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One helluva laptop mess


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#1
Mattymoo

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Hi all. I'm having great problems with my laptop which has years of work on it which stupidly I haven't entirely backed up. I'd be very grateful if anyone can advise/assist me in resolving the problems.

It first went wrong about a week ago when restarting immediately after having uninstalled about 10 programs using "add/remove programs". I got the error message on start up saying "file not found: hal.dll", and it would just go into a restart loop if I pressed anything. Adding to the problem, i'd been using the laptop with a monitor as the lcd screen was cracked, but the first few characters of whatever the laptop was saying were cut off because the lcd screen is a widescreen one (this only happens on startup).

I looked on the net and this forum and found that a windows xp disc is required in order to use a recovery console to sort it out. I've now got a dell windows xp reinstallation disk, but this doesnt seem to be what I need. What's now made this problem a nightmare is that in order to see the first characters etc (ie the left hand side) of the screen I managed to get into the bios setup and switch to lcd screen as the diagonal crack meant i'd be able to see the top and left half which is what i wawnted to see. However what I didnt realise is that the screen has now completely gone, leaving me totally blind to whatevers going on on the laptop.

Ideally I want to be able to use the laptop again rather than just recover the files (though that would be a bonus in itself). I have access to another laptop and was wondering if a usb hard drive docking station would allow me to resolve the problem if i plug the problem hard drive into it and connect it to another laptop. I'm on a very tight budget but could afford one of those (£17), but will it help, I really don't know if i'm looking at the right thing, and if not then how do i go about restoring the laptop, or at least my files?

Seriously if you can help you would be doing me a huge favour.
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#2
othersteve

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Hey Matty,

Since file recovery is obviously the main concern, there is an easy and economical solution that's even more basic than an enclosure:

USB to IDE/SATA adapter

As for getting things up and running again, can you boot to the Dell XP install CD? If so, you will see a Windows XP Setup screen with a blue background where drivers are being loaded (noted at the bottom of the screen). Once this loading process completes, a message should instruct you to press R to enter the Recovery Console.

If your CD is only a system restoration disc, however, you will not be able to access this feature.

~os
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#3
123Runner

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Hi Mattymoo and welcome to Geeks to Go.

The 1st order of business at this point is to get your data off
The adapter that was linked to looks ok, but I personally am not thrilled with the reviews it has.

You stated its a Dell and a laptop.
I will need either the model OR the service tag (on the bottom).

An adapter is the best way to go if you can remove the Hard drive. If I know the model I can get the manual to guide you and also to find out if the drive is ide or sata.
Your options are as follows.
1. An enclosure that you can put the drive inside of. This might work better for you.
2. or just an adapter (3 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inch)(if you have access to a desktop where you can put the drive inside the case).

If you really want to get involved I can get you instructions on booting from a Linux CD which runs in memory.
With this method, you can then use USB flash drives (or burn CD's) of the data.
However this will only work if the laptop hardware is functional. I question that because of your display issue.

Have you tried to enter safe mode?

I suspect that

I've now got a dell windows xp reinstallation disk

is actually a recovery CD. It will not have the recovery console on it.

123runner

EDIT: Forgot the link for some enclosures 2 1/2 inch enclosures

Edited by 123Runner, 19 November 2009 - 01:39 PM.

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#4
wannabe1

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Just an FYI...

Nearly all Dell recovery CDs contain Recovery Console...most will even accommodate a Repair install.
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#5
123Runner

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Nearly all Dell recovery CDs contain Recovery Console...most will even accommodate a Repair install

I will keep that in mind.
Thanks wannabe1
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#6
othersteve

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I have used seven of the adapters I linked to for years... as long as you don't plug the power cord in backwards ( :) ), they work flawlessly.

Either way, it's all good; just pointing out the fact that you do have options. Thanks for picking up the help 123Runner!

~os

Edited by othersteve, 19 November 2009 - 01:59 PM.

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#7
Mattymoo

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Thank you so much for so many replies! I've just ordered this:
http://www.play.com/...earchtype=genre
The problem laptop is actually an asus a6, but the only xp cd i could borrow was a dell one (I didnt get one with it). I'm hoping to meet up with someone tomorrow who should have the 'proper' cd. The laptop has been perfectly functional before restarting after uninstalling programs, apart from the fact that i had to use an external monitor.
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#8
123Runner

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That will only work if the drive in question is a SATA drive.
Do you know if it is SATA or IDE?
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#9
Mattymoo

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Yep, i looked up the spec and it is a serial ATA drive.
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#10
123Runner

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Very good then. Let us know when you get it and we can continue.
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#11
Mattymoo

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Hi, got it today, but it doesnt work. I've set the docking station up, removed the HD from the laptop but theres no way it'll fit into the connection in the dock, theres too many pins and theyre lined up wrong. Am I being stupid?

The hard drive is this:
http://www.seagate.c...ContentOverview

And the docking station this:
http://www.play.com/...earchtype=genre

Do i have to remove the circuit board with the pins on it to find more pins?

Edited by Mattymoo, 25 November 2009 - 10:49 AM.

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#12
Mattymoo

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Photos of HD & Dock attached....

Attached Thumbnails

  • dock.jpg
  • hd.jpg

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#13
wannabe1

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There's an adapter on the hard drive that you should be able to (gently) pull off the pins to reveal the full set of IDE pins.
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#14
Mattymoo

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I'm trying very hard to remove anything but it doesnt want to budge. I dont doubt you know better than i do but are you sure it should come off? theres a hole that i can peep through and it looks like the circuit board is directly connected to these peins.
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#15
Mattymoo

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here's a better photo...and 1 through the hole.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC04330.JPG
  • DSC04334.JPG

Edited by Mattymoo, 25 November 2009 - 11:39 AM.

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