Tag Archive for: recovery

Repairing Dell MediaDirect blue screen issue

06 May
May 6, 2010

My brother-in-law recently reported a problem with his Dell XPS M1530 laptop. When starting the laptop (using the power button), it displayed a greyscale Dell MediaDirect logo for a few seconds, then a Blue Screen of Death relating to a Plug & Play driver.

When I restarted while holding F8 in an attempt to access Windows Vista in safe mode, the boot menu showed only “Windows XP Embedded”, and booting into safe mode just resulted in another blue screen. This is when I began to suspect the MediaDirect feature, which allows users to view media such as DVD movies without having to boot into full Windows.

Sure enough, when I powered off the machine and pressed the “Home” logo button, the laptop attempted to boot into MediaDirect (with a colour logo) and showed the same blue screen as before.

I did some research online and ended up finding a download for a MediaDirect Repair boot CD. This appeared to run successfully, but actually didn’t help. Now when I booted up, I just got a black DOS-type screen with the text “2 active partitions” in the top left-hand corner. It looked like the repair CD had somehow corrupted the partition table by setting two partitions as active – not good news!

Fortunately, I found a forum post by a user of a different model of Dell laptop running Windows XP. This inspired me to try the Vista recovery CD (you can also use your original Vista installation CD if you have it to hand), running the BootRec /FIXMBR and BootRec /FIXBOOT commands as detailed in this knowledge base article.

This fixed the issue and the laptop was now able to boot into Vista as normal.

I then tried my luck with powering off the machine and booting into MediaDirect using the “Home” button. Unfortunately this brought the system back to its earlier, broken state, and turning it off and on again using the power button revealed that I wasn’t able to get back into Vista!

I repeated the BootRec steps and this got the system working once again. Further research showed that Dell have released a new version of MediaDirect which removes the “dual boot” functionality, so I can only imagine they’ve had quite a few problems with it!

I returned the machine it to my brother-in-law with instructions not to touch the Home button for the time being, and to try installing the new MediaDirect software. I’ll report back when I hear the results.

Auto Aid breakdown cover: the other AA

12 Apr
April 12, 2010

Having held an AA membership for just under a year, I recently had occasion to call them out for the first time. I wasn’t at all pleased with the experience, so decided to vote with my feet and look into signing up with one of their competitors.

When I mentioned this to a colleague, he recommended Auto Aid. Like the AA, the RAC and Green Flag, they provide breakdown cover for £37 per year, which is quite reasonable. They don’t operate their own recovery fleet, but instead send out a local garage to pick up your car. You then pay the cost of the recovery on your credit card and claim this back from Auto Aid. A year’s membership costs £37, which covers yourself and your spouse and includes recovery to and from anywhere in the UK,  even if you break down on your doorstep.

I hadn’t heard of Auto Aid before my colleague mentioned it, but renowned financial expert Martin Lewis has good things to say about Auto Aid on his Money Saving Expert website so I decided to give it a go.

Their website is basic but tells you everything you need to know. I filled in the online application and received a call back the next day to confirm that I wanted to go ahead and to take my payment. Five minutes later, I was covered, and for a fraction of what the AA would have charged me for renewal.

Hopefully I won’t need to call them out any time soon, but if I do I’ll be sure to report back. I’d be very surprised if they did any worse than the AA though, given my recent experience!

Recover your FileZilla passwords

12 May
May 12, 2007

Today I needed to recover one of my FTP account passwords from FileZilla. If you find yourself in the same situation, there is a free tool available here which does the trick nicely, along with password removal/recovery tools for a whole host of other programs.

© 2014 Chris Barnes