Posted 29 September 2010 - 04:41 PM
The computer I've messed up is a Dell Inspiron 545ST desktop, dual-core processor, Windows 7, 6 GB RAM, 750 GB HD. Eight months old, still under warranty. I haven't backed up anything because, like making a will, I figured there was plenty of time. My tech knowledge is slightly above average--a dangerous thing.
I created a new, FAT32 (I believe; the computer's default is NTFS, of course) 20-GB partition using free, online software that seemed OK. (I don't know which because I can't access it now.) I used it to transfer Windows 98 files from a USB-connected enclosure containing an old hard drive to the partition, which it seemed to do flawlessly.
I chose the software's option to make the partition bootable. I thought maybe if anything was funky, it would be isolated and I could destroy the monster I created. Wrong!
I received an error message I do not remember. I figured, OK, that failed, but I still have the partition and the data.
When I rebooted, instead of Windows and my desktop, the Dell diagnostic screen came up. I ran every test, but, like they all are, it was useless. I rebooted and found that was now the default boot-up screen. After trying numerous fixes and about 30 reboots, I got this error message: Previous attempts at booting this system have failed at checkpoint [1c]. The error message has never repeated.
I called Dell, but they blew me off because it's software related.
To dig myself deeper, I tried Ultimate Boot CD, which was hours of fun, but my proficiency is inadequate; booting and partitions are new to me. I've tried various other programs to no avail.
My options on reboot are F2 (Setup) and F12 (Boot Options). I have no layman's access to anything on the computer. I've tried F8 and F11--and every other number--while pressing and not pressing Ctrl, Shft, Alt, etc., but any Dell utilities on the hard drive are now not found--I don't think the computer sees that partition, or maybe any partition, anymore.
I've got the Dell diagnostic/driver CD--the same thing the computer boots to. I also have the OS Reinstallation DVD, so I can get into DOS. I'm somewhat versed, but I'd need my hand held in DOS. I believe the Windows 7 Recovery Environment via the command prompt could be the holy grail, but I don't know what commands to use or how to use them.
I don't know what the real problem is. I learned through UBCD there are a lot of things to know about partitions and the boot process. As far as I know, the computer no longer recognizes any volumes, and it doesn't see Windows anywhere, but I don't believe I've messed that up.
I have access to a new Windows 7, quad-core HP desktop. My patience is not Jobian, but it's close. I'm certainly not afraid of trying anything--my boundless stupidity needs daily exercise.
I would greatly appreciate any insight. Let me know what else I can provide. Thanks for reading!