I am currently terrified that I may have lost the computer I use for my video editing hobby. I have come here in the hope that somebody will be able to help me get it back up and running. The computer is as follows:
PC Model: Dell Dimension 8400
OS: Windows XP Home Edition (service pack 2 or 3)
CPU: Pentium 4 HT 3GHz
RAM: 3GB (1GB from new, plus 2GB added since)
Primary Hard Drive (C:): Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 160GB (I think the model number is ST3160023AS) – OS is on this drive
Secondary Hard Drive: 500GB (or thereabouts) – added when I ran out of space on (C:)
Tertiary Hard Drive: external USB drive (somewhere between 2TB and 4TB if I recall correctly) – added when I ran out of space on the second internal drive
I was busy capturing and watching some of my videos one evening when Windows Media Player reported that it's media library was corrupt (or something like that) and that I needed to restart the application to rebuild the media library. I restarted the application several times, receiving the same error each time. I thought nothing of it and shut the PC down, assuming it would work fine when I turned the machine on the next day. When I tried to turn it back on, it bluescreened: Unmountable Boot Volume. Oh dear. I probably tried turning it on a few more times, just in case the BSOD was a one-off; but no such luck.
Windows didn't blue-screen while I was using it; only Windows Media Player complained; so maybe, just maybe, my application software and data files are uncorrupted. Google has however warned me that, depending on what is wrong, any attempt to read from the drive could cause further damage. Eek!
I had an old Ubuntu CD given to me years ago so I disconnected all three hard drives to see if it was a 'Live CD' that wouldn't reformat the drive. The CD did boot, but selecting the 'try without reformatting' option only gave me a logo (a loading screen, I assume) for ages and didn't reach the Linux desktop. I also tried booting Windows (XP and 7) off an old laptop hard drive in a USB hard drive enclosure, but neither OS would boot off that disk even when I put it back in the laptop afterwards. So, what to try next?
- I could try the repair steps (system file checker, chkdsk, etc.) listed for BSODs using a Windows XP service pack 1 CD/DVD from an older Dimension (or would that disk only be any use if I wanted to reformat the drive and install a fresh copy of Windows?)
- I could try the Live CD (or a new one) with the C: drive connected and see if Linux will mount the drive and allow me to recover data, after which I can do the above to try and save the OS
- I could do something with the Seagate Seatools (what I don't know)
- I could try and figure out how to use ddrescue/parted-magic to make an image of the drive, then burn that image to a new drive and try some of the above options
- I could take the PC to somebody else and pay them to do the above for me (but would be worried whether the person I have taken the drive to has the necessary experience)
- or should I do something else?
What would you recommend? As well as saving my data, I also want to avoid the hassle of trying to reactivate some of the software I had installed like the Adobe CS3 collection.
I know, I know; I should have backed up. My excuse is that I was a student with no income for many years and balked at the cost of the backup media needed (and possibly another PC, or a Synology NAS, in which to mount that backup media). My data-preservation tactics have been to always unplug the PC when not in use (power surge avoidance) and never connect the PC to the internet (so viruses and hackers can't get in). What I should do to resolve my current lack of a backup facility now that I have a job is probably a question I should put on the backup sub-forum...