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How can I get Windows to work?
December 30, 2011 10:21 AM   Subscribe

My Vista laptop isn't successfully restoring itself to factory condition.

I have a several years old HP Pavilion DV7-1133cl laptop that came with 64-bit Vista Home Premium pre-installed. It had been running agonizingly slowly for a long time, but I put up with it. The real problem started after Santa brought me a new external hard drive.

I didn't run any of the setup files that came pre-installed on it. I just connected it to a USB 2.0 port. As best I can tell, it didn't try to install any drivers. I was able to back up some stuff onto it. But the transfer rate would be OK on some jobs and very slow on others. Then Windows started having issues. Then the only way I could boot up was to press F8 on startup and choose "Last Known Good Configuration". So I decided to bite the bullet and start from scratch.

The computer did not come with a restore disc. So I used the method of pressing the F11 key on startup to access the Recovery Manager - which is supposed to restore the system to its original factory condition from a recovery partition on the hard drive. After 10 minutes or so, it said that the recovery was successful and told me to restart.

Upon restarting, there's a black-and-white sceen that says "Windows is loading files". A progress bar at the bottom of the screen completes. Then there's a color screen that says "Microsoft Corporation" with traveling green bars. Then there's a DOS-looking black-and-white window that says "X:\windows\system32 \cmd.exe - startnet.cmd" in the title bar. After several seconds of "please wait", it says "the command completed successfully" and instantly goes to an HP Software Installation screen that says "Software is being installed. When complete, your system may automatically restart. Please do not turn off your computer during this process." Then the progress bar stalls about 2/3 of the way through.

Here someone said they were able to fix this by changing something in msconfig. But I have found no way to do what they're describing. Now when I press F8 on startup, it doesn't matter which choice I make. The computer crashes dead after a short period.

I'm awaiting delivery of a system recovery CD I purchased on eBay, but I'm not optimistic it will help. Since the computer is out-of-warranty, HP will only talk to me if I pay them for the privilege - and I doubt it would be worth the money.

So my questions are:

1. Is there any way for me to perform the fix described at that link?

2. Would a local computer repair shop be able to install Windows 7 over this mess if I bought a copy from them?
posted by Trurl to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Would a local computer repair shop be able to install Windows 7 over this mess if I bought a copy from them?

You could absolutely do this yourself from a Windows 7 install CD or pay someone to do it; for my own sanity, in your shoes, I would format the drive first and nuke the recovery partition (which will not help you on your new operating system, for which you have real install media anyway). If there are no files that you want from the existing operating system, you can just make a fresh start.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there a sticker on the laptop with the Windows key? If so, you should be able to download a copy of Vista, put it onto a cd or usb drive, and install it using your key.
posted by amarynth at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to format the drive and nuke the recovery partition by pressing F10 on startup? I can get into that. I don't how else I could do it.

I do have the Windows key on the sticker. However, I have no ready access to another PC from which I could download a copy of Vista and burn it onto a CD. Could my wife's Mac produce a CD that would be readable on my PC?
posted by Trurl at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2011


Is there a way to format the drive and nuke the recovery partition by pressing F10 on startup? I can get into that. I don't how else I could do it.

On another PC, download and burn to CD a copy of DBAN; you may have to meddle with your PC's BIOS (often accessible by pressing F2 early in startup) to get it to boot from CD, but you can use DBAN to overwrite the drive (and then reformat it to NTFS when you install your next Windows OS). You probably also have the option to format the disk when using the Windows 7 install media anyway.

In either case, the usual caveats apply: make sure you have a copy of any file you want before you do this, as everything on the physical disk will become inaccessible afterward.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aplogies if you've already check this...

I've had good luck with HP providing recover discs for desktops that were WELL out of warranty. Check this page for more info.

Honestly, the problem you're having is one reason I've abandoned HP. Bad quality control partnered with a restore mechanism that rarely works as advertised.

As someone mentioned above, you can get a Windows 7 disc for around $110* from Tiger Direct, which is possibly less than you'd pay someone else to install it for you.

Weird. I ordered this 6 weeks ago for $80.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:12 PM on December 30, 2011


Oh, now I see the rebate info at the bottom. Still $80, and worth it.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2011


I don't know what kinds of software HP was trying to install during the process it couldn't complete.

Might it include the driver for the touchpad or something equally important? If so, I would only nuke the recovery partition as a last resort.
posted by Trurl at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2011


Might it include the driver for the touchpad or something equally important? If so, I would only nuke the recovery partition as a last resort.

You should be able to get any hardware driver that Windows doesn't install automatically (when you install the new OS) from HP's website. The only stuff that is truly unique between commodity laptops tends to be drivers for particular media key configurations or other extra buttons; the remaining hardware on your PC is almost certainly common enough that generic drivers are in the Microsoft repository. OEMs like HP are often very fussy about which drivers you install, but 99% of the time, a touchpad is a touchpad and an NVIDIA graphics card is an NVIDIA graphics card.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:01 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your hard drive is probably bad, and the recovery process is stalling when it hits the bad spot. Could be RAM too, I guess.
posted by gjc at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I downloaded a copy of Vista, burned the .iso to a DVD, and was able to install Windows from that. But the new install kept dying too. So yeah, it's looking like the hard drive. I took it in to have a new one installed.

Thanks for all the replies.
posted by Trurl at 5:08 PM on December 30, 2011


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