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Soni

Urgent Help Needed

30 posts in this topic

Having to type from a smartphone.

Hi all, I'm appealing to anyone that can help me out on a serious issue I have with my pc.

I've tolf my daughter's NOT to play a game named Fresh on my main pc, due to a few issues I had a few months ago which I pit down to this site, however kids will be kids and they have and now my pc is completely knackered.

My MAIN CONCERN is that I have hundreds of family photos that are VERY precious to me and the thought I could lose them annoys me greatly.

I know how to reformat a pc and have done this countless times in the past, but I've never had a problem whereby I can't access my files to backup.

Here is the problem:

Pc boots up to login screen, will either freeze whilst inputting password or will not allow to click the username to login.

I've tried accessing safemode and the screen goes black and nothing happens after about 30 seconds of login in.

I've tried f8 and reinstalling a previous configuration, but that still freezes.

I have a dell xps 420 and have removed all connections apart from.keyboard and mouse, have tried another mouse but still same problem, but don't have another keyboard to try.

I have the black dell disk that states windows vista reinstallation cd but don't want to lose my family pictures.

I've just looked up at the login screen and ALL of the login account names have now vanished! What's going on?

Please can somebody help me this evening?

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pop the drive out and hook it up to another pc to back up the data then format the drive and reinstall windows

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you need a livecd, boot from it backup your files, once you are done backing up your files format and reinstall windows.

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Download Windows 8 preview or evaluation from Another computer and put it on a usb stick using windows 7 usb tool, enter the usb stick or dvd, boot from dvd/usb, install... it will simply put all of your files in a windows.old folder while installing windows anew. So you will be able to keep all content! :)

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+1 on the previous posts ,also you can re-install without formatting and your "old"system will be placed in a "Windows.old" file.You can accsess the old user data from there .

Added: Provided the disc isn't too full .

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Hah, glad Neowin does the "new posts since last refresh thing". Saved me some time since everything I was going to say has been said.

So yeah, you can reinstall Windows without issue as long as you don't format prior. If you think there's a drive failure, then I suggest not doing that to minimize additional disk use that could make it worse. If you have another computer, tossing the drive in there is the easiest way to get the files off, or a live CD, but you'll need some kind of other storage to move it all over to.

Depending on what kind of reinstallation media it is, you could attempt repairing Windows as well.

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Thank you for all your replies, I'm on the windows 8 preview we site, but it has 2 options 32 and 65 bit?

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You don't know what's causing the problem, and you have critical data to recover, so assume that it is a hardware issue until you know otherwise.

First, stop. Don't turn the machine on. Don't try to use it. Just let it sit there until you're ready to recover your critical data. After that's done, you can do whatever you want to try and bring the machine back online.

Buy one of these if you don't already have one; it is pocket change.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812232002

Take out the hard drive. Plug it into the adapter and mount the drive on a new machine to pull your data. Once that's done, then you can come back and try talking us through the troubleshooting/recovery of the hardware/OS.

Also. Back your files up in the future. This should never have been an emergency in the first place. All it takes is a free cloud sync account (Skydrive, Dropbox, etc) or a USB thumbdrive.

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Hi, I've got an external hard drive that I use for backups but haven't done one for about 3 months during which time we've taken loads of photos.

I tried to copy the files from my pc over to the external in safemode earlier tonight before realising it crashes, and it crashed, do you think I could have lose anything off the external as well?

The Windows 8 enterprise is downloading but states 8 hrs to go.......

Can those adaptors be purchased in the UK?

If I was to take out the hard drive, I have another 10 year old xp machine but how would I connect the hard drive up whilst running that machine from its xp hard drive and access my vista hard drive from the knackered pc?

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You could also boot a Live Ubuntu cd , and see if you can copy the files onto a thumbdrive or disc .

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If I was to take out the hard drive, I have another 10 year old xp machine but how would I connect the hard drive up whilst running that machine from its xp hard drive and access my vista hard drive from the knackered pc?

This is actually along the lines of what I was thinking.

If you have another PC, just put in the hard drive from the current computer. It should just show up as another drive. Should default to whatever the next letter is you have available, like E:\\ or something along those lines if your old computer has a optical drive as well.

Copy over your important files to the old computer, put the newer drive back in the other computer, reformat with a fresh install of Windows.

Copy files over from older PC to external drive, hook external drive up to newly formatted computer, copy files back over on the newly installed version of Windows.

Should be relatively easy, albeit it a bit time consuming, unless I am missing something painfully obvious.

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The only problem I have is I recall its a RAID drive and there are 2 x 80gb (think they are 80 but may be more) hard drives therefore I won't be able to swap them over to another pc would I?

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The only problem I have is I recall its a RAID drive and there are 2 x 80gb (think they are 80 but may be more) hard drives therefore I won't be able to swap them over to another pc would I?

If they are actually setup as RAID drives, chances are it is probably setup as RAID 1, which should just mean they are mirroring eachother. Again someone can correct me if I am wrong, which I may be as I have personally never used RAID, but I see no reason why you would just not need 1 of them since the same data should be on both.

The only thing I just thought of is perhaps one will not mount because it is setup as RAID. I really am not sure.

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Hook the hard drive up to a computer in a linux live or PE enthronement to backup the files if you can. Then I would recommend running a program like spinrite on the drive to make sure there are no bad sectors.

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Thank you all for your replies.

However, altgough I know how to reformat hard drives and install software etc., and basic networking tasks, my pc skills don't extend beyond that!

Can you talk me through the EASIEST solution bearing in mind it is a RAID drive?

I did have my daughters Windows 7 laptop wirelessly networked with the broken pc (when it was working) and tried the other night connecting up to drag the files accross whilst the broken pc was on the log on screen buy it wasn't seeing it, so this is a no go idea either?

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Edit to above post: The evaluation version of windows 8 has now downloaded onto the windows 7 laptop I have, I intend transferring this over to a USB stick, can somebody talk me through what I need to do to make it run? And will this be the eaisiest method to retrieve my data and will DEFINETELY NOT overwrite my files?

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I think that you could do with things being better clarified...

A summary of your options:

1) Connecting the hard drive to another computer

You connect the hard drive to another (working) computer, you load the operating system that is installed on the computer's own hard drive, and this allows you to access the contents of the other hard drive (as though you had connected an external secondary drive), thus enabling you to retrieve a backup copy of your data files.

There are multiple ways of doing this:

1a) An adapter cable or docking station

1b) An external hard drive enclosure (one that you can open up to change the hard drive in)

1c) Opening up the computer case and connecting up data and power cables (assuming there are some of the correct type)

RAID will make this more difficult. Assuming you have RAID type 1, your chances of the above working (as though you didn;t even have RAID) are fairly good, however other forms of RAId will probably rule these methods out.

2) Running another operating system

Operating systems are typically installed onto and run from a hard drive, it is however entirely possible to run an operating system from other forms of storage, such as a CD/DVD or USB pen drive (i.e. "removable media").

Running an operating system from a CD/DVD/USB-pen-drive on your computer gets around the problem of the operating system installed on the computer being broken. The computer's internal hard drive will be available to the operating system that you are running off of a CD/DVD/USB-pen-drive, allowing you to recover your files.

Some options:

2a) You can download copies of Linux specially prepared for this called "Linux Live CD's" (just having taken a look at Ubuntu's website, it seems that their standard install disk now actually has a "try before you buy" feature, which is essentially the same thing), and there are instructions for installing to a USB pen drive instead.

2b)
, a Windows XP based live CD, that "contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem".

2c) Building your own copy of Windows 7 or 8 which will run off of CD/DVD/USB-pen-drive. See instructions
for example. However, this requires that you download a large package called the "Windows AIK", to get at a tiny little tool that comes bundled within it (I personally wouldn't trust copies of just the tool itself posted online).

Note, beware of the "Windows 7 USB tool" that I believe someone mentioned earlier, according to this webpage, it seems to be a way of putting the windows setup onto a USB pen drive, from which you can install Windows as an alternative to the standard of installing from CD/DVD, it is not for running a copy of Windows from a USB pen drive.

3) Repairing the existing operating system

This option should replace any broken files belonging to the operating system, allowing it to run once again. It will not however remove viruses or repair problems with third party software/drivers that may be causing the problem(s), so there is no garuantee that it will put your system into a stable state through which you can recover your files. Side note, after a repair install, you may have to reinstall Windows updates, and also some or all of your programs.

First, notes/warnings:

- If your computer has a 'restore to factory settings' option/feature, do NOT use this, you will loose all of your data if you do

- "OEM" Windows reinstallation disks (like the DELL one that you have) are not the same as normal Windows installation disks and may very well delete all of your data!

There are two ways to do a repair of an exisiting installation of Windows:

3a) Do an actual "repair install" (called "startup repair" in vista/7/8).

There are three ways of doing this:

3a1) Via recovery options presented in the Windows installer (of proper setup disks, not OEM "reinstallation disks" afaik)

3a2) Via a "system recovery disk", which you will have had to have already created on the machine you're trying to repair, or on a sufficiently similar machine.

3a3) Via the "advanced boot options" (
)

Once you've got the "system recovery options menu" up, choose the "startup repair" option. (
).

3b) Simply reinstall Windows on top of the existing installation (WITHOUT reformatting or recreating the partition).

This option is available to those using retail versions of Windows, but not those with OEM versions, since OEM manufacturers nowadays only give customers "reinstallation disks", which are not the same as a proper setup disk. I did encounter some webpages mentioning the use of a retail disk to do a repair of an OEM installation, but did not get a clear understanding of whether it actually works or not.

As described, you simply run the Windows setup routine without doing a reformat. The installation will rename the existing "Windows" folder to "Windows.old" and install new operating system files to a new "Windows" folder. The "Windows.old" folder can be deleted once setup is complete. Your data will remain intact, programs may need to be reinstalled to work correctly, and Windows updates will need to be reinstalled.

You could also alternatively install a newer version of Windows on top as an upgrade installation, which would essentially do the same thing. Do not do the "custom installation" option if it tries to make you though, this reformats and installs the new operating system I believe - not what you want!

Using a install disk, it may be so that the disk must have the same service pack as the installation in order for it to allow you to do the repair, I'm not sure. Alternatively if the disk does not have the service pack, the service pack may simply have to be reapplied via Windows update. (In the case of a "system recovery disk", it would have to have been built on an installation with the same service pack as the installation currently has).

Actually I lied, there's three ways, there's also "sfc /scannow" from a command line, but as far as I know (and I don't actually have much if any experience in actually doing repairs like this), the "Startup repair" option already does the same as this.

Recommendations

Firstly, recovering your files:

- Whether option #1 is the best choince for you obviously depends on various factors - do you have the components for any of the sub-options; are you willing to spend money on them if necessary; are you willing to wait for a delivery (if you're not going to pop down to the shops for it); are you okay with opening up your computer in order to connect it if necessary.

- Whether option #2 is the best choice depends on whether or not you already have a live CD, or are capable of making one (2a & 2b only require downloading an ISO and burning it to disk, but 2c is much more involved). It also depends, if going with option #2a, how familiar with Linux you are (not that it requires very much familiarity at all, but still requires some). Also obviously if creating a CD/DVD you need a CD/DVD burner, and a writable CD/DVD to hand.

- Option #3 will be making changes to the existing Windows installation on the computer, and so if you mess it up badly somehow, in the worst case senario you could loose your data. It does not require you to download or purchase anything though. However, as mentioned above, if the problem is caused by a virus or currupt piece of third party software, the repair to Windows may not do anything to regain access to your files.

It's up to you to make a decision.

btw, if you do option #3b, and do an upgrade install with Windows 8 preview, beware that it expires after a short period, and you'll have to completely reformat and reinstall windows when it does. Also be aware of the upgrade path rules from Vista to 8, upgrading 7 to 8 preserves all your data and programs, but XP/Vista to 8 is different, with Vista SP1, data and setting are supposedly preserved (programs, I don't know), otherwise only data is preserved. Be careful.

Secondly, recovering your system once you've actually recovered your data, I think you'll definately want to do a reformat and reinstallation, to ensure any malware that may have been introduced is wiped away. Then, give your daughters "standard" level user accounts on it, and keep the admin account to yourself, that should go some way to preventing this happening again.

Edit to above post: The evaluation version of windows 8 has now downloaded onto the windows 7 laptop I have, I intend transferring this over to a USB stick, can somebody talk me through what I need to do to make it run? And will this be the eaisiest method to retrieve my data and will DEFINETELY NOT overwrite my files?

The copy of Windows 8 that you've got is only applicable to options #2c, and #3b. See also the note just above.

edit: why are big gaps being inserted into my post :/

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Thank you all for your replies.

However, altgough I know how to reformat hard drives and install software etc., and basic networking tasks, my pc skills don't extend beyond that!

Can you talk me through the EASIEST solution bearing in mind it is a RAID drive?

I did have my daughters Windows 7 laptop wirelessly networked with the broken pc (when it was working) and tried the other night connecting up to drag the files accross whilst the broken pc was on the log on screen buy it wasn't seeing it, so this is a no go idea either?

Did you try what I suggested? No one has said you will not be able to see the 1 drive yet if it was setup in RAID, so I would give it a shot.

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BlazingAngel, you are certainly an angel mate, I had just burned the DVD using the windows 7 laptop and Dow loaded the USB dvd burner and burned the DVD (couldn't fit it on USB needed 4gb) and had just popped the DVD into the drive if the knackered pc and switched it off ready to switch on again, boot menu, and select DVD!!

Then checked my phone as your email came through just as I was looking at it!! How bad could that have been if I didn't see your email!!

So, I understand I need to NOT run this bootable DVD I've burned with windows 8 evaluation?

I am prepared go do whatever is necessary to get my family photos back, and although I've installed memory, PCI boards, hard drives and the like, I've never had the RAID drives out in this pc and I personay believe it will be difficult and may not even work.

I'll willingly buy anything I need to do this, however I'm not that technical and don't understand Linux.

One thing I forgot to mention is I have an OEM version of xp media centre edition, and you mentioned about installing another operating system onto my raid hard drives? Is this easy with raid and will it definetely not over write my data and photos?

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BlazingAngel, you are certainly an angel mate, I had just burned the DVD using the windows 7 laptop and Dow loaded the USB dvd burner and burned the DVD (couldn't fit it on USB needed 4gb) and had just popped the DVD into the drive if the knackered pc and switched it off ready to switch on again, boot menu, and select DVD!!

Then checked my phone as your email came through just as I was looking at it!! How bad could that have been if I didn't see your email!!

So, I understand I need to NOT run this bootable DVD I've burned with windows 8 evaluation?

I am prepared go do whatever is necessary to get my family photos back, and although I've installed memory, PCI boards, hard drives and the like, I've never had the RAID drives out in this pc and I personay believe it will be difficult and may not even work.

I'll willingly buy anything I need to do this, however I'm not that technical and don't understand Linux.

One thing I forgot to mention is I have an OEM version of xp media centre edition, and you mentioned about installing another operating system onto my raid hard drives? Is this easy with raid and will it definetely not over write my data and photos?

The Windows 8 preview you downloaded and burned to disk will be a full windows 8 setup disk. Installing Windows 8 over the top of Vista as an upgrade install is one possible option (3b above), however I'd recommend that you try other options first! Certainly DO NOT run the Windows 8 (or XP MCE) setup and allow it to re-format / re-partition the drive, 'cus you'll loose everything.

In regard to your Windows XP MCE disk, as far as i know, you can only install a newer version or same version of a Windows operating system over an existing one, at least if you run the setup from within Windows (which you can't), such a restriction might not be given when running the setup having initiated the installation directly from the disk, but I wouldn't advise it, it'll likely cause more problems.

I think it sounds like option 2b or 1 is best for you, infact just go with 2b, go and get yourself a copy of UBCD4Win, burn it to disk, boot that, and backup your files.

Once you've backed up your files, use the Vista reinstall disk to wipe the computer and install a fresh copy of windows.

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Raid was brought up and it was assumed it was 1, are we sure its not 0?

If 0 then you can not just pull out 1 drive out and connect it. If 1 then sure you can pull one out and access the files.

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This is getting deeper.....

I've kind of got somewhere, i've managed to get into Safemode for long enough (around 8 minutes sometimes, othertimes only 30 seconds) and managed to copy files a few at a time over to my external hard drive, i have therefore copied everything that i needed, there is some music files that i would have liked to have copied, but not such a major issue as can always download those again - it was my family photos that i mainly wanted.

This is the problem.

I can't actually get to reformat the hard drive, as its crashing even before Windows starts.

These are the symptoms from the very beginning when it all started:-

1. Originally i couldn't log on, it got to the account log on screen and froze as i was typing in my password. It then started getting worse, whereby it would then not even allow you to left click the account name, but you could move the arrow around the screen fine.

2. I then rebooted into safemode, and was shocked when i was trying to transfer files over to my external hard drive and the screen went black, the power button started flashing red which it does when there is no input being received, and i heard the pc speed up and something spinning quite fast inside.

3. Safemode was initially crashing after about 30 seconds of login in, but tonight a few times its allowed me in for around 8 minutes at a time.

4. I then copied my files across, put the Dell Vista Reinstallation CD into the drive and went into the boot menu, and before i even got to change the boot sequence, it crashed again, screen went black, power button on monitor started to flash red, and the pc tower sped up like something was spinning quickly inside.

So - its not Windows related? Not a virus of Malware???

Any ideas what it could be? I don't really have the money to put the PC into a shop to be tested, but at the same time i don't want to go out and waste money on replacing things that it 'might be'.....

Its a DELL XPS420, about 4-5 ish years old

Edit: I've even tried the diagnostic tool and it got as far as 3/4 way through the CPU test of 4 CPU's and crashed before finishing......

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Guys, do you think I may have cracked it?

Just took the side of the pc off to check inside and its the fan on the nvidea graphics card that's spinning away, is this normal? Can't say as I've noticed it before, also when the machine starts the fan is running, but very smooth and quietly, but when it crashed, the graphics card fan speeds right up.

Could this explain the screen going black and the power button on the monitor flashing as if no input? Also could explain why the account names dissapeared from the screen last night? All sounds likely doesn't it? But what about not being able to click the left mouse button in the account names?

Here is a photo of the graphics card, but there is also a yellow/amber light lit up on the main board at the back, towards the bottom right of the boars can you see it? Is that normal?

IMAG0692.jpg

Next to that amber yellow light on the board it states 'Aux Power' and next to it says 'INTRUDER'????

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Sounds like you have a rootkit installed and it's linked it's self to one of your driver files for the USB or kb/mouse.

Download this to a USB stick and run it in safemode - http://support.kaspe.../tdsskiller.exe

Do a scan.. see what it says

BTW you should have your photos copied into Dropbox or pay for Carbonite or something if they are this important to you..

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I'm glad that you've rescued your files, that's the most important thing.

Guys, do you think I may have cracked it?

Just took the side of the pc off to check inside and its the fan on the nvidea graphics card that's spinning away, is this normal? Can't say as I've noticed it before, also when the machine starts the fan is running, but very smooth and quietly, but when it crashed, the graphics card fan speeds right up.

Could this explain the screen going black and the power button on the monitor flashing as if no input? Also could explain why the account names dissapeared from the screen last night? All sounds likely doesn't it? But what about not being able to click the left mouse button in the account names?

Here is a photo of the graphics card, but there is also a yellow/amber light lit up on the main board at the back, towards the bottom right of the boars can you see it? Is that normal?

<photo snipped>

Next to that amber yellow light on the board it states 'Aux Power' and next to it says 'INTRUDER'????

You seem to have a lot of dust built up. hut the computer down, and try and clean some of that out, just for the hell of it on the off chance that it could be causing a problem (I very much doubt it would be the cause, but worth doing imo). When you turn it back on, make sure that all of the fans are running - if a fan isn't working, it could cause temperatures to rise on whatever components it is meant to be cooling, which could cause odd behaviour. (Again, very unlikely to be the cause, but worth checking).

Ignore the sudden speed up of fans just before the computer shuts down, just after startup, just after a crash, whatever, normally the motherboard and/or operating system will vary the speed of fans, keeping them going only as fast as necessary to provide sufficient cooling, which reduces wasted energy and keeps the computer quieter, fans may suddenly go up to full speed in certain scenarios like those just outlined because whatever controls their speed isn't at that moment in time, e.g. the last few fractions of a second before the computer fully powers down. I.e. what you're experiencing there is most likely perfectly normal behaviour!

In terms of the yellow 'intruder' light, don't worry, by opening the case you've probably just tripped a sensor, which is a sign to technician at the manufacturing company, should you send it back to them, of the fact that the case has been opened. You should be able to reset it in the BIOS settings if you really want to.

Sounds like you have a rootkit installed and it's linked it's self to one of your driver files for the USB or kb/mouse.

Download this to a USB stick and run it in safemode - http://support.kaspe.../tdsskiller.exe

Do a scan.. see what it says

BTW you should have your photos copied into Dropbox or pay for Carbonite or something if they are this important to you..

I believe that he just said that the computer just crashed when trying to open the boot menu, would that not suggest a h/w issue rather than malware?

Still, worth a shot. @Soni, if you can;t get into safe mode to try and run the above rootkit scanner, try it in UBCD4Win - i.e. get UBCD4Win, burn to disk, boot... oh, wait, you said it just crashed before even getting to the boot menu didn;t you, so that's not going to work, never mind.

I think someone more experienced with trouble shooting pc h/w issues needs to take over from me at this point...

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