Any Computer Gurus Around? Need Help!

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KingBrianI

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My desktop running windows xp had been trying to run chkdsk upon startup for the last week or two. It would lock up at around 4% completion of step 2 (checking indexes). So I would always hit a key before it started running which allows you to skip the chkdsk diagnostic. Now, it's not letting me skip it, so it invariably locks up everytime I try to start the computer and I can't access windows. I've tried starting in safe mode, reverting to last known good configuration, booting up with windows cd, etc. and it always locks up during the chkdsk it won't let me skip. So I'm pretty sure the hard drive is shot, but I have a lot of stuff on there I'd like to keep like photos, music, beersmith :) and it's not backed up (which I'll be doing from now on!) I think all I need to do is get a new hard drive, then clone the old one onto the new one, right? But how would I do that if I can't get into windows? I'd like to fix it myself instead of taking it to a repair shop, but will do that if need be. Thanks for any suggestions!
 

pizzaman

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If you're okay with buying a new harddrive, which you may or may not need, simply install the new hard drive as the primary drive on the computer, and install windows on it. Once windows is installed, you should be able to browse and view the contents of the old drive from within the new windows installation. If you wanted to test this theory you could also just remove the drive from your computer and stick it into a working one as one of the secondary drives, and see if you can explore the drive. That's the simplest approach I can think of without getting into installing custom software or running a linux live cd.
 

Lefty

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Just get a new hard drive. Newegg.com sales them very cheap these days. Much much cheaper than taking it to a repair shop. Just as stated above, you can then look for your data on the other drive. If that does not work, look into a program called Spinrite. It will fix ANY hard drive that is not physically banged up. Best data recovery software available.
 
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KingBrianI

KingBrianI

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If I installed a new hard drive, would I have to buy a new copy of windows, or could I just install it from the old disk?
 

HBHoss

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If I installed a new hard drive, would I have to buy a new copy of windows, or could I just install it from the old disk?

Do you have XP Pro or Home? Shouldn't be a problem using your existing copy of XP. Worst case is you have to call support and explain that your drive died.
 

HBHoss

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I think it is home, unfortunately.

I think the suggestions given above are your easiest and cheapest solution. Shouldn't be a problem using your existing XP software. I did the same thing with a drive and I had it as a second hard drive and just pulled the files off it as if it was just another partition. Drives are cheap.
 

rsmith179

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Before you go running out to the store to get a new HD, find your computer's restore CD and insert that into your CD drive. Then, restart your computer. Your computer should recognize that the cd in the drive is the restore cd and it should bring you into the restore options for Windows. From there, just choose the option to restore/repair Windows.

That should clear up any OS related issues you may be having regarding this. The program that is running in the background is probably just locking up. Hard drives do fail, for sure, but this sounds like it's just another Windows bug. Nice thing about trying the restore function first is you can ensure that all of your files like pictures, music, etc. are still on the hard drive.

Let us know if that works, or if you don't see that screen pop up when restarting. Sometimes you have to change the way your computer boots via the BIOS, but that's not too hard either.
 

nealf

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If I were you... I would attempt at least trying out a version of linux. Ubuntu is really similar to windows in terms of User Interface. You might find out that you like it, and it's free. Just a thought.

If you hate it, you can always re-format and install windows home.
 

bulletproof4age

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You can use a program like Symantec Ghost to make an image of your drive and dump it to the new drive. That's assuming your original drive is not Fubar'd to the point where it wont create a good image.

If you go the windows disk route, boot off the cd, but dont select the first option to repair. Hit enter (i think) to "install windows" when it scans your drive it will (assuming it recognizes a windows installation already on the HD) ask you if you want to run a repair install. This will basically reinstall windows overtop of your current installation and repair the registry and all Windows files. It will not replace/remove/harm data.
 
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KingBrianI

KingBrianI

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Thanks for all the help. I tried the system restore cd last night and it locked up while scanning the drive. I let it go all night just in case it was really slow but it was still at 26% this morning. I'm not exactly sure which option I chose, it gave several choices like you were saying bulletproof. I'll see if I can get it to do the repair install when I get home. If it doesn't work, what is the process for installing a copy of windows (or linux) on the new drive, if I can't get the computer to boot up?

By the way, if I did make the switch to linux (I'ev defended MS for a long time but it's beginning to annoy me) would all my programs be compatible. Of course you don't know for sure if I don't list them, but stuff like photoshop, turbotax, beersmith, etc.?

Thanks again for all the help! Sorry for my ignorance.
 

pizzaman

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As long as you have the installation cd, you just need to pop that into your cdrom drive once you get the new hard drive installed. Select new install and select the new drive as the installation partition.

Linux does have a great range of tools that are similar to most windows applications you would find, much of them are better then the MS versions. These programs include microsoft office, photoshop, not sure about turbotax; and they are fully compatible with one another so if you save a program on a windows computer, you can open it on your linux computer, and vice versa. For any not so popular apps that haven't been ported over to linux, you could use a program called WINE which lets you run any windows app inside of linux.

A fair word of warning if you do decide to delve into the world of linux. I've talked many very intelligent computer savvy people into switching to linux, only about 1% has actually gotten anything out of it. Of course if you ask anyone who knows anything about linux if its better than windows, then they will go on and on about security and stability and yada yada, but the reality is for the average every day end-user, windows has more than enough security and stability, and because it is more widely used windows is actually better for the average joe. If you're a power user then yes, you need linux, but if you were a real power user you would already be on linux, and you would call it unix, not linux.

So what was the point of that last schpiel? If you don't want to invest 20+ hours a week into relearning how to do the most basic functions on your computer, don't switch to linux. I WOULD NOT recommend switching to linux before getting your computer back up-and-running and restoring/backing up your old files as the learning curve may cause you to lose important files. Once you get your computer fixed and your files backed up, if you have extra free time and would like to learn the great wonders of linux, then install linux on a dual boot computer with windows already installed. This way you can learn linux when you have the time, but you would still have windows to fall back on when linux starts acting like a pain in the kernel. Let us know if you decide to do this and we can walk you through setting up a dual-boot computer, or installing a virtual machine to play with linux inside of windows.

That's my 2 cents, everyone else's opinion to follow...
 

pen25

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get a program called spinrite6 it will check your hard drive and detect any back sectors and can fix them if reparable. it will also mark the defective sectors so be unusable.

if the drive passes SMART your drive is good but i would back it up by using the software supplied by the disc manuf and then pull that hard drive after wiping it.

if you dont have smart turned on in the bios turn it on. usually to get to the bios you hit delete button on start up before the windows splash screen comes up. then look for smart and turn it on. when you boot the machine will run a smart check on the disk and let you know if the disk is physically healthy
 
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KingBrianI

KingBrianI

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I installed a new hard drive and got windows installed on it, but I can't find my old hard drive in "my computer". Is there some other place I have to look? I plugged the new hard drive into the sata port the old one was plggued into and plugged the old one into the port with a 2 by it.
 

pen25

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make sure your computer doesnt have raid enabled in the bios if it supports raid.
 

Blender

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Should be recognized as another drive in My Computer. I assume that it has power so maybe it has failed although that seems unlikely. I would open it back up and check the connections. Is the drive recognized in the BIOS?
 

SourHopHead

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Ghost your machine now if you can. If the BIOS does not see your drive it is prob shot. I've had all brands of HD's die on me, but ghosting has saved me alot of time.

Get your PC up to date with your new hardware and ghost it. Like others have said if you have to call MS explain to them your HD died or you moved to a raid and they will restore XP activation keys.
 

Blender

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How would I go about seeing if the drive is recognized in the BIOS?
There are different keystrokes for different machines. You should see it as the computer first starts and the screen comes up. Look for SETUP press (whatever) key. Dells use F2 but then my homemade machines use DELETE so keep you eye peeled for the keystroke. In the BIOS there are various tabs but look for Hard Drive type and it should list 2. If only one is recognized then that would be why it won't show up when Windows runs.
 
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KingBrianI

KingBrianI

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OK, cool. I've been there, just didn't know it was the BIOS. Just went to it again and only the new drive showed up. I guess I'll open the case to see if everything is hooked up right. I used an existing power connector that seemed to be wired in parallel with the power connector attached to the original hard drive. Would the power now be diverted from the original drive?
 
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KingBrianI

KingBrianI

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Figured it out! When I went into BIOS the first time only drive 0 had a description - the new hard drive. It was also the only drive enabled. So I enabled drive 1, which I supposed was where the old drive was plugged in. That's when it still didn't show up. So before opening it up I thought well let's enable drive 2 just to see. Upon bootup, the chkdsk thing popped up again so I knew I had found it. Fortunately, the press any key to skip worked this time. So right now I am copying and pasting important files/folders from the old drive to the new one. Is this a bad way to do it? Should I buy the ghosting software or is this method satisfactory? Thanks again everyone, you've all been a huge help!
 

Blender

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.... I used an existing power connector that seemed to be wired in parallel with the power connector attached to the original hard drive. Would the power now be diverted from the original drive?
I am not exactly sure what you mean by parallel but if there are separate connections they should work equally well. You might try changing to a 3rd connector if available or use an adapter with the IDE connection. Some new SATA drives come with one. Make sure they are fit snugly. You could also feel the drive for vibration to ensure it is spinning.
 

Lefty

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Copying over manually works fine...and its free and that is always a plus. If there are things that are missing from that drive then SPINRITE can attempt to fix the corrupted sectors and recover the data. This program is absolutely amazing. Best data recovery and system maintainance software around.

Congrats on fixing your computer though. Time for a homebrew!:D
 
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