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Help Desperately Needed! - moonspinner
Help Desperately Needed!
My laptop has crashed. Finito. Kaput. It doesn't boot the OS. When I start it, the Windows XP screen shimmers for a few seconds, then there's a flash of blue screen and it restarts. I don't know what to do. All my files, pictures, to say nothing of fan fictions stuff (work-in-progress(es), story notes) are on this machine. Help, anyone!

Current Mood: worried frantic

12 comments or Leave a comment
geo4real From: geo4real Date: August 15th, 2007 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I wish I had the tech skills to help - all I can suggest is, get professional help! Now!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 10:45 am (UTC) (Link)

indiefic From: indiefic Date: August 15th, 2007 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
The data is in all likelyhood, perfectly fine. While it's pretty easy to futz the OS, it's much harder to do that to the data, or at least to ALL the data.

If you have another laptop and the technical skills, pull the hard drive out of the damaged laptop and add it as a secondary, slave drive in the second laptop. You might even be able to find an external hard drive casing that would allow you to mount the hard drive from the futzed laptop via a usb port.

Then, using the working OS from the second laptop, just copy over all the data from the first hard drive. Once that's done, re-install the hard drive in the original laptop and re-install Windows. You should be able to just copy the data back over once you're done. I would run any available diagnostic tools on the hard drive before that final step though to see if you have bad sectors of if there is a physical problem with the drive itself.

If you're not up to doing this yourself, a reasonably adept technical person should be able to do it and/or a pay tech help service.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hugs* You are my bestest friend right now!

OK, 2 questions:

#1, Although I've dismantled desktops, I've never removed the hard drive from a laptop before. It's a Dell Latitude. Is it possible to just unscrew the machine and detach the drive?

#2, When you said copy over all the data from the first drive, do you mean all data (including system folders like Progam Files, Windows, etc) or just the documents?
indiefic From: indiefic Date: August 15th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
#1 How old is the laptop? Is it still under warranty with dell? I ask because if it is, it might be worth calling them first. Opening the laptop shell might void your warranty (if you have one). If the warranty isn't an issue, then yes, you should just need to remove a few strategic screws. I don't have a Latitude handy as a reference point, but most laptop casings have a special flap for adjusting the RAM. Some also have one for getting hard drive access without popping open the entire shell. You'll just have to look at it.

#2 Just the documents. If the OS is toasty, you won't want to restore any of the system files. But you might want to think about copying over bookmarks and configuration files as well if you have any programs on your computer that use those. Like normal.dot from Word or sm.dat from CuteFTP.

Before popping the case open on the damaged laptop, I would make sure you have the ability (cables) to add a slave drive on the secondary laptop (or that you have an external hard drive casing you could drop the hard drive in question into). You may have to switch some jumpers on the damaged hard drive to enable it to run as a slave rather than a primary. The jumper settings (if there are any) should be clearly labeled on the hard drive itself.

Good luck.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks again! I googled how to remove hard drives from an Inspiron D610 and it's fairly easy. I'm not sure [about the warranty]. I think I got it early last year... *scratches head* I'll check the receipt.

Exactly what kind of cables do I need to make it a slave to the second notebook? The one that works as a USB should be available in any odd computer warehouse right?
From: indiefic Date: August 15th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
You should be able to go to the dell website, plug in your service tag or your express service code (they're on a sticker stuck to the laptop), and it should tell you if you still have a valid warranty.

Do you have an external hard drive casing you're going to use? If so, a usb cable should be sufficient. If you're actually going to need to pop the case on the second laptop and add the damaged hard drive, you should be able to just connect it to the IDE cable the primary hard drive is plugged into. *SHOULD* being the operative word in that sentence which is why I would recommend checking out the second laptop before opening the case on the damaged laptop.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for this. I guess I need to buy an external hard drive casing. It looks like that'll be the easiest way to hook it up to the second laptop. I don't have the laptop here (it's at home and I'm in the office) but I'll copy down the service tag number and go the website. If I'm lucky, the whole thing will be up and running by the weekend! :D

Thanks again. You totally rock!
indiefic From: indiefic Date: August 15th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
No problem. Good luck. Tech shops tend to rob people blind on issues like this when in truth, they're rarely that complicated.
atanone From: atanone Date: August 15th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like to help,but I'm quite useless about the technic..my PC is always restarting from itself and I don't know where's the problem too..I can only keep my fingers crossed for you..I do already...
From: bobill Date: August 15th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hehe, yeah, I would recommend what indiefic suggested. I don't have experience with tech shop prices but if you don't feel confident doing it yourself, I've found that just getting an experienced techie to do it for you is a pretty safe option. And yeah, harddrives are heaven for people with lots of comp data. You can probably get a cheap one on Black Friday sales :-p
in_excelsis_dea From: in_excelsis_dea Date: August 16th, 2007 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I had something similar happen to me about a year and a half ago. But since I was still under warranty, I got it fixed for free. I really suggest checking the warranty before messing with the actual machine, and then only do so if you really know what you're doing.
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