Safe Mode doesn't work, Normal mode does

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by bobG, Jul 3, 2004.

  1. bobG

    bobG Guest

    I'm trying to clean up the Win98SE system my Mom inherited from my Dad
    when he passed away. While trying to run Scandisk, I got the not
    unusual 10 tries and stop; from my experience with ME, knew to run it
    in Safe Mode. Surprise! No Safe Mode. I get a screen with the words
    Safe Mode in the 4 corners, but no icons, no Start Menu. BTW, I was
    able to run Scandisk and then defrag in normal mode by unchecking a
    slew of items from the startup tab in msconfig.

    When I try to bring up a Start Menu using Ctrl + Esc, I get nothing.
    If I try to bring up Start Menu using Winkey, I get a Kernel32 Dialog
    box with the following error message:

    This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.
    If the problem persists, contact the vendor.

    In this box are an OK button, and a Details button. If I click on
    either, it's as if the system freezes; the only way out is to use the
    reset button. If I Ctrl>Alt>Del, the Close Program dialog box is
    empty. I can Ctrl>Alt>Del again and restart from there.

    Again, Normal run runs fine.

    I've tried a re-install in place. No joy. I've tried reinstalling
    video drivers. Same result, i.e. no change. I've tried booting to MS
    DOS mode and getting to Safe mode that way; same results. I've tried
    booting from a startup disk and running Safe mode that way, same

    Anything ideas short of a reformat out there?

    bobG, Jul 3, 2004
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  2. bobG

    P. Qwan Guest

    The only thing I can think of is that the display adapter won't run with the
    generic VGA driver Safe Mode uses,
    or maybe the driver is corrupt.

    I don't know what to do if that's the case other than trying a different
    display adpater, if you have one. If you knew
    the name of the driver you could try replacing it. Off the top of my head,
    I don't know what is used or where it's stored.
    P. Qwan, Jul 5, 2004
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  3. bobG

    P. Qwan Guest

    I did some Googling and found this...

    B. Check for video support. Safe Mode requires you to have the Standard VGA
    Driver (Vga.drv) installed in the Windows\System folder.
    If this file is not present, reinstall it from the Windows 95 or Windows 98
    CD-ROM. For instructions on installing the Standard VGA Driver,
    see Related Records.
    P. Qwan, Jul 5, 2004
  4. bobG

    A Guest

    Hi again: I have given this some more thought. It can't be a hardware
    problem if normal mode runs ok. I next would suggest running System File
    Checker in System Tools. Have your Windows 98 CDROM ready. Any
    missing/problem system files should get replaced. Also, it's interesting
    that Task Manager is empty in Safe Mode: the only running task in Safe Mode
    is Windows Explorer (C:\Windows\explorer.exe), perhaps explorer doesn't get
    loaded properly for some reason in Safe Mode which would probably account
    for the empty desktop. Let us know if that helps! Alan.
    A, Jul 5, 2004
  5. bobG

    juhu Guest

    How about starting from a floppy and run scandisk?

    juhu, Jul 5, 2004
  6. bobG

    bobG Guest


    I agree it's not hardware.

    Thanks for the idea. Interestingly, I had run SFC as part of the
    trouleshooting I did before the dirty reinstall. It found one changed
    ..dll, and I replaced it, though that didn't make a difference in Safe
    Mode. OK, here's the interesting part. I just reinstalled, so
    everything should be peachy, right? Well, SFC found that it needed to
    replace setupx.dll, so I did, from the CD ROM. That didn't affect the
    safemode issue, however.

    You are right about explorer not being loaded as the root issue. How
    to check that for Safe Mode? Where does it get loaded? And how? Is
    this a config.sys issue? MSDOS.SYS?


    vga.drv is present in the Windows\System folder. I previously tried
    to change the display adapter to a generic VGA and then run Safe Mode,
    no change.

    BTW, I have eliminated virus, and malware as a cause. Ran the whole
    gamut of AV and adaware, spybot s&d, CWShredder, Hijackthis. Nada.

    Thanks to all for your input. All other ideas welcome!!

    bobG, Jul 5, 2004
  7. bobG

    Paul Kersey Guest

    Check Micrsoft knowledge base to see if you can find a clue.
    Paul Kersey, Jul 6, 2004
  8. bobG

    bobG Guest

    Yeah, well, that's usually where I start when trying to solve a
    Windows related issue. The KB is very unwieldy; I can't seem to find
    the right combo of words to get an answer to my situation. It keeps
    coming up empty, or with articles telling me how to start in safe
    bobG, Jul 6, 2004
  9. bobG

    A Guest

    Hi Bob, Don't worry about SFC coming up with SETUPX.DLL, it always does in
    my experience so just ignore it as a false message. I've seen lots of people
    on bulletin boards looking for setupx.dll !!!

    As regards explorer.exe, I don't think it matters how it gets loaded as long
    as it's not corrupted. Just copy it off your Installation CD. Anyway, if you
    have now re-installed then your all done. Cheers - Alan. (PS. passed A+
    Core, taking OS exam on Friday)
    A, Jul 6, 2004
  10. bobG

    A Guest

    Hi Bob: So you have reloaded the OS and still can't access Safe Mode. How
    about backing up all data deleting the partition and doing a complete

    A few other questions: Have you ever been able to access Safe Mode without
    problems? What was the last hardware or software change before the problem?
    Have you upgraded from an earlier OS or done any dual booting? Have you run
    Scandisk again?: If it locks up then you probably have a corrupted file
    somewhere. Lastly, before I get back to my revision, have you made any
    changes in CMOS? Alan.
    A, Jul 7, 2004
  11. bobG

    bobG Guest

    Congrats on your pass. I'll be writing my exams next month. Good
    luck on OS!

    To answer your questions is somewhat difficult, as I've not had my
    hands on this box it's whole life. I don't know if Safe Mode was ever
    accessable. I can't say what the last hardware or software change was
    before I discovered the problem. It is not one of those things you
    think is possible. I always assume Safe Mode will be there waiting for
    me if I need it someday, ya know? I was doing what I thought would be
    routine maintenance, found I couldn't run Scandisk in Normal Mode,
    tried to boot to Safe to do it there, and ..Voila! Problem! I have
    run Scandisk since, both before and after the dirty reinstall. No
    problems found. I have defragged also, although, I doubt that would
    apply to this situation anyway. I believe this system has been
    upgraded from Win95. No dual boot. I've run SFC, and all is well.
    The only change I made to CMOS after discovering this strange issue
    was a VGABoot setting, changed from AGP to PCI. My video card is PCI.
    That made no difference, either. As to reformat and clean reinstall,
    I could, and might, but this is more an intellectual exercise than one
    of necessity at this point. If it ever totally locks up or crashes,
    that's what I'll do, but until then, Mom is able to do what little she
    does with a computer just fine.

    bobG, Jul 8, 2004
  12. bobG

    bobG Guest

    Tried that; no problems found. Still no explorer.exe in Safe Mode.


    bobG, Jul 8, 2004
  13. bobG

    A Guest

    Hi Bob - Can you boot in Safe Mode and go to Start | Run and type MSCONFIG
    for the System Config Utility and have a look at your System.ini file and
    click on + [Boot] group: Does it show [Shell] = Explorere.exe ? Cheers -
    A, Jul 8, 2004
  14. bobG

    bobG Guest


    Thanks for your interest, but you have to reread my OP. I have NOTHING
    in Safe Mode. No hotkeys bring up a Start Menu. There is nothing but
    the words Safe Mode in the four corners. NO Icons, No START MENU.
    Don't mean to rant, but if I could get to Start>Run, I wouldn't be
    posting looking for answers to what even MS says seems to be a unique

    I think the only way to solve this is to reformat if/when the system
    crashes and becomes intractable.

    bobG, Jul 9, 2004
  15. bobG

    Simon Roth Guest


    Perhaps the BootKeys option in MSDOS.sys is set to 0. If yes, set it to one.


    Simon Roth, Jul 15, 2004
  16. bobG

    bobG Guest

    The Bootkeys option simply sets the function keys active or inactive,
    right? The boot function keys on this system work's the
    actual Safe Mode which doesn't, as it's not loading explorer. Thanks
    for the thought.

    bobG, Jul 16, 2004
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