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Windows no longer boots correctly on my CPU; it just recently began to hang on the boot-up screen.

The problem first began when I brought the computer back from hibernate one time. It appeared to be working fine, going to my desktop, but whenever I tried to use an application, I would get the error message: "Unable to initialize application: 0x000000c8" (or a hex address something like that).

I then cut off the power cold, and then did a cold boot. At that point, the Windows is loading screen came on indefinitely. I tried going into safe mode, but when it began to list the drivers, the computer hung up at "atisgkaf.sys" Eventually, it restarted on its own and tried loading Windows again, but after a while on the Windows is Loading screen, it restarted and tried again. At some point it just cut off its power on its own.

I have talked to people at eMachines and have gotten two different responses: one person said I might be able to repair the boot.ini file; another said that I would have to do a full system restore. Unfortunately, I do not have the original restore disk (I have a three-CD set that appears to be a copy thereof), so I'm not sure if the first option will work even if it's theoretically possible.

In the event that I need to do a full system restore, how can I copy files I want to keep from my hard drive? The second person at eMachines told me I could use an external hard drive, but she was not very clear on the exact procedure. From what I can tell, she said to do the following:

1) Attach the external hard drive via USB.
2) Insert the restore disk into the CD-ROM drive.
3) Install Windows onto the external hard drive (how this is done I am not sure about; do I need to select which drive to install it on?)
4) Run Windows on the external hard drive (again, how is this done? how do I select that I want the external hard drive to be the primary drive for my machine to use?)
5) Copy the files from my original hard drive to the external hard drive (she said all I have to do is "copy and paste" the files; I am confused on how to do this)

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Edit: Some facts about my machine:
- It's an eMachines M5305 notebook
- The operating system is Windows XP Home Edition
 

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The odds of booting a system to an external drive are slim to none, even if you set the bios and it allowed that kind of boot. Best thing you can do is take the drive out and find someone with a working computer to set it as a slave to their system and copy off what is important. Then run your restore disks.
 
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