Did My HDD Fail?

Jul 15, 2021
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HP laptop, model g72-227wm
Windows 7 Home Prem. OA
Intel Pentium dual core T4500 (2.30 GHz)
3 GB memory, 320(?) GB HDD
Intel GMA 4500M


This laptop is maybe 10+ years old. I'm a musician and use it exclusively for recording stripped-down demos/song development; I wrote over 50 songs so far this month, over 60 last month, etc., so the files are numerous and EXTREMELY important to me. They are literally my life's work and main hope of earning money. I've never connected it to the internet, nor have I added/removed any programs recently.

I don't have any knowledge of computer repair and I want to be certain that I won't damage nor lose my files. I'm not sure if my hard drive failed or if something else is causing the problem. I Googled data recovery and found you often only get one chance for success. I don't want to ruin said chance. I'm willing to pay for data recovery, but I don't want to risk mailing issues like possible damage or loss of package if it could be something else.


I accidentally turned off the surge protector before turning off the laptop. This occurred within the last three times I used it, but I can't remember which time it was.

I read this model of laptop has an overheating problem, so I always elevate it on hard surface and close it as soon as I'm done recording an idea. It's been making a loud, fan-like noise when in use ever since I bought it. Not sure if it's gotten louder recently. I'm hoping it's coming from the fan, but my worst fear is it has something to do with the HDD.

There have been a few times recently where Sound Recorder wouldn't work or the sound file wouldn't play on first try. I think a message about registry failure popped up when the sound file wouldn't play, but no issues would occur after trying to play the file a second time.

I took the file playback issue as a sign and tried to back up my files, but my thumb drive was too small for all of the files. I bought a larger thumb drive and the computer "failed" as soon as I was turning it on to back up the files. I hadn't connected the thumb drive yet, so I know that didn't cause the issue. Here's what occurred:

Turned on computer. Wasn't paying attention to it at first.
Looked at the screen and saw an unfamiliar blue screen and a white pointer.
Startup Repair began.
In the middle of Startup Repair, I was asked if I wanted to do a system restore. I said no and Startup Repair continued. Knowing I have never made a restore point and afraid the computer was going to delete some or all of my files, I panicked and unplugged the laptop.
Plugged in and turned on laptop. Black screen gave me two options: The recommended one which would open Startup Repair and an option for normal start. I selected normal startup. Windows loading image appeared, then it failed and a blue screen with a lot of white text appeared. One of the top lines said something like "bad system config." I think this was the blue screen of death.
It went back to the black screen with two options. I tried normal start again and same thing occurred.
Back to back screen with the two options. I chose Startup Repair, declined system restore, and Startup Repair finished. I looked at details and the bottom of list said something like "registry roll back." My options were to Continue or Cancel. Not understanding what this meant, I unplugged the computer without choosing either option.

What does bad system config mean?
What does registry roll back mean? Will this delete any of my files?
What does system restore mean? Will this delete any of my files if I've never created a system restore point? Does Windows 7 automatically create system restore points?
Does this sound like possible HDD failure? Should I take it to a data recovery specialist, some other repair specialist, or is this something I can do myself with no risk of losing files? All I want to do is back up these files, then transfer them to a new laptop.

Thank you for reading this and for any replies.

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