Hard drive trouble?
October 12, 2009 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Hard drive(I think) corrupted - I'm drowning in information. Help?

I'm sure this has been addressed elsewhere but since there are so many different problems that happen with computers/hard drives/etc, I'm having a lot of trouble differentiating.

Me: HP Laptop, running Vista and an expired beta of windows 7 on different partitions. Also have a recovery partition installed by HP but that's just the OS and stuff, not my stuff. I almost always use(d) Vista, and all my files are accessible from there.

Problem: Vista only starts up partway,then gets stuck with a blank screen (after the "Windows loading" screen). I eventually power it down, turn it on, and the computer suggests I try startup recovery, which fails.

Oh: a note: my dad may have been the last one to turn on my computer before this happens, and he said it said something about installing an update (I think he said a service pack, but there hasn't been a new one recently - why would this be installing now? I usually just let the automatic updaters work their mojo, don't pay too much attention to it, so I can't provide more detail, sorry)

In the 'details' section, the two tests that startup recovery said failed were Unknown bugcheck: Bugcheck 50 (with some parameters listed - I can provide those if it's helpful) and then it said repair action: system files integrity and repair. Result: failed. Error code: Ox2

Then, the other "root cause found" by startup repair was "System volume on disk is corrupt. Repair action: File system repair (chkdsk) Result: completed successfully Error code: OxO

It tells me that startup repair failed. If I power it down and start again, the same thing happens.

Windows 7 works fine, if that's relevant.

So, my question is multifold(Is that a word?): Can this be repaired? Can I recover my pictures etc on my harddrive (yes, I know I should have backed them up, was actually external harddrive shopping the day that this happened)? I have another, legal, copy of Vista. Can I install that(after recovering my data)? About how much will data recovery cost?

Thanks so much, this is my first Ask MeFi question so I'm a little nervous. Do let me know if I did anything wrong!
posted by R a c h e l to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you browse the Vista partition when you boot into Windows 7? If so, go ahead and buy that external hard drive, and copy the data from the Vista partition using Windows 7.
posted by gregr at 6:07 PM on October 12, 2009

You could also try burning a Linux LiveCD on another computer, then booting to it on your laptop, and thereby recovering your data. See this guide by Lifehacker.
posted by aheckler at 6:15 PM on October 12, 2009

Best answer: Do you know where you saved most of your stuff in Vista?
Booting to Win7 should let you get at the Vista partition.
From there, you should be able to find E: (or whatever letter) \Users\yourusername\ then Documents, Pictures, Music, etc.

What probably happened is that your system got turned off halfway through an update that would affect your whole system, like a Service Pack. It's less likely that your whole disk is corrupt than it is that some part of the startup routine got borked by halting a change to it halfway through.

DON'T repartition or over-install Vista again on that same partition without first retrieving your valuable data unless you're really sure of what you're doing. 5 out of 6 cases you'll end up erasing your Vista files forever. Once you've copied your stuff from the Vista partition (and made sure the pictures open, etc.), THEN you can reinstall Vista, then make sure to go run Windows Update and get all updates and service packs before putting things back on.
posted by bartleby at 6:30 PM on October 12, 2009

Oh, and Data Recovery services are usually for cases where a laptop fell off a sailboat or went through a fire or something - they have to use advanced techniques to manually read data off the disassembled parts, and that costs BIG money.

Something like this, if you don't want to do it yourself, you can take to your local Nerd Herd and you should be able to get it done for $100 or so.
posted by bartleby at 6:34 PM on October 12, 2009

Oh, almost forgot to tell you how to re-arm your expired Win7 trial:

Right-Click on Command Prompt
Click on Run as Administrator
You get a black box that looks like DOS
Type in: slmgr -rearm

That gets you another 30 days, and you can do it twice more.
posted by bartleby at 6:39 PM on October 12, 2009

Response by poster: How would I be able to browse the Vista partition? Alll I can see from my computer is Windows 7, C:, as well as "Local Disk", D: - if I double click on that, it says it is corrupted and unreadable.

I also do already lave an ubuntu Live CD - I'll give that a shot and get back to you.

The Windows 7 trial allows me to use it - it just gives me a couple warnings about counterfiting. Dunno how long that'll go on, but I'm happy for now - I guess I could install my other copy of Vista over windows 7 and use that is Windows 7 prevents me from using it any more, I assume.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:39 PM on October 12, 2009

Response by poster: Poking around in the control panel, I found an option to "back up files on this partition" (which, when all the partitions are labeled, shows up as blank rather than a letter like the others do - I can't really describe it, happy to take a screenshot if that would help.

Thanks so much for your help, everyone.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:50 PM on October 12, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, sorry, forgot the second part of what I was going to say. If I backed up files on the partition, would I be able to access my pictures and such, or would it be sort of enrobed (for lack of a better term) by vista and need to be booted into somehow? Am I completely off base?
posted by R a c h e l at 9:52 PM on October 12, 2009

Best answer: It looks like you can't browse Vista then, since it's residing on D:\. This probably means backing up your files via the Control Panel will not work.

Here's what I'd do: boot to your Ubuntu LiveCD and see if you can browse Vista's partition. If yes, hook up your external drive and copy your data over. If you still can't browse Vista, I'd use Gnu ddrescue in a manner similar to the guy in this thread. It's complicated and a little dicey, but you may be able to save your stuff.
posted by aheckler at 3:01 AM on October 13, 2009

Response by poster: Okay, no luck with Ubuntu (sorry that took so long - I couldn't find the disk for a while.) Anyone have otehr suggestions? If I took it into a place, how much would that run me?
posted by R a c h e l at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2009

Response by poster: Follow up: Didn't ever resolve the problem with the OS, but was able browse and to recover my files by assigning the drive they were on a letter (can't believe I didn't think of that earlier).
posted by R a c h e l at 1:41 PM on November 15, 2009

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