I investigated further…booted the computer from a CD. Did “chkdsk” which told me my hard drive was Missing in Action.Lucky for me, I had just backed up the My Documents folder a few days earlier, so in theory I had all of the important stuff saved away. After messing around with the computer for a while, I came to the conclusion that I would have to format the hard drive and reload everything. Even then, I wasn’t sure the format was going to work….maybe the hard drive was totally dead.
It turned out the format worked and I spent the next couple of days reloading Windows XP (thank goodness I found the recovery CD that shipped with the computer). Then I reloaded the My Documents folder without any trouble. The thing I miss the most right now is my email address book, which disappeared. I have an older copy backed up somewhere so I’ll try to reload that one. In the future, I’ll add the address book to the backup strategy.
I count myself lucky that I had all the docs backed up but it is still a major pain to reload Windows XP and all of the applications. It will be weeks before I get it all done.