Laptop Hardrives
November 20, 2005 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Okay, so the friendly tech got my friend halfway through re-loading Windows on her laptop without mentioning that she would lose anything she hadn't already backed up. She had to stop halfway through (thankfully), and I pointed out the problem to her before she was able to pop in the disk they sent to finish the job. I'm hoping her files are still on the hard drive, but have never opened up a laptop. Is a laptop hard drive the same as a desktop? I know how to set it up as a slave drive if it is, but am worried that I'll open the thing up and not know what to do next. Anybody able to verify that they're the same?
posted by richmondparker to Technology (13 answers total)
They're not. They're a smaller size, and use a different interface than a PC. I'd boot up the laptop with a linux livecd, get the network up, mount the drive, and transfer the files over the network.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:10 AM on November 20, 2005

Actually, I shouldn't say that. Some use a different interface than a desktop PC. Some just use a standard ATA/SATA. You might be in luck...
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:11 AM on November 20, 2005

And read this, for the cable you'll need:
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:14 AM on November 20, 2005

How was Windows being reloaded? From a Microsoft disk or from a branded "rescue" disk (like a Compaq disk)?

If the tech was just copying Windows on top of itself, then you're not going to lose your files. But, if the tech was formatting the drive and installing a clean copy of windows--restoring the pc to the factory default--then you've almost certainly already lost your files. The first step in a complete system reinstall is to format the drive.

Sorry for the bad news. If you can describe exactly what the tech was doing, we could give better advice.
posted by richardhay at 11:28 AM on November 20, 2005

Unfortunately, I'm not able to figure out exactly what the tech was doing. When she spoke to me, it was asking for the Gateway restore disk, which is why they had to stop halfway through. Right now, it's just stuck in a loop when you boot it...asking for you to insert the restore disk so it can finish loading windows.

I also thought that it must have been formatted, but she called the company back and another tech told her that the files were probably safe...
posted by richmondparker at 11:43 AM on November 20, 2005

Somehow I doubt the restore disk does a complete erase of the hard drive before reinstalling Windows.

It probably just installs over the old Windows installation. However, you should just go with devilsbrigades' advice and boot with a LiveCD.
posted by mr.dan at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2005

Wow! I've always heard of Linux, but never really looked into it. How cool! I must confess, though, that I'm out of my element here. I'm sure I can find a version of it for download, but am not sure how to "mount the drive." Any help would be appreciated...this sounds MUCH better than cracking the thing open and removing the drive itself.
posted by richmondparker at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2005

Kanotix will show the drives as icons on the desktop, click to mount.
posted by Firas at 12:34 PM on November 20, 2005

try Knoppix. thats usually the standard recommendation...
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:03 PM on November 20, 2005

dont use knoppix, use kanotix like Firas said. Its an improved version of knoppix.

Just download the iso from here (you want .torrent, http or ftp, but you prolly know that, right?), burn it, and stick it in the cd drive when the pc boots.

good luck!
posted by lowest.common.denominator at 2:26 PM on November 20, 2005

I second Knoppix. It saved all my files when Windows would not boot.
posted by nimsey lou at 4:17 PM on November 20, 2005

mr.dan writes "Somehow I doubt the restore disk does a complete erase of the hard drive before reinstalling Windows."

Most restore disks don't actually have a copy of windows, just a ghost image or similiar that restores the harddrive to a as delivered state. This will blow away any existing data.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on November 20, 2005

Thanks a bunch, guys! Only one last question: Do I have to tell my friend how happy I am that they screwed up her computer? Never would have had a reason to play with all of this otherwise!
posted by richmondparker at 5:57 PM on November 20, 2005

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