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Repairing windows with no disk and a corrupted hard drive

SnowFox

Member
Ok I give up.

This might end up being a waste of time anyway if the hard drive is dying, but I'm attempting to repair/reinstall windows vista home premium on a laptop (for someone else).

When you try to boot normally it just asks to run a chkdsk no matter how many times you let it run, if you skip it the screen just goes black and the hard drive seems to churn away while doing nothing. Safe mode seems to just lock up the same. It will boot from the recovery partition, but while "repairing disk errors" it just blue screens saying a critical process has terminated unexpectedly.

I have a 3.4GB Factory.wim file on one of the partitions. Is there any way I can build a disk out of this if I can't properly boot into any form of windows?

I've tried downloading a vista recovery disk iso and burning it to a USB disk with unetbootin (run in wine). it seems to attempt to boot from it, but I just get a blinking cursor and nothing loads. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

I've tried looking for OEM install disk torrents, but I don't know what I'm doing or where to look properly, and I don't really want to end up with a cracked version since I still have the sticker with the product key.

So I've pretty much run out of ideas, and am regretting volunteering being volunteered to take on this task. Can anyone offer any suggestions?

Please.

HELP!
 

Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Well, the factory.wim file is a Windows backup image, so yes, you should be able to restore the system with that, but NOT with the hard drive currently installed. It sounds very much like that drive is on its last legs (though other things could be wrong, that's the most likely culprit given the symptoms). If you can copy that file to another drive for safe-keeping, you should be able to use a Vista recovery disc to restore the image to a new hard drive.

That said... The Vista recovery disc should have worked so long as it's a proper disc. If it didn't... You might want to look into the possibility that the RAM may be bad. Memtest86+ should help rule that out.
 

SnowFox

Member
I was wondering about the RAM, but I'd been able to run from a puppy linux cd with no problems at all, so I didn't bother with a memtest at the time.
I tried cloning the entire HD to a usb drive using dd, but after 10 hours it started spitting out a bunch of read errors and had only copied 195GB out of 250, and the activity light on the USB had stopped, so I just gave up and manually dragged all the files over.

The vista recovery disk probably wasn't a proper one (the original is either lost or never existed). Or maybe I didn't copy it to the USB stick properly. I'm just really mean about burning things to CD if I'm not sure they're going to work.

I think I might just resort to burning the rescued documents to DVDs then giving it back to the owner to decide if they're going to get a new hard drive for it. I'm wary of just formatting the drive in case I'll lose something that's required for restoring windows (other than the .wim image) I don't actually know what to do with the file since I can't use the built in restore function.
 
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Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Well, that definitely sounds like a hard drive problem if dd blew up partway through. I think you can call it a writeoff.

Nothing on the drive should actually be necessary to restore Windows beyond the .wim file, and... You're trying to boot the ISO from a USB hard drive rather than a disc? It's very likely that MSFT's stuff doesn't play well with that. Got a -RW?
 

SnowFox

Member
I wasn't sure if the read errors were just because the file system is corrupt (which I know it is) or if the disk was actually physically dying.

I don't have an RW, I might try it again tomorrow though. It's nearly 2am and I have work in the morning.
 

Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Nah, if it's a dd, reads are independent of the filesystem - It's reading raw. So that's a hardware failure, either the controller or the hard drive itself. Probably the hard drive.
 

SnowFox

Member
Ah I didn't know that, well that's pretty much made my mind up then. There's no point in me trying to do anything with the current drive other than the backup which I've already done.

Thanks for your input :) I'm off to bed now.
 
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