Laptop Recovery Fun

I found out a couple of days ago that Sara’s laptop hasn’t been working for a while.

As in, the thing just hangs at the Windows start-up screen until either you give up or the thing manages to overheat itself because its fans aren’t exactly what they used to be. I mean, we did buy the thing in 2007 or something, so it is probably getting pretty close to its end of life, unfortunately…

I did some digging last night and came to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with the hard drive, though at this point I’m not sure if the whole thing has gone bad, there are just a few bad sectors, or maybe even just a key file or two got corrupted. At one point I got it to boot into Safe Mode, but it wouldn’t let me run chkdsk from there and got stuck in a loop trying to restart to run it via DOS. When I try to just access the command prompt via Safe Mode, it hangs trying to load crcdisk.sys, which reinforces my theory that it’s got to be something hard drive-related that’s to blame.

Besides, I ran all sorts of BIOS tests last night and everything but the hard drive test passed with flying colors. Unfortunately, after pouring through boxes out in the garage, I can’t seem to find the extra laptop hard drive that I bought a few years ago for another laptop and then never ended up using, meaning that I don’t really have any quick fixes unless I can just get that one working right again.

So today I tried downloading a couple of different bootable ISOs to see if I could maybe repair the errors that way, but I didn’t really have much luck. The best I found was this one that included a “Mini Windows XP” option that allowed me to actually pull up the drive itself and copy over to a flash drive most of my wife’s files, so at least all of her stuff for school & work is safe.

After all of that and watching my options rapidly diminishing, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try re-installing Windows just to see what would happen. Surprisingly, everything installed just fine (even though Windows wasn’t smart enough to completely wipe the drive first), and so now I’m trying to do every other test I can think of to see if the thing will still float on its own before giving it back to Sara to have her start re-installing all of her other stuff again.

  • I just finished installing something like 132 Windows Updates, and surprisingly those all went in just fine.
  • Now that I’m able to finally run chkdsk like a normal person, I’m hoping that I can once and for all figure out if the bad stuff was just specific files or areas of the disk that can be isolated.

With any luck, maybe I’ll just be able to run chkdsk a couple of times … once to correct the errors and a second time to validate that they’ve been cleared (because I had issues earlier where it would pretend to be fixing errors, yet they’d keep popping up).

You know, when I stop and think about it, I haven’t had to do this kind of stuff for a long time! That said, my own desktop PC is arguably just as old, so even if I can resuscitate hers back to life here, that may not be the end of the ordeal … but for now, let’s just try to focus on one problem at a time!

*fingers crossed*


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