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Operating System Not Found
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inuwolf




msg:1568202
 4:06 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I woke up to the sound of my laptop's fan on high. The screen was black, except for these words: Operating System not Found.

So apparently I've lost everything.

But I had my computer backed up with a 2 GB zip file I had split into 200 peices and uploaded to my Gmail account. All but the last peice. Because it's not there, I can't reunite the Zip file.

Anyone have any suggestions on recovering my backup file / my hard drive?

Edit: Sorry this doesn't exactly fit the themes of this site, but I AM a webmaster--at this point, a very desperate one.

 

steve




msg:1568203
 4:38 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

You could try an external USB case.

Put your laptop drive in it and connect it to any PC with a USB port. Then take a look and see whats on it.

mcavic




msg:1568204
 8:25 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

In all likelihood, the data is all still there. The drive has just lost a bit of data that it needs to start the operating system. This has happened to me once or twice.

Is this Windows XP? Do you have the Windows CD? And is it a real Windows CD, or a System Restore CD?

py9jmas




msg:1568205
 8:53 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

All but the last peice. Because it's not there, I can't reunite the Zip file.

Copy all of the zip files on to the hardrive.
Combine them in to one file:
copy /b file01.zip+file02.zip+file03.zip combined.zip
pkzipfix combined.zip

(pkzipfix is from the old PKZip shareware package)
This should generate a file called pkfixed.zip containing all the files it could rescue. I haven't done this in many years. I'm not sure how well pkzipfix would cope with archives containing long filenames or archives of this size, etc. YMMV. There may be more modern zip recovery tools out there these days.

Chndru




msg:1568206
 8:55 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>I had my computer backed up with a 2 GB zip file I had split into 200 peices and uploaded to my Gmail account. All but the last peice. Because it's not there, I can't reunite the Zip file.

I am not trying to drop urls, just recommending a free service is all. Please delete if disagree,.

[yousendit.com...]

inuwolf




msg:1568207
 7:52 pm on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wow thanks guys. I'll try these things, or whatever it takes--except for paying a professional; I hear that can cost upward of a grand.

Yeah, I do have the real CD for the Windows XP. But here's another small question. If I put new stuff on my comp, is there any danger of overwriting the information already there?

Also, does the fact it may have overheated make the data any less recoverable?

MCavic, you sound the most familiar with this problem. How exactly did you get by it?

Py9jmas, I didn't have all my files compressed in the Zip, I just had one huge .bak file to restore the system state (including the files). So I don't think I can recover anything less than the whole, unless anyone has a breakthrough idea.

mcavic




msg:1568208
 2:07 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Overheating can cause physical damage to the drive, but I suspect it was just a software glitch.

I can't guarantee that any of the following will work -- but if I was sitting at the machine, it's the first thing I'd try. (By the way, the USB enclosure idea is a good one -- but I'm not sure if the laptop drive would fit it).

Boot from the Windows CD. It has three options: Recovery Console, Repair Installation, and Normal Installation.

Try the Recovery Console. It should scan your hard drive and detect Windows installations, and ask you which one you want to examine. It may ask for your administrator password. Then it should give you a C: prompt. Get a directory (dir) and if it looks okay (no garbled text) and reports the free space, things are probably okay.

If you get to this point with no trouble:

At the C prompt, say FIXMBR <enter>. I'm not sure what kind of output it gives, but it should rewrite your master boot record. Then at the next C prompt, say FIXBOOT then enter. That'll rewrite your partition boot record. The two boot records are the first steps to booting the operating system.

Now, try booting without the CD. If it boots, then the FIXMBR and FIXBOOT worked. But I suspect you'll have the same error.

So, boot from the CD again, and this time, press 'Enter to Setup Windows now' or some such. Then, you want to perform a Repair Installation. I think it'll only give you that option if it thinks it can do it (it sees your existing Windows). Failing that, it will probably want to format the drive or obliterate Windows.

After you tell it Repair Installation, it'll give you that yellow bar that usually means it's formatting the drive, but it'll just be examining it. And if it goes well, it will reinstall Windows while maintaining your applications, data, and registry settings.

Choose your options carefully, as it'll give you little clues in the beginning of the install process as to whether it really understands that you want to repair, rather than wiping out Windows.

Let me know if any questions/errors.

Matt

twist




msg:1568209
 2:36 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

My 2 cents,

First off, take this as a very important lesson, test your backup method before you have any trouble, not after.

Quick sidenote,

(I am not sure what level of understanding you have about computers but here is a tip for anyone that wants to read it, create at least 2 partitions on your hard drive. One for your O/S and programs and another for your work or important data. That way, if your O/S goes crazy, you wipe the O/S partition and reinstall without ever touching your data on your other partition.)

As for your backup, keep your data seperate from you programs and O/S when making a backup of your work. It's ok to make a mirror backup of your hard drive, but you should always keep a current backup of your work without anything else, in an uncompressed format preferably. CD/DVD burners and discs are just way to cheap anymore to not keep your work backed up on them daily if need be. If you had a backup of your work data, I would tell you to just wipe the hard drive, reinstall your O/S and programs and off you go, but it's too late for that so...

I once had a virus that wiped my MBR and made my O/S and files untouchable. I tried everything, including what mcavic is talking about. Data is usually found by pointers on the hard drive, but once those are gone, there's not much you can do to get to your data. I finally found a program that worked a miracle. It doesn't look for the pointers but actually reads the hard drive in RAW form, kinda like a tape deck. It just reads and pulls data, whether the data is corrupted or the pointers were deleted (like when you throw something in the recycle bin, it's not written over, the pointers are just deleted), as long as the data isn't written over, I could get it. I was able to recover almost everything off the hard drive that was important. It took a long looong time, but it worked. You download the program then put it on a floppy. The program works off the floppy and installs it's own makeshift O/S onto the RAM. You can then boot to it's O/S and pull the data at that point. You will still need a place to transfer the data to though.

So, if your data is really really important then there is a way that you might be able to reocover it. Just letting you know that if everything else fails, all hope is not lost. I don't remember the name of the program, but I am sure a search on the net will find a similiar program. If I recall the program was free, possibly open source, so check sourceforge.

inuwolf




msg:1568210
 3:09 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

When I enter dir, I get "An error occurred during directory enumeration".

Thanks for your help so far. Twist (or anyone), I will be very grateful if you can remember the name of that program.

mcavic




msg:1568211
 3:28 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Researching now. I still don't think it's as serious as it looks.

mcavic




msg:1568212
 4:13 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I found a site where someone said that the FIXBOOT command (and perhaps FIXMBR too) corrected the directory enumeration problem. Though those commands did give a warning saying that they might further corrupt the drive.

Personally, I'd try fixboot first, then reboot back into recovery console and try dir again.

Or you could call Microsoft [support.microsoft.com] for ideas. They're pretty good at helping with specific procedures.

voices




msg:1568213
 12:37 pm on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

the first thing I always do in this case is boot to dos and then see if I can read the drive. Just cause it won't boot doesn't mean the drive is bad. I usually have an old computer laying around so another option is to set the drive as a slave and try to read it that way. If you can read it, back it up before you mess around with it anymore.

johnafrid




msg:1568214
 1:21 pm on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

One of the softwares you can try is Easy Recovery. Its a very good software and I have used it quite a few times. It can recover data from raw partitions as well. It costs a little but it well worth it.

twist




msg:1568215
 6:07 pm on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

You should try download.com and search for "hard disk recovery." Be sure to read the reviews and definately try ones with free trials before paying any money.

inuwolf




msg:1568216
 7:52 pm on Jul 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the delay; I've been offshore for a week.

I tried fixboot and it said the bootable sector couldn't be repaired, or something along those lines.

And now it no longer recognizes CDs. It just says "Disk read error" and prompts to restart.

If anyone still has any ideas I will be most impressed.

twist




msg:1568217
 10:58 pm on Jul 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

And now it no longer recognizes CDs. It just says "Disk read error" and prompts to restart.

If your laptop can't read a boot-up cd then their might be something wrong with your laptop. That could be a good sign though. It could mean that their is nothing wrong with your hard drive, just your laptop. Take your hard drive out of your laptop and either plug it in another laptop or rig something up so you can retrieve your data from it. I think that was the original purpose of this thread, get your data. So work on getting that done first and then we can deal with a laptop problems, if that is the problem.

mcavic




msg:1568218
 11:19 pm on Jul 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, you need to get the hard drive into another working XP machine. But since it's a laptop drive, I don't know what the interface is and what it's compatible with.

steve




msg:1568219
 10:41 am on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

But since it's a laptop drive, I don't know what the interface is and what it's compatible with..

Electrically they have standard IDE interfaces, the connector is just smaller.

You can buy cables which have a small IDE connector at one end and full size one at the other. Plug it into a desktop PC and away you go.

Or, as I mentioned in an earlier post use a USB caddy, Win2k and XP will recognise it as a removable external drive, so you don't need to load any drivers.

SEOMike




msg:1568220
 3:29 am on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

I second Steve's recommendation for a USB caddy. They work really nice. I was able to use one to clone a failing laptop drive and start over. (drive started throwing bad sectors) You should be able to just plug it in and it should run. Listen to be sure that the drive spins up, but because you say that your laptop won't recognize your CD-ROM it's probably something else that's the trouble.

USB cases are relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. Heck, if this doesn't work for you, just return the case and get your money back.

Depending on the size of your laptop drive (and the power of your USB hub) you may require an external power source for the drive, so be sure to get one that has that capability if you have a large laptop drive (I believe it's 80 gig or over that requires external juice)

I bought a new laptop drive and now use my USB drive for keeping important files I might need for working on machines. (mostly diagnostic programs incase a network connection / FTP software is unavailable.) It's nice to have 40gig I can fit in my pocket.

Good luck. Let us know the result!

steve




msg:1568221
 9:23 am on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Depending on the size of your laptop drive (and the power of your USB hub) you may require an external power source for the drive, so be sure to get one that has that capability if you have a large laptop drive (I believe it's 80 gig or over that requires external juice)

Its not the drive size but how much current the laptop USB port can deliver.

I have a USB drive which works on my desktop and Compaq Presario. But will only work on my Compaq Armada through a powered USB hub.

SEOMike




msg:1568222
 4:21 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Its not the drive size but how much current the laptop USB port can deliver.

That made me curious as to where I got that idea so I pulled out the documentation for my case and it says that above 80gig it requires external power to operate.

I agree with what you said though, the power provided by the USB port dictates what will run w/o using outside power. Strange that the disk came with documentation placing a size that would require extra power to run. I've plugged my 40gig in some older computers and they couldn't run it w/o the power supply. Maybe the manufacturer just "ballparked" it. :)

inuwolf




msg:1568223
 6:50 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

My disk drive works again, so I'd like to back up a step. (I don't think it ever stopped working, but there was a tricky error message)

Is there any bootable program that can help me repair my hard drive? I have looked and continue to look for one.

SeoMike, Steve, Twist, and Mcavic: thank you. If I can't find the bootable program I seek I will invest in a USB case.

Johnafrid: Easy Recovery doesn't work for WinXP, but that is exactly the kind of app I am looking for.

steve




msg:1568224
 8:18 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is there any bootable program that can help me repair my hard drive?

Don't do it!

If you have any doubts whatsoever about the reliability of the drive, copy your data to a new drive now while its working!

I've been there, done that. I had a drive develop bad sectors, reformatted it, reloaded all my files, couple of months later it died. Luckily I back-up regularly. But IMO with HDD's being so cheap, it's not worth the heartache.

steve




msg:1568225
 8:24 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

above 80gig it requires external power to operate

Just a guess:

Electric motors draw more current the faster they rotate. Big HDD's spin at very high speeds, possibly this is what the manufacturer was getting at?

bill




msg:1568226
 9:50 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is there any bootable program that can help me repair my hard drive?

SpinRite is a good recovery/maintenance software. I had a very similar situation with a laptop not long ago. This will get a lot of disks back in working order.

However, you should be listening to steve. Particularly with laptop drives at the first sign of trouble I'd recommend getting everything of importance backed up, and then I'd be looking for a new drive.

inuwolf




msg:1568227
 6:37 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

SpinRite is what I am looking for, but it's really expensive. I'm a college student with almost nothing to spare. For that same reason I am hesitant to invest in a new hard drive.

For now I'm just looking for cheap solutions, but as I become more desperate I'll look more seriously at dishing out cash.

So if anyone has any cheap solutions... (although all suggestions are welcome and appreciated)

inuwolf




msg:1568228
 4:55 am on Jul 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Don't give up on me now! (because you've figured out I'm a starving college kid)

inuwolf




msg:1568229
 2:07 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Question: if I reinstall the Windows OS on a new partition, will I be able to recover the files I have lost later? Or will those files be erased as soon as I make any changes to the hard drive?

Rimpy




msg:1568230
 1:59 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Shut your laptop down completely. Remove external devices like printer zip drives etc that is connected. Press the power button and hold it down for 5 secs . it will shut down. Remove the battery and then reseat the HDD and then chk again. Do not try to rewrite on the zip disk it will be overwritten.

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