Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bad PBR (Primary Boot Record)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I was playing scrabble (on the pogo.com) and at the same time learning a dance (from the youtube.com for almost an hour) when the message of dumping physical memory flashes on the monitor.

Dumping physical memory had happened before and the operating system rebooted successfully all the time. But this time the computer could not reboot! This was what the monitor said:

Loading PBR for description 2... done

No boot device available
Strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility.

So I hit F1 and the computer tried to boot but ended up with the same message.

Hit F2 and changed the boot sequence. It didn't work either.

Took out the disc and the flash drive that I had on the CPU when the dumping memory happened and hit F1 again. Didn't work.

Switch off and on the CPU. It wouldn't boot the Operating System.

Pulled out all the connections and reconnect them. Can't restore the Operating System.

I didn't know what else to do, so I called for advice. Kim gave me 3 names of computer literates (in our church branch) whom I could checked with. Cathy told me that Tiffany (in our branch) could help. Peter named 2 stores that I could send my computer to look at. Stanley said to open up the computer to check for amiss connections. Clifford said to reboot from a reinstallation CD (that did restore the computer the following Monday). Unfortunately he was not free to walk me through the steps that night.

Since I could not google for instructions from my computer, I tried on the cellphone and amazingly this message popped up when I searched for "Bad BPR". I am glad that I copied the message because I couldn't find that message again. It said:


Oops! That usually happens only on DELL systems. This is because they have 3 partitions:
- A Hidden Dell Utility Partition.
- The OS Partition (Windows).
- A hidden Dell PC Restore Partition.

The error you are getting is due to a corrupt boot record.

Try this:
1 - Start up the computer and click F12 to give you the boot-up options.
2 - Insert Windows Installation/Recovery CD into CDROM, choose CDROM boot option and click enter.
3 - Let the installation process continue until it prompts you "Press R to repair" ... this should then take you into the DOS mode.
4 - Type in FIXBOOT and when prompted, press "Y" to start creating the new boot partition. If everything goes right, you should get a message saying the partition was corrupted and a new one was created successfully.
5 - Remove the CD and reboot your system, everything SHOULD be okay now.

NB. Don't try a FIXMBR or you'll loose your hidden dell partitions, meaning if you haven't backed it up onto DVD, you can't go back to the original factory settings if you ever need to.


I tried the reinstallation CD, it didn't work.

So I am thinking maybe if I did the diagnostic tests that were available in the computer, I would be able to know what is wrong with it. That way, it would help others to trouble-shoot as well.

So I run:
(1) The hard-drive diagnostics:
Drive O: Hitachi HDS721616PLA380 - Pass.
Drive 1: TSSTarp DVD+/-RW TS-H653A - Diagnostic not supported (I don't know what it means)
Drive 2: No device.
Drive 3: No device.
Drive 4: No device.
Drive 5: No device.
(2) MpMemory V0433: All 8 tests passed.
(3) Test of Devices in the System: All tests passed.

Then I run the following "All Systems"
(1) No Sound or Audio: 5 (analog sound playback, surround sound playback, central/LFE sound playback, front mic record and playback, rear mic record and playback) of 8 tests failed. (Don't know what they mean!)
(2) Problems with Fan(s) or System Seems Hot: All 7 tests passed.
(3) Problems with USB Device or USB Device Not Detected: All 9 tests passed.
(4) Abnormal noise coming from my system: All 3 tests passed.
(5) Mouse, touchpad or pointing stick non-responsive: The only 1 test passed.
(6) Cursor Movement is Erratic - USB Mouse - Mouse Test: The only 1 test passed.
(7) Cannot Boot the OS: There were 36 tests, however 2 went untested, remaining 34 passed.
(8) System Lock Up: There were 43 tests, 2 went untested, remaining 41 passed.
(9) Hard Drive Errors: All 10 tests passed

I didn't continue with the following "All Systems" testing because I felt that the testings I have seen so far seem to be the same. I am wasting my time!

(10) System Shut Down or Reboots Unexpectedly - CPU Fan - Fan On/Off.
(11) Windows Blue Screen.
(12) Problems With Memory
(13) Intermittent Shutdowns - CPU Fan - Fan On/Off Test.

Finally I did run the last test:
(14) Video Corruption: All 8 tests passed.

Monday, 27 February 2012

I am so grateful I didn't have to take the computer to any place or anyone. I am so grateful that Tiffany sent her son to the house to look at the computer instead.

Finally, Tyrnan restored the Operating System for me, using the reinstallation CD, using the steps that I received through my cellphone last Saturday night.

Tiffany said she did not need the diagnostic results, which took me more than 12 hours and would have been more if I run all the tests! She said she had to look at the computer and then go from there.

Incidentally, I missed watching Tyrnan did the step 1 and step 2. I thought I did exactly what the instructions said for that first 2 steps last Saturday night, but no response. Maybe I didn't choose the CDROM boot option from the F12 boot-up options.

What a scare! I am glad that my computer is working again!

Thank you Tiffany for sending your son. Thank you Tyrnan for fixing it.

Thank you to whoever you are, who posted that message of rebooting the Operating System using the Windows Installation/Recovery CD.

Thank you Kathy for ordering the Reinstallation CD Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2, back in 2009.

Someone left the Dell Dimension E520 to me, in 2009, without the original Windows Operation System. The computer was then about 1-1/2 years old and there were some problems so Kathy ordered the reinstallation CD for me, just in case. The computer is now 4-1/2 years old. If it wasn't for this CD, I probably have to spend on a new Windows Operation System or buy a new computer!