How To Recover From ‘Testing Memory’ System Halt After Installing Comodo Time Machine
Comodo Time Machine is a fantastic product. Allowing you to completely ruin your Windows operating system, and then restore it back as good as new with the click of a button (well, maybe more than one click). By that I mean its great software for being able to roll back after your kids have just destroyed the OS directories or you have suffered damage by a virus.
For most users, the installation is a breeze and Comodo Time Machine does it’s job. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all of us.
I’ve been installing Comodo Time Machine on systems for a little while now, and more than once, after the initial installation, I get the following error message upon boot up:
Testing Memory <Hexadecimal Value>...
Something went wrong. I don’t know exactly what, and perhaps a helpful reader can fill us in, however at this point, it would seem all is lost. Now, I’ve only tested this so far on PCs with Windows Vista and Windows 7. So if you have Windows XP, you made need to use a little additional effort.
If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista, possibly like me, your first thought was ‘No worries, I’ll use the System Repair Utility on the my installation media’. This won’t work. ‘Startup Repair’ won’t be able to solve the issue, and neither will rolling back to a ‘System Restore’ point. It simply won’t work, yet.
Even though this is a problem for you, as far as your computer and operating system are concerned, there is no issue. Which is correct. Yes, Comodo Time Machine has failed to install correctly (of which there are many reasons why this may occur, one being lack of space on drive ‘C:’), however that has not really done any harm to your PC. You just simply can’t get into Windows!
If you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista, yes Startup Repair can help you, but first you have to give it something to repair. I was pretty desperate when this first happened to me, and I actually ended up re-installing the entire system. Not the second time around though. No way was I re-installing, especially since I didn’t have a backup of my clients system, and I was working on site without additional PCs to help my efforts.
In come Hirens Boot CD. Admittedly, you could use any number of rescue boot CDs out there on the internet, I happened to have Hirens Boot CD 10.0 which had exactly the tools I needed. In CD/ISO form, Hirens boot CD does contain some software that others would call ‘commercial’ thus I can’t provide you with a download link to the ISO. However, this page, and this page, should get you on the right track.
Once you have the CD prepared (or USB Key), place it in your computer, and boot from it. Most recent computers are capable of booting from a USB device or CD-ROM. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a computer that couldn’t boot from CD-ROM, and I’ve worked on some old PCs!
Don’t try booting the ‘MiniXP’ It’s a little over kill for what we are going to do, although it is a very VERY responsive Windows XP based environment with most of the tools available. MiniXP runs entirely from memory, meaning you can remove the CD or USB Key once it has finished booting! Neat huh?!
Choose to ‘StartBootCD’. At the ‘Hirens All in 1 BootCD 10.1 Menu’ menu, you’ll need to use your keyboard to select option 9, then select option 1, then select option 2. You should now have MBRtool loaded.
This program requires just a little understanding about the configuration of your HDDs in your computer. For simplicity sake however, if your computer only has one HDD with only one partition on it, the following instructions will work just fine. If your computer has multiple HDDs, and you don’t boot from the otherwise known as the ‘first HDD’ then you need to pay attention to the screen and modify the instructions below accordingly. Feel free to ask for help in the comments below.
Enter 4 and press [Enter]
Enter 6 and press [Enter]
Enter 0 and press [Enter] (Zero)
Enter o and press [Enter] (O, as in the circled shaped letter for Orange) <– This final step will wipe your MBR straight away, no questions asked. If you are feeling concerned, nervous or worried at this point, I suggest you reboot again and use another program on the CD called ‘ghost’ to clone your HDD in its current state to a safe location.
Remember, I said we need to give Windows 7 / Windows Vista Startup Repair tool, something to fix? Well, now it has something to fix!
Press the [ESC] key three times to return you to the DOS prompt. Remove the CD/USB, put your Windows 7 or Windows Vista installation media in the drive and type: reboot (followed by a press of the enter key). Be sure to boot from your newly inserted installation media again.
After selecting your language, Time and currency format and Keyboard or input method, click Next. Click the text link ‘Repair your computer’. The ‘System Recovery Options’ window will appear. Don’t be alarmed at the fact that it doesn’t detect your installed operating system (Windows 7 or Windows Vista), this is what we want!
Click the next button, and from the main menu choose ‘Startup Repair’. This process should only take a few seconds. If you want some assurance it worked, click the ‘Click here for diagnostic and repair details’ link and scroll to the bottom. You should see something like this:
Root cause found:
MBR is corrupt
Repair action: Disk metadata repair
Result: Completed succesfully. Error code = 0x0
Time taken = ####ms
Click the Close button and click the Finish button. Your system should automatically reboot. If not, click the Restart button.
Hopefully you are now staring at your Windows 7 / Windows Vista logon screen or desktop!
For Windows XP Users
Thankfully Windows XP has something a little less evolved, but no less powerful called ‘The Recovery Console’. To access it, you’ll need an original Windows XP (SP1/2/3) installation media disc. Boot from the media and when prompted, press the R key.
When you are asked for the Administrator password, enter it. If you are on Windows XP Home, and you’ve never configured an Administrator password, chances are it’s blank, so just press enter. This may apply to some Windows XP Professional users as well.
At the prompt, assuming you have Windows XP installed to C:> type:
Ignore the warnings, unless you understand what they are (your situation couldn’t get any worse at this point anyway), and press the [Y] key followed by pressing the [Enter] key.
to leave the recovery console and reboot. Hopefully you are now staring at your Windows XP Logon screen or desktop!
Why Does This Work?
When you install Comodo Time Machine, it makes a modification to your HDD MBR (Master Boot Record) telling your computer to first boot Comodo Time Machine (instead of your Windows OS), which in turn is configured to boot your Windows OS. When we use MBRtool to erase your MBR, we then use one of the options above to rebuild or repair your MBR. Regardless of Windows XP, Vista or 7, your MBR will be repaired/rebuilt to only boot your Windows OS again! By passing Comodo Time Machine altogether.
What About Comodo Time Machine?
It’s up to you. If you try again and it fails, you know now you have a way to get things working again. Having said that, I’ve had an almost 100% success rate when installing Comodo Time Machine again the second time around. I don’t why sometimes it fails the first time around like it does, it just does.
Any comments, improvements or criticism is welcome.
Kudos to qmchenry at Tech-Recipes for the Windows XP Recovery Console instructions, where you can find additional comments and instructions about it’s use.