Operating System Not Found

Ok, I have a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach right now.

I was working with my laptop and it started clicking. So I tried to shut down. It grew sluggish so I took out the battery and unplugged it to shut it off. It was a little warm on the bottom so I waited a while and let it cool off. I just booted it up and the Sony logo appears (it’s a Vaio with XP) and … no post. No mem test. Just the works:

Operating System Not Found

Hit space bar and the message repeats. This is a total hard drive failure, isn’t it? Is there any hope at all?

It is your harddrive. If you are really lucky you will be able to boot off another drive with an operating system and your dead drive as a slave and be able to rescue some data.

Ouch, my sympathies. Hard drive loss is never fun, and that’s what it sounds like.

As long as this won’t void any applicable warranties, you can try removing the hard drive and putting it in the freezer overnite. Then put it back in the system (still ice cold, but with no visible ice or frost on it) and see if it boots. Sometimes the freezing unsticks stuck parts and gives a dead hard drive a little bit more life. Even if this does work, start backing up data ASAP because that drive will die again when it warms up.

Before you totally freak out, try reseating the hard drive. Turn everything off, unplug the bugger, pull out the battery if you’re paranoid. Then take out the hard drive and carefully reseat it. This worked for me about 50% of the time when I did on-site tech support. Maybe my users jogged with their laptops or did something else extra-jiggly, but it can’t hurt to try.

Edit: try simply reseating the drive before you follow any crazy “boil the drive” advice. :wink:

Make sure you don’t have a floppy in the floppy drive.

Thanks for making me laugh at least.

Thanks for making me laugh at least.[/quote]

You’re saying there is no floppy in the floppy drive or that you would never do such a thing?

Thanks for making me laugh at least.[/quote]

You’re saying there is no floppy in the floppy drive or that you would never do such a thing?[/quote]

But I also know that if a floppy was in the drive, the computer wouldn’t be saying “No Operating System Found” ;-)

I’m not having fun with you, Andrew. When you have the computer setup to boot from the floppy and forget and leave a non-bootable floppy in the floppy drive, that is exactly the message you get.

It happens because the computer is looking at the A: drive for an OS, but if there is a normal garden variety floppy in there, it can’t start up, nor can it move on to attempt to boot of the hard drive. Thus, it gives you this awful message. I have had it happen to me too many times.

I thought the error you got when you left a floppy in A: was “Invalid System Disk”?


Oh, well, it can’t be that because the A: drive is on the docking station and the computer has been undocked for over a month at least.

You also might try taking out the drive, shaking it gently, and putting it back. If the bearings are worn and “sticking”, sometimes the drive will have this problem. Usually you can get it to start eventually, at which point you save everything you can…

Before freezing, put the drive in a ziplock bag, wrap that ziplock bag in a paper towel, then put the entire thing in another ziplock bag.

Don’t forget the syrup.

Or the sawdust.

Out of curiousity, what is the brand and size of that hard drive?

Along the lines of Tyrion’s suggestion to rescue your data, if you’ve got another PC with a CD burner, grab yourself a Knoppix Linux LiveCD. It’s a fully-functional version of Linux (GUI, networking, the works) that boots entirely off the CD.

It’s meant to demo Linux on non-Linux PCs without disturbing the existing OS (Knoppix doesn’t write anything to disk when it runs), but I’ve found it makes a damned handy emergency recovery disk for these types of situations. And you don’t need to know much about Linux to use it (I have almost zero Linux experience, and I managed to use it with minimal difficulty).

Linux is flaky when writing to NTFS, so be sure you’ve either got a FAT32 partition on a non-dying hard drive in the computer you’re rescuing, or network yourself to another PC (in which case the filesystem doesn’t matter).

Even if you aren’t having problems, you might want to grab a copy. It’s good to have around in an emergency, and it’s fun to play in a “sandbox” copy of a different OS. And the hardware detection (flaky in most Linux distros) in Knoppix is amazing – Microsoft could learn a thing or two from the guys who put the Knoppix CD together.

A few other things:

  1. Here are Rescue Disk instructions to help you rescue your data with Knoppix.

  2. In addition to backing up over a network or to another hard drive on the failing system, Knoppix has CD burning software so you can backup that way, too. However, since Knoppix has to be in the CD drive at all times, you need to have a secondary CD burner for this method to work.

  3. Knoppix also has a partition manager ala PartionMagic, though I haven’t used it and thus can’t speak to its effectiveness.

And here is a much better data recovery tutorial for Knoppix.

I believe it’s a 60gig and it’s a Sony Vaio so the brand is whatever Sony likes to use. I’ll try the reseating, Tyrion’s slaving idea (because I know how to do that), then maybe the freezing, then maybe this Knoppix thing, then I’m shooting the drive as skeet.