Partitions have swapped

Hi,
My computer has been experiencing random freezes, for which I cannot find a reason or cause for.  Usually a reboot would get everything all fine again, but recently they've increased in frequency and sometimes even freezes immediately after boot up.  After my last reboot effort, having come out of safe mode, my machine did not boot at all.

I booted from my Win7Pro CD, found my way into command prompt and discovered that my E: has renamed itself into C:, and my C: seems to have vanished. I've cycled through all letters and cannot seem to locate it.  My DVDRom still remains as D:, and what I assume is the recovery type system is labeled as the X: (x:/resources or something similar).

Obviously I can't boot up as the original C: isn't where it should be, and my E: (now the current C:) doesn't have windows on it naturally.

The Startup Repair and System Recovery features have no effect. How can I locate where my proper C: has gone to, and put it, and the original E:, back where they should be?  I really can't afford to lose any of the data from the original E:, it would be a devastating blow.  I really don't know what to do!

Any help is greatly appreciated!
Kayb78Asked:
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rindiCommented:
When you boot from the DVD you won't necessarily see the same drive letters associated to the same partitions as you would when you are starting normally. That is normal and shouldn't worry you further.

First you should run the HD manufacturer's diagnostic utility on your HD. Most of them also allow you to do some basic repairs if errors are found. Allow your tool to do that if it finds errors and offers a repair option. If it finds errors that can't be repaired, get a new HD. You'll find those tools on the UBCD:

http://ultimatebootcd.com

If the HD is fine after the tests, and you still can't boot into windows, and if the System Repair of your Install DVD still don't help, connect the HD to another PC running windows, and if the partitions on the disk can be accessed, copy the data you need from the disk. If the partitions can't be accessed, scan the disk using getdataback and if it sees your files register the tool so you can copy it off. After that reinstall Windows on the HD:

http://runtime.org

Also for the future make regular backups to external devices.
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Kayb78Author Commented:
is UBCD easy enough to use?  i'm not all that experienced with this sort of thing
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rindiCommented:
You just burn the iso to a CD using a utility that is capable of burning iso, like the free infra-recorder:

http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/infrarecorder_portable

Then you make sure the PC is set to boot from CD and boot from it. You the get a menu with different sections. The Harddisk section, Diagnostics is where the manufacturer's diag utilities (and others) are located, and then you just select the one which is for your HD's and it starts. The rest then depends on which app it is.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
The system drive could have no drive letter due to file system issues. Connect the drive as slave to another machine and see what is going on with your file system.
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nobusCommented:
>>  The Startup Repair and System Recovery features have no effect  <<   that does not help - post exactly what happens: any errrors, messages?
but it looks like a dying disk -  so i would ASAP backup the data
hook the drive to a working PC to copy the data, or boot from a live Knoppix cd : ftp://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V6.7.0CD-2011-08-01-EN.iso 

if you are unfamiliar with these - contact a pc shop, or a friend with more experience to do it..
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Kayb78Author Commented:
i used the UBCD, didn't actually change any settings with it, but i had a good look around. don't how, but it ended up revealing the missing drive, so i have been able to restore their proper order and everything seems to be running fine now.

no idea what has caused this, or if it will happen again.  have been madly backing up everything i can for the last couple of hours
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Check your C: file system with CHKDSK /f after you backup it. Bad FS is often the cause for boot problems.
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nobusCommented:
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