Well I've gone and done it now. I think I might know the source of the problem (USB thumb drives totally confusing the CMOS?) but whatever I've done I'm in it now.
So I get into XP, complete my work (phew!), rip the documents to PDF, and copy the data files to 2 different USB thumb drives.
Having manually copied the %!@!##* out of anything even remotely associated with this program-and-the-documents-I-generated-from-it I proceed to do a Windows "System-State" backup. This is XP Pro again so we don't confuse anybody. So I backup C:\ (in its entirety) + the drive & folder in which this nightmare program lives -- along with System State -- to a standard Windows *.bkf file. Confident, I power down. To make sure everything is there, I boot up. Ah! still there. No matter what else XP does to my files I have them backed up na na na na na na.
Load my kit and head down to the library to print these files out. Plug my first USB thumb drive in and . . . wtf? Where are the files I just saved not one hour earlier?! Okay, I try the other thumb drive: likewise empty. Now think: I'll bet this is a policy restriction the library has implemented. I head to a shop with print facilities where I can print out my PDF files for a fee. Nothing. Not a folder. Not a file. Empty. And here's where things get scary:
I get home, power up, and get
"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM. Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair."
Obviously it didn't worTo sum up, I have tried everything, including a CMOS reset. In UCBF I looked to see if the files were there and there is nothing. No, I mean nothing. If 10 minutes earlier I had data of some sort -- in what looked like my correct partitions -- my frantic meddling with (everything) has compounded the problem. I don't have an operating system. I'll pause here and supply hardware & software assets.
I have the licensed Retail version of Windows XP Pro installed, and the source of this thread
I have a licensed Retail version of Windows 7 Pro not installed
I've never used Linux before (and this is a hell of a way to learn it) but my window of opportunity is shrinking by the hour and I'll try anything. Tell me what, where and how complicated it would be for a novice such as myself to just get to my files . . . if I still have any
HDDs and the bundled free DRIVE UTILITIES they come with:
Acronis/SEAGATE SCSI (the subject of this thread)
Acronis/WESTERN DIGITAL IDE (currently unplugged)
IBM Drive Fitness/HITACHI SATA (currently unplugged)
Additional SOFTWARE UTILITIES I own that might help:
Symantec Partition Magic
UCBD (an older version)
I'm not touching a thing without your advice friends! Just remember, I have to do this at the library (groan). There may be delays.