Computer crashes happen to all of us and usually at the worst possible time.
You guessed it, my computer crashed and now I have to deal with picking up the pieces. My job is to provide technical assistance and instill confidence into others whose computer have failed. This isn’t suppose to happen to me.
Ironically, when this terrible event happened, I was attempting to recover someone else’s data from a failed laptop hard drive. I plugged their 2 and a half inch hard drive into my Laptop computers trusty drive tray (like I have done dozens of times before). I waited for Windows XP to automatically discover the new disk drive so that I could backup the data. But their drive did not spin up and my computer hanged and became unresponsive. Knowing that something went south with my computer, I reboot it. Windows appeared to come up normally but I was unable to log into it with my user ID and password.
The portion of the Windows registry that stores user IDs and passwords was corrupted and I knew I was in deep doo-doo.
How am I going to fix my computer? A corrupted registry is “Bad”. I knew that my data was safe and that I could recover the data from the hard drive or from a backup. What I wanted to avoid was some serious down time and the 4-6 hours to reload Windows, install all of the applications, and configure all of the email accounts, Printers, and utilities.
I tried all of the basics and they took about 15 minutes.
- I tried to log in using the administrator account instead of my own. It was corrupted as well. So much for using the “System Restore” utility.
- I tried to force Windows XP into “Safe Mode” and “Safe Mode Command Prompt” by pressing the F8 key when powering up the computer. This failed as well as I was still unable to log into the computer.
- I tried to use the F8 key startup menu and selected to start the computer with the “Last known working configuration”. Failed
- I tried to use the Windows XP install CD and try to use the “Recovery Console” and perform a check-disk (CHKDSK) hoping a disk error could be discovered and repaired. Nope.
- I used my trusted bootable flash drive (bootable linux with a password cracker), and allow me to change the administrator password in the hope that this would somehow fix the user-id. Nope.
It was time for me to pull out the big guns.
The “Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows”. www.ubcd4win.com by Benjamin Burrows. The UBCD4win is a bootable CD that run WindowsPE (XP Post Environment) and is stuffed with useful utilities specifically selected to diagnose and test hardware, recover data, backup, scan for viruses-adware-spyware, and fix computers problems.
The utility I had specifically in mind was the Registry restore utility. This would scan the C-Drive for the Windows XP registry files and for the “System Restore” files. The utility then provides the ability to restore the Windows registry to a previous data and Time. After booting my computer with Benjamin Burrows UBCD4win CD and running the registry restore utility, I was up and running inside another 10 minutes.
We interviewed Ben on the Internet Advisor last year and I can tell you that he has greatly improved the collection of utilities. His web site provides the downloads and instructions so that you can create your own Ultimate Boot Disk for Windows.