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I will apologize now for being wordy, but I want to make sure I don't miss anything. OK, about 2 weeks ago, my computer crashed. This was preceded by a few days of it freezing. The freezing began to occur more and more frequently, so I used system restore to boot from a previous date. I also used my operating system's add/remove programs option to remove a game (Microsoft links 2003, to be specific). After removing, I tried to restart the computer, and I got the lovely error message "Windows cannot start due to files missing or corrupted" (not word for word) and it listed c:\\Windows\system32\config as the problem, and said I should use the original start-up disk to try an fix the errors (which I do not have). I called my computer maker's tech support, and after paying them an enormous amount of money, waiting a week to get a recovery CD, and again calling them to walk me through the process of trying to recover the missing/corrupted files, only for them to tell me after it did not work that my hard drive is corrupted, it needs to be erased and I need to download my operating system again from scratch. And, oh yeah, I'm, going to lose all my files by doing this. He recommended I go to a website called "bootdisk" to download the two programs I need - one to erase my hard drive and one to re-install Windows XP.

I have two problems - 1.) my floppy drive doesn't work, and hasn't for about 2.5 years. I could go into the system, look at the components, remove it, re-install it, and the computer would say it was there, but whenever I put an actual disk, with data or empty, into the drive, it did nothing. I even would go into windows explorer, click on the "A" drive, and it would show it as empty even though there was a disk in it, with files on the disk (my resume, etc.)

2.) I have no idea which programs to download off "bootdisk" to help me do what I need to do. At this point, I'm not too worried about losing my files, some are on a disk, and the rest can easily be recreated. But I really don't know anything about NTFS and BIOS and partitions and the like. I did find something that I think will do the job, and it can be downloaded to a CD disk (ISO- I think I've learned that part) so not having my floppy drive won't be an issue, but I'm not sure.

If anyone can help me, I'd REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY appreciate it. I've got my Mom's Windows ME, and sorry Mom, but it's what the french call crap.

Here's what I know about my old computer:
Compag presario 5000
512 RAM (not 128 - I think that's a speed thing)
Intel Pentium IV processor
Windows XP (Home edition)
I really didn't have much on it that didn't come when I bought it, except for printer, ISP info, modem info, Norton 2005, yada yada. The rest was pretty much how I bought it.
 

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You will have to format and reinstall to fix that problem, as the XP setup CD won't detect the existing copy of XP if that file is corrupt. Before you do this, run Seatools over the hard disk to check for physical defects.
 
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