In case either of you is wondering what happened to my dead PC, this is what happened.
First of all, when it died, it died spectacularly.
Not for it a bit of file corruption or a blown fuse.
For some unknown reason it totally screwed up the file allocation tables and the boot sector. What this means is that when you fire up the PC it reports that it can’t find any disk.
The laptop in question is an Acer Aspire 7220, which has two hard drives. I knew if one was guntered that the other should be OK. Fortunately, all my really important data was on the second drive, so it was just a question of accessing it.
I tried running an old XP disk, to see what would happen. It failed miserably and reported that there was no hard disk. They are SATA disks, so they need special drivers which XP doesn’t have.
After a good piece of research, I came across a rather neat little utility – The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows or UBCD4Win.
This is a free program that you download and run, presumably on a PC that works. What it does is create a boot disk, but gives you full scope as to what goes on that disk. It asks for a Windows i386 folder, so I gave it my XP CD, and it was happy.
Not only does it create a boot disk, but it includes a whole load of utilities for fixing corrupt sectors, boot files, Master Boot Records and the like. It also contains utilities to set up a network and generally breath a little life into a machine. The interface actually looks like a cross between XP and KDE, so it is very easy to use.
Using this disk, I was able to offload all my files onto spare storage, and to reformat the dud disk and recreate all the partitions and boot records.
With a lot of help from two very patient people – Cranky Canuck and Robert Sweetnam – I was finally able to reload the operating system, and it is now almost back to its original state. I say ‘almost’ because it is, in practice, better, as I have removed a load of junk programmes that were dragging it down.
So Herself finally gets the Acer that she has had her eye on.