Here is what happened to me in sequence, any help would be appreciated

(Dell Deminsion 8100, XP - SP2, 1.5ghz p4, 384 mgs ram, Nvidia 5900 video card.)

1) was removing old video and sound driver remnants with Driver Cleaner in safe mode

2) rebooted, for a few mins everthing seemed normal, all my icons on desktop, xp started to launch new hardware found wizard for video card

3) I was moving my mouse to the video drivers I had put on the desktop (about to cancel the new hardware found wizard)

4) screen flashed, then froze, next thing I know, outlook express is launching?

5) When I shut down OE, all the icons on my desktop were gone, just My Computer, Recycle Bin IE were left.

6) Further review showed about 12 gigs of info missing. Very strange though - My Document - folder is there, but everything I had in it is gone, c:\my shared (winmx folder basically, not a system one), gone, several other folders and files missing

7) but - there is stuff still there in program files, and whats there seems to still be installed ok - i.e., City of Hero was there, , firefox is there, but all my bookmarks are gone. A mix of recent and older programs - seems Program Files directory is relatively intact..

8)At startup now I now get the message "Invalid boot.ini file" (obviously, since its not there, and then something like "Booting from c:\winnt", and the boot up completes as normal.

9) Tried one solution from MS web site, about rebuilding the boot.ini file, but it won't work, as the boot.ini file is one of the missing ones.

I have not yet done anything, I think the data will still be there to recover somehow.

You may have a hard drive going bad.

Your system has built-in hard drive diags on it. When you boot the system, press <ctrl>+<alt>+D . It should run some diagnostics on your hard drive. If they fail on the Primary Drive 0, then your hard drive is b0rked, and you need to get a new one.

If that comes out okay, it's time to examine your filesystem. Boot from your Windows XP CD, then hit R for Recovery Console. It will scan for all of your Windows installations, and ask you which one you want to log into. Choose the appropriate one, and enter in the Admin password for it. That will get you, normally, to a C:\WINDOWS prompt. From that prompt, run these two commands:

chkdsk C: /R
bootcfg rebuild

The first command scans your filesystem, and attempts to repair any errors. Depending on the size of your drive, this may take a while. The second command helps you rebuild your boot.ini file. For more information on the bootcfg command, check here:

Once all this has been completed, simply remove the XP CD from your drive, type exit, then restart the computer.

I've tried to follow the directions on MS site, computer does not seem to want to boot from XP cd so I can not run bootcfg, I tried a manual method of installing bootcf, but it bombs cause its looking for boot.ini during the setup process.

You have to pay REAL close attention to the CD.

As soon as you pick the option to boot from CD, it will say, "Press any key to boot from CD...". If you don't do that, it won't boot.

You also need to have your system set to have CDROM set as '1st boot device' in BIOS setup.

Consult your motherboard manual for details, or report back here if you need help with making the change.

You also need to have your system set to have CDROM set as '1st boot device' in BIOS setup.

Consult your motherboard manual for details, or report back here if you need help with making the change.


On this model Dell, pressing F12 at boot invokes a Boot Device menu, allowing you to boot from the CD, floppy, or network at your will, without having to modify the CMOS configuration.

It's just a little more convenient than fooling with the BIOS, as you don't have to reset that option when you're done. :)

heh heh heh......

Well if ElvisTCB wasn't aware of that already, I guess he is now! :D

thanks, I am decent with computers, so I can follow any technical advice you might give.

I was having it boot from the CD rom, and still didn't work, maybe I am missing it.

Here's where I am now - since I could not get recovery console to run at boot, or install manually (it kept bombing at the end since there was no boot.ini file), I decided to try and recover some of the missing files - I recovered boot.ini since that was the one RC install was bombing on. Once I did that and rebooted, I am now unable to get into my PC at all. If I try to launch recovery console, it bombs saying hal.dll? is missing (not sure the exact file name), if I try to reboot into normal/safe/command promprompt mode, it bombs telling me something is wrong with NTLDR?, instructs me to hit ctl-alt-del to reboot, wash rince repeat.

If I can at least get boot.ini redeleted, then I should be able to get it back up to save whatever stuff I can and then just reformat the thing and start over.

I went to the MS site and pulled/created a set of floppy disks to boot XP setup from, which should allow me to get to recovery console. I am a little worried, as I am on XP, SP2 and there seems to be 3 versions of those floppy downloads - up through XP SP1a.

How can I create a set of floppies that would allow me to boot to just a command prompt and re-deleted that boot.ini file I resurrected?

can you access xp at all
if not you might just have to do a total system reboot

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