OT: Computer meltdown :-( sob story

Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
1,196
Location
Brooklyn, NY USA
Well last night I think I killed--or at lease severly injured-- my Dell Dimension. Its all my fault. I was working on the Peru photos and had Nikon View, Capture, and my editor open....along with several large files..and things were slowing to a crawl, so I started to close programs, but Capture (of course) just hung and wouldn't close, even with Task Manager, and everything seemed frozen; so I STUPIDLY just shut off the PC with the power strip (which I've done 100 times before) but when I went to restart, it said that it can't start Windows because a file is missing or corrupt C:\windows\system32\system I think. Ug--that's bad. I tried using the Windows Recovery Console from the Dell disk but it can't find anything on the C drive (it seems to think that C is a floppy or CD). And doesn't see the D drive (where my photos are--thankfully a seperate, physical drive--not a partition.) I do get a C prompt, but no files or directories.

I don't think there's any physical problems with the drive, so I am hoping that all I have to do is reinstall Windows. And not replace the drive :(

I do have all the photos backed up on CDs/DVDs as well as an external Maxtor, so I am actually less worried about the photos then about everything else.

Most of my data files are backed up on my external Maxtor but of course none of the programs. Fortunately I backed up just before my trip, so all that's really missing is my updated bird data from Peru (no small task, but I can recreate it) and the Peru photos that have been edited so far (which actually should be on the D drive, if I can ever get to it.) Thing is, I am not even sure I CAN reinstall Windows, if the OS doesn't see the C drive. I was afraid to try anything before talking to Dell.

I really was tempted to stay home from work today to call Dell, but I just can't miss more work right after vacation, so I will have to call when I get home tonight.

any words of encouragement are welcome. I feel a little sick right now! :(
 
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Messages
994
Location
Alabama
Janet,

Contact Patrick before you do anything. He is a wizard at fixing stuff like this.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
3,181
Location
Kendalia, TX
Just the basics:

If you have a floppy drive make sure no disk is in the floppy and sometimes if you have pc configured to boot from cdrom. So make sure you do not have a non-bootable cdrom in the cd drive.

Also, it is possible that the hd cable is loose - open the case and check hd cable at both the hd and the motherboard.

Power supply could have gone out too? I just replaced a ps on my old computer as I was getting all sorts of weird problems.

Yeah I know - probably none of these mentioned above but it is worth the quick look.

May want to run "scandisk" too from a bootable cd.

Can also try to do reinstall via Windows Setup Disk. If install detects a "Windows Installation" present that it does have an option to reinstall. Hopefully it will detect and fix the corrupted system file.

Let us know what happens.

Maybe when you get home tonight and turn it on it will just work again. Sometimes that works too!
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
14,461
Location
Toronto Canada
Eeewwwwww, I feel your pain. Been there... but had backups. One thing I find really terrific is NortonGhost. I Ghost my C: onto my large D: and can be up and running in about 8 mins shd something terrible happen. Of course, this doesn't fix hardware problems...

Keeping fingers x'd today hoping you recover.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
1,196
Location
Brooklyn, NY USA
Thanks all, well after three hours on the phone last night with Dell (one hour on hold, two with the tech) it does seem like the drive is physically corrupted--it failed all the drive tests :-( :-( and they will be sending someone to replace it. Last night it seemed hopeless to retrieve anything from it...chkdsk /r would stop at 72% and seem to hang. We couldn't even get to a point to see files. But, I let chkdsk run overnight and this morning was able to see files on the disk (although still can't boot into windows.) But now I'm a little more hopeful that some files can be retrieved. I can even get Windows Setup to recognize that there is a previous installation, so maybe I will be able to reinstall Windows and at least get some data files back before replacing the drive. I will have to call them again tonight and see what we can do.

Sandi---the first thing I will do when all this is over is buy Norton Ghost, and another external drive to Ghost onto!

Thankfully the D: drive with my photos seems fine and checks out ok with all the diagnostics.
 

Ibn

Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Messages
302
Location
San Jose, CA
Does it even boot to the DOS screen (black)? If it tries to boot up, try to boot windows up in safe mode (F8 when it's booting up). See if that'll get you into Windows. If it gets there, that'll be a great start.

BTW, I know how it is with running multiple programs. Have Nikon Capture, Nikon View, CS 2 open most of the times that I'm working on the pictures...and those are just for the pictures.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
301
Location
Huntsville, AL
If you have access to another computer and if you system will boot from CD (which it seems to be able to to get the recovery disk booted), go here and build a Knoppix live CD:

http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html

You can boot from this and try to mount your Windows drives. I was able to extract files from an old PC that's hard drive was physically failing -- it wouldn't boot Windows, the recovery CD didn't see the drive, but I was able to see it with this. I was even able to mount a USB keychain drive and copy the files to it (needless to say, this wasn't 40GB of pictures, but if you have an external USB drive or extra disk in the system, you should be able to do it). By default, it mounts your drives as read-only, so you shouldn't have to worry (too much) about it doing anything bad to your system.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
1,196
Location
Brooklyn, NY USA
CMPalmer---or maybe Knoppix--I love you! ;-)

Thank you thank you thank you for this!!!! I was able to burn a Knoppix CD (took a bit to figure out how to make it a bootable CD--the key is burning it as a disc image)---and lo and behold Knoppix let's me see everything on the hard drives! And I am able to copy to a USB stick. Now I am running out to buy a bigger stick---to get a few larger files. I dont need, actually, to rescue any photo files because they are fully backed up in triplicate; also there doesnt seem to be any problem with the D drive, which holds my photo archive.


Knoppix saves the day! Maybe its time to switch to Linux altogether...lol...
 
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