Hard drive head crash caused it..
I was using a Compaq Presario 2103US XP laptop as my main computer for a few years.. bought it brand new about four years ago.. it was on 24 / 7.. suddenly, one day, doing I don't remember what (nothing unusual).. the BSOD appeared.. "Can't read from [some obscure Windoze message]"..
I rebooted.. got the same BSOD.,. crap.. tried everything I could think of, and finally decided to try re-installing XP from the CD included in its box.. that didn't work.. tried reformatting it from DOS.. that didn't work either..
After multiple tries, it would only get about five or six percent into re-formatting the original 30 gb internal drive when it'd encounter hundreds of bad sector errors.. the drive would simply not format.. the hard drive was simply shot..
Luckily, I had used Acronis True Backup to make a mirror image of the entire C: drive about three months before the hard drive crashed..
I had work to do, and no time to deal with the problem, so I set the Compaq aside, and bought a new Acer Vista laptop..
A year and a half passes.. I decide "this is stupid.. I have what used to be a $1000.00 laptop, sitting over there, doing nothing.. I could use a "real" computer in the bedroom.. all it (hopefully) needs is a new hard drive, and I can restore it from the Acronis backup and resurrect it."..
So.. I bought a brand new Seagate 160 gb 2.5" drive from NewEgg.com for under fifty bucks.. installation was simple (luckily, I had downloaded that Presario model's service manual from HP's site and had it stored on my newer computer.. but replacing the hard drive wasn't rocket science.. no cables, no jumpers.. just a few screws)..
So.. a jewelers screwdriver to get the old hard drive off the little slide-out sled, and screw the new one to it.. then I cabled the older laptop to the USB external drive on which I had stored the Acronis back-up of its entire former hard drive.. also had Acronis make an "emergency rescue CD" so it could boot into its own operating system and run the program itself (and its own operating system).. to do the restore outside of Windoze..
This older laptop only had USB 1.1 ports, so restoring a 28 gb file onto its new hard drive was glacially slow.. many hours.. but it finally finished.. I rebooted, all was fine (except a lot of registered software had to be updated to newer versions since the back-up was a year and a half old.. okay, so I'm lazy, and I put off replacing its hard drive that long..)..
So fifty bucks, fifteen minutes to CAREFULLLY remove and replace the hard drive, (those screws are *tiny*).. a number of hours to restore the whole original C: drive's contents.. and that old XP laptop now lives in my bedroom, fast internet connection from my router / cable modem over WiFi.. and that's that..
A long-winded way to say that the hard drive simply wore out after a few years of very heavy use.. hard sector errors were causing the BSOD.. and nothing else..
The Compaq was never abused, never dropped, any time I took it on a trip, it was protected in a padded case.. I had the foresight to back-up the entire thing a few months before it crashed.. so now it's resurrected and works just as well, if not better, than it used to, since its new hard drive is six times the capacity.. and a lot faster..
I'd much prefer a solid-state "hard drive" but those are still VERY expensive.. MANY times the price of a regular, mechanical hard drive of the same capacity..
And that's all I have to say about that.. except.. unless you want a lot of hand-wringing and sorrowful weeping, as long as your computer is working properly, get a reliable program that can make a mirror / backup of your entire system drive (not just data files, but the WHOLE system drive).. and do it.. unless you want to suffer through days and days of restoring installed software and files if you have no backup, and have to start from a comletely "naked" re-install of Windoze on a new hard drive..
I'm not wild about Acronis True Backup.. it has that "coded by Europeans so some of its English is kinda funky" cachet to it.. but it DID do what it was supposed to do..
Also, this may seem obvious to most, but I think it's worth mentinoing anyway..
NEVER use a back-up program to back up a hard drive to itself.. not even to a different partition.. no matter how much capacity it has.. if that drive crashes, your backup will go bye-bye along with it..
ALWAYS back-up to an external drive, or, if you're using a desktop, to a second drive in the same computer.. if you're using a laptop, you only have ONE hard drive in it.. so get an external USB 2 hard drive.. they've come down in price to insanely cheap levels.. like a hundred bucks for a 1 tb USB 2 external drive these days..
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