Skip to comments.NEED HELP RE: WINDOWS AND “OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND”
Posted on 03/03/2003 5:45:14 PM PST by Concerned
NEED HELP RE: WINDOWS AND OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND
Prior to that date, I had always (safely???) read my email from http://www.mail2web.com (actually on its secure version). I had no email address book for a virus to send viruses to.
AT LEAST HALF of the email I keep receiving was pornographic in some way (either to increase male or female parts, or nude celeb photos, etc) and I was TIRED of not being able to get OFF their email list!
I bought McAfee Spam Killer because I was told I could send emails back to all the unwanted email sites and make it look like my email address didn't even exist (so they would TAKE ME OFF THEIR EMAIL LISTS). It would also find the ISP address of the source of the email and allow you to send a complaint to the source ISP, Webmaster, and Abuse Manager. But you could not use Spam Killer with Mail2web.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to read all of the instructions (and didn't put on a FIREWALL FIRST) before I loaded it and started sending out both types of emails---the not-a-legit-email-address and up to 3 complaints per spam email received.
I wasn't thinking about the possible consequences of my actions: that the emails would actually be contradicting each other because after just saying my email doesn't exist, I'm SENDING an email from that SAME mail address.
McAfee determined that some of the spam emails didnt have a Webmaster address or ISP or Abuse Manager, but it would give the spam websites URL address itself and it would create an email address e,g, firstname.lastname@example.org , I wasnt thinking about the fact that the email address could be going right back TO the SPAMMER and he would now know the connection number I was at (I dont know the terminology), i.e. he could gain access DIRECTLY INTO MY COMPUTER AND WIPE THE DRIVE!
I got a pop-up right after I had sent out the several emails, but didn't really get a chance to read it well before having to shut off my dial-up connection and give my kids a bath. I THOUGHT it was just a TYPICAL pop-up, trying to sell me some virus protection, and I thought Id just look at it the next morning. But the more I think back about it now, I THINK it was saying that it had just DETECTED a POSSIBLE virus, but that my virus protection (which was now a year old) wasn't current enough to do anything about it. I'm just not SURE what it said.
Anyway, I shut off the internet connection (which I usually DID NOT do at night) and the next morning, I couldn't get my computer to wake up (I remembered after the fact that I had recently changed its settings to hibernate instead of just sleep when not used for a while).
USUALLY, if I did disconnect for the night, I could just tap on the space bar and left click button and wake it up to the internet page I had left it on the night before and all the other things I had open would STILL be open.
This time, though, I had to hold the power button down (i.e. for a HARD, manual shut down) and punch it again a few seconds later to get it to start up again.
When it came up again, it said "OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND."
I tried to restart it again by holding the power button down and restarting, but it responded the same way: "OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND" and it continues to put the same line of words for 18 lines.
CompUSA (the company I bought it from) told me that for $30, they could TRY to retrieve and back up my data, but that there was no guarantee and I can't take the chance that they might put a new System back on and lose any possibility of retrieving my data. (I KNOW IT WAS STUPID NOT TO BACK UP REGULARLY).
Another CompUSA said that they would have to REMOVE the hard drive completely from the laptop (for $139) to try to salvage the data and that they THOUGHT they COULD retrieve my data.
Still another CompUSA tech guy said there is NO WAY to recover my data (which as I said, I desperately need).
On a Macintosh, I know you can use a Norton Utilities Emergency Disk to get a baby-version of the system up so you CAN get up and running to be able to recover your data, but everyone Ive talked to said that you CANT do it on a PC (with Norton Utilities or anything else on the consumer market).
Can ANYBODY help me? I really NEED the files. BTW, I have also been told that there are some companies that can retrieve data bit by bit, but that it is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. I was hoping it could be done, but not cost an arm and a leg. Any serious ideas about how to recover the data?
Also, does anybody know how to determine WHO gained access to my computer to wipe the drive (or whatever they did)? I want to make a complaint to the Feds if possible.
If you do, pull the drive and hook it up on another computer
If you have or can get someone to make you a "Start up" disk you can boot from floppy
Or if your bios supports it you can boot from a windows CD
If the files are there can be backed up
Reformat you laptop and start all over again.
Turn on the computer. After it goes through POST, press the F2 key to get to setup. In setup, autosearch all physical drives. If it finds your primary drive, press F10 to save and exit. Then boot up as you normally would.
Your problem might also be a loose connection. Maybe you need to reseat the HD if setup can't find it.
Two things: I agree with other posters that the safest course is to plug the drive into a working computer and try to copy your documents to a good drive. Then you can try to reinstall XP.
If the drive has bad spots there are downloadable programs supplied by the drive manufacturer that will clean and reformat it. Depends on how much it costs, whether it would be simpler to replace it.
It may be that simple or a file could be corrupted in the OS
Check to make sure also that there is no floppy in the disk drive, or no CD in the CD drive. Your BIOS may be set to boot from floppy/CD first, in which case it won't find any OS.
One or two posters have your first step, boot from the Windows XP CD-ROM and try the repair option, your MBR is definetly messed up. here, here, to start. You should look up the instructions, read them full and understand them before taking on this task. If you screw this up, your data is lost.
And for G_d SAKES, DO NOT REINSTALL XP. First thing XP will do to a drive in your state is reformat the partition table... BAD... BAD... BAD. SECONDLY, this is NO JOB for Best Buy or Circuit City, they are HACKS, generally. You may consider yourself lucky to find a responsible tech, but that's like a 10,000 to 1 chance.
If you can't repair the MBR, and the data is worth hundreds of dollars, take the machine to a pro. Or study up on the utilities to repair the boot record of a hard drive.
However, as a last resort I would have a pc that I did not care about handy and use it to install your drive into to try and save the files. Or I would use a program called LapLink to connect the two together and transfer them.
But at this point you gotta take what you can get.
No, the wisest course of action is to look through the Microsoft Knowledge base before coming to a political forum like FR. Your solution, and I don't mean this in a disparaging way, is the last action I would take.
RW9 <- been working on PC hardware since 1984, Novell Certified on 3.1, DOS/Windows expert, OEM machines - no way - built them all from scratch, Sun Solaris 2.x certified, Unisys MCP-CANDE-Cobol-A-Series Hardware-WFL...
Send it to me, I'm in my right mind and I could fix or recover the data with one hand tied behind my back. In other words, your assertion is ludicrous, this is an easy recovery option. It only gets hard after the second quick format....
Nice repair shop you got there. You can't even hook the drive up as a secondary drive on another WinXP machine with an up-to-date virus software??? Where is that shop, I want to recommend it to all my friends...
Like I said, I would use a machine I don't care about to gain more knowledge about the hard drive in question. Once I see the extent of the damage I can determine the solution. Until then we do not know the cause of this problem. Was it a virus or a bad spot on the disk?
red-dawg <-- MCSE and hardware technician since 1984.
"BOOT DISK FAILURE" or "NON SYSTEM DISK" errors mean that no partition or OS was found on the drive.
That would be the safest way IMO.
I'll try to answer as many of the items mentioned all at once in case any of you have any further thoughts which are triggered from other peoples' suggestions. I started out answering questions generally, then started attaching people's name to their questions or comments. I am NOT going to be able to proof-read all of the following because I am about to fall asleep, so there could be some errors/typos.
My sister and I bought identical Sony GR 370 computers on 02/12/2002 so it is slightly over 1 year old---i.e. just OUT of Sony's Warranty. BTW, I tricked the computer's notorious 1-year-Warranty-Expiration-Timer, though, and bought a 3 year CompUSA Extended Warranty (i.e. I have 2 more years left).
The GOOD NEWS is that the CompUSA Extended Warranty is supposedly good. They will supposedly (unofficially) replace a laptop even if the screen is cracked by accidentally leaving a pencil on the keyboard before closing the lid (that's not actually a defect, but the salesperson CLAIMED they would do it although I'm not too keen at taking a chance to find out). (Just curious---Have any of you ever cracked a screen and had them replace the laptop computer for you through an Extended Warranty?)
The BAD NEWS is that Extended Warranties don't cover software problems (which is not unusual with Warranties).
I have been told by CompUSA that it could be software or hardware. The initial thought was that it was a hard drive crash (which WOULD be covered, but might tend to prevent data recovery).
There is a CD drive, but no diskette drive. There is not anything in the CD drive. The computer is/was plugged into AC current.
I have a separate CD burner, but had only used it briefly in January or February, 2002 (my first and only backup---one of the last things I did with this computer before I bought the Sony GR 370 laptop which has a DVD/CD-R drive). I was not very experienced in burning CDs and never did figure out how to access the CD-R burning capability on the Sony.
I had just gotten McAfee Virus Scan last week (at the same time I bought McAfee Spam Killer), but had not installed it yet. Unfortunately, I started attacking the most immediately annoying problem first---SPAM!
The Sony came with some sort of Virus detection software, but I don't remember what the name if it is. I will check to see if it has an Emergency Disk with it, but I am very concerned about trying to fix the problem myself because I am NOT a PC person---I'm really a MAC person, but can't get the stock market software I need for a MAC. I understand that I DO NOT want to have a disk reinstall XP or I WILL lose the data.
I am NOT at all qualfied to remove the hard drive. I have heard from CompUSA that it MUST be removed (hence $139 and not covered by Warranty unless the hard drive IS bad) and I have also been told they can just transfer the data out (by connecting it to another and having it be a secondary drive) if data are there at all (hence the $30 charge at the other CompUSA). Since I have gotten two VERY DIFFERENT thoughts on it at CompUSA, I want to find the BEST QUALIFIED person to work on it.
If the hard drive itself is the problem, CompUSA SHOULD replace it under Warranty, in which case they would have to pull it out anyway.
I have been told that XP is MUCH DIFFERENT from earlier versions of Windows in that you supposedly CANNOT BOOT UP from it without it OVERWRITING the System and ruining the directory which would prevent the data from being recovered. I have no idea if that is correct---just what I THINK that they said.
Right now, the only thing I get is a BLACK SCREEN with the "OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND" wording coming up, so I don't even get to a point where I could look for files. It does ask me for my password first, then goes immediately into the above black screen and wording. I MAY be able to make a "Start Up Floppy" from my sisters computer.
I don't know what Alouette means by "After it goes through POST, press the F2 key to get to setup. In setup, autosearch all physical drives. If it finds your primary drive, press F10 to save and exit. Then boot up as you normally would." I never get to anything that says "POST," much less the rest of it.
I have been told by the $139 CompUSA store people that the Sony hard drive is VERY HARD to remove. It is certainly NOT up MY alley.
SAMURAI_JACK WROTE: "Once they have successfully attached your data up as the secondary disk then its a matter of xcopy d:\mydocuments c:\recovereddata /s /e ." Hopefully I can find someone who knows that and who can FIND something to recover. Thanks for the "magic words."
SAMURAI_JACK ADDED: "It's always polite to keep all of your data located in the My Documents folder. That way the technician can back up the Documents and Settings folder without having to search all over the place for your data files." A trick I virtually ALWAYS do is to add a ` mark at the beginning of all my file names, so I can do a search for all files that begin with the ` mark.
MIKEWUSAF WROTE: "CompUSA sucks! Be careful!" That's what I'm afraid of! MIKEWUSAF ADDED: "If you can create a boot disk you might be able to boot off a floppy and point to where XP is on your drive which get you back up...Or try a Windows XP CDROM with the recovery option. I doubt that your data is lost. Most likely you just have a problem with your system files or master boot record MBR."
I have NO clue how to find or alter the MBR.
MIKEWUSAF ADDED: "Check this out: http://www.bootdisk.com/bootdisk.htm. You may need to edit the boot.ini on your floppy to tell XP where to find it on your drive." Thanks!
JS1138 WROTE: "I've seen this a number of times, most recently as a result of bad spots on the drive. If the drive is physically ok, you can reinstall XP from scratch without reformatting the drive. This will leave the data intact, although all programs will have to be reinstalled." I'm SURE they will try to say it is SOFTWARE related so they don't have to come through on their Warranty. They have all been really sheepish about XP, though. Apparently, it is a PAIN to work with technically.
VISUALOPS WROTE: "A virus can alter the drive to make it appear unformatted. It's also possible there's corruption which is preventing booting." It might NOT be a virus. Someone MAY have just seen the NUMBER of the connection I was using (e.g. 201.168.09.123 or whatever) and accessed my hard drive directly and wiped it.
GONE_POSTAL WROTE: "If either the floppy or CD drive are listed before the main HD then switch the order so the main HD is the primary Boot drive...It may be that simple or a file could be corrupted in the OS." It has a DVD/CD-R.
I DID get FREQUENT FREEZE UPS near the end, forcing me to have to do a HARD shutdown and restart. I remember a Driver needed to be fixed/replaced, but it seemed like it was a printer driver---it may have been more urgent than I thought.
MONKEYSHINE WROTE: "XP has a way to roll back changes." I think you have to push F8 right after pushing the "ON" button, but it didn't help.
SWEET_SUNFLOWER29 SUGGESTED: "Have you tried any of the WinXP repair features?...*Last Known Good Configuration... *Safe Mode and System Restore...*Recovery Console." I have no idea how to do those things, but I would THINK even CompUSA would know how to do them.
REDWING9 WROTE: "First off, please be careful what action you take. Most of the replies here are pointing you in the wrong direction, BADLY. Some of the responses will screw you in the end." That's why I have WAITED to try to find someone who REALLY KNOWS computers and XP "OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND" problems.
REDWING9 ADDED: "One or two posters have your first step, boot from the Windows XP CD-ROM and try the repair option, your MBR is definetly messed up. here, here, to start. You should look up the instructions, read them full and understand them before taking on this task. If you screw this up, your data is lost." I NEED THAT DATA!!! I think I should contact Microsoft tomorrow and see what THEY suggest.
REDWING9 ADDED: "And for G_d SAKES, DO NOT REINSTALL XP. First thing XP will do to a drive in your state is reformat the partition table... BAD... BAD... BAD." That's what I've heard and why I've WAITED to find a tech who KNOWS the problem.
REDWING9 ADDED: "SECONDLY, this is NO JOB for Best Buy or Circuit City, they are HACKS, generally." I would think CompUSA OUGHT to be better than Best Buy and Circuit working on computers, but is is definitely no guarantee.
RED-DAWG WROTE: "If you are "almost positive" that the window that popped up said something about a virus detection, then I would not let your hard drive get within a thousand miles of my repair shop." I'm NOT 100% certain what it said---I just barely got to read anything in the pop-up.
JORDAN8 WROTE: "Almost certainly this is a boot sector problem. Somehow removing certain registry values will cause this error. Virus protection programs cause a lot of problems in this regard." I had not added Virus protection yet (i.e. there was nothing yet beyond what the computer came with).
JORDAN8 ADDED: "You should be able to solve your problem simply by booting the XP CD. It should have a restore function. I've never done this with XP, but with the Win2000 CD..." CompUSA was VERY CAUTIOUS about the idea of booting with the XP disk because it apparently immediately tries to RESTORE itself and I think supposedly wipes over the data.
JORDAN8 ADDED: "In the future you should seriously consider partitioning your hard drive and storing all important data on a FAT32 partition, as well as regular backing up to a CD or external USB hard drive." I WOULD/COULD have been doing it, but I never could figure out how to access the DVD/CD-R drive on the computer and I couldn't get to my separate one.
REDWING9 WROTE: "Send it to me, I'm in my right mind and I could fix or recover the data with one hand tied behind my back. In other words, your assertion is ludicrous, this is an easy recovery option." It is encouraging that someone with your training and experience thinks the data are still there and recoverable.
VOTEHARRYBROWNE2000 WROTE: "If your system is hosed, I would definitely pay someone to recover the data and not try and do it yourself." I definitely do NOT feel comfortable trying to recover the data myself, but I'm not real comfortable with the fact I have gotten 3 DIFFERENT OPINIONS at CompUSA either.
RED-DAWG SUGGESTED: "Like I said, I would use a machine I don't care about to gain more knowledge about the hard drive in question." That is what I'm doing right now.
RED-DAWG ADDED: ""OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND" --- means a valid partition table on the hard drive was found but no OS..."BOOT DISK FAILURE" or "NON SYSTEM DISK" errors mean that no partition or OS was found on the drive." Do any of tthe errors you have mentioned tend to indicate the data are more or less likely to be recoverable?
DAVE IN EUGENE WROTE: "I'll toss out a theory that your new software put a hook into your Master Boot Record for the purpose of detecting malicious changes, but maybe wasn't entirely compatible with your drive type and trashed it instead. Regardless of the virus type, a good anti-vurus program should have trapped low level disk writes, so I doubt your problem is from a real virus..."As I said earlier, it MAY NOT be a virus. It MAY be possible for someone to have gotten the dial-up number location I was on and hacked ito my computer and wiped it..
DAVE IN EUGENE ADDED: "Personally, I'd scare up a boot floppy (make sure the write protect tab is enabled - not covering the slot) and start going through the nondestructive diagnostic tools that should be contained therein." It's getting late and I don't remember if it was mentioned above about HOW TO MAKE A BOOT UP DISK.
DAVE IN EUGENE ADDED: "If the command line interface (formerly known as DOS) will list a C: drive directory then you might just have missing system files. SYS C: should fix that...If DOS won't list a directory on the drive then FDISK /MBR will rewrite a standard master boot record without disturbing anything else." That is all GOOD TO KNOW. THANKS!
DAVE IN EUGENE ADDED: "You should run Scandisk with the report only (don't fix) option first...Scandisk might also report mismatched File allocation tables. It's usually (but not guaranteed) safe to let scandisk fix that problem." Thanks again!
LX WROTE: "2) You could try recovery console by booting with the XP cd and selecting repair but if you hadn't already set the security profile to read and write from removable media before the crash, all it will do is allow you to look at the hard drive and delete or move files but you could at least see if your HD has a file system in place. Be very careful if you do this." Thanks! I am leary about doing stuff like this myself.
LX ADDED: "3) If you have another system or have a friend with the same version of XP, you can make a boot disk. a) Format floppy on working machine. b) Copy, ntdetect.com, boot.ini, ntldr from the working machine's c drive to the root of the floppy." I have my sister's Sony GR 370 available. Thanks for the boot disk instructions.
LX ADDED: "Hopefully, the boot.ini you've copied will have the correct ARC path to the O/S, if not you can go to MS and find out what all of the options mean. If both machines have only one drive, you should have the same ARC settings. Now try to boot to the disk. If everything is correct, it'll load the O/S on your laptop. If not, it won't do any damage." That is REAL GOOD to know!
LX ADDED: "If it loads, copy ALL of the files you need to a safe place...Then run NTbackup to get a good copy of the registry in the repair folder. Before you do this, copy the current contents of the repair folder somewhere else. It's in c:\winnt\repair."
LX ADDED: "Then boot from the XP CDROM and select the option to let it repair your system...NOTE: If you've installed say a high performance IDE driver, you might be SOL...If the CD does repair your system, re apply all service packs." What is a high performance IDE driver? I have heard of IDE, but I don't know what it is or if I have one.
WARHAWK42 WROTE: "I hooked the spare hard drive up as the C:/ and from there was able to access the damaged drive and retrieve the data on it. In fact in my case I copied the Windows system files from the spare drive to the damaged drive and it worked again, but in your case I would simply copy any information from it you want and then reformat your drive." I have my sister's available, but I doubt she would want to take ANY CHANCE my computer's sickness could infect hers.
APPLEMAC_G4 WROTE: "And when you finally have your machine back in working order, make sure the very first thing you do is get a copy of Norton's Antivirus on there and run liveupdate once a week." Unfortunately, I HAD a copy of Norton's Antivirus, but since it had SOME kind of virus software already, I never felt an urgent need to get it on the computer too. I assume there is a charge for weekly updates?
DAVE IN EUGENE WROTE: "...a drive would have to be in pretty bad shape for me to be unable to recover the data." I HOPE mine really isn't too bad.
Hard disks--being delicate rotating machinery--are the weakest link in a system.
Backup your data at least weekly. I recommend Novaback but there are many other options. I used to use 4-mm DAT tapes but I have recently moved to DVD and drive mirroring.
I had my epiphany after watching 600 MB of data depart for Uranus; I became a backup fanatic on that occasion.
POST = Power-On Self-Test :
It's different for every model, but they all go thru a series of tests on power-on. Testing how much memory, testing ports, testing this, testing that. Usually you get a couple of seconds to hit a special key (F2 is common, but not universal) to get you into SETUP mode, which is where you configure what type of disk drive is there, what type of CD-ROM, etc, etc.
Consider using VirtualPC on your Mac.
"Operating System not found" is a BIOS error. What it means is that the system cannot locate the primary drive.
POST is Power On Self Test. This is the memory and BIOS check that the computer goes through when it is first turned on. Newer computers do not show a POST screen, while the self test executes the company logo (Dell, Gateway, whatever) is displayed. Pressing the F2 key at this point will take you to the BIOS setup.
In setup, press F9 to restore BIOS defaults, F10 to save and exit. This will restore the location of the primary drive to the BIOS. (There should be a menu on the BIOS setup screen that tells you what function keys to use for Sony, F9 and F10 are standard on most systems)
Be careful with this. IIRC, Stage 1 of the NT Bootloader lives in the MBR, and it knows where Stage 2 is in the actual boot partition, it loads Stage 2 and Stage 2 then loads the rest of the OS. If you use a DOS-based FDISK to wipe the MBR, you'll pretty much guarantee that NT/XP partition will never boot again.