Looking under every rock
Users who are willing to tackle this exhaustive process will be in one of two situations: Windows functionally boots to safe mode with networking, or Windows does not functionally boot to safe mode with networking. We’ve provided steps for each level of system functionality, so proceed to the section that applies to yours.
Windows boots to safe mode with networking
You will need working installation media for Windows XP—a recovery CD will not do—and three CDs prepared with the following utilities:
To freely burn these utilities to CD, Icrontic has prepared a guide to accomplish the task. Once all three CDs are ready, proceed with each of the following steps in sequence. If you uncover a problem at any step, it is imperative that you remedy the issue before moving on. You may also find that resolving an intermediary issue eliminates the 0x0000008E stop error, so be sure to test Windows before continuing with additional steps.
- Evaluate the condition of your PC’s memory by testing it with Memtest86. If this fails, you need to replace your system memory and continue.
- Evaluate the condition of your hard drive by testing it with Drive Fitness Test. Should DFT fail to correctly function on your system, perform a long scan with SeaTools. If this fails, you need to replace your hard drive after archiving your information. If simple archival fails, Icrontic has prepared an emergency data recovery guide to account for this issue. Replacing your hard drive will require that you reinstall Windows.
- Evaluate the output of your power supply by testing it with a digital multimeter (DMM). If the power supply is producing insufficient voltages, it must be replaced.
- If all prior components have been replaced or given a clean bill of health, we have narrowed down the roster of possible culprits to three: A bunged up operating system, a faulty motherboard, or a faulty processor. It is rather unlikely that the processor or motherboard are to blame, so we will now troubleshoot the operating system.
- Now that we’ve reasonably identified the OS as the source of the issue, you need to enter Windows’ safe mode with networking. Download and run Trend Micro’s HijackThis application. Press the do a system scan only button and wait for the process to finish. A long list of checkboxes adjacent to various text entries will appear. Check every box and press fix checked. You may be prompted with a series of yes/no boxes, so be sure to answer yes to all of them.
- If removing startup items has failed to remedy the issue, boot back in safe mode with networking and access the device manager. Expand all the categories with the following labels: Disk drives, Display adapters, IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers, Network adapters and Sound, video and game controllers. Right click on every device contained in those categories and uninstall the device. Also be sure to uninstall any drivers and software related to scanners, webcams and printers. Reboot the PC and attempt to return to your normal desktop. If you can successfully access your normal environment, you must obtain and install the newest drivers for your video adapter, sound card, motherboard chipset, and any printers, cameras or scanners you may have uninstalled.
- If driver replacement has failed to correct the issue, you must be absolutely positive that strains of the Vundo spyware, Smitfraud spyware and Rustock virus are not present on your system. Run the following tools/fixes in sequence to remedy any of these potential issues: A) Vundofix, B) Smitfraudfix, C) Rustock.B Fix.
- If these fixes have failed to correct the issue, you have effectively exhausted your options when it comes to troubleshooting the current installation of Windows. Please follow the “Windows does not load and/or does not appear to be installed” section of Icrontic’s reformatting guide. This guide will walk you through the process of backing up your data and reinstalling Windows from scratch.
- If you are still confronted with the 0x0000008E error after a reformat, you must now suspect your motherboard and processor. Each component must be replaced with an identical part to eliminate the possibility of fault without introducing new instability through introducing differing hardware.
If you have not already hurled your computer from an eleventh story window, it should now be functioning as intended.