Computer Help forum

General discussion

Down Laptop

by crude4u / October 15, 2007 1:20 AM PDT

My wife's laptop has crashed. Has been locking up for about a week and now when you reboot, it stops dead right after the windows splash screen, goes to a black screen with the cursor in the middle of the black screen.
I'm trying to figure out the best way to get the data off the hard drive and onto another computer until we can get her another laptop. I've read a number of googles about hooking two computers together w/ ethernet cables and that hasn't worked. The only thing I can think of is to find a way to remove the hard drive from the laptop and temporarily install it in a desktop I have sitting around. I just don't know the best way or anyway to do this.
Anyone got any ideas?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Down Laptop
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Down Laptop
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Some Idea's
by Faeliox / October 15, 2007 1:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Down Laptop

Well, the best way to get the data off will likely be to pull the hard drive, put it in an enclosure, and plug that into the desktop. Unless you have an ultra compact PC, the HDDs in it will be 3.5 inch. Thusly, the 2.5" notebook drive won't install in it. You can get a 2.5" enclosure for about 20-30 dollars. Through there, you can get your files off, format the drive, then put it back in the laptop and re-install windows. If you made an image of the drive, use the migration wizard, or just drag and drop your files back to the laptop from the desktop. Good chance to upgrade the hard drive too! If you post your laptops specs, Im sure someone here can tell you how to get out the drive.

The Ethernet meathod didn't work because you need Windows or another OS running for the networking to work.

Hope this helps!


Collapse -
by crude4u / October 17, 2007 8:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Some Idea's

I was interested in what you said about upgrading the hard drive. What exactly did you mean. By the way I ordered the enclosure from Tiger Direct for 10 bucks. Should be here by the 22nd. I just hope the files are accessible once I get it installed in the enclosure. Thanks.

Collapse -
Did you try Safe Mode?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 15, 2007 5:57 AM PDT
In reply to: Down Laptop

After the BIOS displays finish when you turn the laptop on, start pressing the F8 key gently once a second until you get to the Safe Mode list of options. If you do, select the top one using the arrow keys and press Enter. if that works perhaps you can start investigating the issues.

If not, lookup Knoppix Live CD on Google. That's one way to extract important files on a dead Windows.


Collapse -
Stopped at the cursor
by crude4u / October 17, 2007 8:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Did you try Safe Mode?

I tried safe mode. it went to the black screen with the safemode scroll across the top and Safe mode in each corner but then the screen went black and the cursor arrow appeared in the middle. The cursor is moveable but Control Alt Delete does nothing and the only thing left to do is power down and reboot.

Collapse -
That sounds bad then
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 17, 2007 8:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Stopped at the cursor

If you cannot get into Safe Mode it's looking pretty grim.

Did you try any other option in Safe Mode, eg the listed options includes "Last known good configuration"?

If that fails then you are looking at a Repair Install or a complete Re-install. Whilst a Repair Install should not wipe any important personal files that is not a certainty, especially if they are all held in the My Documents folder.

Michael Stevens has guidance on both Repair Installs and Re-installs. His Repair Install is here;

But you may want to try that Knoppix LiveCD option first to remove those important files.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
Repair or Reinstall
by crude4u / October 17, 2007 8:28 PM PDT
In reply to: That sounds bad then

I tried Safe Mode, Last known Good config as well as going into the Setup and Bios. It will go to bios for configuring.
At one point I thought it was a corrupted Windows file that would let me in, in spite of the fact that it had been freezing up on my wife for the last few days. So I attempted to reinstall windows. It locked up on the install. I powered down and rebooted and after the Windows splash screen it give a blue Windows screen with the works. continuing with Windows Setup and then locks up again. That's about it. Thanks.

Collapse -
Sounds bad indeed.
by Kees Bakker / October 17, 2007 8:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Repair or Reinstall

If a machine locks up on a clean install of Windows (including formatting the HD) it needs repair (or replacement if it's a rather old one).


Collapse -
I'm assuming..........
by crude4u / October 17, 2007 11:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Sounds bad indeed.

That if one of the windows files is corrupted, then I should be able to do a reinstall without formatting the hard drive. And if you read my previous posts, you will see that the issue is how to recover the data, rather than getting the computer up and running given that I have to choose one or the other.

Collapse -
Re: repair or reintall
by Kees Bakker / October 18, 2007 5:05 AM PDT
In reply to: I'm assuming..........

Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was replying to your post called 'repair or reinstall' and that didn't mention your wish to just get the data off to start with, that indeed clearly was in your first post.
I'd say the second post says it all: put it in an enclosure and you'll be able to read it as an external hard disk on any XP PC with a USB 2.0 connection. What's wrong with that.


Collapse -
by crude4u / October 18, 2007 5:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: repair or reintall

Sound great to me. Then maybe, while in DOS I can format the hard drive and reintall Windows, however, I still think I have either a corrupted file (since I can get into the Bios) or maybe there's a component on the MB that's gone bad and won't let me get past a certain point in the boot up. One thing I can't even do now, is to run a virus program on 'cuz I don't have one in DOS.
Thanks for your help.

Collapse -
To get the data off
by PudgyOne / October 18, 2007 6:15 AM PDT
In reply to: Hallelujah!

burn yourself a Knoppix CD.

Plug in an external burner into the usb port.

Boot with the Knoppix CD and then locate the files. Go to multimedia and there is a burn program there you can use. Burn your files to a disk and then you have them.

After you have your files, then you can work on the computer.

If the computer is a HP or Compaq, you can try pressing the F11 key when turning on the computer. It will go to the recovery partition. You can then try the nice restore methods first. If they fail, then click on advanced and choose destructive repair. It will put the computer back to the way the factory shipped it to you. You will need all the updates.

Or as you said, you can format the hard drive and reinstall Windows.

Good luck,


Collapse -
Who's Knoppix?
by crude4u / October 18, 2007 7:50 AM PDT
In reply to: To get the data off

Not sure what it is or how to use it. I suppose there are instructions somewhere? And if you don't have an external dvd or cd writer..........?
I also see that knoppix is Linux. Does that matter?
It's a Dell dude.
thanks for the input.

Collapse -
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 18, 2007 6:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Who's Knoppix?

It's a method for saving files I have suggested before here.

You're right, it is a Linux distro. Linux is open source and there are many variations of Linux called distros. Knoppix is one such and the usefulness of Knoppix is, it can run from a CD. That's unusual for an operating system. Knoppix is also useful because, in general, it can read hard drives where Windows files are stored and this allows a person to extract important files and save them onto other media.

In the discussion below are comprehensive instructions and guidance for using Knoppix. The post also has links to Knoppix web sites that you may find informative.

The only draw back is, Knoppix uses a CD Rom to run from. If the computer/laptop only has one CD ROM then transferring files to another CD is impossible. However, as most computers now have USB connections, then either a flash drive or an external hard drive can be attached, and the files transferred across to those.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
It's coming today
by crude4u / October 22, 2007 12:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Knoppix

The external drive I ordered for my laptop hard drive is arriving today by UPS. It is my understanding that I should be able to install the external bay by a USB2 cable, insert the drive and then access the files using my desktop computer. I further understand that I won't need to use Knoppix for this. Is all this correct? Thanks.

Collapse -
What's not STOCK?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 17, 2007 11:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Down Laptop

Sometimes I find RAM was added, or an external USB thing plugged in during the install. Think back as to the original parts and also use those all important restore CDs.

In closing, another recurring issue is the yearly cleaning is being overlooked on most laptops. No retailer tells you about that.


Collapse -
What I hear you saying is....
by crude4u / October 17, 2007 11:54 PM PDT
In reply to: What's not STOCK?

so for example, if originally the laptop was not setup with a wireless card, then if I do a reinstall I should remove the wireless card? Actually, that's about the only thing I can think of that was on the computer when I tried to do the reinstall. But that still doesn't explain the freeze-up, right.

Collapse -
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 18, 2007 3:05 AM PDT

Yes, unplug PC cards, USB printer cords and such to take it back to just as if you got it out of the box.

"But that still doesn't explain the freeze-up,"

For me it does, but I'm also a programmer. Good luck,


Collapse -
Gotter dun
by crude4u / October 23, 2007 5:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Right!

Okay, I got the external HD enclosure and hooked the HD up to my PC. Transferred all the files including the Windows files except for about 2 gigs of files that started with "uninstall..."
I'm thinking that now I should format the hard drive and then reinstall it into the laptop and then bootup using the Windows disk. Does this sound right? I'm afraid I'm forgetting something but now that I've got all the files copied from the hard drive, I can't think of anything else to do.
I also took the cooling fans out of the laptop and cleaned all the fans as well as the circulation vents. They were very dirty. I'm hoping the laptop didn't overheat and fry something on the motherboard. Can you think of anything I'm missing?

Collapse -
If you removed any heatsink...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 23, 2007 6:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Gotter dun

A small dab of heatsink compound is needed...


Collapse -
by crude4u / October 23, 2007 7:50 AM PDT

where do I need to apply the heat sink stuff?

Collapse -
What's not stock
by crude4u / October 24, 2007 10:23 PM PDT
In reply to: What's not STOCK?

Just wanted to say thanks to you too. Initially you were right. The problem was a faulty wireless network adapter from D-Link. However it eventually corrupted a Windows file that prevented it from booting at all. Please read the last post I send to Mark and the thanks goes to you too. I appreciate your help.
Jack Wall

Collapse -
Replying to "It's coming today" "
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 22, 2007 2:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Down Laptop

Not necessarily.

Is that external drive already formatted? If not, it needs formatting, preferably to NTFS although FAT32 may do.

To copy files across from one drive to another you need an operating system, (OS). Most computers no longer use DOS, and the DOS in Windows XP is an emulated DOS, meaning it is run from within Windows XP itself and cannot run outside of XP. I assume your wife's laptop is running XP.

With Knoppix you may be able to format the external but that procedure is beyond my knowledge. I am not sure if Knoppix can read NTFS disks and that's why I said FAT32 may do, but I am not sure of my facts there. However, once the external is properly formatted then you can use Knoppix to pull those files off the XP disk and copy them onto the external, as long as the files are still there in a readable form.

To re-install XP onto the laptop's own hard disk, use the XP CD to format it first and delete any partitions.


Collapse -
by crude4u / October 22, 2007 3:31 AM PDT

I didn't make myself clear in the last post. The unit arriving today is a docking station for the 2.5 inch drive that's currently in my wife's laptop. It's not an external "drive". My mistake.
Everything else is accurate in my last post.

Collapse -
Starting over
by crude4u / October 23, 2007 8:01 AM PDT

Maybe I should start over since I got my data transferred to my desktop computer. I purchased an external hard drive "enclosure". It's pretty cool. I just removed the HD from the laptop, removed it from the case or mounting bracket it was in, unplugged the adapter that it was plugged into and then put in the enclosure with the adapter that came with the enclosure. I plugged in the usb cable to the enclosure and the other end into the USB plug on the front of my computer. Within a minute or less, I got a notice that new hardware had been found and was ready for use. I clicked on "MY computer". It recognized it as a third "local hard disk drive". When I clicked on it, the files were there and I transferred all but the Windows files, even stuff I didn't really know what it was.
So, now I have all the data on my computer. I'm thinking that before I reinstall the HD into the laptop, I should format it. Once I format it, then I can put in back into the laptop, power up with the windows disk in the CD/DVD drive and do a new install of Windows. If I had a corrupted Windows file as the culprit for the locking up, then it should install and I'll be ready with a clean hard drive.
If it still locks up, then I think maybe it's a defective memory bank and that's a whole new thread.
Can you think of anything I've forgotten or am not thinking of?

Collapse -
Sounds right to me.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 23, 2007 8:28 PM PDT
In reply to: Starting over

I won't interrupt your chat with Bob about the heatsink because that's more than I know.

But what you've done sounds ok. You only needed to copy over those files you couldn't afford to lose, eg documents, music, photos and videos, etc, and any downloaded setup files for any applications you may have installed. The rest don't matter, (eg anything in C:\Windows), as they do not transfer back very well.

You may still lose stuff because the Windows OS stores files all over the place and it is difficult to keep track. But look out for email files, Internet Explorer Favorites or Firefox Bookmarks.. If you reformat that disk you will lose those. They can all be found in Documents and Settings, but depending what you use for email and browsing the file types and locations within there will be different.

However, before you do all that, now you have cleaned inside the laptop and assuming you are good to go with any heatsink problem, why not just re-attach that hard disk and bootup, and see if it works? The whole purpose of the external drive enclosure was to enable you to backup any important files. Now that's done, if the laptop works again then you save yourself a lot of time and effort reformatting and re-installing. It may be that you still have to do that, but you may be lucky.


Collapse -
Good Idea
by crude4u / October 23, 2007 10:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Sounds right to me.

Mark thanks for the input. Actually, after doing all the housekeeping I did the reintall and attempted to reboot. I'm happy that I've sort of been doing all this stuff barely one step ahead of the suggestions. It proves that with the help of several friends who told me how to build my computer I've actually learned some stuff. Hooray! Not bad for an old dog of 59.
As you suggested, I am going to attempt one more reboot now that I have all the files copied. The only files I didn't move were the files that show up in the Windows files at the beginning of the list as $NUninstallKB with some numbers following. they are kernel files but all seem to be related to uninstalling various files of programs. Anything else on that hard drive got copied and transferred to my extra hard drive. Thanks again to you and to everyone else who contributed. I hope you won't see me back with a follow-up to this thread except to say it was a success.

Collapse -
(NT) Good luck, and we would love to see how you get on.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 24, 2007 3:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Good Idea
Collapse -
by crude4u / October 24, 2007 10:13 PM PDT

Well, just thought I'd say thanks again. I finally got everything installed and the laptop is back in shape again. I'm trying now to figure out how to use my network file sharing to transfer the files back to the laptop but I'm sure that'll come with time.

I wanted to let you know that the initial problem was caused by a network card (D-Link) that went bad. I think (not positive) that the card eventually caused a Windows dll file to corrupt causing the secondary problem of not booting at all. Initially it would lock up. I freaked out when after going through all of this I went to install the drivers for the network card and as soon as the card went looking for my wireless router it locked up. I really thought I was going to loose my mind. I pulled the card out. Rebooted and everything was fine. put it back in and it locked up. So I called D-Link and they are sending me a replacement card.
It was a real Bear trying to find all of the drivers. I thought that they would all be on the installation disk but they weren't and they were not all on the Drivers and Utilities disk that came from Dell with the laptop originally. I went to the Dell site and after entering the service tag number it gave me a list of all the drivers that I should (recommended) install as well as some others (optional) that I could if I needed them. Also some patches.
The reason I'm telling you all of this is because you gave me the most help but there were things you might not have known unless you had a Dell computer and if anyone ever asks, this might be good info to remember.
A lot of the drivers didn't even sound like what they were for, like to sound card driver (my dell profile didn't even show that I had a sound card) and the ethernet drive (ditto) but after I installed the stuff from the web site (not knowing what a lot of it was) everything started being recognized.
Well, that's about it for now. Thanks so much for you help and for sticking with me to the end. I've been at this for about 20 hours and got up at 3:30 this morning to finish up so I'm pretty much a mush mind right now so please forgive any spelling errors.
Thanks again,
Jack Wall

Collapse -
Thanks for the report.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 25, 2007 12:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Hallelujah!

Now you know why I don't endorse "clean installs" on laptops. 20 to 24 hours is typical even for guru's.


Collapse -
(NT) Yep, thanks for posting back. Glad it's done and dusted.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 25, 2007 2:05 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the report.
Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?