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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear all,

Got a dilly of a problem. Trying to fix a pc for a friend. Running xp home SP1, it's a Dell. The system wouldn't boot into xp at all. I had an error, missing hal.dll file. After trying a thousand fixes, booting from recovery disk, etc...I figured out that the entire windows/system32 folder was non-existant. Couldn't find it al all.

I didn't want to risk losing any data for my friend, so I didn't want to reload windows from the recovery disk, so I made a copy of another system32 folder from a machine running xp, took the hard drive out of the pc, hooked it up to another pc using an external hard drive enclosure, and pasted the entire system32 folder into the affected hard drive.

I put the hard drive into the original pc and tried to boot it up.

First of all: the system32 folder that I copied must have included log on info from another user (the person who used the hard drive that I copied the folder from).

It booted up, but I was asked to fill in a password from this other user. I figured out the password, but then I realized the new system32 folder also didn't have all the drivers that the affected system needed. I then went through a series of prompts, where all the hardware (pci bus, usb drivers, cdrom, etc) needed to load the drivers. Almost all of them worked automatically, except the 56k modem and the ethernet card. Both of those installs asked for their original hardware installation disks, which I don't have.

In any event, I cancelled out of those installs, and I am now left at a blue screen with no text, start button, desktop, etc. If I hit ctrl+alt+del I get the Task Manager, but I can't do anything from there except reboot. I can boot in safe mode, but there I just get a black screen with "Safe Mode" in all four corners of the screen.

If anyone knows what to do, besides fdisk, I would appreciate any thoughts.


Many thanks!
LLPJ
 

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Sgt.
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Your salvaged drive problem should be simple to fix.
First off all:
If the hard drive from your "friend's" Dell machine is an IDE drive:
(1) Get a working XP install ON A DIFFERENT HARD DRIVE! (It must be XPsp1 or later). It doesn't matter if it's your own PC or not. Any suitible PC that you legaly have permision to fool around with will do.
(2) Once you have a working XPsp1 install up and running; Turn off the computer , unplug the power cable from the wall, and then open the case. Do NOT attach a Hard Drive while the power is still on.
(3) Now attach the salvaged Hard Drive. Set the salvaged Hard Drive either a primary slave or as a secondary master. If the NTFS volume(s) on that salvaged drive are still intact, you should be able to recover (and backup) the files from it.
(4) Boot the machine. Windows may ask you to choose a boot disk if it sees that both Hard Drives have a copy of windows on them. DO NOT choose the salvaged drive as your boot drive. Choose the other one. (Likely the C: drive)
(5) Windows will see the salvaged drive and (hopefully) recognise it as an NTFS volume. You should be able to use Windows Explorer/My Computer to access the files on that drive now. Archive the important ones to A CD-R or some other sutible media.
(6) For the next step, you need to make your salaveged drive the Primary Master, fdisk it, and then re-install Windows. Oh, and please patch the thing to Xpsp2GDR so you can avoid problems later. :heartlove Use the Archiveed files to restore your data.
(7) Chill out. You're done. :cool:

* To speed up this process, you nmight want to use the Disk Manager software for your brand of Hard Drive. Also, using an XPsp2 Slipsteam CD can really save you a load of time. If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask and I'll fill you in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Never done a voluntary fdisk. Do you have a link to instructions, etc?

Also, can I back up the Programs folder on the salvaged drive, and just dump it after the windows reinstall? or will I have to install each program after the windows-reinstall?

Another problem, there were three user accounts on the salvaged drive. Is there one folder in XP that will ahve all the improtant files for those accounts...my computer, user passwords, etc?

Although I would love to avoid fdisk, thanks for the help!

PJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Never done a voluntary fdisk. Do you have a link to instructions, etc?

Also, can I back up the Programs folder on the salvaged drive, and just dump it after the windows reinstall? or will I have to install each program after the windows-reinstall?

Another problem, there were three user accounts on the salvaged drive. Is there one folder in XP that will ahve all the improtant files for those accounts...my computer, user passwords, etc?

Although I would love to avoid fdisk, thanks for the help!

PJ
 

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Sgt.
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LLPJ said:
Never done a voluntary fdisk. Do you have a link to instructions, etc?
First off, lets get your FreeFDISK. It's better than the old Win98SE/WinME boot disks. You can get it here: http://www.23cc.com/free-fdisk
Free FDISK is Open Source and licensed under the GNU GPL. I use it all the time. Since you're new to FDISK, I'll walk you through how to use it.

1)Get yourself a Floppy Disk. It can be blank, or it can have a data on it that you don't mind deleting.
2) Boot (or otherwise log into) WinXP.
3) Once you're at the Windows Desktop, put the Floppy Disk in your 3½" Floppy Drive.
4) Open My Computer or Windows Explorer (either one).
5) Right-click on <3½ Floppy (A:)> and select <Format...>
6) You should see a window come up that's labeled <Format 3½ Floppy (A:)> and is Check the box beside <Create an MS-DOS startup disk> but do not change any of the other options.
7) Click Start (I mean the Start button in the Format window, NOT the Windows Start Button!!!)
8) Wait while windows formats the floppy and makes it bootable.
9) When windows is done formating the Floppy Disk, close the <Format...> window. Leave the Floppy Disk in the drive for now.

Now you've got a bootable floppy, but it doesn't have FDISK (Or much of anything else) on it. No problem, we're gonna put FreeFDISK on it ourselves.

10) Download Free FDISK 1.2.1 from http://ffdisk.webaps.de/fdisk121.zip
Unzip that file to a new folder somewhere on your working XP machine. (I use Winzip, but windows has built-in support for zipped files if you don't have WinZIP.)
11) In the folder you just un-zipped to, you'll see a sub-folder named "PROGRAM": the FDISK.EXE is in that folder.
12) Right click on FDISK.EXE and select "Send To -> 3½ Floppy (A:)"
13) This should copy the FDISK.EXE to your floppy. Wait for any progress bars to finish before going to the next step.
14) Verify that FDISK.EXE is actualy on the floppy by opening your Floppy with My Computer. (This is just to be sure that you didn't trip-up on my instructions).
15) If you can see that FDISK is actualy on the floppy, close My Computer.
16) Eject your Floppy Disk. (Push the button on the Floppy Drive).

Now you're ready to FISK! (Phew! That's a lot of typeing. I need a rest):sleep:

:cool: Ok, I'm back from my rest. Now to FDISK:

Hey, look: an FDISK tutorial!
http://winguide.info/how_to_use_fdisk_and_partition_hard_disk.htm
^It's got pictures and everything. :heartlove

What you want to do is:
1) Delete all partitions (DOS and Non-DOS) on the drive.
2) Make a FAT32 partition that takes up the whole drive.
3) Exit FDISK and then go on to install XP.
LLPJ said:
Also, can I back up the Programs folder on the salvaged drive, and just dump it after the windows reinstall? or will I have to install each program after the windows-reinstall?
That's substantialy easier to answer.
Progranms that were installed with Installsheild Wizzard or with Windows Installer should not be copied from one machine to another. Technicly, it is possible, bit it's more trouble than it's worth. You're programs will not be registered properly an you will run into all sorts of other problems.
So, take my advice: Re-install your programs after you re-install windows.

LLPJ said:
Another problem, there were three user accounts on the salvaged drive. Is there one folder in XP that will hve all the improtant files for those accounts...my computer, user passwords, etc?
No. The passwords are stored, but recovering them is a very involved process. It's beyond the scope of this forum, (not to mention beyond your level of experience) so please don't bother trying. You're better off just making new accounts after your re-install of WinXP and assigning passwords at that stage.

LLPJ said:
Although I would love to avoid fdisk, thanks for the help!

PJ
Well, there IS a way to avoid FDISK, but I think you should learn how to do it anyways. FDISK is one of the most elegant & powerfull partitioning tools available Frankly I don't like the way that WindowsXP handles partitioning. It's too complicated for what it's purpose is.

If you need more help, come one back and I'll be happy to try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So you went to all that typing to tell me there is a way to avoid fdisk??

Thanks so much for the advice. I really appreciate it. But now I am intrigued.....what else can I do?

As for my experience, I have formatted a hard disk or two...but not since my Win98 days. I am no pro in any sense of the word, but I am no newbie.

Appreciate the help!
PB
 

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I am reading all this wondering is there some reason you aren't booting to the XP disk bypassing the first "r" for repair, choosing "new install" there and then at the next juncture choosing "r" for repair and let XP cd build back the system folder?
 

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Rich M said:
I am reading all this wondering is there some reason you aren't booting to the XP disk bypassing the first "r" for repair, choosing "new install" there and then at the next juncture choosing "r" for repair and let XP cd build back the system folder?
I'm no expert but this seems the best way to try and restore corrupt or missing system files while retaining users, programs, etc. Thats the second repair option, right?
 

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Ok, let me explain a few things.
First of all, some machines cannot boot from an optical (CD/DVD) disk no matter what you do. Yes, I know: Most will and most that won't actualy can if you tweek the BIOS. However, the Boot-floppy option will absolutely work on any machine (unless, or course, you have unworkable hardware such as a bad floppy drive or a failing controler slot, etc.). So, since the boot-floppy option will work on virtualy any machine, and the XP-install-CD option isn't always viable, I opted to recomend the boot-floppy process.

Secondly, there are advantages to doing thusly: {<NTFS(1)> to <FAT32(2)> to <NTFS(3)>}. For one thing, this gives you greater assurance that anything that was wrong with <NTFS(1)> will be resolved than if you went like: {<NTFS(1)> to <NTFS(2)>}. This is becasue windows XP give you the "Quick" option, which doesn't actualy partiton anything: It just overwrites the MBR.
Also, we DO NOT KNOW why the "salvaged" drive was failing. Since we don't know what the casue was, I can't be sure that the {<NTFS(1)> to <NTFS(2)} process will resolve the problem. Therfore, I gave advice that I am sure of.

Understand? :|
 
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