Missing or corrupt hal.dll file. Computer won't start in XP

All of the sudden my computer won't open in XP.  Says it has a corrupt or missing file hal.dll  I dont' have an Windows XP CD.  What can I can to fix without loosing what is on the computer?  Must have been an update last night, because it was working fine before.

Question Info

Last updated April 16, 2019 Views 4,511 Applies to:
The usual problem with that message is not that the hal.dll file is really missing or corrupt - it usually just means that XP can't find it either because the file system has somehow gotten corrupted from something like a power interruption, aborted restart or ungraceful shutdown...  or your c:\boot.ini file is somehow corrupted (or both!).

You are going to have to boot on something to fix it.

Since the Microsoft Answers forum does not prompt for any kind of system information when a new question is asked, we know absolutely nothing about your system.  Not knowing fundamental information about a problem prolongs the frustration and agony of resolving these issues.

Thank you MS Answers, for making the resolution of simple problems as frustrating and time consuming as possible.

Please provide additional information about your system as best you can:

What is your system make and model?

What is your XP Version and Service Pack?

Does your system have IDE or SATA drives?

Describe your current antivirus and anti malware situation:  McAfee, Symantec, Norton, Spybot, AVG, Avira!, MSE, Panda, Trend Micro, CA, Defender, ZoneAlarm, PC Tools, Comodo, etc.

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

Does the afflicted system have a working CD/DVD drive (internal or external)?

If the system used to work properly, what do you think might have changed since the last time it did work properly?

Next, you should perform a chkdsk /r from the XP Recovery Console first and report back how that works out (that may be all you need to do):

Here's how:

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

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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