Hard Drive Issues


I was trying to help an old couple when they could not boot into Windows XP Home (probably SP3 or at least SP2) on a Dell Dimension 2400. He suspected accumulating malware, spyware, virus progression as instead of attempting to fix, he continued to change users and run it. He’s probably right.
Either way, I tried every way I knew to boot to the Dell Resource CD, which clearly states on the CD that you should be able to boot to it for diagnostics etc. (And I assume to Repair or Reinstall Windows) No success. I changed the boot order in the Bios every which way but loose, but still no luck.

It was suggested that I purchase a USB to IDE/SATA adapter and and set the drive to Master and access it via my laptop. I did that successfully, but I keep getting messages that the drive is corrupt and unreadable when attempting to run CHKDSK or anything else. Malwarebytes would run, but it was so slow I stopped it after 2 hours…one file at a time, extremely SLOW! I downloaded Western Digital’s Data Lifeguard Diagnostics and it ran on the drive and it passed every test. Not sure what that means because I still cannot run CHKDSK or anything else on the drive, read or write to it. The only thing I didn’t run from their program was Write 0’s to the disk, which I assume is for preparing it for formatting.

I guess my next step, and question to which I cannot understand the answers I’ve gotten to is, while I have this drive hooked up to my laptop, should I go ahead and Format it, and will this leave it to where when I reinstall the drive back into the original machine, I can insert the CD and hopefully reinstall the OS? Or install the OS some other way? I assume that is about the only option I have left, we are willing to lose all the data, but just want to get the machine back up and running. I’m just reluctant because I could never get it to boot to the Dell CD. Could formatting the drive possibly fix that problem? Should I reinstall the drive to the machine and attempt to format from the Bios, then hopefully it would accept or read the CD?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Formatting the drive will remove the operating system. The Dell Resource CD probably won’t do a re-install of XP, you can contact Dell if you’d like to be 100% certain. If you can’t boot from a CD it doesn’t matter anyway. Have you tried booting any other CD like a Linux live CD? You can try one of the small distro’s like TinyMe, Damn Small Linux, Puppy, Knoppix. Just download the iso, burn it to CD and try to boot with it. Is there an option in the Bios to boot from USB? You can try re-installing the hard drive and see if it boots now, but if you format it, you’ll be left without an OS.

I’m not sure why, but about the 10th time I tried to run CHKDSK /f E: from a prompt, it worked. It scanned the drive while hooked up via USB adapter, fixed errors, accessed and copied files from the Dell Resource CD that I forgot was in my drive and opened up a directory folder to view all the files on that hard drive. Just as planned.
The USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapters really work. Now I’m running Anti Virus and Anti Malware on it, then I’ll attempt to reinstall into it’s original tower and proceed.
Thanks for your input

Glad you’re making progress and hope all goes smoothly now. :slight_smile: