Need to repair Vista but my CD drive is broken



I have a laptop that runs Vista. Once in a while for no apparent reason my computer crashes (when I boot it I get an error message that says that Windows failed to start and no matter what option I try - start windows normally, safe mode, etc. - it just goes to a black screen and nothing happens). The only way I've found to fix it is to use the Windows recovery cd that came with my computer and using System Restore to recover to a previous restore point. I have Windows updates disabled so that's not the problem. Any ideas anyone has to solve this problem would be greatly appreciated, though this is actually not the reason that I'm here.

So my computer decided to crash again but this time my CD drive is broken (actually to be more specific it's a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive) . I've tried everything to try to run the recovery disc. I tried copying the files to a USB flash drive and adjusting the BIOS to boot from the USB first but all I get is a black screen with a flashing cursor. I also tried an external CD drive that connects to my laptop using the USB (again I adjusted the BIOS) but all I get is an error message that says "reboot and select proper boot device or insert boot media in selected boot device and press a key". I am out of ideas and the thing is my laptop is still under warranty so I want to send it in to get the CD drive replaced (it's not a pop-out so I wouldn't be able to just buy a new one and install it myself) but I don't want to send it to them without it working because I'm afraid they'll just wipe the hard drive and there is stuff on there that I don't have backed up (when I recover to previous restore point it doesn't wipe out the hard drive). Anyone have any ideas? Also I don't have access to a full version of Vista so I can't try that - all I have is the recovery cd.
What type of laptop? Can you hit F11 or F12 to boot right into the Recovery Partition and restore Vista?

If you send it in just make sure you tell them not to touch the hard drive. If you give specific instructions for them not to touch it they should not format it.
It's a random brand - ZT Affinity. It was a gift lol. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have a recovery partition. At least it's not listed when I press F11. I get the CD drive, the USB drive (if I have something plugged into it), the hard drive, and the ethernet.

Do they need the computer to be working to install a new CD drive?
They should just replace the optical drive without even needing to turn the machine on, though I imagine they'd try to boot it just to check that the new drive functions correctly.
Just tell them that the drive is needed to repair a boot problem and that you'll let them know soon enough if the new drive is u/s.
As to your original problem, you say that you have WUD disabled. Do you mean, like me, that you have it set to notify you, and you do the updates at a time of your choosing; or are you saying you've never applied any updates to Vista ?
If the latter, that could be your problem with the intermittent crashes. There are hundreds of fixes to problems with the released code, any one of which could relate to your problem.
I have Windows updates disabled so that's not the problem
- it will be a problem if you fail to keep up with updates.

I would take the machine in for repair but tell them that you don't want the drive formatted, or, if they feel they have to, they can back it up themselves. Any self-respecting PC retailer should be able to do that.

In the future make sure you back up your stuff regularly.
It was the Windows Updates that started the problem in the first place. What happened was I didn't know at the time that you couldn't install Windows XP (from a recovery disc at least) on a computer that was preloaded with Windows Vista. I reformatted the hard drive and when I wasn't able to load XP I had to reload Vista. When I reloaded it there were a TON of updates, so I loaded them all. It was during that time that the crashes started. I did some research and found that there were a few particular Vista updates that were causing the problem. So I went through manually and loaded every update except those that were listed as causing problems. That was fine for a little but then some more updates came out, I loaded them and again it crashed. The crashes always corresponded to the updates, so I disabled the updates and actually haven't had a crash since now. If it's not the updates that was causing the problem I don't know what it could be. The problem is always the same, though. I shut down the computer when it seemingly is working fine, and the next time I turn it on I get the screen that says Windows failed to start and no matter what option I try it won't work. Any thoughts?
Have you loaded SP1? That was a major leap. It had tons of fixes in it to help the stability of Vista.
I'm not sure. I'll definitely give it a try, though. Would that have come up as a Windows update, though, or would that be something that I'd have to seek out?
Assuming you get your CD drive replaced...

You can either apply it via Windows Update or download the standalone package from Microsoft's website. If you have problems installing SP1, your system's files are corrupted. In the event of this occuring, re-install (i know... again) Windows, apply the 63 someodd updates, and then retry the download standalone package for SP1 (Even after the updates, SP1 well still not show as a downloadable update).

Don't install any third party applications until you've applied SP1; otherwise, there may be problems installing it.

To verify you have service pack 1, right click Computer ---> Properties
You'll see "Service Pack 1" under the Windows edition information.
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