Power blink yesterday knocked desktop offline. When it came back up, unusual things. Frustration. Help needed :)
I knew something was off initially because Windows didn’t ask me which Windows install I wanted to boot. Due to some foolishness on my part (reusing an old Windows install drive as a data drive without wiping the MBR from it), my PC’s thought there are two Windows installs for ages (there aren’t, really).
Instead, it booted straight into a Windows install and gave me a faint blue screen with a no network connectivity icon in the corner (that is to say, not the usual pleasant nature images it boots to normally). Clicking or pressing any key does the “sliding up” animation, as though it was getting ready to prompt me for my username/password, but there’s, well, nothing there. Faint blue screen. The no network connectivity icon is now joined by a accessibility tools button and a shut down button. All three of these are clickable/interactable (e.g., I can issue a restart command), but no username/password box ever pops up.
Reboot. Same thing. Fuckfuck.
Try force-shutting-down the PC three times while Windows is loading to try to get to Startup Repair. It never offers that as an option; just keeps going straight to that same faint blue blank un-login screen. Fuckfuckfuck.
Created Win10 reinstall/recovery media. Booted into that. It can’t do a startup repair. Telling it to recover my windows installation tells me that I need to reboot and pick which one I want to work with, as if it were still seeing the two MBRs, but rebooting from the USB stick still doesn’t give me the option to pick.
Back in the Windows install stick environment, I got to the command line. It shows my C: drive as being empty of all files and folders, all 500gb free. Fuckfuckfuckfuck.
Spend two hours looking for free bootable recovery media options. Land on Active Boot Disk. I can get into its bootable environment and navigate my drives. It shows the C: drive (albeit here randomly re-assigned drive letter F:, but the size, drive name, and partition name all match) as exactly how it used to be: full of a Windows install and a program files directory and all the other normal C: drive stuff, with no issues accessing it.
I’m genuinely at a loss here. I’m afraid that reinstalling Windows from the Win10 boot disk onto that drive will wipe the stuff that’s on it. I can’t even try to recover it with most free tools I can find online, and being an nvme SSD, it’s a pain in the ass to get into an enclosure to back up manually. Even Active Boot Disk, which has the most generous trial I’ve seen, doesn’t seem to want to let me try to recover the partitions (which I’m blindly hoping might restore a fucked up MBR) without paying. But if that’s not the problem, I don’t really wanna drop $50-100 on recovery software that can’t actually fix the problem, though at least some of them would let me backup the contents of the drive to copy back over onto a fresh Windows install (there’s a small handful of files/folders unique to my C: drive that I want to preserve, no matter what. Fresh Windows install is fine, but since the installation media thinks the drive is blank, I think it’s gonna toast whatever’s there).
Thoughts/ideas/steps I’ve missed? This is so weird!!