Obviously I'm new here. I've read back many pages and I'm in awe of you guys already.
Anyway, my Dell laptop HD died. After about 4 hours of phone calls and a week and a half later, I received a new one from them.
The laptop would start up and then get stuck at the "Starting Windows" screen. The repair thing wouldn't go very far. I ran some diagnostics and found many sectors dead. So yeah, it was a HD problem, and with the new HD it's working just fine.
I've pulled stuff off of dying HDs before without much problem. I hooked up the old one to the laptop, the computer recognized it as a HD and said it was ready to use, but it couldn't find any info on the HD and suggested I initialize it.
I downloaded and ran SpinRite. I tried using a flash drive but SpinRite didn't make it bootable. I burned the ISO onto a CD-ROM and couldn't use that to bootup either. SpinRite claims it installs FreeDOS but I couldn't find it on either the flash or the CD.
And anyone have any idea why SpinRite only works on bootup when it's perfectly logical to want to use it to access an external drive?
Oh, it's an Inspiron N5010 (less than a year old) running Windows 7.