Ever have one of those bizarre encounters with your PC where you are doodling along, minding your own business and suddenly, BAM, like a bolt of lightning out of the blue your machine reboots and you get one of those "Windows cannot start because..." messages?
Well, this is exactly what happened to my brother in-law the other day. Of course, being the tech-head in the family I was summoned to resolve the situation.
Here's what happened...
In one of his usual website surfing encounters (like many of us do in our free time) his Lenovo G560 laptop (for no reason) inexplicably tore itself a new one by corrupting it's partition table. I got the call and eventually my sister in-law dropped the machine off with me for some TLC.
On booting up, the file WINLOAD.EXE was missing/corrupt. Epic! So I put in the Windows 7 installation disc, reboot the machine and once in the setup environment I used the "repair" option to access the "Startup repair" tool which is supposed to resolve any problems with Windows booting. Little did I know that even this tool would be unable to save me from the disastrous state of affairs I was about to discover.
After restarting from the apparent "repairs", I received the same error. What!? After trying again to make sure I didn't miss something (and still receiving the same error), I decided to go the console route and try throwing a few DOS commands at the situation. From what I found, the partition table/boot record had become corrupted (which explains why the file couldn’t be found). What did I discover? There were no files on the partition... everything was gone! EMPTY! I tried rebuilding the boot configuration and repairing the partition table but the resultant damage was "TOTAL ANNIHILATION" (there's a nice gaming reference for you guys).
Without spending more time and effort on it, my brother in-law was happy to just nuke the machine and start over fresh which is what I did. And, a good few hundreds of megs of updates later, his machine was running Windows 7 again and patched up to high heaven. The cause of the problem? Unknown... it could quite easily have just been one of those weird glitches that occasionally happen to us all. Fortunately, there wasn't anything critical stored on his machine that he lost which was why we went the "reboot and reload" route rather than trying to restore the partition itself.
Strange... but it happens! Anyone else ever experience a little disaster like this? Feel free to share!