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A Device Attached To the System is Not Functioning Error

Dr. Doc writes in with a troubleshooting question

Question:
My Windows XP Home Edition is stuck in Safe Mode. I was running a Norton Virus Scan, and following directions on the Norton Web Site, I entered Safe Mode by clicking SafeBoot option on System Configuration Utility and by temporarily stopping System Restore. After running the virus scan, I tried Run > Start > msconfig, and nothing happens (hourglass appears for about five seconds and then disappears). I tried Run > Start > c:\windows\PCHealth\HelpCtr\Binaries\msconfig.exe, and nothing happens. When I click on the icon for msconfig.exe to "Run as" I get the error message, "A device attached to the system is not functioning." I tried to locate boot.ini file and modify it according to instructions I found on the web, but Search function in Safe Mode can't seem to locate it, only "backup" versions.

When I reboot using F5, if I select Normal reboot, machine starts in Safe Mode; even selecting safe boot with Command.com gives me the SafeBoot with modified windows. (So I have what may seem to be multiple malfunctions). I'm looking for a way around and a way to get back to normal boot up, after which time I promise to never again Safe Boot except by using the F5 method. I even tried a freeware program called BootSafe to bypass MSCONFIG but get the same error message as when I try to run MSCONFIG while in Safe Mode, "A device attached to the system is not functioning". I am in sort of a fix since system restore is immobilized and I can't restore to a working version. I hope someone has some ideas because I am out of ideas (short of Recovery Console which seems drastic).

Answer: You should be able to run System Restore in Safe Mode but then again there could be some problems that are causing this not to work. I have seen the device attached to the system is not functioning message before with msconfig and it may be spyware related. If you still have internet access in Safe Mode I would download, install and run some spyware programs.
 
You should also have Windows check its system files to make sure they are all ok and not corrupt. Run the Windows System File Checker to have Windows check your important system files.
 
We also recommend running Ccleaner to clear out any unneeded temp file and check your registry for problems. It's a free program. Just be sure to backup the registry when prompted.
 
When searching for your boot.ini file make sure that you have the show hidden files and folders option checked in My Computer and that you select that option when searching under advanced options.
 
If nothing seems to work then you may want to try a Windows repair installation which will reinstall Windows and leave your programs and files intact. If you don't get the option to repair when you boot from your Windows CD then that means there is some corruption and you won't be able to use this option. If possible it's always a good idea to backup your data first.

 



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