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Error Reading Disk Press Control Alt Del

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HEEEELLLLLPPPPP! - My senior daughter's computer went black and came up with "error reading disk....". I have gone to the forums and read. I tried to boot from Windows XP cd but it goes through the installation process and then goes back to the black screen with "error reading disk.....". She backed up her computer about 3 months ago but will lose a kagillion pictures and music taken over the last three months. I don't know what to do. I think the hard drive may be fried. Old computer - wish she would have backed it up more recently! Can anyone help?
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You should be able to go into the setup menu and see if the disk drive can be seen or not. If not and you have not already tried to power cycle the machine (turn it off, wait around a minute and then turn it back on), try that.

If the disk can be seen and you can determine who makes it, then you can check the website of that company for a diagnostic program to test the drive.

It is also possible, although I would not consider it likely, that the IDE controller on the motherboard has failed. Perhaps even the cable (yes, cables do actually fail). You would need to try the disk in another computer, perhaps using an external case (to make it easier).

One slim chance is if you can find the same model, with hopefully the same firmware, you can try replacing the control board on the disk and see if you can access the data that way. Based on what you said, most likely it is not a physical problem with the disk.

Other than that, there are companies which can recover the data, but are typically expensive.

It is a lesson learned to constantly backup important data. A second disk in a USB case tends to work well. Also backing up to DVD is also good. In fact, you should do both so that you go back in time with the data, rather than just the most recent, perhaps corrupted, version of the data.
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Hi Options and welcome to Geeks to go.

I will need more info in order to give you better direction. Otherwise I will be generic.

If the computer in question is a desktop computer AND the hard drive is not mechanically bad, we can guide you in a recovery attempt at the data. There are a couple options to recover the data.
1. Hook the hard drive as a slave drive to another computer and copy off the data.
2. Purchase a USB enclosure to put the hard drive in. Then you can attempt to access it through a USB port.This can be done on any computer that has USB.
3. You can also use a program called Puppy Linux. You burn it as an iso file to a CD using a program such as Burncdcc (in my signature). You will need to boot from CD. The program is an operating system that runs in memory. This is provided that nothing is wrong with the hardware on the computer and is a XP issue.

We will need the make and model of the computer to start with.
Have you gone into the bios to see if the drive is visible? Usually esc, del, F2. Also in the first part of startup, it will tell on the screen "To enter bios...."

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