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XP SP3 Nightmare: Endless Reboot Loops

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Security Help, System Tune-Up Help

XP SP3 Nightmare: Endless Reboot Loops

As you probably remember, we here at WorldStart told you all about the new Windows XP Service Pack 3 being released last week. Well, as it turns out, the new and improved SP3 is still causing some problems, especially if you own an HP computer with an AMD processor. (Now, even if you don’t, please continue reading, because it’s not just HP computers; several others are having problems too).

First, here’s the problem. You decide it’s time to get the new XP SP3. I mean, why not? Everyone is always drilling in the importance of keeping your computer up to date, so with excitement in your fingertips, you click and install the SP3.

Everything seems to go well and it’s finally time to reboot your computer, which means the process is just about done. After you do that, you can go on and happily compute to your heart’s content. But that’s not the case for everyone. For some, instead of rebooting back to Windows, they get an endless reboot loop. Yikes!

So, what causes that to happen? Well, mass production, I suppose. See, when you buy a new computer, it’s easier for some manufactures to have a “one size fits all” image of Windows. They simply put the image on the drive, pop it into the computer and it’s done. However, in many cases, manufacturers decide to keep drivers for both the Intel and AMD processors on the image. That way, no matter what computer it goes into, it has the right drivers, which means no hassles for them. By the way, as a note to manufacturers who do that, Microsoft says it is not a supported configuration.

It basically boils down to this: if your computer is set up as described above, it would normally try to load drivers for each processor every time you boot up. If you have an AMD processor, the Intel driver is simply ignored and vice versa. Well, until the XP SP3, that is.

What happens with the SP3 is it really doesn’t know what to do with both of the drivers trying to run at the same time. So, the computer runs into a critical error when trying to boot up Windows and in true digital form, it reboots to try again and again and again. That’s what happened with my wife’s computer this past weekend and it took more than a little effort to get it all sorted out. Luckily, I did find an easy solution!

If the story above sounds familiar to you, here’s a fix you can try:

1.) First, boot into Safe Mode. After a reboot or two, you’ll probably be given that option, but if not, just tap the F8 key a few times once you see the Windows logo pop up on your screen.

2.) Once you’re in Safe Mode, go to Start, Run and type in “regedit” (without the quotes).

3.) That will launch the Registry Editor. Next, you’ll need to navigate to:


4.) Once you’re there, look in the right hand side pane for an entry that says Start. Right click it and select Modify.

5.) In the Value Data box, replace the 1 with a 4.

Hit OK to exit the Registry Editor and then reboot your computer.

So, what are you taking away from this? Well, if you’re thinking about not doing updates anymore, don’t! Updates are critical to keeping you safe and they should always be done.

With that said, if it’s a big update, you might want to wait a few days to see if there are going to be any major problems reported before you update. I mean, I like to stay updated, but I don’t want to be a test machine!

Finally, you might want to print this out before you install the XP SP3, especially if you’re running an AMD processor. Just giving you all a heads up!

~ Steve

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