When attempting Vista Startup Repair from install disc, OS not detected?

My computer info: Windows Vista Ultimate Toshiba Laptop Satellite
Yesterday, when starting up my computer, black screen appeared saying system can't start because file is damaged or missing.



It suggested trying to repair windows from the install disk. So I attempted that. (by the way, it won't boot up in safe mode either).

This thread on trying to boot from windows install disk is great:

However, I can't get that far as once the window pops up to select your operating system, nothing shows in the list, meaning apparently my OS is not detected? It gives you the option to load drivers for your hardware (?!) but how do I know what to look for and pick?

If I just pick next, it gives me the windows recovery console. I attempted a system repair option (with unknown OS). It ran for 8 hours and it was attempting to fix some repairs but it seemed to stop working (although the progress bar was still moving). I was noticing my hard drive light would stay on for about 6 seconds, blink off, then repeat that sequence so it seemed to be stuck in a loop. I shut it off.

I then attempted a chkdsk C: and many many file record segments are coming up unreadable. It ran overnight and was only 1% complete after 8 hours so I exited out of that utility.

I could care less about salvaging the computer. I just want to recover some very important files that have been added since my last backup.

Any suggestions on how to do that if I can't get the stupid thing to boot up? If I skip past the repair option and exit out of the windows install option, will it attempt to load windows vista from the disk? It's taking a super long time and I just see that blue/green background wallpaper that looks like northern lights. I do have a moveable mouse on the screen although the resolution appears to be the bare bones 'safe mode' type. My hard drive light appears to be doing something. Do I just wait this out for another 8 hours and see if windows will load from the disk? Is that what it is supposed to do on vista ultimate if you exit out of the install/repair option?


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
If Vista starts to load but hangs, then you don't have a boot problem which startup repair will fix.
You might have somehow got Vista into a schizophrenic state where it thinks its own disk letter is different to that which it had when it installed.
Luckily, if that is the case, being Vista then you should have got far enough to start regedit and put the disk letter back to C (assuming that's what it was before)
How to restore the system/boot drive letter in Windows

If that's not the problem, then you can always rescue your personal data first like this
Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer - How-To Geek
before you attempt further remedial action, reinstallation or factory reset.

(Incidentally, if "startup repair" can't see a system to fix, and you have multiple HDDs, disconnect all but the one with the OS first)