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Windows 7 drive letters changed

I have studied and tried for 3 days, but now I need your help.  I think after the MS update on 12/25/12, the drive letters changed (during the night) and my computer was found off the next morning.  It will not boot.  I have the HDD cabled to my laptop as an external and everything seems to be fine.  I have run SpinRite on the drive, which is only a little over a month old (1.5 Tb with 3 partitions of about 500 Mb each)  It shows now as F: 100 MB, G: (what used to be D:), H: (what used to be E) and I: (what used to be C:).  I have tried he system restore to two previous working restore points, and it has failed.  There are a few more I will try.  
a.  I cannot get into Safe Mode
b.  I cannot do Regedit (which is where MS Knowledgebase 223188 says to go)
c. I have the original disk Win 7 Home Premium.
d. If I have to reformat, I have disk for Win7 Ultimate.
e. I have made a copy of UBCD 5.1.1 but I have no idea how to use it, but it does run.  
This is a computer I had made for me at Frys several years ago, so I have no manufacturer to return to.  It had Win XP until last month.  

Can I get into the registry with the HDD as an external on my laptop?  

I am dreading the copying of all my files to make sure I have them all!  

Please help!
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When you connect a disk that has windows on it to another PC running windows and read it from there, your drive letters on that 2nd disk will naturally be different than they were on the original PC. The OS you boot from on that 2nd PC usually uses the same drive letters as the OS on the 2nd HD used, so in order to be able to see the partitions on that 2nd HD you get other drive letters assigned which are still available...

Put the disk back into the original PC, then boot that PC using the ubcd you burnt, go to the Hard-Disk diagnostics, select the manufacturer's diagnostic of your HD, and then run the long or comprehensive diagnostic. If the tool finds errors which it can't repair, the disk must be replaced. Also run the memtest86+ diagnostic on that CD and if that finds any errors, change out the bad RAM.

If you need to change the disk, you can still connect it as a 2nd disk to your other PC again and copy off any data you shouldn't have a backup of yet.

After changing the disk, just boot from your Original Windows 7 home premium DVD and install the OS from there, or if your old disk is fine and you want to reinstall, do the same. You can delete and create the partitions during the installation. You don't need the Windows 7 Ultimate DVD for that.

To access the registry, you would need to boot into a UBCD4Win (but for that you need a Windows XP CD so you can create the CD). This CD then has several tools which allow you to connect to the registry of the not booted OS and change it's settings:
Drive letters will not be the same when drive is slaved to another PC. That's normal. Drive letters will be assigned based on what's already connected to that PC.

Install drive back into it's PC. Boot from the UBCD and run drive manufacturer's diagnostics on the hard disk to ensure disk is healthy.

Then boot from the Win 7 DVD and select recovery options.

What exactly happens when you boot the PC?

It could be a corrupted boot sector. If so, these steps may help.
how did you run system restores if you are unable to boot ?
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I guess I was not clear.  With nothing in the DVD drivs, the computer boots to where the little colored dots (which later make the window) appear.  Then it goes to the black screen with the cursor arrow.  

With the Win 7 disk in the drive and having CD drive as the boot drive, I was able to do the system restore options, trying Startup repair -- about 10 times to no avail.  I think this is where it said the drive letter was changed.
System Restore - I tried two of them--This happened after MS update on 12/25, so before that and before the one on 12/21.  No good there, either.

I can get a command prompt, but I don't know what to do.  

The SpinRite application should be the same but more powerful than CHKDSK; I bought it when the previous HDD on this computer would not start.  I was able to recover all of my data.  (Some was only recoverable after the 1 hour in refrigerator trick they told me!)

HMMM, this makes my mind think maybe it is something else that is causing the problem.  The old HDD works fine as a slave.  It just did not have the black screen I have done so much reading about, and there was nothing about wrong drive letters then.  

I will try memtest86+.
From my previous post:  It could be a corrupted boot sector. If so, these steps may help.

Expand the Bootrec.exe options and follow instructions there.
First of all STOP what you are doing, right now..  You've determined that the problem is not physical damage to the hard drive.  

Either put the drive back into the original pc or change your laptop boot options to boot from cdrom, the external drive and finally the laptops internal drive (if possible).  It probably will not boot from the laptop.

When you installed Windows 7 how did you do it?
F: 100 MB, G: (what used to be D:), H: (what used to be E) and I: (what used to be C:).

So it looks like you removed the Windows XP partition so the disk layout is system reserved (100mb [primary), DATA1 (primary), data 2 (primary), OS (primary). Weird layout please from the ORIGINAL computer boot from the windows 7 DVD.  Try the repair startup options, if these continue to fail, then go into the command prompt and via diskpart.exe
list disk        (this will return a list of physical disks on the system, you probably only have 1
list vol          (this will show you the list of volumes on your system

DISKPART> list vol
  Volume ###  Ltr  Label        Fs     Type        Size     Status     Info
  ----------  ---  -----------  -----  ----------  -------  ---------  --------
  Volume 0     G                       DVD-ROM         0 B  No Media
  Volume 1     H   WD SmartWar  UDF    CD-ROM       668 MB  Healthy
* Volume 2         System Rese  NTFS   Partition    250 MB  Healthy    System
  Volume 3     C   Windows 8 P  NTFS   Partition    352 GB  Healthy    Boot
  Volume 4     F   Windows Ser  NTFS   Partition    244 GB  Healthy
  Volume 5     D   Downloads    NTFS   Partition    335 GB  Healthy
  Volume 6     E   Storage Spa  NTFS   Partition     11 TB  Healthy


Open in new window

On my system vol 2 is the system reserved partition, if there isn't an asterisk "*" beside it do the following:

select volume 2
list vol   (to confirm that it is now set active)

Open in new window

now that we have an idea of what is going on exit disk part but remember the drive letter that is your operating system:
from the normal command prompt

bootsect /nt60 SYS" or try "bootsect /nt60 ALL"
bcdboot x:\windows (replace x: with the drive letter that diskpart showed you)
reboot the system it should boot normally (you may have an extra entry in your bcd menu you can use msconfig and modify the boot options to remove this.
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In response to ve3ofa:

This HDD is brand new 1.5 Tb from WD.  It was a different one that had XP.  

According to something I went through last night, the event of the night before it quit working was a Windows update on 12/25/12.  The temperature did not ever go over 104 F according to SpinRite.  

BTW, when I connect my HDD to my laptop, I just connect the cables I have to it while it is still in the desktop, so switching its attachment is fairly simple.  I have to remove one of the SLI video cards to actually remove it from the case.  

On Startup repair, Problem signatures 01 and 02  6.1.7600.16385
signature 03:  unknown
signature 04:  25
signature 05: autofailover
signature 06: 1
signature 07 No root cause
OS Version 6.1.7601.
Locale ID: 1033

Restore points are on 12/25 (affects no programs), 24 (affects no programs), 21, 21, 18 and 18, of which 25, 24 and the last 18 were citical updates.  

I had installed several programs on 12/18, so I decided to restore to before those.  

Unspecified error occurred during system estore. (0x80070002) I was planning on going to command prompt.  

It rebooted (without expectation), and I had the Win 7 DVD in the drive, so I am booting from that.  

Here, on System Recovery Options from the Win 7 disk, is where it says Windows 7 is on location F: Local Disk, partition size 3999999Mb.  (This used to be C: and has been I when attached to my laptop.) I knew I had not dreamed that F: drive letter!

Now I am back to the same screen of System Recovery Options.  I will do the Bootrec thing after the diskpart.  Thanks, gentlemen!  In the famous words..., "I'll be back."
Do you have a card reader in your PC?
skennedy, any comments on my post?
Okay, on Diskpart list vol

Volume 0     G  (CD Rom drive             No media
Volume 1     H  (second CD Rom drive      3167 Mb Healthy
Volume 2     C  System ReserveNTFS Partition 100Mb     Healthy
Volume 3     D  Database   NTFS Partition    518Gb     Healthy
Volume 4     E  Pictures   NTFS Partition    488Gb     Healthy
Volume 5     F  (no name)  NTFS Partition    390Gb     Healthy

I guess this is why I thought my C: drive was now F.

There are no asterisks (*) and nothing in Info at all.  

On to fixing the boot sector, I guess!  

bootsect/nt60 all  was successful on all drives.  
bcdboot x:\windows (replace x: with the drive letter that diskpart showed you)  Using C was a failure, repeated with F, and it was successful.  

I took the Win 7 disk out of the drive and restarted.  

I have a nice black screen wih an arrow cursor.  

I will reinsert the disk and go through the system recovery again.  Surely something good happened!
I'll be back.
I am further along.  Trying normal boot, again black screen, but I was able to get to Safe Mode.  I am there now.
I did a system restore to before several apps were installed,12/18/12.  It still won't boot except in Safe Mode.  
Not hitting CD as OS goes to black screen.  

Went to HDD as boot drive, last known good configuration.  Got to put in my password!  

First time I have all 3 monitors working, still wants to do ystem Restore--0x80070002 error, but it still has those apps that I thought I was bypassing on the last restore to 12/18 rather than 12/25.  

The local disk C has errors.  You must check the disk fo errors befor i can be restored.  

Shutting down to go to a command prompt to run chkdsk.  
It started chkdsk by itself.  
It did find errors and hopefully is fixing them. After it is through I will run it again and SpinRite and if nothing changes, I will run (I assume after purchase) the one mentioned by Nobus, HDDRegenerator.  

While this is running, I will say this:  As a retired teacher, I am quite independet.  I apparently wasted three days being so independent and reading everything I thought was relevant on the internet and on EE before asking you questions.  I hate to waste other people's time by just asking, when most of the time I am able to find an answer to my probems by reading the other posts.  I guess when it is so important to my computer's health, I need to just take advantage of my years' worth of paid membership and let you real computer geniuses do your thing!  You are GREATLY appreciated!

Nobus, I guess I have slight alzheimers or dementia, though, as with my Master's Degree in science education and self-taught MS Access programming (with lots of help from you at EE), I was too afraid to do much with UBCD for fear of losing all my data.  I had already read all they had at their website, but I did not understand it.  I did use it once about 10 years ago, from the date on the previous version I found in my CD collection.  Yes, I did download a fresh copy yesterday.  

>>  I was too afraid to do much with UBCD for fear of losing all my data.  <<  that is normal, no one wants to loose it
hence  - ALL diags i know do not delete ANY data, unless you select write all zero's to the whole platter
how to use it : you boot up the cd, and navigate with arrow keys to the section you want (Good old Dos style)

i assume you know how to make the cd from an ISO ?
Since you already have spinrite you don't need to purchase hddregenerator.  I do know that spinrite has problems with AHCI being enabled in the bios... Do you remember setting the hard drive options in the bios to AHCI at any point? This will cause boot errors unless you set it back afterwards..

Still strange disk partitioning where the OS is in the last partition.

You say that the disk reported as
"Volume 5     F  (no name)  NTFS Partition    390Gb     Healthy" I would have expected
"Volume 5     F  (no name)  NTFS Partition    390Gb     Dirty" if chkdsk needed to be run..

You may have to do a repair install (overinstall) of the operating system.. in safe mode see if you can do a sfc /scannow to ensure that the system operating files are in good shape after chkdsk.

Remember that there are only 2 classes of disk drives: those that have failed and those that will fail. It could be after 1 day of use, or 10 years of use.
Gentlemen!  It just restarted and has booted up to the C drive and shows D and E with their respective file sizes correct.  I will do some more checking before accepting solutions, but I am 95% there!  (Guessing on the %!)
I'll be back again shortly! Food and drink required first!
"I do know that spinrite has problems with AHCI being enabled in the bios... Do you remember setting the hard drive options in the bios to AHCI at any point? This will cause boot errors unless you set it back afterwards.. "  No, I did not make such a change.  

I just booted with the Win 7 DVD and got to command prompt.  Ran chkdsk and it was very quick, saying all okay.  

I then typed scannow and it gave me some information--explanation ofcodes, I guess
--then I again typed sfc /scannow and it said it was beginning a system scan, which would take  some time.  Then says that there is a sysem repair pending which requires rebooting.  To restart windows and run sfc again.  That's what I am doing.
fine to see you're getting somewhere -maybe 2013 ?
Okay, that made me laugh, nobus!  It is still 2012!  I hope I can fix this THIS YEAR!
Well, I'm back!  I decided to boot to Win 7 DVD, got to command prompt, then did diskpart
then list vol.  

Okay, on Diskpart list vol

Volume 0     G  (CD Rom drive             No media
Volume 1     H  GSP1RMC(name on Win7 dvd)   3167 Mb Healthy
Volume 2     C  System ReserveNTFS Partition 100Mb     Healthy
Volume 3     D  Database   NTFS Partition    518Gb     Healthy
Volume 4     E  Pictures   NTFS Partition    488Gb     Healthy
Volume 5     F  (no name)  NTFS Partition    390Gb     Healthy

Should the data on what was the C: drive still be on F?  

I did attach the network cable before I did this last boot.  I was able to see my other networked computers' icon when booted from HDD.  

Nobus, I keep finding posts you have made after I thought I had read that part of all the posts.  You are sticking in there with me through all this.  Thanks.  Yes, I have several apps thatmake DVDs from .iso files, but somehow my laptop's Roxio DE 10 does ot see my CD drive at all for the past few days, so I have used Active@IsoBurner on both my and my husband's computers where I have purchased new copies of Win 7 Ult and Office 2010 keys and had to download the files.  Somehow his "slow" computer only took 5 hours for one download where my laptop (wirelessly) was going to take 10 hours.  I am the only one home right now, but I have 4 computers running.  There are two others turned off.  (I am old so I keep old things around me.)  

Back to your comment about UBCD, I could swear that some of the explanations stated that some data would be written over--I'll try it again.
I'm confused. Are you able to boot into normal mode? If not, what happens when you try to boot into normal mode?
from Win7 disk: command prompt:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr says it was successful.

bootrec.exe /scanos  gave 0 windows installations, and says thatwas successful!

boorec.exe /rebuildbcd
gave 0 windows intallations, so it thinks it was successful!  

Should I be giving it a drive letter?
WillComp, I was trying to see if I could check everything again.  I am now attempting a normal boot without the windows CD in the drive.
And... the black screen with the cursor arrow is back again!
Can you boot into safe mode?
No.  When I get to the black screen with just the arrow cursor, I am stuck there.  Control-Alt-Delete does not work and I don't remember whether I was able to get an F8 in there before it went to the black screen this time.  

I am booting to Win 7 DVD now and trying the startup repair again.  (Had to go walk Mutt Case.)

When this finishes, I will make a Safe Mode attempt.
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I got successful notes on the first two, but on chkdsk /r it says the type of the file system is NTFS.  Cannot lock current drive.  Windows cannot run disk checking on this volume because it is write protected.  

I think it is trying to do so on the win7 DVD.  I cannot get it to cd c:\
it still has x:\sources>  

Looking back at the screen snapshots I made with my phone during all these processes, I remember now that it did chkdsk on is own.  

Restarting.  without Win 7
Got to Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
Was able to type in password.
Got c:\windows\system32>

at c:\windows\system32 typed bootrec /fixmbr and got message that it was not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.  
I changed to c: and typed it again, and same response.  
Ditto on c: bootrec /fixboot and
ditto on c:\>chkdsk /r

Still in Safe Mode at c: prompt
Should I now try the bcdedit /export c:\bcd_backup etc.  that are on the MS 927392 Method 1?
Boot from the DVD again and enter command prompt.

To run chkdsk from DVD try these:

chkdsk c: /r

chkdsk f: /r

You cannot run chkdsk from the boot hard drive.
Since Vista microsoft has made the operating system drive drive C: which was nice if you had more than one operating system, i.e. Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003, one would be C: and the next one would be maybe F: so when installing a program you had to be careful to make sure that it said f:\Program files\ ... often had to do a custom install since all programs defaulted to drive c:

Note: only when you boot from outside of the operating system will your drive letters get mixed up as it will just be looking at the hard drive and setting drive letters as it finds partitions. Normally Windows 7 the system reserved partition does not have a drive letter, the operating system is drive C: and the remaining drives get assigned the next available drive letters, unless you customized the drive letters and the operating system will recognize this and using the disk-id will assign the drive letter as you had customized it to be.

Try booting from the hard drive and press F8 periodically while the system is attempting to boot... you should not have to do the bootrec and other options as you did get it to boot into safe mode at one time.. Note: I never do a chkdsk x: /r just a chkdsk x: /f as I don't want to recover sectors with errors on them.
Everything okay on C:
256 file records processed
Verification process
no large file, no bad file, no EA, etc.  
All seems to fit a 100Mb sector.  

on F:

254976 File records processed,
553 large files processed, 0 bad
0 EA, 60 reparse
records processed, etc.  

I have never encountered this "F" drive before.  Is its presence normal?  I thought the system files, appliations and the data on the "C:" drive would be on C:  
This is about 500 Mb, so it is just on 14%.
I reiterate: Note: only when you boot from outside of the operating system will your drive letters get mixed up as it will just be looking at the hard drive and setting drive letters as it finds partitions. not as how you set them back inside the operating system they will be as you expect them.
Ve3ofa, Were you reading my mind?  You answered the questions I asked before I hit "submit."

I did run SpinRite on this drive before I installed any OS on it--brand new.  It was fine!  

I have copied all the files, about 800 Gb, so I am able to reformat and reinstall  

I have XP that I bought with this machine when  had it built, Win 7 I purchased a month ago (unfortunately it is OEM version), and I just purchased Win 7 ULT.  Should I build a 2 OS system with XP and Win 7?
It's difficult to figure which is the boot drive. From you partition table, F: is a 390GB partition. Did you partition the disk into multiple partitions when you installed Windows 7?

Your best bet at this point may be to backup your data files and reinstall Windows. If you want to continue trying to recover, we'll be glad to help. Based on partition sizes, Windows 7 is not installed on the C: drive. Any of the other partitions could be the boot volume.
Okay, I'm dense!  I am seeing the F: because I am on the Win 7 DVD.  Thanks.
The Windows 7 DVD should show the partitions accurately along with drive letters assigned to the best of my knowledge.
One option is to create a UBCD4Win and boot from it so you can access Disk Manager and see which, if any, partition is set as active. The active partition will be the boot partition.

Although the UBCD4Win is based on XP, it will read NTFS partition information on hard disks up to 2TB.
Yes, I partitioned the drive when Iinstalled the OS.  It was (until the other day) C: as the boot partition with applications, OS and data, D (which  called Database, as it has my database files (I write MS Access applications part-time (with VBA)), and E: caled Pictures, where I have my pictures--being an avid photographer (avid, not good),and I went digital back in 1998.  
Still at 14%, but te number of files is oninuing toincese, so it is not stopped.
Okay, as soon as the chkdsk on the F drive (formerly called C:) is finished, I will stick in this UBCD4win drive that I made yesterday (Ver 5.1.1).  

I'll see if I can make hide - or - hair of those instructions again!
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@ve3ofa - I would suspect that also, but nothing is here that tells me which partition is active unless I missed something.
the "system recovery" partition should be marked as active, she didn't change it to show as active after given instructions on how to do it.

the normal situation when booting from the dvd is to show the disks as c: being the system recovery and d: being the OS partition. This confuses the heck out of people.. now consider my situation with having 2 operating systems and when I want to work on the second operating system the drive f:(s2K12)  becomes c: and drive c: (win8) becomes f: even worse when booting from the dvd.. win8 is D: and s2K12 is H:
I would think that there's not a system recovery partition since Win 7 was installed on a new hard disk.

Also, the system recovery partition (manufacturer system recovery) is not marked as active in the ones I've seen.
CHKDSK has finally finished.  No bad sectors; free spac was marked as allocated in the Mster file table bitmap.  

That was the only comment.  Everything seemed okay.  

I just did the  diskpart list vol and got the same as before.  No asterisk and the F partition healthy.  

Now going to safe mode to do a sfc /scannow
I will try to do a repair install while in safe mode as per instructions by Ve3ofa.  (You must explain your name.)
my old amateur radio callsign -- VE3 (ontario) OFA  (my 3 letter suffix)

instead of system recovery I should have used the term 'system reserved'
Oops.  In safe mode, running from the actual hard drive, going to command prompt from the help and support page thatopened due to safe mode, it says it does not recognize sfc.  

Reading back on what I have typed today, I apologze for all the typos.  Being an editor, I am hard on those who make mistakes but my laptop is difficult.  

As I read my notes, I see I ran this before from the Win7 DVD, not from the actual system.  

okay, booting up with UBCD4Win 5.1.1.

I went to some parts of UBCD and had no idea what I was doing.  

I have to go get grandkids for the New Year's Eve.  Son is at Houston Fire Department so I have to go help his wife with the kids.  
I'll expect you all back in 2013!  Happy New Year.  
Well, I just found 5 more posts from y'all.  

I am actually learning a lot and won't mind messing anything up as I will probably just reformat and reinstall everything.  I own everything I install, unlike many out there, so that is not a problem.  

and ve3ofa, Regarding "@willcomp: please read the question thread: the last partition on the hard drive is indeed her OS partition.. How it got there she only knows.
http:#a38733280," I wish I did know!  

You gentlemen have been very enlightening and very sweet.  This will continue into 2013, unfortunately.  Have a good, safe night!  I'll be back... tomorrow!
The most common reason for the  OS partition being F: is an USB reader, connected at the install of the OS, which takes up some letters.  other reasons are also possible

here a bunch of solutions :

you don't have another video card to test with?
or a similar pc with W7 ?  then connect the disk to it, and boot  -it will install all the different drivers - and that may be a cure  (i have to say - i did not try this step yet)
Well, Nobus was right.  Here we are in 2013!  Hope everyone partied safely.  
I took the party to 6 avid partygoers--aged 9, 7, 5, 2, and 5 months!  (and their mother).  Only the 7-year old and I made it to midnight in Houston, but all but 2-year old were up to see the ball drop.  Then they quickly dropped!  

I booted from Win7 DVD and went to command prompt.  Followed the bootrec options:

•      bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
•      c:
•      cd boot
•      attrib bcd -s -h -r
•      ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
•      bootrec /RebuildBcd

Successfully scanned and identified 1 Windows installation  f:\Windows

Added to boot list

Says was successful.  

Typed bootrec /fixmbr
Bootrec /fixboot
Bootrec /scanos

Said successful but 0 os’s found
I tried to get to go to F: but it would not stay there.  
I am giving up.  Time to reinstall Windows 7!

You are all wonderful.  I was never successful, so I followed your instructions on how to clean the hard drive and reinstall the Windows 7 OS.  I am about to set the partitions.  I made the first one too small before, as my "running data" almost filled it.  

I am shrinking the C: and strangely it won't let me shrink to lessthan 1/2 of the 1430697 Mb.  (714786 Mb).  I am okay, asI alreay stated that I wned to go bigger than I had before, but it says that it cannot due to unmoveable files located in the sector.  I assumed all was cleaned since it only had ONE drive and I did a clean.  Oh, well, more to ponder!  At least it says that there is a C: drive, the DVD drive and the syste reserved (with no letter).  

I will also make sure that when I subscribe to a cloud service,should I ever change, that I have it backing up the right computer.  

Backblaze backed up my laptop rather than my desktop!  I caused it by being on my laptop when I purchased it.  

I have tried to be fair on the points.  I had more comments from ve3ofa,  but willcomp was right in there and nobus brought more in the end--which I will (or even before writing y'all did) read.

The OS is installed, and now it is time to install my favorite apps, Office Pro 2010, PaperPort, DNS, Snag-It and Roxio Creator 2012.  I cannot live without those.  

Happy New Year!  If anyone doubts your sincerity and tenacity, have them get in touch with me!!

Also, I'll check to see if I can double your points.
instead of all that stuff, you can use the paragon rescue cd :
If you defragment the drive you might be able to shrink it even more.. There is an old saying that nothing is considered backed up unless you have 3 copies of the data.  The same goes with not testing the backup periodically like a fire-drill.
hey radio guy  - then we don't have time for the normal work left !!
Nobus, do you and ve3ofa work together?  Did you actually work regular jobs on New Year's Day, or explai your last comment!  (Curious like Mutt Case, who is destroying my house--Broke the nothing less than 2 years and got a 6 month puppy from the pound. I am leaving town and have packed my suitcase, to find part of its contents in a different room just now....)

I'll be gone awhile, leaving my sweet husband with the dogs, and I am officially turning off my desktop until I return. I turned it off last night after aving let it sit for awhile and came back to the black screen with no cursor this time and nothing happening--no control-alt-delete or anything.  I had to do a hard shut-down.  It does boot to Windows, though.  

If all 3 attached monitors work, compute boots fine (now), any suggestions on what to do now (next week) before I load all again?  (I will still have e-mail and internet on my trip.)

Again, thanks, Gentlemen.
maybe best to do a fresh reload..
my comment was about the 3 copies of the backup
Okay.  I will do that.  

I have Second Backup, which does 3 copies.  Some backup apps do more than 3.  I always have way too many copies of everything.  Therefore all the external hard drives and cloud services as well.  

I mentioned the refrigeration of te hard drives if they have quit working. Have y'all heard of that?  It DOES work!  1 hour in refrig and HDDs that would not respond do either then or after they have later warmed up!  That's how I got data that had not been backed up on my original HDD a few months ago.  I bought SpinRite and they told me that secret.  I have recovered several that had not been run for awhile (something I had heard about WD externals)and which would not run.  An hour in the refrigerator recovered all my family photos!
Thanks for the points and the kind words.

Yes, refrigerating (or freezing) drives works sometimes, especially when the drive electronics are failing due to heat. It all depends on what the failure is.

If you decide to re-install from scratch, I recommend wiping the hard disk first using either zero fill from manufacturer's diagnostics or a single pass of DBAN.

Then create a single partition of whatever size you need for the OS and programs during Win 7 installation.

After Win 7 install is complete and system is stable, use Disk Manager to create additional partitions.
and when all drivers and programs, and settings are installed properly - make an image of it, so you can restore it in 30 minutes
Willcomp and Nobus, thanks for your suggestions above.  When I return, I plan to do just that.  I just did not feel like the clean was long enough  to really wipe the HDD clean.  It took only seconds.  Also, although it said there were no files, it would not make a smaller partition than about the amount of data I had on it.  I had never used Disk Manager before.  Yes, an image sounds good, too!  

I have certainly learned a lot from this several days of your time!  Thanks!  I have never heard of zero fill or DBAN before.  

BTW, what is the maximum temp for the system o have without problems.  I have an 850 watt power supply, two SLI Nvidia video cards, no sound card and only one internal HDD.
50C/120F is a good maximum for everything
Thanks.  My drive only went to 104F during the 5 days it took or SpinRite to run on the original drive (500Gb).  It came back to life after Spinrite (where it hung at 97% for two days) and then they gave me the refrigeration technique, which has now worked on 3 drives that had become frozen from just not being used.
you can always google the max temps for cpu and video cards