How can I salvage my data from a Vista laptop that won't boot?
March 15, 2010 4:49 PM Subscribe
My laptop's Vista install is borked and now it won't start up. How can I salvage my data?
posted by ludwig_van to computers & internet (5 answers total)
I have a Gateway W3040UA laptop running Windows Vista. System performance had been degrading for awhile. I was messing around with the system restore control panel, and somehow managed to screw it up even worse to the point where it wouldn't boot -- the screen would just stay dark on restart.
So I booted from a Vista install CD and tried using the various repair options to no effect. I have two partitions on my drive -- a 150 GB partition which had all my stuff on it, and a 10 GB partition called "recovery." I couldn't seem to use the small partition to recover anything, so I used the Vista installer to format it and I tried to install a clean copy of Vista there. It got partway through the install, tried to restart, and hung on restart again, so the install didn't finish.
I went back into the Windows installer and formatted the partition and tried again to install, but now the installer says it can't find a drive it can install to.
To make it still worse, I tried running the memory diagnostic tool on the install CD, which ran until it had to restart, at which point the screen stayed dark, just like before. So now every time I start up, if I don't boot from the Vista CD, the memory diagnostic tool pops up and wants me to select the drive it's supposed to be diagnosing. If I select the small partition it gives me an error and won't do anything. If I hit escape the computer reboots. If I select my main HD partition, I can get to the startup menu, where no matter what I choose, it will load windows, briefly flash a BSOD-looking screen, and then restart.