Desktop PC now refuses to Boot!

  Greybeard52 09:25 02 Nov 2010

I have a 5 year old Vantage Firefly PC running Windows XP SP3 with 2.5G Ram and, apart from a few glitches one would expect, this machine has worked well over its lifetime. The system has two physical hard drives installed: Drive C: was the one the machine came with and had windows installed on it. The secondary drive, installed by me, is 160Gb with 5 partitions. Again this has worked faultlessly since installing.

On Sunday I installed 2 updates from Windows update in the same way I have done over the years. These updates were for Microsoft .NET framework 2.6? or 3?, didn't really look too closely. Items were installed and the final window stated that the 'Updates installed successfully'. However, the screen had now frozen and there was no response to the mouse or keyboard (both of which are wireless USB items).
I was left with no option but to hit the 'reset' button on the PC Case.

When the PC fired up again I got the message 'Reboot and Select Proper Boot Device or Insert Boot Media in Selected Boot Device and press a key'. Unfortunately the keyboard is not responding so again I have to press 'Reset'.

I have since started the machine with my original Windows XP Disc in the DVD drive and this boots okay and the keyboard works. I have resisted the temptation to re-install Windows so have used the 'Recovery' console. However, when I am asked which 'Windows Installation' I would like to log onto, there is only 1 option, and that's Drive D:, the DVD drive!! There is no option for Drive C:, which is the boot drive and where Windows was installed,

The BIOS recognises both Hard drives, floppy and DVD and the boot settings are correct and have not been changed. I have checked all the connections and removed and re-seated them, all to no avail.

From the Recovery Console Window if I do a DIR of Drive C: I get the following:

10/21/04 09:12p d--hs--- 0 Recycled
01/15/06 08:12p d--hs--- 0 System Volume Information
2 file(s) 0 bytes
24572428288 bytes free

So Windows knows the Drive is there, but reckons its empty!! The same has happened to my 160 Gb secondary drive and all the partitions, including my BACKUP partition!! (yes, I did have a backup but not on an external Drive!)

Now I guess the directory has been corrupted and my files, pictures, music etc are still on the drive and of course I want to recover them, but I haven't got a clue how to restore things. Would this have been caused by Windows Update?

I do (did) have an up to date copy of Zone Alarm Extreme Security Suite, which had not flagged up any viruses etc. so what's gone wrong?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

  onthelimit 09:32 02 Nov 2010

There have been many reports of different problems following the last batch of updates. Can you start in safe mode to try a system restore to before the updates?

  Batch 09:39 02 Nov 2010

Push come to shove, if nothing else works, I'd buy a new HDD and reinstall WIndows onto that (without your current disks in the machine).

Then try your existing disks in an extrenal caddy and see if you can retrieve information.

  Greybeard52 10:08 02 Nov 2010

Thanks for the prompt responses.

Unfortunately I cannot boot from the system at all, so Safe Mode is not an option, and the Windows XP Boot disc only offers to 'Install' or 'Recovery Console' and the console doesn't think my C: drive has windows installed so the Restore points are not accessible.

I have checked and re-checked all the connections, unlpugged and re-seated everything with no luck. Unfortunately the Recovery Console doesn't appear to give me access to my Broadband Router so I cannot go online and download or run any software, and if I download via my working laptop, I am not sure I will be able to use any of the USB ports.

Certainly installing a fresh HDD and installing windows on that would be the cheapest option. I had looked at installing Windows 7 to give the machine a bit more life, and I did run the Windows Easy Transfer program a few days ago onto a 250Gb external drive, so maybe my files will be on that?

Anyway with a working system I would at least be able to attempt to recover the data from the existing drives, but I am not sure what an external 'Caddy' is or where to get one from.

  onthelimit 10:14 02 Nov 2010

An external caddy allows you to plug in your old HDD - a usb connection to a working PC allows you to transfer data across. I use a cable to achieve the same end - click here is just one example

  Greybeard52 10:46 02 Nov 2010

The internal gubbins of my Desktop PC has a removeable metal 'box' or 'caddy'? with both drives in. Is this what you mean?

If so the cable you mention seems to be the answer. At least I can then connect it to my working laptop and attempt to recover the data from both drives one at a time using Active Partition Recovery or similar.

I would guess all my program files are probably lost, but then I would have had to re-install them anyway if I had upgraded to Windows 7!

  onthelimit 10:55 02 Nov 2010

Not quite. An external caddy allows the naked drive to be plugged into it and then connected to a pc by USB. The cables I suggested do this without an external box - they just plug onto the removed HDD and plug into a USB port. They come with their own mains power supply, so don't overload the USB port.

  Greybeard52 11:01 02 Nov 2010

Understood, makes sense. I have ordered the cable etc., already so hopefully I will be able to get somewhere in the next day or two.

I would just like to say a big 'Thank you' to all who have responded to my plea for help. I have been a member of this forum for many years but never had many occasions to ask for help.

As usual, you have come up trumps (hopefully).

Will come back and post how I got on.

  onthelimit 11:06 02 Nov 2010

Good luck. If you have problems, read FruitBat's advice on this thread click here re ownership.

  woodchip 12:44 02 Nov 2010

You can choose Setup, then windows looks for a Operating System, after it finds XP click on it and then press R for repair. You will not loose your work but will have to Reinstall all Windows Update including Service Patches

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 16:48 02 Nov 2010

Boot to recovery console and run a disk check

Change directory to c: (cd c:\)

c:\chkdsk /r

let it run through it may repair the file directory and you then can reboot into windows normally.

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