A system disaster can strike any computer or any user at any time without any warning – which is exactly what recently happened to me recently. Yes, even we geeks and computer nerds have system problems!
I had just finished up my taxes, at the last moment as usual, when I decided it was time to kick back, relax and play a game or two. While I was playing my machine started to act sluggish and I at first I thought nothing of it as I gave the machine a pretty good workout that day completing my taxes. As I continued to play the computer continued to slow down due to a large amount of hard drive activity – the computer reading and writing from the hard drive.
I closed all of my programs and checked my running tasks to see if there was any programs listed that may point to a virus or spyware – all the running tasks looked fine. I decided to reboot and run my spyware detection program to make sure there was no rogue software running. Because of the amount of time it takes to run I decided to leave it to scan overnight.
The next day I come out and my screen is black. Ok, I think. The machine is just in power-saving mode. I press the button to wake up the computer and nothing happens. I try a couple of times and realize that the machine is frozen so I restart the entire system from scratch.
The machine starts up, completes the memory test and starts to load Windows. Great I think to myself. It should up and running in no time at all and I leave the room. When I come back I am at the Windows XP boot menu which indicates that Windows can’t load properly. I decide at this point to try to start the machine in Safe Mode, which is the Windows diagnostic mode, to see if I can determine what is wrong.
Once again the machine starts to load Windows and then it reboots and starts the cycle all over again. Now I am getting worried. I haven’t backed up in over a week and I really don’t have the time to deal with a system failure but since I really have no choice I dig up my Windows XP and set off to try to repair my system – or at the very least retrieve my files.
So off I go with a CD and cup and coffee in hand to battle my system but to no avail. No matter how I tried to trick Windows I was not able get Windows to load or obtain access to my files on my hard drive – yes, I starting freaking out! I tried everything hint, tip and trick that I could find online to at the very least copy my files off my system and nothing was working.
I finally came across several sites that provided Windows XP boot disks that came chock-full of utilities to help restore or recover from a system failure. I tried them all. They would all boot but each boot disk that I tried had any issues – anything from taking forever to load, not loading or the utilities not working properly. At this point I was starting to think that all was lost and I would have rebuild the system and lose my data – I was not happy. (Didn’t help that I had my fiancé was teasing me about hiring someone to fix it for me!)
Determined to fix the computer, and tell my fiancé told you so, I decided to try one more boot utility to see if it would work. I came across Active@ Boot Disk which as bootable CD that provides basic utilities for recovering a system. I downloaded the software, created the CD and booted my laptop while crossing my fingers.
The system booted off of the CD without any problems and must faster than any other CD which has me hopeful. I quickly use the utilities to backup my files and then I start working on recovering the system. After using a couple of the utilities (there will be a full product review for the next article) I was able to get my machine up and running! At this point I was doing the happy dance! Thank you Active@ Boost Disk!