This is another one of those “its easy when you know how” problems.
Customer has windows xp. It boots up, displays the windows xp logo, then the monitor displays a message, something like: “freq out of range, H: 78Khz, V: 65Hz”. The PC continues to start, the HDD light keeps flashing away as the PC completes the boot procedure, probably tries to display the logon screen, except the monitor isn’t capable of displaying anything.
Of course I immediately recognise it as the screen display resolution being way to high for the monitor to handle (probably 1600 X 1200 or something like that).
I figure a boot into safe mode and a change of settings should fix it… but no… the problem reappears in normal boot mode.
Customer has no internet access, so I take the computer back to the office, find out that I need to boot into “enable VGA mode” after the F8 key (not safe mode), then change the resolution at that point. After that, everything is fine.
While I was at it, i converted the HDD from fat32 to NTFS… fat32 causes far more file corruptions than NTFS, so the conversion is always worth it from a reliability point of view.
I take the PC back, check that everything works correctly. I also start a disk defragment before I leave.