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Computer Keeps Rebooting Itself
Robert writes in with a hardware question
Question:I am having a problem that I am not familiar with. I am unable to get Windows XP to start. Every time I turn on my laptop, things look perfectly normal. Gradually as the taskbar icons down in the lower right hand corner next to the time begin to appear one by one, nothing seems unusual. However, about halfway through that process, the screen goes black, there is a slight pause and then it begins to start all over again from the beginning. This never ends. I left it on for about fifteen minutes to see what would happen and it just keeps trying to start over and over and over with no success. I do get a screen that comes on occasionally. I think it suggests that a program may have been installed incorrectly. However it stays on for about two seconds at most and I am unable to read all of it. The problem is that I have not installed anything at all on this computer recently. I also sometimes get a message that comes on that tells me "a serious problem has been corrected" but the problem continues. On the advice of friends, I tried safe mode as well as the F8 key but neither one had any effect on this problem. I have a Dell laptop..it does not play CDs or DVDs at all. I have Spyware Detector installed and that has been there for almost a year. OTHER DETAILS: DELL LATITUDE L400 CPU SPEED 700 MHZ INTERNAL HARD DRIVE 30.0 GB SYSTEM MEMORY 256 MB I would greatly appreciate any advice on this. Thank you.
Answer: I would begin by changing your settings so that the computer won't reboot on errors. To do this, right click on My Computer and choose Properties. Then click the Advanced tab and then the Settings button under Startup and Recovery. Next uncheck the box that says Automatically restart under System Failure. You may have to do this quickly before it reboots itself.
If you can get it running after that I would then go through your startup items using msconfig and uncheck anything that doesn't look like it belongs or that you don't need. There may be something that is starting up with your computer that is causing the reboot. Most of the items in the list can be safely unchecked and then you can gradually check them again as needed to try and narrow down the offending program if this does the trick.
You may also want to run the Windows System File Checker which will fix/replace any corrupt Windows files.
If that doesn't work then you can try a repair installation of Windows which will reinstall Windows while leaving your programs and files intact. If there is a way to back up your files first you may want to do that just in case.