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Windows 7: Lost system drive

28 Oct 2012   #1

windows 7
Lost system drive

Last night I shutdown my Dell Inspiron N5010 as normal. Today, it will not start up and goes into an loop. I have gone through some of the other posts. Command prompt shows "x" drive, trying to change to "c"drive doesn't work and, in fact out of frustration, I went through the whole alphabet to no avail. Also tried the partition check and nothing is found. No bootable CD. The laptop is not that old (well, okay, maybe old in terms of technology, but that can happen in less than six months!) and was not making odd noises. Not sure why it would just up and die. At the very least, I need to pull my files off of it (Do I use the information from the Lili and Peppermint post? Can I download needed Windows7 files to a thumb drive using an iMac (only other computer in house)? Any assistance greatly appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP


If HD passes, test the RAM and then work through these other steps for Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Start
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Oct 2012   #4
Debbie B

Windows 7 Enterprise x64


Kindly follow the below mentioned steps in order:

1. Confirm HDD is recognized in BIOS. If yes, follow next step. If NO, load BIOS defaults and reseat HDD.
2. Run Hardware Diagnostics on your system. In order to run Dell Diagnostics from Hard Drive, follow the mentioned steps: Restart your computer. When the DELL™ logo appears, tap <F12> immediately. In the boot device list, highlight Boot to Utility Partition and press <Enter>. Under Dell Diagnostics Main Menu (see Dell Diagnostics Main Menu), select the extended test. If you get any error code, make a note of the error code.
3. Boot to Safe mode and perform system restore. If system restore fails or unable to access safe mode, follow next step.
4. Run Start Up repair from the URL mentioned:

Let us know the results
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2012   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and on my other computer Windows XP Pro 32bit

If what Debbie B. has posted doesn't work, you could try this too...

If it's only 6 months old, it should be a warrantee issue, shouldn't it? I would take it into the shop for them to look at it, if it were my computer.

If you have important files on your hard drive, you can remove the hard drive, put it in a docking station, and then hook it up to another laptop or computer so you can extract all those files. Then put it back into the computer and take it into the shop.

Once you've removed your important files and put your hard drive back in, you could try to fix the problem yourself, if you want to, by doing a complete system recovery to bring it back to factory settings. This would make it exactly the way it was when you pulled it out of the box. (Any programs that you’ve installed since then will have to be reinstalled.)

In your User’s Manual ( page 68, under the title, “Restoring Your Operating System”, it says to press <F8> at startup and then, look for the option, then choose “Repair your computer”, followed by Dell Factory Image Restore. The rest should be easy as pie.

Once you've got it going again, you really should make a set of recovery DVDs and a Windows bootable repair disk. You should also use a backup good backup program and keep it current. My backup program, Acronis True Image Home, allows me to startup the computer with the program on a CD, so if Windows won't start, I can always run my backup program to do a recovery from my current backup.

Another suggestion I have is to make a new partition, in which to store your data. Then go through all the icons in your Personal folder, such as "My Documents", "My Music", "My Pictures", and so on, and right-click on their icons. Then click on the Location tab and change the C:\ to the letter of the new partition and click OK when it asks you if you want to MOVE everything to the new partition. Then when you have a system failure and need to rebuild drive C:\ all your data is on the other partition, so you don't need to worry about losing it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2012   #6

windows 7
re: Lost System Drive

Thank you all for responding!
Theog, I am trying to figure out what brand hard drive I have.
BlackBart, my computer is about a year and a half old, sorry, was just trying to say that it's old technology-wise.
DebbieB...worked on your instructions. Information provided below...
*HDD was not recognized in BIOS. F9 Load defaults, save changes and reset completed. Checked BIOS, fixed HDD now reads ST9750420AS.
*F12 at Dell logo takes me to window titled "Please select boot device" with choices CD/DVD/CD-RW device, Network, Diagnostics, Enter set-up. Chose Diagnostics. Diagnostics screen heading "Preboot system assessment build 4129". Diagnostics ended with "Pre boot system assessment complete. Please select OK to reboot you system."
*Reboot in Safe Mode. Goes back to loop screen. Window titled "System recovery options". "Select a keyboard input method."
-Chose "US" and clicked "Next". Window titled "System recovery options", two radio buttons.
>First "use recovery tools that can help find problems staying Windows. Select an operating system to repairs. If your operating system isn't listed, click lead drivers and then install drivers for your hard drive." Note. No operating system listed. Clicking on "load drivers" brings up Add Driver popup "insert the installation media for the device and click OK to select driver." Did not get " installation media" with computer and am trying to figure out brand and type of hard drive (with our taking back off laptop as I have never taken a computer apart before.). Cancelled this.
>Second "Restart your computer using a system image that you created earlier." Not sure what this means as don't think I have ever created system image. Error message received for popup named "Re-image your computer". "An internal error occurred. The following information might be you resolve the error: The system cannot find the path specified (0x80070003)".
*Click okay takes me back to window "Systen Recovery Options". "Choose a recovery tool. Operating system: unknown on (unknown) local disk. Options including what happens if I click on them...
-Startup Repair. Clicking on it searches for problem with it ending saying startup repair cannot repair this computer automatically.
Problem signature
Problem event name - StartupRepairOffline
Problem signature 01:
Problem Signature 02:
Problem Signature 03: unknown
Problem Signature 04: 0
Problem Signature 05: unknown
Problem Signature 06: 1
Problem Signature 07: unknown
OS version: 6.1.7600.
Locale ID: 1033
-System Restore. Message "To use system Restore, you must specify which Windows installation to restore. Restart this computer, selecting an operating system."
-System image recovery. Message "An internal error occurred. The following information might help you resolve the error: The system cannot find the path specified (0x80070003)"
-Windows memory diagnostic. "Restart now and check for problems." Message " Windows cannot check for memory problems. An error is preventing Windows from checking for memory problems driving startup. To run the Windows memory diagnostic manually, book the computer from the Windows installations, and then select Windows memory diagnostic from the Windows booklet manager menu." disc came with computer.
-Command prompt. "Administrator:X:\windows\system32\cmd.exe at top of window. Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]
-command prompt. X:\windows\system32>
Typed in c: Message "The system c whatnot find the drive specified."

Sorry so long, wanted to make sure you had all the info. Can you tell f from this info what hard drive I have?

Thanks everyone for all the help!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2012   #7
Microsoft MVP


If there's no HD listed in the F12 Boot menu then you'll need to get it recognized in BIOS first. I thought it responded and was listed after you reset BIOS to defaults - the serial you gave is a Seagate HD. Check again in BIOS setup and then try the F12 key to see if it lists HD to boot now, and what happens when you boot it.

The F12 diagnostics should have also run tests on all hardware but apparently it didn't. Dell Diagnostics Utility - How to Run the

If this fails then burn SeaTools for DOS | Seagate to CD using Windows Image Burner by rightclicking on the ISO file, boot it to run an Extended CD scan.

If it passes then work through the steps I gave you earlier to disinfect and then try to repair Win7 to start.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2012   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and on my other computer Windows XP Pro 32bit

Did you ONLY read the first two sentences of what I wrote on my last post?

If your hard drive doesn't register in the bios, then read your manual to find out which trap door on the bottom of your laptop is for the hard drive. Open it, and remove the hard drive. Then put it back inside, making sure that it is seated properly. Close the trap door again. Turn over the laptop to its upright position, and start it up.

Then do what GregRocker said, do what Debbie B said, and then do what I said (after the first three sentences).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2012   #9

windows 7

Thanks all. Tried all to no avail. Am giving up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2012   #10
Microsoft MVP


Giving up? What's that?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Lost system drive

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