I've killed my laptop.

Less than a year ago, at my request, my company gave me a laptop to replace my desktop computer. I work on a project where being “connected” during meetings is valuable, and I also often work alongside software developers and engineers and it is quite handy to be able to update my docs right there. Anyway, I no longer have a desktop machine, everything is on my nice new laptop. I take it home with me on weekends, I even took it on vacation with me, and I have a property inspection on Monday and was planning to use it to work from home that morning.

Except that I just killed it.

About an hour ago I downloaded my company’s VPN client and started installing it, and when it prompted me to reboot I closed all of my open applications and clicked “OK.” And now it won’t boot up! I get the lovely blue screen of death, and an error saying that a registry file is fucked. It won’t boot in safe mode, it won’t boot in “last known good configuration mode,” it won’t boot, period. So I hopped on my home desktop, fired up the VPN connection here, and submitted a help desk ticket to the IT folks at work. So now I wait until Monday morning…maybe there’ll be something I can try from here, and someone will call the number I provided in the ticket. In the meantime, of course, I haven’t backed up my files: luckily most of them live in our CM repository, but several don’t and I might have just lost them. At least I haven’t lost any of my e-mail, because we use an Outlook Exchange server for that. All of my local stuff is probably history, though.


Put the XP disk into the CD drive, boot from the CD (you may have to press C or some such while the laptop boots), and follow the prompts to do a system repair. It might not work with the registry being so badly hosed, but it’s worth a shot.

Assuming the hard drive media is OK and this is just a munged registry file, if the files are of some inportance it’s usually not that huge a deal to remove the hard drive, pull the files off and pu them on another unit. There are several ways to do this but the easiest is to just get an external 2.5 case with USB connection and attach it to your desktop or another notebook.

Cheaper, and doesn’t involve opening up the laptop: a Knoppix boot disk will read NTFS. You can offload things to a network drive (or your home computer, if you do it right) and re-download it if you have to wipe Windows. And burn backup CD/DVDs.

My advice: Let your IT people fix it. They own the laptop, they gave you the software, they gave you VPN, and it crashed. Let them fix it.

p.s. – I truly doubt you’ve lost anything off your hard drive.

Um, no thanks. :smiley: If it were my machine I’d be inclined to try to fix it on my own (and this would be a “help!” thread instead of just a “dammit!” thread), but like ratatoskK said it’s the company’s machine so I’ll let them be the ones to mess with it. I don’t even have the OS discs for it. Plus, even though I wasn’t doing anything crazy when it crashed I keep feeling like it’s somehow my fault, and the last thing I want to do is accidentally make things worse by trying to “help.”

Yeah? That’s good to know. :slight_smile: Is it like astro said, where I might wind up removing the hard drive and putting it in another computer (or something), or is it that you think a registry error is probably recoverable?

I dunno about your company, cobber, but 'round these parts handing the machine over to IT to “recover” is a guaranteed way to lose your data. “Oh, we couldn’t figure out which registry setting was wrong, so we just wiped the whole drive and reloaded the OS. Do you need any other software installed?”

I vote for using Knoppix, FreeBSIE, SystemRescue, or some other live CD to access your work files (presuming that the VPN install didn’t wipe them out…probably not) and copy them over to your home machine, then hand it over to IT. They’ll never be any the wiser–and that’s assuming that they have any wisdom to begin with–and your files will be secure.

And no, you didn’t do anything wrong. The whole registry key thing is just another reason why Microsoft really needs to get out of the OS kernel business and move to writing GUI front ends for reliable modular microkernels. You know, like those other guys have. It’s just good business sense.


Maybe in a big(ger) company that’s an issue, but there are only 2 folks in our IT department and they’re both great. I really do believe that my laptop is much better off in their hands than in my own.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

You know what it is? I dropped it (for the first time) a few days ago and have been worried ever since, even though it’s been working perfectly fine…at least, until this afternoon. It didn’t fall far, but the corner hit hard enough to leave a mark on the wood desk. Maybe I should have asked for a Toughbook. :wink:

Do you have a jump drive? (Flash drive, USB memory stick?)

If you do, the knoppix boot CD will let you copy files to the drive easily enough.
Let the IT guys fix it, but you might as well secure the important things first.

The usual IT solution to system stopping registry errors is a disk format and re-install. IT personnel (often with good reason) like to avoid messing with hardware if they can help it and just slap a new install. IT people are often (surprisingly) not all that hardware savvy or enthusiastic when it comes to tweaky stuff like removing notebook hard drives and putting them in external cases. You’d better work out any request for salvaging files beforehand as most IT departments really don’t want to mess with the hard drive and will wipe it as the first and foremost option.

If I get told that the only option seems to be a wipe/rebuild, I’ll look into one of the solutions mentioned for dumping my data first.

(And while I totally understand – and often use – “guys” as a gender-neutral group term, one of the IT guys is a girl. :D)

I get that there’s a general distrust of IT departments, but I think you missed the part where I said that my IT department is all of 2 people and that they’re both great. I’ve worked with both of them for almost 5 years, they know their hardware and software shit, and they don’t do things like wipe hard drives without talking about it first. At my company, when you need IT support you submit an online help desk request, and when you find out who it was assigned to you actually discuss the problem (and its potential solutions) with them before handing anything over.

Some of you should go work for a small software company for a while and regain your trust in IT personnel. :wink:

They fixed it!! :slight_smile:

It was in ICU for a little while this morning, but less than 3 hours after I dropped it off with the senior IT guy he brought it back all fixed and perfect. He was concerned that it might have been a bad hard drive, but a disk repair/defrag (or something) seems to have done the trick. No missing data, no system rebuild.



Now back up those files! :wink:

I’m on it. :wink: I hate being one of those people who needs a near-disaster to learn a lesson, but I am moving as many files onto our CM server as I can – and everything else will get copied to my user folder on the fileserver, which is backed up nightly.

I already back up my home computer pretty regularly; I guess I just didn’t realize how much of my work stuff isn’t on one server or another until it was almost too late!