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Posted on 2006-07-13
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I am thinking this is bad.  This is lose-sleep-over-it-kind-of bad. (At least in my world)

I have a Compaq Armada e500 laptop running Windows XP.

This morning, I shut it down as normal and packed up for work.

I get to work and it won't boot.  Here is what basically happens.

It stays on the Compaq splash screen for a *long time"  then sometimes it:

1.) Beeps three times very loudly and displays the following error:
"FIXED DISK PARAMETER TABLE OR BIOS ERROR"
"SYSTEM HALTED"

or

2.)  it acts like it is about to boot up and then I get  the "Non System Disk or Disk Error" message (like when you leave a floppy in the drive- except I don't have a floppy in the drive.

While I was at work I was poking around on the internet and followed the instructions to create an MSDos startup disk. I put it in and booted up and received the A:\ prompt.  When I enter cd c:\ I get "INVALID DRIVE SPECIFICATIO" as if my HD is totally gone.

This is a major major crisis for me.  Can anyone suggest anything to get me out of this?

Thanks..




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Question by:snyperj
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Expert Comment

by:Scotty_cisco
ID: 17105457
Well.... I hate to be the bearer of not so good news..... this looks like the drive may have gone south on you permanently.... the dos boot disk won't read the XP partition because it is a NTFS file system rather than a FAT file system.

I would honestly try downloading and burning a knopix windows CD and seeing if you can look at any of the data on the drive.

here is a good site.

http://www.webtree.ca/windowsxp/repair_xp.htm

the knoppix option is listed...

http://www.knoppix.net/wiki/Main_Page there is knoppix option...

I hope this helps been there done that now I do regular backups

Thanks
Scott
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by:Purple_Sky
ID: 17105489
from another Scott unfortunetely you will not hear very good news eighter. There is a hardware failure. I would first try a different hard drive in the system. Lets hope it is the hard drive. If so we should discuss the data reacovery options. runtime.org getdataback is the top rated recovery software. I have full confidence in getdataback.
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Accepted Solution

by:
zwseemm earned 200 total points
ID: 17105494
There is still a good chance you can get your data back.
Get an external usb 2.5" disk exclosure.
Install your laptop hard drive in it.
Plug the usb into your home computer or another desktop of laptop.
First of all see if your disk is recognized in my computer
If it is not Download trial of GetDataBack
Install on the computer your usb enclosure is now plugged into
have it search your disk
If it finds your data buy a copy about $70 but is probably worth it. You will have to whether or not it is NTFS or FAT.
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Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 17105516
>> When I enter cd c:\ I get "INVALID DRIVE SPECIFICATIO" as if my HD is totally gone. <<

First, you do not use the "cd" to change to the hard drive. Just "c:" (no quotes)
Second, the bios battery might have gone bad, and you lost you HD setting in the BIOS.
Third, what they said.
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Expert Comment

by:lawyerboy780
ID: 17105921
have you tried running fdisk from a bootdisk or floppy/cd/usb?
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Expert Comment

by:Jonybrv
ID: 17106014
There is one more recommended procedure from Compaq called Power Drain.

The procedure goes like this -- Power Off the laptop, remove the battery, Press and Hold the Power button for 5 to 10 seconds for it to drain excessive power in the capacitors, connect the AC adapter alone and try powering up the Notebook. If it boots up again to the error message, look for the reset button if one available or reset the BIOS values to default. You would do this, by accessing BIOS using F2/F10 key during startup and then selecting the option Set Defaults.

Hope it helps.



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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 200 total points
ID: 17106271
i would :
1-check in the bios if the disk is seen ok
2-take the disk out of the laptop, and connect it as slave to another PC; you can backup your data then, or run tests on it. You will need a 2.5" t0 3.5" IDE adaptor cable :  http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=811539
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Expert Comment

by:examan
ID: 17106732
there may be three resons for this problem

1- something happed to the BIOS
solutions
A : make sure that IDE settings in the BIOS are ok
B : reset the BIOS to it's regular configuration
C : reflash your BIOS with the latest version from manu. website

2- duo to phisycal issues, the cables for you HDD having some problems
this is rare, infact most physical damage will damage the internal parts of your HDD before it goes to the cable
solution
A : open your NB and make sure every thing is connected.


3- Your HDD is gone.
solutions
A : don't touch your drive if it contain any data that you need. If there's important data you may call some experts about data recover ( do a google job for that )
A : replace your HDD with another one...


any way... If you need to open you NB, some manu. will CANCEL your warranty, you may go the authorized dealer and explane the problem to him, if your notebook is still on its warranty you may get free HDD replacement...
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17106811
Many ideas- thanks to all.  Some I understand - some I don't.  

1.) "First, you do not use the "cd" to change to the hard drive. Just "c:" (no quotes)"
- I tried that also but I still get "INVALID DRIVE SPECIFICATION"

2.) "Second, the bios battery might have gone bad, and you lost you HD setting in the BIOS."
->Can that happen "suddenly"?  Is there a way to test that it is bad and if it is- will replacing it solve this?

3.) "have you tried running fdisk from a bootdisk or floppy/cd/usb?"
->I have not.  How do I do that?  Do I just type fdisk from the A:\ prompt ?

4.)"There is one more recommended procedure from Compaq called Power Drain...."
->Followed the steps. I can't get into setup (F2/F10)- I just get the error.

5.) "check in the bios if the disk is seen ok"
->How do I do this?  What am I looking for?

6.) "make sure that IDE settings in the BIOS are ok" , "reset the BIOS to it's regular configuration", "reflash your BIOS with the latest version from manu. website"
-> Can you tell me how to do these steps?  I would like to try- but I don't know how to do them.

I have no warranty with this laptop.  I have opened it up and looked for obvious problems.  I was also hoping just opening it up and disassembling/reassembling a little bit might mysteriously solve the issue.  No luck.  

THANKS FOR ALL THE EFFORTS.



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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17106839
Also, I followed this link (as suggested by nobus):

2-take the disk out of the laptop, and connect it as slave to another PC; you can backup your data then, or run tests on it. You will need a 2.5" t0 3.5" IDE adaptor cable :  http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=811539

> Just so I understand, this will let me remove my HD from the laptop and connect it to another computer through the floppy disk drive?  Will it just show up as another drive on the other computer?

Is this also basically the same idea with the disk enclosure ZWseemm?

Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17107095
snyperj, you seem to lack experience about pc's and notebooks.
In this case, i would be VERY cautious, before trying anything. maybe turning it in to a repair shop is a better (safer) way? - now ; about your last posts :
>>  5.) "check in the bios if the disk is seen ok  << you open the bios, and check if the disk parameters correspond with the installed drive.
>>  Just so I understand, this will let me remove my HD from the laptop and connect it to another computer through the floppy disk drive?   << it lets you  connect a laptopdrive to the IDE cable of a PC. you can NEVER connect a disk to the floppy cable ! and it will show as another disk. the difference with the external disk, is that this system adds an extra hardware layer between the disk and PC, what you do not have if you connect it DIRECTLY to the IDE cable
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17107256
Yes, I lack experience but I want to learn to do it anyway. Thats why I asked.
Everyone lacks experience at some point.  I understand the risks  

How do I open the BIOS?  I always thought that was done by hitting F2 during startup- but as I mentioned,  nothing happens now when I do that.

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Expert Comment

by:zwseemm
ID: 17107407
I would try my suggestion. That is your best bet to save your data.
0
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17107459
"I would try my suggestion. That is your best bet to save your data. "

Thanks- I am looking into that.  Do you know of any retail outlets(CompUSA) where I might be able to get an enclosure?  I have seen them on-line but I was hoping to get something done with this ASAP.  Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17107585
to open the bios : depending on the manufacturer, : F1, F2, F10, F12 or Del key during boot.

here your manual :  
http://www.bio.ifi.lmu.de/~steiner/linux/131511-001.pdf

and in your case, look at page 15-2 - it is F10 key
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17107593
Update: While I was waiting for Compaq screen to go away (during boot up) I continually pressed the F10 key.  Alas, a Computer Setup screen opened.  It has three menu options: File - Security - Advanced

File Menu Options:
System Information
Save to Floppy
Restore from floppy
Restore defaults
Ignore changes and exit

Security Menu Options:
Setup Password
Power-On password
Password Options
DriveLock Passwords
Device Security
System ID's

Advanced:
Language
Boot Options
Device Options


I have scanned through all of the menus but I don't see anywhere that references the HD?

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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17107602
Thanks for the manual nobus!  Looking at it now.
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Expert Comment

by:mysticaldan
ID: 17108799
Usually usuing F10 or F2 or DEL will get u in the BIOS, keep pressing the buttons one after the other, i am not sure which one in your case gets u in the BIOS. Now u shud see what seems to be an IDE device listed there. usually if you ennter the BIOS it shud detect the Hard disk automatically. Check that there are no floppies or CD's in the system there is a chance that the BIOS got reset and it has defaulted to booting from the floppy drive or CDROM. There is also a chance that the hard disk is failing AND behaving erratically.

Dan
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17108852
i would look in device options
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17108977
Nothing there about and IDE device...  Here are what the current settings are under "Device Options" and "Boot Options"  I have NOT changed any of these.


Device Options (current setting):

Num Lock state at boot (ON)
Multiple pointing devices (Enable)
USB legacy support (Enable)
Internal display controller (Secondary)
Video out (NTSC)
Parallel port mode (Bidirectional)
Intel Speedstep Technology (Automatic)
Docking base Unique Identification (Disable)
Processor Number (Disable)

Boot Options (current setting)

QuickBoot (Enable)
Multiboot (Disable)

Boot Order:
Notebook MultiBay (First)
Notebook Floppy (Second)
Notebook hard drive (Third)
Notebook Ethernet (fourth)

Those are all of the choices under those two menu options.  Does anything jump out as being wrong?

Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17109881
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by:simpswr
ID: 17111761
First thing I would try is taking the drive out, then reseating it again to rule out a connection problem
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Author Comment

by:snyperj
ID: 17112722
Well, my day has ended and my worst fears have been realized.  While at work I swapped out my hard drive with another "spare" laptop hard drive.  When I fired it up it went into the boot sequence almost immediately...(just like my old hard drive did- SOB!).. it wound up raising an error during the booting of windows but I wasn't even getting that far before.  I put the spare hard drive back and tested it to make sure I didn't toast anything on that one too.  It was OK.

Already knowing I was DOOMED I still stopped on my way home an picked up a hard drive enclosure.  Followed the instructions and connected it to a USB port on my home desktop.  Desktop sees nothing, mounts nothing. Groan.

In a last ditch effort of desparation, I downloaded the trial of GetDataBack.  The only thing it saw and offered to scan was the desktop hard drive.  Strike three.  I'm done.

I can pick up another hd off ebay for about 80 bucks.  No biggie, but the programs and data I have lost are monumental.  Yes, a lesson learned.  I didn't back it up.

Thanks for the help- I am going for a beer (or stronger.)
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Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 17113010
>> I swapped out my hard drive with another "spare" laptop hard drive <<   Nice trouble shooting.

>> going for a beer (or stronger.) <<    Having been there before, stick with beer.  Cheers!
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 17113425
if you want to recover your data, try one of these :

http://www.gillware.com/                                    data recovery Company
http://www.drivesavers.com/services/estimates.html                     "           "           "
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Assisted Solution

by:mysticaldan
mysticaldan earned 100 total points
ID: 17119882
Usually if the hard disk is all toast there is not much you can do. It teaches you about keeping regular backups the hard way :-( Yes i know it really hurts but if the data is really really imporatant and worth some money to you you can always try the above mentioned companies to retreive data back, You can also try http://www.stellarinfo.com/  these guys are also good. All in all you are out of luck and there is not much you can do by way of getting the hard disk back. One last ditch attempt that you can do which really doesnt hurt is to keep the hard disk in the fridge for abt 12 hrs and let it freeze over, Keep it in an airtight container so that the tempreature comes down and not ice freeze on the disk itself at least not much. Then take it out and attach it to the system quicxkly and see if it works. I have seen some miracles happen this way so give it a shot. The system will keep working for a very little while probably enuf to get backups and all so make sure u keep all backup materials ready. The USB enclosure shud be what you shud look at cause its PnP and can detect the hard disk without having to go thru the Boot proceedure.

Good Luck!!
Dan
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