Q: If my computer won't boot, How can I fix hal.dll problem? This thread is locked from future replies

I have a dell Computer. I run XP Pro. The computer will not go past the black screen in the beginning of startup where it says,

Missing or corrupt hal.dll needs to be replaced. I have no recovery disc, as none came with it.

What do I do now?

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Just follow the directions from the ANSWER (courtesy of regular contributor ElderL) from this thread:

It is extremely unlikely that the hal.dll file is really missing or corrupt.

That error message usually just means that XP can't find the file either because of some corruption in your NT File System (NTFS), or something has buggered your boot.ini file and XP is being told to look for the file in the wrong place.

Was the issue preceded by a power interruption, aborted restart, or improper shutdown? (this includes plug pulling, power buttons and battery removal).

These can cause corruption in the file system which must be fixed before you do anything else.

If any of those events have occurred (or even if they have not occurred), you should verify the integrity of your file system before doing anything else (especially "trying" things).

It makes zero sense to start trying to start trying to edit or copy files around on a hard disk that has a corrupted file system so this must be fixed first using the XP chkdsk program, and running chkdsk on your drives may resolve your issue entirely.  

I always assume that nobody has any kind of bootable media or whatever they have is not going to work, so it is best to make your own bootable media so you can be sure what you have.

You need to start by booting into the XP Recovery Console using a CD you can make (no XP media required) and run a chkdsk with error correction enough times until it runs clean and if that doesn't work, you can create a new boot.ini file (it is usually one of those two things).

Here's how:

Use the XP Recovery Console to verify the file system on your HDD and correct any problems and then try to boot your system - this may be all you need to do.  Or, you are welcome to just start trying things that might work.

Boot into the Windows Recovery Console using a bootable XP installation CD.

If you have no bootable XP media (or are not sure what you have) create a bootable XP Recovery Console CD and be sure what you have (no XP media required).

This is not the same as any recovery disks that might have come with a store bought system.  

You can make a bootable Recovery Console CD by downloading an ISO file and burning it to a CD.

The bootable ISO image file you need to download is called:


Download the ISO file from here:

Use a new CD and this free and easy program to burn your ISO file and create your bootable CD:

When installing ImgBurn, DO NOT install the Ask toolbar.

Here are some instructions for ImgBurn:

It would be a good idea to test your bootable CD on a computer that is working.

You may need to adjust the computer BIOS settings to use the CD ROM drive as the first boot device instead of the hard disk.  These adjustments are made before Windows tries to load.  If you miss it, you will have to reboot the system again.

When you boot on the CD, follow the prompts:

Press any key to boot from CD...

The Windows Setup... will proceed.

Press 'R' to enter the Recovery Console.

Select the installation you want to access (usually  1: C:\WINDOWS)

You may be asked to enter the Administrator password (usually empty).

You should be in the C:\WINDOWS folder.  This is the same as the 

C:\WINDOWS folder you see in explorer.

The Recovery Console allows basic file commands like: copy, rename, replace, delete, cd, chkdsk, fixboot, fixmbr, etc.

For a list of Recovery Console commands, enter help at the prompt or read about the XP Recovery Console here:

A good idea before starting things is to first verify the integrity of your file system using the chkdsk command.

From the command prompt window run the chkdsk command on the drive where Windows is installed to try to repair any problems on the afflicted drive.

Running chkdsk is fine even if it doesn't find any problems.  It will not hurt anything to run it.

Assuming your boot drive is C, run the following command:

chkdsk C: /r

Let chkdsk finish and correct any problems it might find.  

It may take a long time for chkdsk to complete or it may appear to be 'stuck'.  Be patient.  If the HDD light is still flashing, chkdsk is doing something.  Keep an eye on the percentage amount to be sure it is still making progress.  It may even appear to go backwards sometimes.

You should run chkdsk /r again until it finds no errors to correct.

Remove the CD and type 'exit' to leave the RC and restart the computer.

You do not have to adjust the BIOS again to boot on the HDD since the CD will not be present.

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I ran chkdsk /r, get this, 12 times so far. Each took a couple of hours to complete. I ran it again this morning before coming to work. When it runs, the first three lines say something like "additional checking or repair". After each tome I run it, I try to reboot.

NOTHING!!! I get the same message, "Windows can not start because of missing OR CORUPT FILE" windows/system32/hal.dll"

I'm not sure what to do now.


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Not to worry. There are three things one should do when one sees this missing or corrupt hal.dll message. You have done the first thing. Although it USUALLY fixes the problem, there are times it doesn't. Now on to the second (and hopefully final) step (once more, courtest of ElderL):

Once in Recovery Console...

cd \   [if you are not already at the C:\ prompt]
attrib -shr boot.ini      (removes the System, Hidden, Read Only attributes)
ren boot.ini  boot.ini.bak     (rename the potentially afflicted file)
bootcfg /rebuild    (run bootcfg /rebuild and create a new c:\boot.ini file)

The reason you need to rename the current (potentially afflicted) boot.ini is so that when you run the bootcfg /rebuild command, you do not build on top of the current suspicious boot.ini file.  

If you are going to use bootcfg /rebuild, always rename or delete the current boot.ini first, or you will end up with multiple XPs being offered the next time you boot.  This tidbit is missing from the so many instructions... including Microsoft instructions so trust me on this one.

When bootcfg /rebuild asks for Load identifier enter whatever text is appropriate (this is strictly for show), such as:

Microsoft Windows XP Professional  or  Microsoft Windows XP Home

When it asks for load options enter:

/fastdetect  (thats a forward slash and fastdetect)

Press Enter to create the new c:\boot.ini file.

When you get done, you can see the contents of your new c:\boot.ini file by entering this command:

type  boot.ini

If the c:\boot.ini file doesn't look right, just delete it and start over.

Here is what a generic c:\boot.ini file looks like for a single partition XP Pro System:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

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Where do you get all this stuff?!

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Where do you get all this stuff?!

I learned it by WATCHING YOU!!!! (Remember those PSAs?)

BTW, nice icon!

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>cute!<   I must remember to change it back to my Barney Fife badge in a day or two.

I can't wait for the next holiday when I can put back my Rudolph with his CFL bulb nose.

Did you know that only male turkeys (knows as toms or gobblers) actually gobble?   Female turkeys (known as hens) make more of a clicking sound.

Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird.  He thought the bald eagle was a bird of bad moral character who did not get his living honestly, a thief, poor, lazy and a rank coward, while the turkey was more respectable and a true native of America.

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Yes, I did know that. Funny, considering that if someone is called a "turkey," the connotation is a tad negative.

Did you know that the Scottish name for turkey is bubbly-jock?

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Sound's like that is going to by lunch today...  a couple o' buubly-jock sammiches.

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I thought this was a "Help" place rather than a Social network. None of the above have anything to do with the problem I posted.


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Let's return to the issue.

Did bootcfg /rebuild work for you? If not, there is one final thing that should work for you.

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Question Info

Views: 5,286 Last updated: April 5, 2018 Applies to: