Help, my computer just won't work!

Sorry about the thread title, I’m too tired to come up with a good one.

Basically I accidentally deleted something on my old laptop today that caused my start bar to disappear on start up. I was talking to a friend at the time, not paying attention to what I was un-installing and it just happened.

Now I tried the obvious things. Ran explorer out of task manager and got no response, like it didn’t exist. However I booted in Diagnostics and everything seemed ok but I still have no idea how to boot it up normally again. It’s not such a big deal as I was of two minds about reformatting the HD before passing it on and now I pretty much have to.

Two quick questions that hopefully you guys can answer. Is there a way to transfer data to an external HD in a Diagnostic/Selective Boot? What processes do I have to enable to get the USB port recognised and working again?

And second, how do I reformat my HD from this mode? Is it as simple as running system restore or is there more to it then that?

Have you tried a Windows repair installation (recovery console) off of the CD?

The problem is I have a Windows Vista Boot Disc and my laptop is XP.

I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but fixing this problem yourself may take more self-education than you might be willing to put into it. Do you know no local geeks who will work for beer?

Let’s cover the basics. 9 times out of 10 when I’m presented with this problem it is that the user accidentally dragged the start bar down to the bottom of the screen. To check for this, move your mouse to the bottom edge… Slowly move it a little back and forth, up and down. Can you see if the mouse pointer changes slightly; does it give you the up-and-down resize arrow there at the edge? If so, just click and hold and then drag your start bar back up to it’s original width.

When you say you ran Explorer out of Task Manager (File, New Task…) did “nothing” happen or did you get a My Computer / Windows Explorer window to come up?

When you say booted in Diagnostics do you mean Safe Mode or what were you using?

I’m thinking this. You were all thinking it. Go on and hate me, it’s what I’m here for, yawn stretch bored now.

It’s definitely not an issue of hiding the start bar, it’s the first thing I checked. Ran task manager and minimized it and it acted like a start bar didn’t exist, just minimized to it’s on bar on the bottom left.

I ran explorer and the system acted like it was trying to access a file and then nothing happened. Tried again with the same result after leaving it alone for several minutes.

I then ran msconfig and clicked boot to diagnostic mode rather then a full boot. Restarted and computer booted fine but with no Active desktop. Then booted selectively running system and windows consecutively (which resulted in me running pretty much in safe mode I guess) and being able to navigate my computer as normal. Unfortunately I have no idea what processes to enable to let my computer recognize an external HD to get some data off it.

Like I said it’s not overly important but at the same time I want to try and fix it, I’m pretty sure I’m just missing something obvious.

OK, the combination of not having the Start Button / Task Bar and trying to run Explorer manually as you did is the puzzle to key on then.

Note how many processes are active (Task Manager, Processes tab, number is tabulated at bottom left) and then count how many explorer.exe are already running. If you don’t already know you can sort the Processes tables by clicking on the headers; image name alphabetically, CPU, memory usage. Try manually starting explorer like you did before. Check and see if the processes count was raised by one and how many instances of explorer there are now.

If there was an explorer.exe to begin with try ending that process and manually starting it again.

If you want to avoid troubleshooting, can’t you just take the HD out and stick it in another computer and access it as a secondary drive?

Also to reformat I believe you’ll need a legit XP disc to re-install XP, at least that’s the way I reformat.

If you desperately need files off of it, just download an Ubuntu live CD. It’s generally a good idea to have a live CD of whatever Linux distro you can stomach lying around.

Didn’t even think of this, reckon this is the best way forward.