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Serious Hard Drive Error!


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#1
periwinkle

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The only warning I had about this is one evening I noticed that my screen went black after being away from the computer. The computer was still on - I could see the power light, but nothing on-screen. So, I switched it off at the power strip. This was about 3 nights ago. Then, this evening, I noticed my Firefox had stopped responding, and I decided to restart the computer. I also noticed that the temperature was going up. This happens from time to time, as I live in Arizona where the cold temperature is 87 degrees F. Since Firefox was taking a long time to close, I restarted the computer. Only this time, the computer wouldn't restart.

I get this instead: the big e (for eMachines) shows up, then the screen stays black intead of turning blue to startup. Next, I see this message (there is no C): "\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM you can attempt to repair this file by using the original Windows setup CD ROM". The only disks I have are these Restore CDs from eMachines. I have never had a Windows CD. My computer came out of the box without any Windows CD. The computer came installed with XP. I really really need to get a Windows XP CD, but I'm not sure how to do this. I'm really not sure what's wrong. I will say that it appeared that my hard drive was dying about 9 months ago, but then I cleaned out all the dust bunnies, and then suddenly it was fine. It came back from the brinks of death.

Now, when I insert the Restore CD, it gives me 2 options: 1) to boot from the CD - this doesn't work or 2) to repair the file - this appears to mean that it will erase everything. In fact, it says WARNING!!! in red, that I will lose all files. Neither of these options are doable. I must have my hard drive back. I have some very important files on the computer. I have my vacation pictures from Germany on it - these are not replaceable. I have not backed up in several months. I'm confident I can get this hard drive back. I must. Perhaps the computer just needs to sit and cool off for a bit. I know I need to.

Any ideas of where to start with this? I also thought about cleaning out the computer again. It had some dust bunnies inside it. I have several cats, so that's some of the source of the dust.

Can I clean the circuitry with a cotton ear swab dipped in alcohol? I know the circuitry is very very delicate.
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#2
periwinkle

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One more thing I forgot: It won't start in Safe Mode. I keep getting errors that say to type "r" for repair.
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#3
The Skeptic

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If possible remove your hard disk and install it as a slave on a workable computer. While there, you can do a lot of maintanence work. Start with a disk cleanup. Continue with Defrag. Continue with a good scan with anrimalware programs. My standard cleanup is with Ewido, AVG antispyware, Spybot Search and destroy and Ad-Aware SE. All these programs are free to load. Having done that, run a scan of your disk (My computer > right click on your drive > properties > error checking. Run the two options. It takes sometime)
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#4
periwinkle

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Skeptic,

Thanks, I will try those fixes. I know how to remove my hard drive. (In fact I already did). I do have a friend who definitely qualifies as a real-live geek. He also suggested booting from a Linux disk. It does make a short clicking sound like it's trying to read the disk, but then it stops. By short, it's about 2 seconds long. I have already been using everything you suggested (AdAware, Spybot, etc.), except for Ewido. I haven't heard of Ewido. I'll have to Google Ewido. Thanks so much! I'll let you know how it goes.
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#5
The Skeptic

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Is the click sound comes from within hour HD? If yes, that is a bad sign that somethong electromechanic is amiss and the disk is failing. While slaved on the other computer I strongly recommend that you backup your data to another storage device.
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#6
periwinkle

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I don't know where the click sound comes from. I think it's the hard drive. My friend said it was good if it clicked, that it would be possible to save it. We'll try making it a slave. I'm fairly certain that the HD is failing, as it had problems about 9 months ago, too. This time, I'm going to buy a new HD and copy everything over onto the new HD with Norton Ghost.
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#7
Hello71

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If it clicks, it means the wiring is good, but something mechanical is broken. So, the standard adage for HDs clicking applies here: IF IT CLICKS, DON'T TRY TO USE IT!
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