Hi, a friend asked me to help him after his Dell
Dimension 8300 froze while browsing photos in XP and wouldn't boot thereafter. He's getting a Mac soon but at least wants to salvage his files. I figured it would be a simple fix, but...
The model is WD1200JD-75GBB0 120GB SATA rev A00 and it's his only hard drive. The system is about 5 years old.
On his system, the BIOS would go as normal (I checked that it could repeatedly auto-detect the drive) but then after a long pause with a blank screen, "A disk read error occurred Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart".
I first tried booting from the XP CD to try and repair the boot sector. It took quite a while for Windows Setup to load, but when it did, I hit R for the recovery console. After changing drive letters and trying to browse files, I realized his HD wasn't showing up. I booted from the XP CD again and this time pressed enter as if I were going to set up Windows. I wanted to see if Windows could detect any partitions on the drive. But it showed a table with four disk drive slots, all without a drive connected.
Of course I then remembered I would need the drivers, so after downloading Dell's 8300 SATA Promise drivers onto a floppy I loaded those in with F6. Then when I pressed R for the recovery console, it said there were no hard disks on my system and that setup could not continue. I tried again, loading the drivers and this time pressing Enter but got the same message (not even the table with four empty drive slots).
So, I downloaded the Western Digital tools for DOS onto a bootable floppy (Data Lifeguard it's called). I tried the Quick test which is supposed to take 5 minutes max, but after 15 minutes it still wasn't finished and I wasn't seeing or hearing activity around the drive and drive light.
Finally, I took the drive out of his computer and put it into mine (custom desktop, so all different parts from the Dell). I have 3 working SATA drives so I simply disconnected the power and data cables from one of my extras (not a system drive) and connected them to his. My BIOS also detected his drive correctly. But Vista took a while to get to the loading screen, and after about a minute even that disappeared and although there was activity on my HD light for the next 5 minutes I heard nothing. I tried twice more and Vista never loaded.
Finally, I tried booting from the Data Lifeguard floppy but after the message about Caldera DOS loading... nothing but a black screen. I couldn't even run the diagnostic tools.
So I swapped the cables back to my drive and everything works as before.
Anything I can do to try and get his files back or is it time for the fire/earthquake/flood professional recovery types?