Very Intriguing Booting Problem-Looking for simple solution

I have a peculiar problem which I would like to solve with the help of software geniuses like u'll on such forums.
HP dc7700 Small form factor desktop PC (about 6 yrs old)
OS: Win XP Pro SP2
Bios version 02.10
C2D, 2Gigs RAM, Q045 963/965 board, E6600 processor, eSATA 80 GB Hitachi HDD.
McFee antivirus installed.

Current problem: Incomplete booting (Booting STOPS at Windows setup Loading Welcome splash page prior to logon) - Happens at EVERY unmodified (will clarify modified and unmodified below) boot

Prior to the current problem:
Since about 4-6 weeks-Intermittent and different USB ports not working then working again.
About a week or so-EVERY alternate boot stuck as currently stuck & rest of the alternating boots were completely normal.
BUT currently since about 2-3 days EVERY single unmodified boot incomplete.

UNMODIFIED?? - Direct boot or reboot as all of us boot any PC

MODIFIED - Whenever I boot I need to remove CMOS battery or press CMOS button (yellow button on MBD). Without CMOS clearing NO BOOTING complete.
When CMOS cleared it asks F1 to save changes (after check count of RAM). Then needs F1 to boot & EXACTLY at the point at which the other unmodified boots get arrested it shows "Time & Date not set etc etc". When I select OK to continue it boots fully as normal.
Then once into the normal OS I change the time to current time & once again an unmodified boot fails.

If again CMOS is cleared boot & subsequent functions PERFECT until shutdown.

2-3 points:
a) As is standard procedure - CMOS Battery changed + RAM sticks reseated & alternated & tried another RAM too + reseated power contacts + HP DPS check for HDD passed + disconnected peripherals + CCleaner Easycleaner etc run - All without benefit.

On the unmodified booting which would not work, Lack of Windows Startup sound is the indication that the boot would fail.

Similarly on modified booting windows startup sound at Windows welcome splash screen makes me sure that boot would complete normally and fully

c) One strange thing I accidentally noticed just today-

If I did not change the date/time after a modified boot as explained above i.e I finish my booting & then shutdown with the date not made current (i.e it still reads Jan 1980) -

If I reboot like this IT BOOTS PERFECTLY.

But if I bring the date to the correct current date the Reboot fails

This is a very peculiar problem & I have asked couple of my IT friends & they too are perplexed.
According to them BIOS Flash & /or HDD Format may solve it -

However I am fairly sure it is something that can be solved without these measures (though I have already backed up data on an external disc).

I would appreciate ur kind feedback on solving this odd problem.



Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Hi and Welcome to the Forum,

I read through your issues and have some comments for you.

First of all, that dc7700 desktop is older than 6 years old; it is at least 8 years old, as all windows PCs that came with XP originally installed are 8-13 years old. You can check the Build Date in your BIOS or the label on the outside case of the PC or on the bottom. It can also be easily checked by running the SYSTEM INFORMATION command fromt the Start-->Run menu.

It won't make much of a difference, as my guess is that your Motherboard is toast, but even more likely it's your hard drive. Hard drives are the number 1 cause of failure in ALL Windows computers, desktops and laptops alike. The first thing I would recommend is to replace your Hard drive and reinstall from XP Factory Media (such as a HP restore disc or discs). This will solve your problem about 80% of the time. If it does not, refer to more detail troubleshooting below. If the problem continues after replacing the Hard drive, it's a very high certainty that it's a failed Motherboard; as the inability of the BIOS to hold system date/time even with a new CMOS battery is very indicative of.

Test your Hard drive, then your RAM, and then other specific diagnostics targeting the Motherboard. You really only need to do this if you are trying to narrow down with more certainty the failed component. My test above will give you a reasonable reason to either replace the aging faulty Hard drive or Motherboard, and if they BOTH fail, it's probably time to junk that system and replace it with something more modern. Bear in mind that HP's built-in diagnostics are not sufficient for this process. They are only a rough indicator, not meant to ascertain every possible failure of complex devices such as Motherboard and hard drive.

Start here:
Test RAM memory. Download free MEMORY TEST* test via Google and test each RAM stick individually a minimum of 8 passes. If MEMORY TEST returns any errors, that RAM stick has failed and must be replaced.
Repeat MEMORY TEST on each stick until all sticks pass. Then reinsert all sticks into your computer and run MEMORY TEST again for the 8 passes. Any failures reported by MEMORY TEST must be corrected by replacing RAM with matched-pairs or all sticks with new until MEMORY TEST RETURNS NO ERRORS.
Once done, your RAM has passed move onto Step #3.
[*note: I refer to MEMORY TEST above, which should be "MEMTEST", but I cannot due to reformatting of the Text "MEMTEST" on this forum. So please substitute MEMORY TEST for "MEMTEST"].

(2) Test your HARD DRIVE. On a PC that's nearly 5 years old as is yours, it is VERY likely your hard drive is failing or has failed and that's why you can't do a SYSTEM RESTORE.
Hard Drives are the #1 failed component in both desktops and laptops across all makes/models.
Download the free SEATOOLS drive diagnostic from the link in my Signature below and run BOTH short and long tests on your drive. If SEATOOLS returns any errors your drive has FAILED and must be REPLACED.
If this is the case, you will need to start Data Recovery to get all your Personal Data copied off that drive onto external media.[Also, if you have a Toshiba, Hitachi, or HGST drive, SEATOOLS won't test those drives so you will have to go to WD's website and download the appropriate diagnostic, either DLG or HGST to test those 3 types of drives. Additionally if you have a SSD boot drive, you will need to download TRIM via google to test SSD drive]. [sounds like you already did a backup to external Media--just for your information].
Read the above section on RAM and Hard Drive testing carefully. You will also need to download the free IMGburn Program also in my signature and run that program which burns the ISO file you download onto a DVD blank disc. This can be daunting the first time you try this, so may need to get help on this part from a tekky friend.


It is very important to run MY tests here, not any other ones recommended to you by well-meaning friends. Once you complete these tests and determine that your RAM and Hard drive are good or have been found faulty and those components replaced, you can start in on testing the Motherboard. The best tool for this is something called the ULTIMATE BOOT CD (UBCD) available for free at However, these tools are mostly written in Linux and are intended for experienced very advanced computer users; specifically Techs and Engineers. There are over 300 programs on this one disc; and just creating the UBCD boot disc by itself is often considered a basic competency skill for Techs. It can take days or weeks to do this. It's easiest to try and borrow one or buy a copy from your local Computer Tech who works in a repair shop or from a University IT Tech. This being said, once you have made this disc or borrowed/bought one elsewhere, you can go into the Main Menu and select the CPU and BIOS sections where you can run multiple tests from each submenu. You'll notice that the MEMORY section contains the MEMTEST and other Memory test programs. The HARD DRIVE section contains many numerous programs to help you diagnose repair your Hard drive including the SEATOOLS program I asked you to run above. Be wary of the programs that allow you to INSPECT/RESET/REPAIR the BIOS; do NOT attempt to use those. They can easily brick your laptops' Motherboard if you don't know what you're doing there. If you get any further failures from either the CPU or BIOS tests as mentioned above, your Motherboard has failed and must be replaced. If this is the case, and you've already replaced 1 or more faulty RAM sticks and the Hard drive, it's probably time for the junkyard on a laptop that old. Even if you can repair it, it's effectively reached the end of it's useful life and is time to retire it. Windows7 laptops and netbooks can be had on ebay for around $100 US that will run circles around this laptop anyway.

Let us know how it turns out.

Last edited:
Hello BigBearJedi
Appreciate the way u have explained & laid down the steps.
Will do as per ur suggestions & keep u posted of the final outcome.

I agree it is an old machine & thats why I am in 2 minds whether it is worth to changes RAM / HDD if they show up as faulty.
I am already working with a second machine.
The reason I put it up on the forum was coz of the peculiar (I felt it was odd but to senior / experienced guys like you maybe its simple) complaint of non retention of CMOS data but otherwise unaffected booting and working.

Currently IF i do not update the date / time while booting, it boots up fully & reboots also PROVIDED after getting into the OS (& prior to reboot) I do not edit its time stamp. It continues to show year 1980 but allows functions as before (Only thing is an extra step of pressing F1 to boot & abother click to confirm Ok for incorrect date time stamp while welcome screen comes on)

Thanks once again & regards.

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