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.