Did My HDD Fail?

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ThisIsMyName1

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Jul 15, 2021
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COMPUTER SPECS.
HP laptop, model g72-227wm
Windows 7 Home Prem. OA
Intel Pentium dual core T4500 (2.30 GHz)
3 GB memory, 320(?) GB HDD
Intel GMA 4500M

IMPORTANCE AND COMPUTER KNOWLEDGE

This laptop is maybe 10+ years old. I'm a musician and use it exclusively for recording stripped-down demos/song development; I wrote over 50 songs so far this month, over 60 last month, etc., so the files are numerous and EXTREMELY important to me. They are literally my life's work and main hope of earning money. I've never connected it to the internet, nor have I added/removed any programs recently.

I don't have any knowledge of computer repair and I want to be certain that I won't damage nor lose my files. I'm not sure if my hard drive failed or if something else is causing the problem. I Googled data recovery and found you often only get one chance for success. I don't want to ruin said chance. I'm willing to pay for data recovery, but I don't want to risk mailing issues like possible damage or loss of package if it could be something else.

POSSIBLY USEFUL INFO
I accidentally turned off the surge protector before turning off the laptop. This occurred within the last three times I used it, but I can't remember which time it was.

I read this model of laptop has an overheating problem, so I always elevate it on hard surface and close it as soon as I'm done recording an idea. It's been making a loud, fan-like noise when in use ever since I bought it. Not sure if it's gotten louder recently. I'm hoping it's coming from the fan, but my worst fear is it has something to do with the HDD.

There have been a few times recently where Sound Recorder wouldn't work or the sound file wouldn't play on first try. I think a message about registry failure popped up when the sound file wouldn't play, but no issues would occur after trying to play the file a second time.

PROBLEM
I took the file playback issue as a sign and tried to back up my files, but my thumb drive was too small for all of the files. I bought a larger thumb drive and the computer "failed" as soon as I was turning it on to back up the files. I hadn't connected the thumb drive yet, so I know that didn't cause the issue. Here's what occurred:

Turned on computer. Wasn't paying attention to it at first.
Looked at the screen and saw an unfamiliar blue screen and a white pointer.
Startup Repair began.
In the middle of Startup Repair, I was asked if I wanted to do a system restore. I said no and Startup Repair continued. Knowing I have never made a restore point and afraid the computer was going to delete some or all of my files, I panicked and unplugged the laptop.
Plugged in and turned on laptop. Black screen gave me two options: The recommended one which would open Startup Repair and an option for normal start. I selected normal startup. Windows loading image appeared, then it failed and a blue screen with a lot of white text appeared. One of the top lines said something like "bad system config." I think this was the blue screen of death.
It went back to the black screen with two options. I tried normal start again and same thing occurred.
Back to back screen with the two options. I chose Startup Repair, declined system restore, and Startup Repair finished. I looked at details and the bottom of list said something like "registry roll back." My options were to Continue or Cancel. Not understanding what this meant, I unplugged the computer without choosing either option.

MAIN QUESTIONS
What does bad system config mean?
What does registry roll back mean? Will this delete any of my files?
What does system restore mean? Will this delete any of my files if I've never created a system restore point? Does Windows 7 automatically create system restore points?
Does this sound like possible HDD failure? Should I take it to a data recovery specialist, some other repair specialist, or is this something I can do myself with no risk of losing files? All I want to do is back up these files, then transfer them to a new laptop.

Thank you for reading this and for any replies.
 

Bruce

Forum Regular
Moderator
Support Team
Oct 8, 2017
2,532
344
Yeppoon, QLD, Australia.
System Restore Points are simply when Windows makes backups of (literally) a handful of system files, usually the ones that let it start normally.
example being, the PC just dis an update or you installed some dodgy software, you use a Restore Point to go back in time to before said event and hope the system files included in the Restore Point are enough to make to machine stable again - or at least enough to get it started so you can diagnose the issue further.
Restore Points DO NOT backup any personal files.

it certainly does sound like a drive failure here. add 10 years of use and drive failure would be the most logical explanation.

it sounds like the drive itself may be OK but something on the OS side of things has gone side ways.
a proper data recovery lab will cost you $$$$, at this stage I think all you need is to put the laptops hard drive into an external USB enclosure and then connect that to another PC to extract your data.

while i could say you are fine to answer Yes to roll back the registry and do a Startup Repair as these do not destroy personal data, I cannot say that for certain because once you get past those question, who knows what will pop up.

at this stage, (assuming the drive is still readable) your data is very likely recoverable. keep playing around with trying to get the PC to boot into Windows and who knows for sure, so if it was mine, I'd forget getting that PC to work, extract the drive and plug it into another PC via an external enclosure as that would be the best chance of data recovery.

and yes, it's a hard lesson to learn, and we have all been there, but at the risk of stating the obvious (see my signature) you will live or die by your backups!!!
 
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