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