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non solum memento mori, memento vivere sed etiam
Computer advice needed.
気持: overwhelmed
My PC is fuxx0red, and it has been for some time now, due to the happy fun bundle of joy that is XP Service Pack 2. It will not boot. I get the welcome screen for a few seconds before it decides it needs to reboot. It's a Sony VAIO desktop, about 4 years old, came with WinME installed, so the recovery disks are not an option. The XP upgrade CD's repair thingy doesn't seem to do anything. It says something about not finding a valid version of XP (I forget exactly what it says, it's been awhile).

The bottom line is, I am without a usable PC of my own, and that is unacceptable. I really hate to just write it off, since I just did some minor upgrades on it about a year ago, and none of its components are broken, but a reformat and reinstall is out of the question, at least until I get all my files out of there.

So what should I do? I've thought of buying another hard drive (which would require a larger case to accommodate it, and possibly a new motherboard as well), freshly installing XP on that, and then juggling things around until they work. But that sounds like too much trouble for what is ultimately a half-assed solution rather than something that I'll be happy with long-term.

My only other solution seems to be buying a new PC, which is probably doable with a payment plan, but I'm reluctant to go through the trouble of connecting the old hard drives to a new machine temporarily to copy files, and although I've been able to boot the old PC into one of those Linux distros that boots from CD (many thanks to ajr for the link to Hikarunix, with which I was able to prove that my PC is not dead, only sleeping), I have no idea anymore how to make it connect to anything, since the last time I used any version of Unix was about the time I bought this PC (4 years ago).

So, seriously, what are my options. I know I've got geeky types reading this, so what would you guys do, if you were a stressed-out girl with no time? ^_~

EDIT: OMG how stupid can I be?! With a CD-bootable Linux distro, all I have to do is burn CDs of the files I absolutely have to keep! *facepalm* I R smrt. Though if I'm going to wipe and reinstall, I suppose I'll need a full version of XP, not just the upgrade... dammit, and I thought I was gonna save some money. ^^;;;
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ang_grrr From: ang_grrr Date: Wednesday 20th October 2004 15.33 (UTC) (Link)
our PC tec tells me that if you boot from a floppy or some other disk with a dos prompt and then type


it will rewrite the master boot record and rescue the install. I have no idea if this will work or not, I am simply following the word of a debatable guru.
chibirisuchan From: chibirisuchan Date: Wednesday 20th October 2004 17.06 (UTC) (Link)
thank goodness I got here BEFORE you reformatted the drive!! Followed a link from the KakaIru friends list. (It always makes me cry when people reformat the drive first...) And DON'T fdisk it -- you might mess up the entire file system to the point where nothing's recoverable!

What I'm about to tell you will definitely let you recover the system. I do this for a living (well, designing test systems and documenting networking anyway). I also own a Vaio and have done this with my own system with Windows 2000.

Since it's XP it may be a little harder, but this IS doable. It really is. Here's what you do.

1) Get a drive adapter that lets you plug a laptop drive into a desktop IDE cable. Here's a link for one:

From this point it's monkeying with computer innards but that's essential to be sure you can accurately get everything off the drive without messing up the file system. (If you don't like monkeying with computer innards, find a friend or a local computer fixit shop who'll do it for you. It's not that hard but some people just don't like doing it, and I understand that...) Anyway. On with the directions.

2) When the adapter comes, take your Vaio drive out of your laptop and look at its drive type. (Mine's a Toshiba.) If it's not indicated on the case, look up its jumper settings on your drive manufacturer's website because it's probably set as a master drive at the moment and in order for this to work its jumper needs to be reset as a slave.

3) Once you've got its jumper reset according to the drive manufacturer's directions, plug your Vaio drive into the adapter and plug that drive in as the slave on a Windows XP system with either a CD burner or a DVD burner or some other method of data rescue.

4) Reboot the Windows XP system that you've got your drive plugged in to. When it comes back up, it should be able to read your drive as a secondary hard drive installed on that system, which means it's basically acting like a big ol' spare storage unit plugged into that system and it's not reading from the messed-up operating system itself. If it doesn't detect it the first time, check your jumper settings -- getting those right is always the part that takes me the longest. Make sure your Vaio drive is set as a slave; that's the most important part.

5) After the other XP system has detected your drive, just burn CDs or DVDs of all the data you want to save.

6) When you're done with that, put its jumper back to master and plug it back in to your Vaio and you can do whatever you need in order to get your computer working again.

Good luck! And I know it'll work sooner or later because I've done it at least 12 times with various OSes in the past year. It may take fiddling with jumpers, it may take fiddling with permissions once the drive gets connected, but sooner or later you WILL be able to get the drive detected unless XP has completely and totally hosed your file system itself, and most of the time it just hoses the operating system but the data's still there when you can make it a slave under some other XP OS.

Anyhow, good luck...
chibirisuchan From: chibirisuchan Date: Wednesday 20th October 2004 17.12 (UTC) (Link)
eeep, just finished reading the rest of the entry -- sounds like you don't want to do hardware juggling! Sorry about the rambling in that case... I just saw "XP SP 2 problem" followed by "want to rescue data" and "haven't reformatted yet" and my computer-geek instincts went into overdrive. (The last time I spotted one of these messages it was from someone who'd just gotten done reformatting their drive on directions from a bored Best Buy tech and I really wanted to warn about why that wasn't necessary, but it sounds like you know enough computer guts stuff to not need to do that...)
valamelmeo From: valamelmeo Date: Wednesday 20th October 2004 17.22 (UTC) (Link)
Well, at least I know better than to trust Best Buy... But yes, it's less a matter of knowing how to fix it and more a matter of wanting to minimize expense and inconvenience, salvaging the system if I can. I'd really like to do it all myself, too, because it's a lot easier to deal with having broken things if you broke them yourself. Besides, I'm deathly afraid that at some shop they'd just reformat or something, and then I'd be annoyed at losing my data and still have to pay them...