Been reading as much as possible on this topic during the past 24 frantic hours...but it's hard to find a situation exactly like my own.
I have ALL ORIGINAL hardware and have done nothing (consciously) to the system. I left my E1505 (XP Home Edition ) to make lunch - when I came back I had the black screen with
PRB 4 . . . done
[XLDR] ATA Error
Ran all of the diagnostics (complete) available from the BIOS set-up with no errors. Booted from a DELL OEM Windows XP Reinstallation CD. That deleted & reinstalled several files, but when it tries to start Windows, same error message.
Used the Dell CD with diagnostics & utilities without success. No problems found.
Nothing during boot-up has gone past this message. I really want to understand what this exact error message means AND save my files.
Answers, Suggestions, Advice are most appreciated.
Master Boot Record may be infected with malware. I would suggest DSRFIX from Dan Goodell
Dsrfix (Dell DSR Analyzer) is a diagnostic and recovery tool
Dsrfix has so far been tested successfully on the following models:
Dimension 1100, 2400, 3000, 3100, 4550, 4600, 4700, 5000, 5100, 5150, 8200, 8300, 8400, 9100, 9150, B110, E310, E510, E520, E521, XPS 400, XPS 410, XPS 720, XPS Gen 4. Inspiron 500m, 510m, 600m, 630m, 640m, 700m, 1150, 1200, 1300, 1501(AMD), 2200, 5100, 5150, 6000, 6400, 8600, 9300, 9400, B120, B130, E1405, E1505, E1705, M710, M1210, mini-10v, XPS, XPS Gen 2, XPS M1710. Vostro 200.
Good call - I stuck in the OS disk, and fired up the repair console, and ran fixmbr. The machine will now boot to the hard drive. some other small issues but I am on it!! Thanks for the adice.
I don't know if I am savvy enough to use Dan's plan. I have ordered an external enclosure to see if I can get any files off the drive - but it won't arrive until Monday That is my only real concern - get my files & don't do anything that will jeopardize them. I'm planning to buy a new HDD when this is over.
Is there any risk of losing access to my data by using fixmbr?
Well there is a great big warning to that effect...you read it and make that decision. . Apparently my unwelcome code, as well as munging the MBR, created 2 partitions of its own - my boot message was PBR 4 not 2 like always, and the system disk showed 4 partitions as well, when I was re installing the OS. After fixmbr they went away. IE8 became an unhappy IE6, and was unable to navigate, and an IE 8 update on a usb stick failed, (setup cannot open the default browser to download required updates or something like that). Got a firefox download on usb stick, installed it, made it default, ran IE8 update, and things are getting close to normal.
The malware went right thru AVG 2012 and Windows Defender.
Maybe a fluke, but I was downloading a Garmin map update right before this happened....
Hope this gives you an option.