what's dead? The following file is missing or corrupt... hal.dll, ntoskrnl.exe, Ntfs.sys

I'm wondering if my computer's hard disk, windows XP op sys or something else has failed:

I was out of the country for a month. My laptop ran for 25 days in my office, then failed. Upon returning I saw there was an error:
"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file."
If got that to recover with CHKDSK C: /r and/or from the recovery CD,  the expand command. Also ran the expand for the next missing file:
expand <cd-drive>:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ <hd-drive>:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe
Now its complaining about \system32\Drivers\Ntfs.sys

What is it? Am I looking at a failed drive, corrupted windows, both or something else?
I have a backup (on Carbonite) but would prefer to copy may many needed files off this drive if possible.

Any suggestions appreciated.
PlanktonSPGAsked:
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Wayne BarronAuthor, Web DeveloperCommented:
Take the drive out of your current system
And put it into another system either by ribbon or USB.
Backup all your wanted data.

Now.
Go to the manufactures website for the drive that you have
Download their Drive Utility software.
Boot from it, and let it scan your drive.
1st: Short Scan
2nd: long Scan
3rd: Low level Format (Write all 0's to the drive)

This will let you know if your drive is good or bad.

Your error happens when your OS becomes unbootable unstable.
You have lost something along the way.
Best to follow the information provided above and then if the drive is still good
Reinstall the system from Scratch.

Good Luck
Carrzkiss
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Reece DoddsCommented:
before you do that... (well, backup your data definately), boot from the XP cd, press R on the first prompt screen, log on to the correct OS install then type FIXBOOT, y (for yes).
Reboot and see if it loads up.
If not, do the same procedure again but instead of using FIXBOOT, type FIXMBR, y.
If this doesn't help either, use a HDD diagnostic utility (like seatools or one on the UBCD) and test the HDD for faults.

You could also try booting from the XP CD, pressing enter on the first prompt screen, F8 to agree to the license, and then (if it finds it) select the current Windows install and do "Repair".  This will install the OS over the top, replacing system files and some drivers,  it WILL leave data intact.
This, however, won't work either if the HDD is faulting with bad sectors or something of the like.
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Wayne BarronAuthor, Web DeveloperCommented:
Repair.
Yes, this works as a temp solution.
If there is anything wrong with the os, it will return.

>>HDD diagnostic utility
I already mentioned this.

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nobusCommented:
i always do this :
1- test the disk with the proper diag (find all on the ubcd  : http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/      
2-if the disk is reported bad - i run HDD regenrator over it, to check if it can repair the bad sectors  :  http://www.dposoft.net/

3-if the sectors are repaired, start repairing the OS, by running chkdsk on the drive,  (i follow it up with defragmentation)
4- if still problems, run sfc, or a repair install
http://www.updatexp.com/scannow-sfc.html                        SFC use in XP
http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm            Repair install  XP

5- if the sectors were NOT repaired - replace the disk - and do a fresh install
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Reece DoddsCommented:
PlanktonSPG - if you decide to attempt nobus' suggestion, make sure you backup your data first.
A physical disk scan can make it worse if the drive is actually deteriorating.  As can a "bad sector repair".
If the drive is failing and going to get worse, the first thing you EVER want to do is retrieve data.  Once you've got that weight of your shoulders, disk scan, repair, fix mbr, dishwasher.... doesn't matter what, it won't be as bad as losing your data because you didnt backup first!

I've made my suggestion, they only take 1-2 mins each and maybe 20 for the repair install.
It's up to you what order you tackle this.
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nobusCommented:
he has a backup (which you always need to have)
but what good will your suggestions do on a bad disk?  that is why i recommend to start from the bottom, and ensure it is ok first
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PlanktonSPGAuthor Commented:
Between recovering the disk with the tools mentioned here and using Carbonite (3 days to restore!) I have all my data. The drive is toast and another is ordered. Lesson learned: ghost drive for more rapid rebuild after disk loss.
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Windows XP

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