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Major Windows ME Problems - INVALID SYSTEM DISK


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#1
drgreg

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I seriously appreciate anyone's assistance. I am really in trouble. I am using a Dell Dimension 4100 with Windows ME as the operating system. I had some trojan trouble in the past (a whole other story), and Dell recommended that I run "msconfig" and do a selective star-up, unchecking a few probably problematic programs. It has always worked in the past. I did it again about two months ago and must have unchecked a start-up item by accident. When I re-booted (and re-boots have always worked no matter what problems), I got a black screen saying "Invalid system disk. Replace the disk and press any key." There was no way out of this screen. I didn't have the stomach to try and attempt to fix this until this week.

I was given three suggestions from friends:

1) Perform a system restore.

2) Insert the Windows ME disk that came with the computer and start up the computer this way.

3) Get a new computer (or borrow one) and hook up the hard drive from my current Dell to get all my important files/pictures off.

Of course, I haven't backed up anything from my computer (i know, i know..) so I'm very anxious to at least get my pictures.

1) I tried the system restore option by putting my Dell Dimension Resources CD in the drive and starting up the computer. I went into Dos Safe Mode and entered c:\windows\command>scanreg/restore. (This was what Dell told me to do). There were a few dates listed (but not many), the newest being 5/11/05. First of all, does this mean that every file that was on the computer as of that day would be brought back? Would that fix the operating system to start up again? Although this is better than my non-operating computer, my computer didn't "break" until the very end of July, so I would miss out on two months of files and pictures if I chose this option and it actually worked. Did Dell instruct me properly? Is there any other way to restore to get a newer date? Does restore recheck whatever files I mistakenly unchecked from the selective start-up?

2) Can I start up my computer with the Windows ME disk in the drive? Will that simply start up the computer from the disk, and then I would have my desktop as normal and could then recheck the start-up item(s) that I inadvertently unchecked? I was a little nervous to start up the computer this way as I don't want to do a clean reinstall of the operating software.

3) My computer is quite old and I am going to replace it soon. As such, I was told that nothing is wrong with the hard drive and I could simply get a new computer (or borrow a friends) and use my hard drive from my current computer and get everything off. What do you think of this option? Do I literally need to take out the hard drive from the tower or is there a way to just plug in my Old Dell to act as an external hard drive?

I thank everyone so much for their help. As I have recently bought a 10 GB external drive, I am so anxious to just get at least my pictures off of this computer. I am embarrassed to say that I hadn't backed anything up. Help please :tazz:

Edited by drgreg, 05 October 2005 - 09:14 PM.

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#2
Fenor

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1)  I tried the system restore option by putting my Dell Dimension Resources CD in the drive and starting up the computer.  I went into Dos Safe Mode and entered c:\windows\command>scanreg/restore.  (This was what Dell told me to do).  There were a few dates listed (but not many), the newest being 5/11/05.  First of all, does this mean that every file that was on the computer as of that day would be brought back?  Would that fix the operating system to start up again?  Although this is better than my non-operating computer, my computer didn't "break" until the very end of July, so I would miss out on two months of files and pictures if I chose this option and it actually worked.  Did Dell instruct me properly?  Is there any other way to restore to get a newer date?  Does restore recheck whatever files I mistakenly unchecked from the selective start-up?

No you won't lose any files. This will only restore your operating system settings to their state on that date. Any programs you installed after that will still be there (the files that is) but you may or may not be able to run them. Easy fix though, just reinstall these programs.

2) Can I start up my computer with the Windows ME disk in the drive?  Will that simply start up the computer from the disk, and then I would have my desktop as normal and could then recheck the start-up item(s) that I inadvertently unchecked?  I was a little nervous to start up the computer this way as I don't want to do a clean reinstall of the operating software.

No with the Windows ME disk you will either be able to start Windows ME setup, get to a command prompt with CD-ROM support or get to a Command prompt w/o Cd-ROM support. This is pretty useless, because even though you can gain access to your files this way, you have no way of copying them off.

3) My computer is quite old and I am going to replace it soon.  As such, I was told that nothing is wrong with the hard drive and I could simply get a new computer (or borrow a friends) and use my hard drive from my current computer and get everything off.  What do you think of this option?  Do I literally need to take out the hard drive from the tower or is there a way to just plug in my Old Dell to act as an external hard drive?

Yes you would need to take the hard drive out of your current computer and set it up as a SLAVE drive on your new computer. You would then be able to copy the files off of it onto your new computer.

Fenor
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#3
Fenor

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And to clarify about the system restore. System Restores are automatically made every time you install a program that changes something in the registry. So it is more then likely that you haven't installed any programs since the 11th of May. Do you remember installing any new programs in the past couple of months?

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#4
drgreg

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"No you won't lose any files.  This will only restore your operating system settings to their state on that date.  Any programs you installed after that will still be there (the files that is) but you may or may not be able to run them.  Easy fix though, just reinstall these programs."
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First of all, thank you so much Fenor. I really appreciate your advice. So, doing a system restore simply deals with your operating system? All my digital pictues, Word documents, or other files I saved to the hard drive from 5-11-05 through 7-30-05 will still be on the desktop after I restore to the 5-11-05 date? You said that I may not be able to open these newer files? If you could explain this a little more, I would feel so much better after restoring to the 5-11-05 date. I just hated to lose a couple hundred or so pictures taken from 5-11-05 on.

----------------------------------------

"No with the Windows ME disk you will either be able to start Windows ME setup, get to a command prompt with CD-ROM support or get to a Command prompt w/o Cd-ROM support.  This is pretty useless, because even though you can gain access to your files this way, you have no way of copying them off."

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Ok, I don't think I'll use this option then.

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"Yes you would need to take the hard drive out of your current computer and set it up as a SLAVE drive on your new computer.  You would then be able to copy the files off of it onto your new computer."

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This sounds like a great option. I could even try that now before I try a system restore. Is taking out a hard drive hard to do? Do I need certain cables to do it? Can you just use this new SLAVE drive as an external hard drive with USB cables to hook up to a new computer? I have access to a computer and I would love to try this. Please let me know what you think is best.

Edited by drgreg, 06 October 2005 - 04:46 PM.

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#5
drgreg

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And to clarify about the system restore.  System Restores are automatically made every time you install a program that changes something in the registry.  So it is more then likely that you haven't installed any programs since the 11th of May.  Do you remember installing any new programs in the past couple of months?

Fenor

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Wow, that is interesting. I don't remember installing any programs after May 11. I really only use my computer for basic things like internet, word processing, etc. So, only installing programs changes the registry? I do download pictures all the time, but I guess that didn't trigger the system save.
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#6
Mr.Chow

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I'm just curious ... do you happen to have a floopy in there ? Cause i have had this problem on a Dell GxA that has os 98 on it ....... i would get the same error when i started up and it had a floppy in there regardless if there was something on the floppy itself.
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#7
drgreg

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I'm just curious ... do you happen to have a floopy in there ? Cause i have had this problem on a Dell GxA that has os 98 on it ....... i would get the same error when i started up and it had a floppy in there regardless if there was something on the floppy itself.

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I wish that was it. When I called the Dell technician, that was the first thing he had me check. No floppies or disks in the drives. It is definitely that I just mistakently "turned off" a start-up item. Whenever I had a problem in the past, and I re-booted, the Windows ME screen always came right on and then my desktop. When this error message came on a black screen, you can imagine, I panicked. I still haven't figured out what to do. Thanks for the thought.
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#8
Fenor

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I would just do the system restore like dell recommended. Like I said it WON'T DELETE ANY FILES that you have put on your computer since May.

Fenor

Edited by Fenor, 06 October 2005 - 07:33 PM.

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#9
drgreg

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I would just do the system restore like dell recommended.  Like I said it WON'T DELETE ANY FILES that you have put on your computer since May.

Fenor

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I tried to perform a system restore (with 5 separate dates listed) and each of the five times it said, "System Restore operation failed." I couldn't get the system to do a system restore. I just can't get past the black screen that says "Invalid System Disk."

With that, I decided to take out my hard drive and try and make it a slave drive to get all my files off (then I'll probably try and do a clean install of Windows XP). I somehow got the drive out of my old computer (it wasn't easy!!) How do I now install it in a new computer? Do I need to open a friend's computer tower and install it? Do I need certain cables to hook it up. In my old computer, there seemed to be two cables connected (a ribbon type cable and a multi-colored cable). Do I install it in the extra hard drive bay and then will it become the e drive? Will those cables be in a new computer ready to use or do I need to buy them? I then wanted to also hook up my new external hard drive I bought (USB 2.0) to drag files over from my old hard drive. Can I simply just drag my files from my old hard drive over to the new USB external both hooked up to the new computer? I have no idea what I'm doing here so any help would be greatly appreciated.
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#10
Fenor

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I tried to perform a system restore (with 5 separate dates listed) and each of the five times it said, "System Restore operation failed."  I couldn't get the system to do a system restore.  I just can't get past the black screen that says "Invalid System Disk."

With that, I decided to take out my hard drive and try and make it a slave drive to get all my files off (then I'll probably try and do a clean install of Windows XP).  I somehow got the drive out of my old computer (it wasn't easy!!)  How do I now install it in a new computer?  Do I need to open a friend's computer tower and install it?  Do I need certain cables to hook it up.  In my old computer, there seemed to be two cables connected (a ribbon type cable and a multi-colored cable).  Do I install it in the extra hard drive bay and then will it become the e drive?  Will those cables be in a new computer ready to use or do I need to buy them?  I then wanted to also hook up my new external hard drive I bought (USB 2.0) to drag files over from my old hard drive.  Can I simply just drag my files from my old hard drive over to the new USB external both hooked up to the new computer?  I have no idea what I'm doing here so any help would be greatly appreciated.

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To transfer the files over to the new computer, you will need to take the hard drive that you took out of your computer and connect it to theirs. You should just be able to open up their computer, disconnect the power and cable that is connected to their CD-ROM drive (disconnect from both if there are two CD-ROM drives), and then connect the power and cable to your hard drive and boot it up. Since you have a Dell computer, I'm betting that the hard drive jumper is set to Cable Select, so make sure you connect your hard drive to the connection at the farthest end of the cable. You should then be able to boot up that computer and once windows loads in it, you will notice if it detects the hard drive or not because it will say so. If it doesn't say anything, open MY COMPUTER and check and see if your hard drive is listed.

As for the USB hard drive you have, once the other computer is up and running AND recognizes your computers hard drive, then just plug it into a USB port and windows should recognize it as well.

If possible do this on a friends computer that is running Windows XP, because it makes things alot easier. With 98 or ME operating systems, you may need a driver for the external usb hard drive to be recognized.

Post back with how things went or with any questions/concerns/comments you may have.

Fenor
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