I have tons of very important files I need to get off this before calling Dell for repair or replacement of the Hard drive.....
Do you have any suggestions on how save the folders and files I so desperately need or how to get it back up and running even if just for a day or so to remove and save the important files?
Mount the hard drive in an external USB case and attach it to a working system -- copy your files to the host computer that is working. Example:
Did you run an extended hard drive diagnostic (takes about 2 hours or so)?
I ran the diagnostics from the boot menu...that took about 3 maybe 4 hours hours or maybe a little more.
I have looked at the drive from an external dock [ ThermalTake BlakX ] and we could not find the folders I am looking for... cannot see anything that was on the Desktop....and cannot get into Documents and settings...Access Denied... the computer I have to do my checking on is Win XP and the bad drive is off a Wn 7 Ultimate... will this cause me a problem with saving my files? Here is my problem...the folders / files I need are all originals...mostly downloaded software...ie Photoshop and key codes, plus a ton of others... all perfectly legal, but remembering where it was all bought from is not going to happen....that is why I need to save the stuff on this drive.
Oh yes I have learned a hard lesson, clone the darn drive at every installation of new software....and keep all folders and files on more than 1 drive for back ups....
You need to take ownership of the files before you can see/access them. In XP that's done according to the procedure below (NOTE: With XP Home this has to be done in Safe Mode - it cannot be done in normal operating mode as it can in XP Pro).
Don't know if you ever solved this, but...
I had a problem which sounds the same as this. What I discovered was that somehow the disk drives had got swapped in the BIOS settings, i.e. it was trying to boot from the second disk instead of the first, and of course could not find an operating system there. I went into the BIOS at startup (F2 I think it is), and reset to default values, and all was well after that. It has happened once again since, and the same thing fixed it.
If your laptop does not have 2 disk drives then maybe this is not the problem, but if it does, it's something to keep in mind if it happens again.