What did I do to my poor computer and how can I undo it?
November 16, 2011 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Crap! My computer is borked and I don't know what to do about it. System Restore can't seem to find Windows, either.

So last night, my computer was running fine. This morning, it won't boot. Right after it gets done with the bios, I just get a flashing cursor (Like this: _) which never progresses any further. Can't get to the boot options menu, can't get to safe mode, can't even get a damn Windows logo. (This is Windows 7 we're dealing with here, by the way.)

My first thought was that the pirated software I installed last night might've snuck something nasty past my scanner or just screwed up some settings. Also Windows installed an update before shutdown, and it's crossed my mind that maybe something went wrong there. Either way, I put my installation disk in the drive and reboot with the thought that I can just roll everything back to the most recent restore point and be on my way. That works fine inasmuch as I can get to the installation menu and everything, but when I get into System Restore the damn thing claims that it can't find Windows on any of my drives. Most alarming!

Next I pop in a Linux recovery DVD, which is where I am now. When I take a look at my drives I can see Windows there, with its folder and seemingly all the other system-related gunk that would normally be in it. So it's there, but possibly damaged beyond recognition somehow?

Anyway, I have no idea what to do next. Should I try reinstalling Windows 7 from scratch? Should I wipe the drive first? Is there a virus scanner or some other repair program I could run from a live DVD that might help, or maybe you know some way of forcing System Restore to see my Windows installation? I'm not really sure what to do. Help!
posted by Scientist to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could try popping in a windows 7 disc at boot, letting it progress, and choosing REPAIR instead of reinstall.

posted by TomMelee at 6:45 AM on November 16, 2011

This has happened to me before, and every time I just wiped the drive and reinstalled Windows. Of course, I had everything backed up, so it wasn't much of a loss. If you have important data that you'd rather not delete, I'd suggest trying to either repair your Windows install from the install DVD, or else reinstall Windows first without wiping the drive. I can't say I've ever had much success with either of those, for some reason, but they might fix your problem. Best of luck!
posted by anaximander at 6:47 AM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: A repair installation was the first thing I tried. As I said, System Restore was unable to locate my Windows installation to repair it.
posted by Scientist at 6:47 AM on November 16, 2011

Beyond a certain point, it's no worth the time and mental resources trying to bleach a Windows installation of viruses and other nasties. So from a security POV, you should - using your linux live-cd - scan the hard drive for viruses/malware, backup all important data and just reinstall windows.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:50 AM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: I understand that I may be looking at reinstalling Windows here, but I just did that about a month ago after a drive died on me and I'd really like to avoid the hassle of reinstalling all my programs and drivers and other sundry personalizations. Not to threadsit, but I'm looking for possible solutions or avenues of attack that would allow me to recover my current installation. I do know how to reinstall Windows and that is what I'll do if I can't find a less-destructive solution.
posted by Scientist at 7:04 AM on November 16, 2011

Best answer: Sounds like maybe your boot partition is hosed. I'm not sure how tow fix that, but maybe you can google up something on restoring the boot partition.
posted by COD at 7:38 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That was the lead I needed! I found a guide that told me to use bootrec.exe from the command prompt and that didn't work but anyway while trying to figure out why it wasn't working I figured out that my computer had somehow gotten confused about which drive was primary and which was secondary. It was trying to boot from the storage drive instead of the system drive!

I did rename my drives last night but I don't remember changing their boot configuration. Anyway, I just had to go into the bios and put them back in the right order. I would've done that already but for whatever reason my keyboard needs to be in a different USB port for the BIOS relative to the port that Windows needs it to be in and I'd been too damn lazy to get down on hands and knees and switch the cable over so that I could check in there. Serves me right.

Anyway, all is right with the world! No data was lost, no children were orphaned, and I can do my homework again. Hurray! Thank you all.
posted by Scientist at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2011

posted by lampshade at 8:21 AM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: You're totally correct. I erroneously thought that you were simply instructing me to use System Restore, which I had already tried. I didn't read your link, shame on me. Mea culpa.
posted by Scientist at 9:47 AM on November 16, 2011

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