New subscriber Julie B wrote with a question about a problem she has — her computer can’t boot!
I have Windows XP, SP3. I have Drive C: (250GB) where the operating system was located, Drive D: (250GB) which was still empty, and Drive E: which is the HP Recovery. My computer crashed suddenly and I got an error message that said Missing operating system. I rebooted and got another error message saying Boot Disk error. How can my operating systen just vanish? Now the computer won’t boot up from the Hard Drive, so I can’t get in at all.
I was using an external hard drive to back everything up, but it broke a few days before this crash and I had not received my new external hard drive when this happened. I really don’t want to use the HP Recovery disks as I will lose all my photos, music, and documents.
Is there any hope for fixing this problem.
I’m a senior citizen who knows very little about computers.
Thanks in advance.
I wrote back to Julie to say that, assuming Drive D is a separate physical hard drive (not C and D being two partitions on one hard drive), her computer might be trying to boot drive D for some reason. The boot drive setting might have been accidentally changed in the BIOS settings — either by her or by a child/grandchild.
It’s not likely that the drive has lost the operating system, although some malware might have deleted/rewritten the boot sector. We’re mostly past the days of destructive malware — today’s seems more focused on insinuating itself into your computer to establish control for financial gain. In other words, I don’t think this is the problem.
The drive may have had a catastrophic failure, especially since Julie described it as "my computer carashed suddenly," and that could be why the computer’s BIOS is responding with those errors when she attempts to start the computer.
Since she’s running Windows XP, I assume she has a floppy drive and has a bootable floppy disk available. If she can boot a floppy disk and access the C: drive, then her data should be readily recoverable.
Based on Julie’s description of her experience level, it’s time to either get a computer-savvy friend to take a look a it, or to take it to a local computer shop. By "local computer shop," I mean a hometown owned-and-run store that builds and sells PC’s, not to a big-box retailer. The local computer shop should be able to diagnose the problem and get you going again quickly. If the hard drive has failed, they may be able to recover some of the files for her without too much expense.