Fixing the 0xc000021a BSOD and overcoming other adversities

The latest computer to come my way through DigIT is a Compaq Presario and never have I seen such a job like this one!

The computer was handed to me with the information that Windows XP crashed just after the XP load screen. My first action was to see for myself what this crash entailed and on the first boot I noticed a Blue Screen of Death. At this, I thought I would run the XP repair console and fix the MBR and boot sector, but while I was looking for an XP disk I found a Memtest disk and thought I’d chuck that in there to test the RAM while I continued tearing my study apart looking for the disk!

After finding the XP disk and returning to the PC I noticed that after 55% of the first pass, memtest had discovered 37632 errors! It was clear that RAM had something to do with this problem. I threw in some different RAM sticks but the BSOD was still showing up. I caught a glimpse of the error code this time; c000021a. A quick Google search was a little discouraging as the majority of forums were recommending nuking the machine and starting from scratch. I had my XP disk though, and was determined to fix this without formatting the HD.

The DVD Rom on the desktop had black tape over it so I assumed that it was broken, so I used the CD drive instead. It failed to boot from the XP CD; I’d later find out that my XP disk was knackered. No worries, I thought to myself, I’ll use my USB DVD drive…No joys there either. Unfortunately this PC is too old to recognise USB drives as a boot-able device. So I spent the next 25 minutes creating an XP boot-able USB pen drive. The PC of course didn’t recognise this either! Beginning to hit my head against a wall here, I decided that I would use a Live disk that had mini XP on it, but that idea didn’t last long as I remembered that all my live disks are on DVDs and the DVD drive is broken…

So, I settled on the idea of taking it into the office with me and temporarily swapping out the broken DVD Rom for a working replacement. This enabled me to boot from the XP disk long enough to discover that it was broken. Luckily, a work colleague had a working disk that I was able to use. Once booted into the XP disk I was able to run the MBR and boot sector repairs from the command line within the repair console, I also ran a chkdsk. Once that was complete I rebooted only to see the same BSOD error code before me.

My colleague had the good idea of copying the Windows folder across from the mini XP disk to the PC. Once we had done this, we were able to get into the system although many components were broken. It looked as if the RAM had been causing problems for a while, as the majority of the system files were either missing or corrupt. Cutting our loses we decided to rebuild the PC, by this time I had made a backup of the HD.

Once rebuilt and with some replacement RAM, the PC seemed to have a new lease of life! Yet another happy customer…


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