Hard drive dead:(

This is the most important question that I have ever asked...

Hard drive does not boot.

Comes up with cannot find file HAL.DLL missing or corrupted.  Attempted to recover with windows recovery to no avail.

Can see the C:> but can not bring up any of the directories....

Need to recover data off the drive but when I type DIR at the prompt I do not see the directory.  

Does anybody have the steps to take to recover the data.  Was quoted @ 2300.00 for recovery.  It's too much..

Help please

Thanks in advance

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You can try ontrack's software programs.  But the more things you try the greater the risk of losing further data.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Two things to try (skip #1 if you just want to get the data FAST and with ZERO risk):

(1)  Install the drive as a slave on another system (do NOT write to it).   Download GetDataBack from www.runtime.org;  and see if it can recover the data -- free to try and "see" what it can recover;  you'll have to buy a license to actually recover it.

(2)  Send the drive to Gillware (www.gillware.com).   Excellent recovery company, and MUCH less expensive than OnTrack  (about $400).   They also have a "no recovery, no fee" policy -- but plan on paying, as they are very good.
As garycase mentioned you can hook up as a slave in another system, and if the drive is not too far gone, you can copy the more important files yourself. ($0.00) + cost of a harddrive.
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ouch!  we use GetDataBack, along with a few others when necessary.  if the hard drive is recognized by the BIOS, you stand some chance of recovering the data.  I agree with the previous posts - hook up to another pc as a slave drive.  I use BartPE for this.  check the drive using the file utility and see if anything exists.  if not, then check it using GetDataBack and see what it can find.  If it can't find anything, then start to look a little deeper (or listen for the pinging of the head)

sometimes you may need to replace the PCB with an identical one to retrieve and further yet you may have to resort to more extreme measures.

good luck,


If you just want to recover the data, you may just want to use a spare harddisk to create a new Windows system by making it the master and making the existing harddisk as secondary or slave using the jumper but leave the wire out for the latter first till after the OS has completed installing. Once everything is done, you may power down and hook the Slave drive  and startup again. Do the necessary data copy or transfer from the secondary drive. If you are unable to see any contents in it. It is time you get this software GetDataback as mentioned above to recover the files you need.

GetDataBack is extremely good if you wish to recover deleted files or partitions it even works when you cannot see any contents inside just the drive. And it is non destructive to your affected drive as it only read from it and allow you to recover to another drive or network or cdrom etc.
Install the software GetdataBack and run it  and follow the onscreen instruction/wizard.
There are 2 version of GetdataBack the NTFS and FAT version. It is a good investment to get the software if you can.
Note: Do not try using the vendor diagnostic utility as they read and write back to the affected disk which is bad.
 eg Seagate Diagnostic Disk for Seagate harddisk etc.

Next is Acronis Disk Director Suite which I think only costs $49USD. This also allows you to recover files and deleted partition.

Missing Windows hal.dll file.
Extracted from the site shown below this solutions.
Verify the boot.ini file is found on the computer by using a boot diskette or use your Windows CD to get to the MS-DOS "C:\>" prompt.
From this prompt edit the boot.ini, verify that it is pointing to the correct operating system, and that no anomalies are found within the file. Additional information about editing the boot.ini as well as additional information about its available options can be found on document CH000492. Below is a listing of what to verify
If only one operating system is on the computer verify that the boot.ini only has one operating system listed. In some situations an alternate configuration line may be added for the same operating system, leaving the improper line.
Verify that the "default=" line as well as the operating system line are the same and that they are pointing to the correct operating system.
Verify that the computer has the hal.dll file

From the MS-DOS "C:\>" prompt quickly determine if your computer has the "hal.dll" file by typing "dir hal.dll /s" at the prompt. If the computer returns a "File not found" message, the hal.dll has been deleted.

To recover this file boot the Windows operating system CD and choose the option to "restore", "repair", or "recover". This option will prompt you for the Windows installation to use, the administrators password and will allow you to restore the proper file. At the MS-DOS prompt type the below command.

expand x:\i386\hal.dl_ y:\windows\system32\hal.dll

In the above example "x" would be the letter of your CD-ROM drive and "y" the letter of the drive your operating system is installed on. If you need to determine the drive letters of your devices type "map".

See http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000490.htm
See http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000492.htm


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comments 2 & 3 should be followed first, before trying Getdataback.  This is great program, but very laborious to recover hundreds of files, and it sounds like you dont need it, if all you have is a drive that wont boot XP.  Put it in another system in place of the CD ROM (master on secondary controller), boot that other system, you will probably find all your data sitting right there.  And if this work, points to comments 2 & 3, not to me.

If you cant see data, then proceed with getdataback.
it also sounds to me that your drive is probably ok, but just will not boot.  Probably the easiest thing to do is purchase an external USB drive enclosure (about $29) and place your old drive into the enclosure.  Then you can plug it into any working Windows 2000 or XP computer to recover your files.  This is a lot easier than trying to convince a friend or neighbor to let you open up their computer to install it as a slave drive.  If you still can not retrieve your data, then I have also found Getdataback to be one of the best recovery programs. Note it can take a long time to run.   Once you have recovered the files you want, reinstall the drive back into your desktop and reinstall Windows.
Google Ultimate Boot CD and download the free program.  Boot from this CD to access any files (fat32 or NTFS).  You can also use the included utilities to try to get your PC to boot again.  This worked for me, good luck!!!  Gino123
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Eddie -- how are you coming with this?

Did you give Gillware a call?
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