my dad asked me to put Windows on it.  When I tried to do that I apparently messed up the partitions and the computer never worked again.  The second time I did it was on my old laptop.  It had crashed and I planned on just reformatting it and installing Windows back on it.  But somehow I ended up just installing a second operating system on it which I guess turned out to be a blessing because when it did that I could get on the second operating system, go into Windows Explorer and click through several folders and get access to my old files like going through the back way.  The only other experience I've had reformatting and putting an operating system on it was an old family desktop that we gave to someone else.  I reformatted that one and installed a new OS several times successfully.  However, I don't recall any part of that process giving me a chance to choose to just add a second OS without replacing the one that was already on there.  Even if it did, that desktop came with an install disk and I don't know if the Dell DataSafe Local Backup would prompt me with the same options.  But I guess I could do Linux or some other open source OS to do it but I don't know exactly what partitioning is and if I'm supposed to do, not supposed to do it, or even how to do it.  Or, for that matter, how to make sure that when I put Linux on it that I don't wipe out the Windows.  I guess overall at this point I'm sort of leaning towards just letting the Geek Squad ease my mind and do it for $150 so that I know my data is safe before I start trying to do anything else because I just don't think I have enough knowledge about computers to make sure I don't end up wiping out my data.  I'm also hoping once that's done that if I use the Dell DataSafe Local Backup that it will be just as good as if I had the install disk when I am ready to start working on restoring the system.

      Any suggestions?

      Thanks again Calum!

      Calum

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      Re: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
      « Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 02:45:50 PM »
      I thought about doing something like using an adapter but the thought of taking my hard drive out myself scares me a bit.  I've been thinking I would probably rather take it to the Geek Squad and let a professional do it for $150.  I'm kind of considering it as a one-time insurance policy to make sure that I get my data backed up before I start getting too creative with fixing this thing.  The last time I took something out of a laptop (my last laptop) I took out a cooling fan/heatsink/cpu from it so I could replace it and whatever attached it to the motherboard was sort of ruined when I did it because it was melted on and I haven't been able to find that exact part to replace it.  So I've had a bad experience.

      I personally wouldn't pay $150 for Geek Squad to do something like that.  Removing the HDD is a lot easier than removing the heatsink, where things do have the potential to go wrong, but equally if you're not comfortable with it then that's fair enough.
      Quote
      Unfortunately Dell didn't send an install disk.  I guess I figured that if you needed it that you could just go to the Microsoft website, download it, and then enter your Product Key.  But I guess I was wrong.  Looking back through the box it came in all I find is the Product Key for Office and another piece of paper saying, "Your computer does not ship with the Operating System disc.  It is recommended that you create a system recovery media as soon as you set up Microsoft Windows."  It suggested to use Dell DataSafe Local Backup and I did do that when I first got it and I put it on a USB key.  I've just been afraid if I try to use the backup that it would wipe my files.

      You can download Windows 7 images from here - they're legal and direct from the source, so no worries of them being corrupt in some way.  You can then burn that to a disk, boot from it, and use the product key on your laptop to activate it.  Dell and other OEMs tend not to include the actual install disk and it really can create headaches in some cases.

      As for the OS, I wasn't suggesting installing Linux - a LiveCD is a bootable disk, that loads Linux entirely from the CD, without touching the HDD.  It's then a self contained operating system, which will let you access the HDD and the files on it, which may help you get around the whole permissions/corrupted files problem.
      As for installing Windows 7, all you would need to do is not delete the partitions when it asks you where to install - you would just select the partition Windows 7 is already installed on, and it goes ahead and installs there, moving the entirety of the old install into the windows.old folder.

      I'm not sure how the Dell backup system works, never had occasion to use it, so perhaps someone else may chime in with some more info on how useful, or not, it may be in this case.

      RoyalCAD

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        • Experience: Beginner
        • OS: Windows 7
        Re: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
        « Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 03:09:44 PM »
        Sorry for the delayed response but I was too busy COPYING MY FILES!!!  I went to shut down my computer and it just said "Shutting Down" for over an hour so I did a hard boot.  I hate doing those but I just couldn't get it to shut down.  Upon restarting the computer it asked me if I wanted to boot Windows normally or choose one of the Safe Mode options.  I totally forgot that my computer does that after a hard boot.  Although I wouldn't go around recommending a hard boot on a computer that is already messed up, I would say that being forced to do it might not be the worst thing in the world if you're having trouble getting into Safe Mode (if the specific computer allows the same choice).  Once I did boot into Safe Mode it gave me access to all my files and I was able to copy them onto an external hard drive.  I could even go into Program Files to pull out certain files that are only saved in those folders and also dug around and found my iPhone backup and copied that over.  I checked the files on another computer and was able to open them without any trouble.  So my main goal was successful.  I was also able to access msconfig in Safe Mode and set it to reboot into Safe Mode again so when it was time for bed last night I was able to turn it off and then this morning I started it and it came back into Safe Mode so I could finish.

        I personally wouldn't pay $150 for Geek Squad to do something like that.  Removing the HDD is a lot easier than removing the heatsink, where things do have the potential to go wrong, but equally if you're not comfortable with it then that's fair enough.


        After you talked about this being easier I went ahead and got out my old laptop (same one that doesn't work because whatever connects the heatsink to the motherboard was damaged) located the hard drive and removed it.  When I saw how easy that was I decided I would probably go with using a USB to SATA converter and I still may go buy one just to have around the house.  The only bad thing is when I did it I didn't know the screwdriver I was using was magnetized until I pulled it out of the hole and the screw was attached to it which is the kind of mistake I was scared of making on my new laptop.  However, I doubt the magnet was strong enough to actually do any damage and if it did there's not much on that drive I care about or else I would have attempted to get the data off that drive a long time ago.  It was actually when I was turning my computer off so that I could open the back of my laptop to find the hard drive that the computer wouldn't shut off and I did the hard boot which turned out to be such a good thing.

        As for the OS, I wasn't suggesting installing Linux - a LiveCD is a bootable disk, that loads Linux entirely from the CD, without touching the HDD.  It's then a self contained operating system, which will let you access the HDD and the files on it, which may help you get around the whole permissions/corrupted files problem.
        As for installing Windows 7, all you would need to do is not delete the partitions when it asks you where to install - you would just select the partition Windows 7 is already installed on, and it goes ahead and installs there, moving the entirety of the old install into the windows.old folder.

        I'm not sure how the Dell backup system works, never had occasion to use it, so perhaps someone else may chime in with some more info on how useful, or not, it may be in this case.

        I totally forgot that you can just boot from a CD without actually having to install anything on your computer after doing so.  I think that was another great suggestion and reading the information on the link you provided it made it seem like that was a pretty easy OS to grasp.

        Hopefully in the next few hours or so, I'll be doing the Dell DataSafe Local Backup.  In case one day someone stumbles upon this thread and has similar questions I'll make sure to get back on and describe my experience with this backup.  Then I'll mark it Topic Solved.

        Thanks for your help Calum!

        RoyalCAD

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          • Experience: Beginner
          • OS: Windows 7
          Re: Can't Boot Into Safe Mode or Open msconfig
          « Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 10:45:05 PM »
          Hopefully in the next few hours or so, I'll be doing the Dell DataSafe Local Backup.  In case one day someone stumbles upon this thread and has similar questions I'll make sure to get back on and describe my experience with this backup.  Then I'll mark it Topic Solved.

          Well, I had some hiccups in the beginning but it looks like everything turned out pretty good.  When I first received my laptop they said it didn’t come with an Operating System disc and to use a USB key or DVR-R/DVD+R/Blu-ray Disc (my laptop has Blu-ray so this wouldn’t work for everybody).  I went with an 8GB USB key, I believe Windows 8 requires more storage than that. 

          I initially planned to follow these instructions: http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/19/KCS/KcsArticles/ArticleView?docid=DSN_353562&isLegacy=true

          Well in order to get the ball rolling you’re supposed to start the computer and press F8 (which doesn’t work for me) to get to the Advanced Boot Options and then select Repair Your Computer.  So at this point I just went for the Hard Boot (which I’m not really recommended people go around hard booting all the time and to avoid it as much as possible) and the screen came up but only gave me the options of 3 different Safe Modes or starting Windows normally.  I started Windows normally and went to Start\All Programs\Dell DataSafe Local Backup but nothing came up so just like with some other programs, C:\ was keeping the program inoperable.  So I hard booted again (for someone who doesn’t like hard booting I sure seem to be doing it a lot lately) and picked Safe Mode.  I then went to Start\All Programs\Dell DataSafe Local Backup and it opened.  I clicked on the button “Restore your entire system to a previous state or to the factory state.”  Then hit the “Restart” button in the program.   

          I found this later which is basically a lot of what I did (it looked a little different on my computer):  http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/19/KCS/KcsArticles/ArticleView?docid=266288

          The system did restart and a Dell DataSafe window did come up.  It does give you the options of keeping your files.  The two options are “Preserve new or changed files before restoring to Selected System Backup” or “Restore without preserving new or changed files.”  At this point I already got all my files off of it so I went for the second choice.  Also, there was verbiage saying I may have to move files back to their original location if I picked the first choice.  Overall, I just wanted to start from scratch and then reload anything so unfortunately I can’t advise anyone if the first choice does a good job at keeping your files but I guess if you have no other choice to recover your files then it might not be a bad choice.  The next screen said “Only the c: partition will be affected, other partitions will not be impacted.”  (I purposely left some things on my D:\ because I had wondered if it would be affected during the restore.  I checked after the restore and sure enough everything I left on the D:\ to test if it would stay was in fact still there.  I think from now on I’ll be keeping pretty much all my data on the D:\ and letting Windows and Programs have C:\).  On this screen I picked “Yes, continue” and it started restoring my computer.  It only took a little less than 11 minutes and I was to where I started setting up my laptop like the first day I got it.  I’m a little hesitant about that because the CHKDSK that started this mess took several hours and changed a lot of stuff but hopefully the fix for it just takes less time.

          I was a little disappointed in the restore.  Microsoft Office isn’t on there and I’m thinking there is a good chance that I may have to reinstall all the drivers and other software.  Right now I’m done with this thing for the day so all of that is going to have to wait until tomorrow.  I’m sure it’ll be a few hours tomorrow installing and downloading before it’s actually at its “Factory Settings” seeing as just getting McAfee working again is taking about an hour.

          *** By going through the program I didn’t even need my USB because the same backup was stored on my computer and since I had access to the program through Safe Mode I was able to just do that.  If going through the actual program didn’t work I wondered if I could just hit F12 at startup to start the Boot Options and then select USB and according to the following I can:  http://www.pctechbytes.com/dell/system-recovery-options-for-dell-computers/

          I don’t know if using my USB would have kept some of the things the manufacturer preinstalled on my computer, like Microsoft Office, since it’s possible that I made the recovery media later than what was stored on my computer.  I’m guessing when I stuck that USB in though that it just copied the recovery media that was on the computer but I can’t be certain.  I’m almost tempted to find out and redo the whole thing with the USB instead just to see.  But I think I’ll do a little research over the next few days to find that out instead.

          Hope this may help someone in the future.