Navigation: Blog Home
This article is here for the purpose of system recovery. It is not
about file recovery, undeleting files, or hard drive repair. Chances are,
you need to go to a professional computer shop with those problems, and
even they may be unable to recover your data. This article is instead
about taking an unusable system (that is, one that will not boot or that
is overloaded with spyware), and making it function again.
If your system simply will not boot, first try a few relatively simple
things to repair it. (Warning: "simple" here does not mean "safe".)
Boot into a recovery console and replace your MBR with fdisk /mbr
or fixmbr. Heed the warnings: if you are running Linux or another
operating system in addition to Windows, you won't be able to access it.
Another thing to try would be to fix your computer's heating system: take
the computer outside, open it up, and blow out all the dust. Put it together
again and maybe add a few cooling fans.
If the above options didn't work, or you didn't try them out of fear of
damaging your system, you need to fix your computer on the software side.
I'm assuming that you can't get into Windows at all, or if you can, you
can't do anything with it. We're going to need to completely reload the
system. Step one is to get your data and settings off of the computer.
Since you can't get into Windows, you'll need to get a LiveCD. For this
tutorial, we'll use Ubuntu. Download
the install CD for desktop computers. Don't worry! It won't install
anything unless you specifically tell it to.
The boot screen will provide you with a number of options. Firstly, select
the memory test. Run that for a few hours, or overnight. It requires no user
interaction and will tell you if the problem is merely bad hardware. If so,
a new computer might not be such a bad idea. Simply transfer the hard drive
and away you go!
After the memory test, reboot and "Start or Install Ubuntu". Once again,
nothing will be installed. It is merely loading a temporary version of
Linux that will go away as soon as you reboot. It will take several minutes
to load. Simply be patient: this is because Ubuntu was designed to be run
from the hard drive, and CD players are much slower.
Once Ubuntu is loaded, you need a backup medium. I recommend you pick up
a USB hard drive. You can use a CD or DVD burner, but it is trickier and
the LiveCD may stop working under the stress. Simply plug in your USB
drive and wait a few seconds. An icon will appear on your desktop. This
is your drive, and you can simply drag stuff onto it to back it up.
Now we get into some technical stuff. I have to be specific here, so the
commands I give may not work on all systems. In that case, you can email
a tech-savvy friend with this tutorial or call over a technician.
Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to a text console. Type cd Desktop;
mkdir windir; sudo mount /dev/hda1 windir. If you're lucky, it
worked. Press Ctrl+Alt+F7 to get back into your graphics, and look
at your desktop. There's a new icon called windir now. Double-click
on it to look inside. If it's empty, this tutorial leaves you, although
hope doesn't. Call someone experienced with Linux to help you out. If,
however, there's files inside, you've gotten onto your Windows stuff!
Find all your personal settings and drag them to the USB drive icon. If
you're a typical Windows XP user, all of your settings will be in a single
folder called Documents and Settings. If not, they could be anywhere.
In that case, find your My Documents folder, the folders of any
applications you need under Program Files, and any folders you
created yourself elsewhere. Move them all to the USB drive.
Now close all of your windows, right-click on the USB drive, click 'Eject',
and wait for it to finish. When it's done, unplug the USB drive and reboot
your system. Remove the Ubuntu CD and set it to the side. You've saved all
your files and you need to reinstall your computer.
If you've got a Windows CD or a system restore CD, use that to reinstall the
system. If not, you've got a problem. You could try calling your computer
manufacturer and asking for a CD, or you could simply buy a new one. Or, if
you've got a tech available and you're feeling adventurous, you can grab
that Ubuntu CD and actually install Linux. I'll walk you through Ubuntu in
a future tutorial.
While there's little that I can really do through an online tutorial, I hope
this helps somebody. Good luck.
Powered by ShellBlog 1.0a.