My suspicions were correct: the computer was having issues with labeling the drives correctly, and disconnecting the second one did indeed force the computer to label the main one correctly, thus allowing the recovery tool to start up correctly and then after a restart allowing the OS to boot normally. I dunno how just going into the System Recovery tool caused this... but it did, and I fixed it; no thanks to you guys. Although, 1002 Richard S did supply me with potentially life-saving tool, and I'm still going to burn it to a DVD for any time someone else or I need it in the future. Props to you, Richard.
Following is the original post and an update, left for anyone who may have the same problem as me in the future
Running a Compaq Presario SR5501P with Vista Home Basic. Recently installed a new video card, but I doubt that its the problem as it was running fine for about a week before this.
Ok, so first a little backstory to this problem. I'm watching over a friend's house for a few days and decided to bring my desktop along and hook it up to her TV (currently posting from her laptop, btw.) When I hooked the tower up to her TV, it would go through the BIOS, then the TV would flick to "Incompatible Format" which meant the resolution was incompatible with the TV. Not having a monitor or anything else to hook the tower into to switch the resolution, I was looking around in the BIOS settings and such for a way to switch the resolution before boot (which I know how to now... a little late, though.)
Well, I thought the system recovery tool might have something in it; if someone's monitor couldn't display anything, and they knew the monitor was working, they might go to System Recovery, right? Well, I could find nothing there either, so I restarted the computer.
Now, Vista will only boot into Recovery mode. It refuses to boot normally. I've tried Boot Windows Normally, Last Known Good Config, just about everything. And, I can't use system restore, because all of my restore points are stored on the C partition of my main drive, whereas the recovery system is stored on a different one (I am steadily finding this type of setup ridiculously idiotic, and I have no idea as to why manufacturers do it.)
A clean install is extreme last ditch effort. I'd almost rather cut off any of my fingers rather than wipe my drive. So, is there any way to get past this problem? I only know a little concerning how OS's boot up, but my guess as to the problem is that in initially opening up the recovery tool, I changed the file that holds all of the boot info on the main drive, so now instead of the BIOS being told to boot off of the C drive, its booting off of the X drive, the partition that holds the recovery tool. Again though, thats just my guess, and I have no idea how one would fix that.
Update: Some interesting developments. Because the Recovery tool that is on my HDD partition was doing nothing, I decided to download the Vista Recovery Tool and burn it to a disc (which, yes, is legal) in the hopes that running it off a CD would allow the tool to see more than the empty partition that the other one saw. Well, it did see more, and what it saw was interesting.
I have 2 hard drives in my computer: one dedicated to programs and the OS, and the other dedicated to media. Somehow, through the processes that I went through in my first post, the media drive was labeled drive C (originally E), my main partition of the main drive was labeled drive E (originally C), the "Recovery" partition was unchanged with the label D, and a new drive (a new partition? a virtual drive?) was discovered, with the name of "Boot" and the label of X. So all this time I haven't been booting to the recovery partition as I thought I was, I was booting to this new drive or partition.
I found these through the System Restore Point system, in a list of which drives would be affected by reverting to an older point, which I tried, and which didn't work.
I just now tried the Startup Repair system, and it reported that the "Boot manager is missing or corrupt." The tool says that it is fixed, but I am still booting to the System Recovery tool when I boot from my HDD.
I would like to know, since through the System Recovery tool I have access to the Command Prompt, if I am capable of re-labeling my drives, as I have a hunch that this could be part of the problem. Also, I'm going to try booting with my Media drive unhooked from the computer, as on the computer seeing no C drive, it may label the main drive back to C.
Edited by InsanityOnABun, 01 August 2009 - 10:21 PM.