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Need to cancel XP Reinstall

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I will try to give a summary of what is going on with my computer. Basically, the computer had some issues from a past problem that was keeping it from installing any service packs for XP. But it was working decently, and we were not having any problems really except we couldn't install some new software that requires at least sp2. So without my knowledge, my boyfriend (who thinks he is much more technically savvy than he really is) decides to reinstall windows. The reinstall started off fine according to him, but froze on the actual installation step. Every time we start the computer, it continues trying to install but freezes when it gets to 25 minutes left. It looks for some file and says it can't find it. The screen completely freezes and won't let me use the mouse or keyboard. The really bad part is that he thought he backed up the hard drive to an external drive before he started, but all he did was manage to create a shortcut to the drive itself. I haven't backed up my data since May, so I was hoping for some kind of solution that might help me save my data as well as make the computer function again. I am fine with it going back to the way it was before, if there is anyway to cancel the reinstall.

To try to fix it, I booted from the CD and tried to run the recovery console (as I have done in the past). I get to the part where it finds the old installation and asks me to select the one for repair. When I enter 1, it then asks for the administrator password which I did not set. This was an OEM (dell) version of windows so the last time I went through this, I just left it blank and hit enter. This time if I leave it blank, it says invalid password. I also tried installing from the CD and it seems to work, but gets to the part where I pick the partition to install it on and shows up my old windows. If I pick that one, it says that I should not install 2 operating systems on one partition. If I continue, it then wants me to format the partition, which I have been unwilling to proceed through at this point.

I was reading through the forums and found some info on puppy linux, which I will definitely try to retrieve all my data, but that still leaves my computer in non-functioning condition.

I know I am on sketchy ground as far as getting help on the password thing, so I am open to any suggestions. Is it possible to stop the new install and revert to the old system? Will I have to buy a new version of Windows? If I do buy a new version of Windows and finish the install, will it erase all of the data? Any help is greatly appreciated.
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The first thing you need to do is try and recover the data. Unfortunately if he reformatted the computer (which it does not sound like he did because you say you still see the original windows), it will be difficult to recover.

Puppy Linux is a good program to try. It runs from the CD and completely in memory.
Another option is to remove the hard drive and slave it to a working desktop computer. Or you could use a USB enclosure and attach it to a desktop or laptop.

You did not tell us whether it is a desktop or laptop. All choices can be done for both, but a laptop drive is a little trickier.

Once you get your data, email, favorites, etc, we can guide you in repair of the OS.

How to use Puppy Linux

get Puppy Linux ...Get puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso download it and burn it to cd (It is the 3rd one down)
if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files get burncdcc (from my signature) ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....in this case its memtest86.iso
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start

make sure in the bios the cd drive is the first boot device....

put the cd in the cd drive..boot your computer....puppy will boot and run totally in ram...if your hardware is is good working order you will know...
after you get it running and your at the desktop...you take the puppy linux cd out and then you can use the burner to copy all yor data to cd/dvds
you can also use it to backup your data to a external usb harddrive..just have it hooked to the computer when you boot up with puppy...
quick guide for saving data...music..files on a system that will not boot using puppy Linux..

after you get to puppy desktop..
click on the drives icon...looks like a flash drive...top row..it will list all the drives connected to

your computer...

click on the red icon for the drive you want to mount...in this case its a flash drive ...puppy will

mount the drive..the drive icon turns green when its mounted...
minimize the drives mounter window..you will need it again in a few minutes..
drag the right edge of it sideways to shrink it to its narrowest size...about half the width of the screen...then drag the window to the right edge of the screen...

now click on the icon that looks like a filing cabinet (kind of yellow) on the main drive...it should
already be green..
you will see a list of all the folders on the main drive Usually your C: drive..shrink that window to
the narrowest you can..about half the width of the screen...drag that window to the left side of the screen...
at this point you should have 2 windows open on your desktop..the flash drive on the right side..
go back to the folders on the C: drive...click on the documents and settings folder...then your user
name or all users..find the folders that has your data..
drag and drop the folder with the data you want to make copies of to the flash drive window...

your options are to move ..copy ect...JUST COPY..if its to big you will have to open the folder and
drag and drop individual files until the flash drive is full...(I have a 120 GB external USB drive for
big data recovery jobs and a 4 GB flash drive for the smaller jobs)..after you get the files copied to
the flash drive...
Click on the drives mounter you minimized earlier
UNMOUNT THE FLASH DRIVE by clicking on the green icon..you will once in awhile get error messages when
unmouting the drive..ignore them..when the flash drive icon turns red again its safe to remove the
flash drive..trot on over (stroll if you want to look cool) to another computer and plug in the flash

drive and copy all the data files ( I drag and drop) to the other computer..
make sure the other computer can read them...

now delete the data on the flash drive...take it back to the misbehaving computer and plug it in

again..click on the drives icon again and repeat until you have all your data transferred to the working

Thanks to happyrock

This is how the main screen looks.

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So I was able to use Puppy Linux to save all of my data and it was pretty simple as well. I will definitely keep that CD handy for any future need. I had to reinstall windows XP completely, but that's fine since I saved all my data. Thanks for all your help.
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