Compaq Laptop Mysterious Problem

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Daemon Poster
Hey everyone, I am going to describe to you what has happened to my friend's laptop over the past two days that has me absolutely stunned and without a clue as to how it happened. My friend was installing ZoneAlarm and after installing it, had to do some sort of activation. He canceled out of the activation for a later time and it prompted him to restart the computer either now or later. He clicked now and it restarted. However, when it tried to load Windows, the computer screen would go black and freeze there.

I find it extremely hard to comprehend how this could have happened in the first place, but he does basically no downloading and limited browsing, which means that he obviously had no viruses. I told him to do a system restore over the phone. He restored to that afternoon and he said that it let him in the computer, so I said cool, problem solved. Later that night he called me and said that the black screens were happening again. He said he tried restoring to a much earlier date but that failed also. He brought it over to my house the next night for me to check it out.

I asked him if he had any discs that came with the computer such as a Windows XP disc. He said they didn't give him any discs except for some free trial stuff. I was pretty confused by why they didn't give him a Windows XP disc. But I decided to go ahead and try a windows recovery with my Windows XP disc, since they were both Service Pack 2. The recovery gave me some strange error and said it couldn't initialize after copying the files or something and prompted me to exit. Since I had no choice, I did.

I then changed the boot order to HD and went to boot up the computer. It told me that windows failed to initialize because "insert random system file here" was missing or corrupt. Well.. GFG. Obviously reformatting is the only option now. So, I deleted his XP partition since it was worthless and proceeded to format and install XP on his computer to return it to functioning order. I told him that he'd have to call Compaq to get a XP disc for the activation code and for the drivers.

Tonight he called me and said he had been on the phone with Compaq. He said they don't give the XP discs and drivers with the computers because they have it "built in" with some sort of strange recovery method. Obviously they have some sort of proprietary installation (which I should've guessed) that makes my standard OEM Windows XP disc not work correctly with his version, which would possibly explain why the system recovery failed.

Now he's having to run some sort of test on his HD to check for corruptions and Compaq will send him a disc, which I assume is their proprietary XP disc with drivers for him to get his stuff back and going.

I may edit this with future information I receive. To finalize, what's the good that came out of this? Well, nothing much, but he has almost nothing important on his computer because I gave him most of the programs from myself, so nothing but time was lost there. The bad? Well, that's obvious. And what did I learn? To leave proprietary pieces of crap the **** alone.

But through all this, I am still absolutely puzzled as to how the whole problem came to be. That's the main reason I'm making this post. Does anyone know what possibly could've happened? I don't see it being a coincidence and it being something he did before that because, well, he does little on it to start with. Feel free to respond.


Fully Optimized
Oakdale, MN
Well, regarding the restore disc at least, most companies no longer include an actual one. They have a Recovery Disc Creator installed on the computer that creates an image of the computer at the time you choose to make the discs. You're supposed to create them as soon as you have the pc set up the way you want it, but most people don't understand what this is and/or just don't do it and generally end up paying for it later when they have a problem like this. HP and Compaq do this for sure, as do Acer and some Gateways, most Toshiba's seem to still include a recovery disc.
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