Saturday, November 2, 2013

Operating System (OS) Crash - Undone, Part 2

I was happy with new new set-up "clean" and nearly empty system on my fast computer.
Bookmarks were all saved by Chrome/Google browser. No need to hunt them down again (although I did in the first few days just to see how many of them I could find and /or recall). Attaching and booting the slow and small HDD to copy the needed files to a USB stick was easy too; just unplug and re-plug and back to the old "new" HDD.

Then I remembered that I had some unpublished photos on that other computer that I have not yet backuped (neither on USB stick nor the cloud). So, back to the old computer and switch it on. 
Too bad that I had forgotten to plug the monitor in after I had moved it back to it's resting place. Quickly, I made a shutdown, and turned all electricity off. You never know with Win XP what happens if you just plug the monitor in as it is running.
Only that this time the OS wasn't running yet, being an old slow system and me being used to that fast booting one. So, instead of a normal shut down, it was shut down half loaded. Which is not a good thing.

After I had the monitor attached I re-started the computer - only to end up in a black screen of options.
And no matter what option I chose I ended up in that same screen:
Windows can't boot correctly.

From my last experience with a non-booting computer, and not being able to describe in words to my helpful friends what actually went wrong, I took a video of that "loop" booting:

And then the batteries of the camera were empty.  Luckily I had a spare set, so I could just continue with the next boot "loop":

What to do now? I had this boot CD. So, after checking the CMOS/BIOS settings were correct for booting from CD: 

But nothing happened. 0.0 

I did have a floppy disk that said "boot" on it. I inserted that, only to find out that it had drivers for CD drives on it, but no other programs like chkdsk etc. And those drivers didn't work for my CD drive. 
Not because of the age difference or different system the boot floppy was made for. It also said windows 95/98 on the cover.
No, it was loose cables that stopped the CD drive from being read . headdesk
IT had taken me a week and a few talks with online friends to find that out. Now, with the cables reattached, I had no problem running that boot CD with all the checking programs. It had a min win XP on it - a nice visual for file checking. Albeit, very slow as it was using the Ram drive to run. 
This is what I found: 

Nothing on C:
Using a different program for file checking I saw this:

Something on C:
So, something was still on C: ; but it could not be read. I assumed it, as it kept wanting to boot with Win XP, thus it must have some files of that left on the HDD and in the "boot" sector. 

I was about to give up when I recalled my old computer times using DOS to run a computer. And I knew there was a DOS program on the boot CD. 
I found it and - wow- it had a nice mouse steered colored screen to navigate. No need to remember all those codes and orders to execute the programs. I chose the surface test.
Taken after the test just to show what I used as it stared too fast to take a before shot.
And it came up with 18 errors.

Those numbers don't tell me anything, but those are the errors. 
And when it found them, correct them automatically. More than deleting what was already "gone" could not happen anyway.
The repair in action. 
Doing one more test before "finished" - successfully. 
When it was finished I was surprised the file manager loaded so fast. It took me a while to realize that the old Win XP was all back, all files unharmed., nothing lost. I couldn't believe it, took the boot CD out and re-booted the system.

And yes, =))

It booted totally normal. I could get my few photos and now had a second system fixed and (after I delete some never used programs) will even have a rather fast computer again for backup should my "beloved" fast computer go crazy on me again. Or, I might even install a small LINUX system on that old computer. 

And if that all is not enough to feel happy about - I actually found the WLAN stick for that old computer again. and re-installed it too. Now, I do not have to go to that cold place with this computer just to get online with it over the router. 

Am I now a computer geek? Well, not an expert but also no beginner or "just user" too. 
For those interested in what boot CD I used:
Hiren Boot CD

A big THANK YOU to all the wonderful people on the internet out there that advised me and encouraged me over and over again this last month so I could "repair" this old computer without spending one cent; just a little time and patience.

Operating System (OS) Crash - Undone, Part 1

I haven't posted much in here for some time. I just didn't have anything to write about. It can happen; the world still keeps on turning.

Then last month I had two computers crashes. The operating systems (OS) just wouldn't load anymore.
One was the "new" (just three years old) Win 7 system (and will be described here in part 1):

On booting it again, it wouldn't even get to the "enter password" image.
The "winlogon.exe" is damaged was all the system could tell.
I asked my partner what he did last on this computer (we both use them): "It had been idle for some time and then I simply shut it down regularly."

There was no way for me to check what else was wrong, but let the Win 7 in-built checking programs run on boot. Like "chkdsk" (an old DOS program). That ran well - deleting files from bad sectors after copying them into some other places. Or so the screen kept telling. And then, more or less finally, the system told me:
System volume on data device is damaged. Error code 0x0 test successful, repair successful.


But I still could not boot the system.

I guessed all that equaled to this is nothing that the system can repair of it's own. But, we still have files on the computer (the HDD) that we had not backuped and that are important. A complete fresh install of any OS (or the WIN 7 again; if I had the original CD, which I don't as it came pre-installed) was out of question.

If I had made a recovery CD for that system I would have used that. But, alas, being me, I thought this would never happen and that the backup system files on the computer would be enough to restore it, should we accidentally delete an important file. In theory this would have worked.

At that time I was also enrolled in an online course that was time limited. So, I had no time to play around with this computer. I recalled a school friend that was into computers and he was still fixing them - now as a small business. With a big sigh I brought ours to him. He would look into it - and fix it, if possible.

I could use my older computer for the online lectures: over 10 years old, Win XP, and LAN connection to the router. It even still has a floppy drive. It worked fine, but it sure was cold where I had the router connection for this one. So, for email checking and surfing the basic pages in the internet I was allowed to use the laptop we own. But not install any new browser (that laptop was still using IE6 0.0 ) that would let me watch my online lectures. Sigh.

I did mange however to ask my friends online about what could have been wrong with my other computer. And thus was given the hint to use a Boot CD (or Live CD) to check and eventually repair the system; especially if the damage was only in the software.

Long talk short. After two weeks I had my fast computer back, but with new HDD and fresh installed OS (Win 7, but the 64bit version). The files though were on another HDD (slow and half the size) just copied over; it would boot but not connect to the internet wireless. That part was lost totally. (Still don't know exactly what is wrong with that system - but I might find out when I have enough time and then have a spare HDD).

Anyway, I could finish my online course in the set time and even pass the exam (different blog post maybe for that later on).

The only thing that still did not work as it should was the web camera. The new 64bit system kept telling me that it the camera needs a driver to run. I couldn't find the installation CD that came with it. So, again, I asked my friends online what to do and they found me a driver for the web camera type I had shown them in a link - searched for the image of the camera as I couldn't find a name imprinted onto it. (Was in the base that had ripped off ages ago.) All that didn't help though at all. Not even Google+ Hangouts would recognized the attached camera (it had the green "on" light running all the time). 

A week later I did find the original installation CD, and, after installing everything, the camera still had the same error. Incidentally I also noticed that my files and the ones from the friends were the same. 

Eventually, I had to realize that I would have to get a new camera. At the hardware store the sales persons went big eyed by all those questions I asked. One said that I seem to know more about computer hardware than he does - I should just go and search and find the one I think suits my system. Which I did:
a driver-less web camera. It even has additional LED lights to lighten up the spots it's aimed at (well, at web camera distance).

Went home, plugged it in and it worked fine. With no installation at all - only the short message that the newly attached device is now ready to use. =)

So far, I only used it once - the hangouts i had wanted it for were already over. There'll be new ones coming up. Or I might use it for web camera Wednesday - a photo theme on G+. Who knows, I'm prepared. 

During all this time I also downloaded and burnt a boot CD, so, should this computer fail again, I would have some other checking devices ready and not have to pay lots of money just for checking. Who know that I would need them so soon. 

to be continued in Part 2.......................

Older photo from my computer workplace.
Hasn't changed much, I guess, just the contents of the screen.