View Full Version : Boy did I do a number on my system ...

09-12-2000, 11:32 AM
Being fairly PC-ignorant (as will soon be self evident), I have pretty much destroyed my system and am hoping some kind soul might steer me back onto the straight and narrow.

About a year ago I picked up a sound card from Aztech (don't remember much more about it). I put the actual card in, but never got around to loading all the drivers and such. I finally had some time about a month ago and ended up loading something that I shouldn't have (I was running Windows 98, and the disk was for non-PnP systems only). Well, it ended up causing a huge problem at startup, with a message that said PnP was a registered trademark of MS, and that was it. (Wait, it gets better). I used my trusty 98 startup disk and was able to get into Windows in safe mode in hopes of deleting the foul files. Well, I somehow deleted a few files that I sure shouldn't have (to include the FAT files). Now I can only boot with the startup disk, and starting with/without cd support tells me that the partitions can't be found (possible causes- virus, 3d party partition software). It tells me to run fdisk and repartition it, but fdisk only tells me that "no fixed disk present."

Now ideally, I would love to get my system back to the way it was, but at this point I would be satisfied if I could just reformat it and start over (I don't have anything really valuable on the drive). I've seen this advice given before, but never how to actually go about it.

How would I reformat the drive and reload windows?

Thanks in advance!

Charles Kozierok
09-12-2000, 05:12 PM
Before you give up, you may be able to recover using a utility like Powerquest's Lost and Found. I think they have a demo that will show you if it can recover your system or not, and if not, you don't pay. Not sure, but I think so.

I would try scanning for viruses first of all, by booting from a floppy. Otherwise, if fdisk won't see the hard drive, you need to resolve that. Does the BIOS detect it properly?

Charles M. Kozierok
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...
Note: Please reply to my forum postings here on the forums. Thanks.

09-13-2000, 08:48 AM
I'll start the hunt for Powerquest, thanks for the tip.

The BIOS doesn't appear to pick it up, in that every time I boot, the values for it read as "not installed." I dug up the website of the manufacturer and model number and got all the specs for the drive (cylinders, heads, etc) and plugged them in using the "use defineable" option, but still no luck.
It seems to still be there somehow, it's just that the whole partition mess is giving BIOS a hard time picking it up. I'll look for a virus scan that I can run (all the ones I have work from inside windows).
Thanks again for your suggestions, I was really running out of options. Gives me a few more leads to pursue this evening ...

09-14-2000, 02:15 PM
OK, I am found that I am left with 2 options:

1. Drop my entire system from a great height.

2. Reformat drive and start over.

Can anyone walk me through how to go ahead and do this?
1. Hard Drive is not new (obviously).
2. System does not seem to recognize it.
3. Starting the system, it requests bootable software.

If I need some sort if floppy to begin the process, what should be on it and where can I get it?


09-14-2000, 08:25 PM
In order to reformat and reload windows.

1st, you need a windows boot disk. I don't know if you have windows 95 or 98, but I recommend getting a windows 98 boot disk. This is done by finding a machine with windows 98 installed, and having the windows 98 cd handy. If it is like a hewlett packard, or a compaq, or somthing like that, they have the cd backed up on the hard drive, so you won't need it. Anyway, to make the boot disk, have a fresh formated floppy disk, and go to start>settings>control panel, and in the control panel go into the add/remove programs applet, and click on the starup disk tab, and click on create disk. Once you have the boot disk created....

Boot up from the boot disk. Choose using cd rom support. Once it boots up, you should be able to format c: from the command line. Once it is formated...

type in "cd e:" and once you get the e:\ prompt, have your windows cd in the drive, and type in "setup" and hit enter. E: is the cd rom drive, it won't be the d: drive if that is what you are used to having as your cd drive, because the boot disk creates a temporary d: partiton that has the boot files in them. After installing windows, your cd rom will become the d: drive again, it is only the e: drive when using the windows 98 boot disk.

That should run you though installing windows on your system. If this gives you any problems, tell us what problems you are having. If you want to know if a certain computer has the windows 98 cd backed up on the hard drive, go to start>find>files and folders, and do a search for "win*.cab" looking on your entire c: drive, and if you get like 48 files or 55 files found, then it has the cd backed up on the hard drive.

You could also just buy a macintosh, but I am sure charles wouldn't like that too well http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/wink.gif I don't use macs either, so I am just kidding.

Joe Redd

09-14-2000, 08:30 PM
of course, I guess rereading what you said before, it is important for the drive to be recognized, if your hard drive isn't recognized, will it let you run fdisk and delete partiton, reboot with boot disk and recreate the partiton? If you are past taht point, then do my above mentioned steps.

Joe Redd

Paleo Pete
09-14-2000, 11:28 PM
If the system doesn't recognize the hard drive, chances are you'll have to replace it. Before resorting to that, go to the drive manufacturer's site, and see if they have a drive installation program available. Sometimes that will do the trick. I just happen to have a website (Posted below) with links to all that kind of stuff you need. Just look for the top link, Trish's escape from Hardware Hell, and go to the hard drive section. You'll find plenty links there to hard drive info. the program you'll end up with will install a Dynamic Drive Overlay which I'm not crazy about, but sometimes you gotta. It works though.

If that doesn't do the trick, I'm afraid all I can come up with is replace the hard drive. Sounds like it's crashed.

You might also look into a program called SpinRite, found at Gibson Research (http://grc.com/default.htm). Sometimes it can bring a hard drive back from the dead, but it's not free...Check and see if they have a trial version.


If you had everything...Where would you put it?

Computer Information Links (http://www.geocities.com/paleopete/)

09-15-2000, 09:14 AM
OK, I'll give you the whole scoop, though I have to warn you that this is my first system, and (as stated earlier) I'm fairly 'pooter ignorant.

It is an AST Advantage 818, purchased around 1996. It was very slow and feeble at first, and I was bold enough to make some changes to the system without any real computer knowledge, and it worked (for a while).
It only had 8Megs when I got it, and I installed 4x 8Meg chips for a total of 40. I put a much faster cdrom in. I then put in a Voodoo 2, which also worked. I bought an Aztech sound card (don't have details right now). I put the actual card in the system, but don't think I ever really formatted it properly. My old sound card was seated super-close to my keyboard/mouse inputs, and I really didn't want to mess with them, so I would occasionally get some conflicts.
I obtained a pre-release version of Windows 98 and installed it, and used it to compress drives, so I now had 2 (C:\ and H:\ - can't remember which was the host for which, but if I remember correctly, H was the host for C).

Lot's of time passed and I had a free weekend and decided to fix the whole sound card fiasco. I broke out all the accompanying software and started installing at a frantic pace. I accidentally installed the software that is meant for non-pnp systems.

I rebooted and got a message saying that "PnP was a registered trademark of Microsoft" and then the system would hang. This went on for quite a while and I finally used the Win 98 startup disk that I had made to boot the system. I got into win98 in safe mode and started to delete things that I thought were sound card related. In my haste, I actually deleted (at least one) FAT file. I had no idea what "FAT" was at the time, but I soon came to regret that move.

I rebooted and it asked for bootable software. I used the Win98 startup disk and tried to get into it, but it began either telling me that no fixed disks were present or just kick me back to the A;\ prompt. It also pretty much cleared my BIOS, saying under Primary IDE - "Not installed." I tried a number of different things I read online, with no success. I even went to the Maxtor site (my hard drive) and got the software to load the hard drive. When I start to run it, it tells me there is no Maxtor drive in my system. I got all the details (cylinders, heads, etc) and tried to plug them in manually, but it never seemed to help. All the cables are seated properly, and the disk is receiving power and spinning.

In frustration, I then used the original hard disk restore that came with my system and it tried to do what I suspected it would do, load my original configuration and win 95. It tells me that it is loading win 95 and starts checking hardware. It gets to the cdrom (which had been replaced) and tells me it can't find it or the drivers and "aborts" installation.

So, I keep trying variations with each disk, and I will occasionally get messages reading "wrong MS DOS version." I'm not sure if I have Win 95 or Win 98, and I'm not sure if the system even knows what it is looking for or what it is trying to load.

I will try the suggestions provided above, thank you all for your sound advice. I also have my old cd being brought up this weekend and I will try to boot with that in place to see if the hard disk restore runs its course.

A few questions about the win 98 boot disk. What are some of the major files on it? Does it contain any system-specific commands which might work on one system (say a Compaq) and not on another (my AST)?

Thanks again for your help, you guys have been great. Perhaps I'll hold off dropping it from a great height. I'll try the boot disk and check out the website mentioned!