My laptop is misbehaving.
When I switch it on, I get a screen telling me that it was not shut down properly last time, and offering me various boot options (safe mode, safe mode with network, etc.). If I select any of these options (or let it count down to the default option), it starts loading windows and after a moment or two it very briefly shows a blue screen with a load of text on that I don't have time to read, and then it restarts and does the same thing again.
I have tried booting from a recovery CD. If I use the 'repair' option, it sits there for a while, and then I get a DOS prompt and it does nothing. If I go for a reinstall of the operating system (Windows XP Home) it starts loading files, asks me to select a partition, then tells me that either the partition has insufficient space (not true) or that there is something wrong with it, and it needs to reformat the hard drive.
I have tried using CHKDSK /p from the DOS prompt - it gets to 75% and then jams and does nothing. I tried using 'dir' to see if it could do anything at all and got an error (after 2 or 3 minutes of chugging).
I don't want to reformat my hard drive unless I absolutely have to. I could reconstruct everything on there, but it would take me a very long time and involve a lot of work.
I have been told that there are Windows recovery progs which can be downloaded online, but have not been able to find anything appropriate. The only ones I can see are ones which look for probs with windows after boot. I don't want to buy one of those 'miracle windows recovery'-type CDs from eBay unless I can be sure they even have a chance of working.
Am I doomed to reformat the hard drive, or does anyone have any alternative suggestions?
Apologies in advance if I'm slow at responding to suggestions - I'm working from two sites and the laptop is at the other one.