Laptop Fails to Boot... Help!

#1
Howdy,

This is literally my first time to ever post anything on any forum so please bear with me if I commit any faux pas (but please feel free to correct them, so that I can edit the post, if possible). If am posting this in the wrong section of the forum, please address this as well and I will move it as soon as possible.

I know very little about computers and that is an understatement. My wife and I agreed to spend less than $100 dollars repairing this computer, as it is already fairly out of date (purchased in 2008) and newer laptops are very affordable. But, for the moment, it does all that I need it to (which is pretty much word processing, excel functions and storing pictures of our family), so I'd like to keep it going just to save a few hundred dollars. Cost estimates to have the computer repaired at a brick and mortar computer repair shop far exceeded this $100 cap, leaving fixing the computer myself the only option. So, its about time I learned a little about the device that I've been sitting in front of for years.

Here's whats going on and what I've tried:

  1. My computer is a Dell Latitude D630 running Widows Vista. It recently failed to boot, so I went to the automatic "Startup Repair" option and it did its thing for about an hour, during which it restarted several times. After many rounds of this a pop up informed me "Statup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically"
  2. I then selected the "View advanced options for system recovery and support" link that appeared on the previously mentioned pop up. From here, it offered me the following recovery tools:
    • Startup Recovery; not likely to work considering I'd already tried it
    • System Restore (Restore Windows to an earlier point in time); when I choose this it tells me "No restore points have been created on your computer's system disk". It does give me an option to create a restore point via "System Protection", but I'm afraid I'll lose all of my saved files, because even though the system restore page tells me that it does not affect any of my documents, pictures, etc., when I click on the link, for "How does System Restore Work", it tells me that because I'm running in a limited diagnostic state, I cannot undo the the restore operation. So, I'm afraid to go any further without advice from more knowledgeable people.
    • Windows Complete PC Restore (Restore your entire computer from a backup); when I select this option, a pop up informs me that "No valid back up locations could be found" and it tells me to "attach the correct hard disk or insert the last backup DVD and then start the restore process again". I have no back up DVD, though I think that Easy RE from Neosmart might be what I need to use for this... but, I'm not sure.
    • Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool (Check your computer for memory hardware errors); I've attempted this, and it does it's check and then it restarts, at which time it immediately goes back into the "Startup Repair" rather than identifying any issues (as it said it would upon restart). After, it does its startup repair attempt, it fails and brings me back to these same options.
    • Command Prompt; I have no idea what to do with this
  3. I have attempted to F8 when I'm starting the computer and I select the "Last Known Good Configuration" option, which only takes me to "Startup Repair", which once again fails.
  4. I get the same result when I attempt to start in safe-mode.

So, I don't know where to go from here. It seems that no matter what I do, I'm stuck in "Startup Repair". I don't know if this is a hardware problem (I do have a toddler running around that likes to smash things with a wooden mallet... like the screen of our LCD TV) or if this is a software issue that can possibly be fixed with the EasyRE program. This program seems like a solid one from all that I've read online, but I'd hate to burn $20 on the program if the problem stemmed from physical damage or any other irreparable damage to the hard drive/motherboard (i don't really know what a motherboard is, its just a term that I've seen thrown around a lot on the internet).

I apologize if this is a repeat of a thousand previous threads. I have seen other similar thread throughout the internet, but invariably I run into a situation that they are describing that doesn't pertain to what I'm seeing or I just get lost in the advice because the lingo is beyond my level. So, I'm opening this up with the hopes of being able to interact those willing to assist me, as I will likely need clarification on any advice received. Thanks to anyone who reads this and anyone willing to help me!

-Andrew
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
What you can do at no cost.
download a bootable Linux distro
Download Ubuntu Desktop | Ubuntu
and burn it to a CD.
Boot it on the laptop in "run without changing my computer" mode
Use it to rescue all of your photos to external storage
Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer
When you're happy that all of your stuff is safe, there is presumably a "factory reset" option which Dell will have provided in their OEM recovery partition. Your user handbook or Dell's website should tell you what hot-key combo you need at power up to invoke it.
I'm afraid that system restore is no use to you. If you didn't have it turned on (no points exist) then there's no point trying to create one in its broken state. The idea is to have a series of points where the PC was working healthily, which you can return to.
Ditto with Complete PC restore.
If you weren't making backup images of the PC, there's nothing to recreate it from.
The only likely place you've got to go back to is the image Dell provided in its fresh out of the box state.
You could conceivably use the Command Prompt to run chkdsk against the C disk and try the startup repair again after that, but I'd concentrate on getting your user data safe first before taking a risk of making things worse.
 
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#3
Terry,

Thank you very much for your advice. I will give that a shot as soon as I get home. Can I run this program via a USB stick? The only functioning computer I have does not have a CD/DVD drive. I'm not sure if my computer (the one I'm attempting to repair) qualifies as one of the "newer" computers that can boot from a USB as the Ubuntu site says... in truth I'm not entirely sure what that even means.

And is there any way I could send you a private message if further questions arise on this subject? I hate to ask, because I feel like you answered the door when I rang the bell, and now I'm asking to walk inside. But, if my experience tells me anything, I will get stuck again. Please don't feel any obligation to do so, because you've already helped me greatly, therefore I won't bother you unless you agree. Thanks again!

-Andrew
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Just keep posting back in the thread.
That way your experience will serve others in the future, and you'll also get the benefit of possible help from other sources.
 
#5
Consider what caused the problem ...

Terry's recommendations are good; they should allow you to recover your data.
You may want to also consider what caused the problem in the first place. It could have been a virus or a hardware problem.

If you want to investigate it further, you can try the free online Laptop Repair Guide at http://laptopsclub.com/computerrepairguide.htm
Just click the "Drives" button and answer the interactive questions. It will keep a log of questions, your answers, and provide a recommended course of action to repair your laptop.

Good luck!
Bryan