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Windows XP crashed last night.

Boot from CD, ran chkdsk /p /r at 1:48am about half an hour into it status indicated 75% completed then for over 10 hours, screen remained 50% completed. Turn off the computer (too hot, was afraid of hardware damage).

Boot from CD, ran fixboot
ran fixmbr,
then ran chkdsk /p /r again at 1:06pm almost 5 hours, status remains 50% completed.

What to do?

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Look into SpinRite or ddrescue. Good for hard drive diagnostic and repair. –  digitxp Sep 25 '11 at 3:05
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I would let chkdsk finish. –  Moab Sep 25 '11 at 3:16
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1 Answer

It sounds like the drive is dead or dying. I'd recommend connecting the drive to another machine (by USB if you have an enclosure) and copying off any critical or recently-modified files. (You can try to backup the entire drive if you like.)

Then run diagnostics on the drive. Most likely it will fail, and the solution will be to replace the drive. Then restore from a backup, possibly the backup you made above.

Caution: Since there's a possibility the drive is physically failing, if there is any data you care about on it, it is extremely important that you try to recover that data first. The drive may have very limited remaining life and every time you try to boot from it or 'chkdsk' it, you may be using up those precious minutes. After you've recovered any data you care about (or given up on trying) you can try to recover the operating system installation.

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agree, does sound more like the possibility of a hardware failure than many other circumstances where the hardware is so easily blamed. not enough information supplied by OP, and why would the hardware become "to hot" when a user could put that same type of load on the drive just working with uncompressed video or some other hard task? –  Psycogeek Sep 25 '11 at 2:47
    
David, are you saying, even if the hard drive is dead or dying you are able to copy files off it to USB drive something with special utility tool? Thanks. –  user99087 Sep 25 '11 at 4:03
    
Sometimes you are. If there's data on the drive that's important and not backed up, it's worth a try. –  David Schwartz Sep 25 '11 at 9:49
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