Did I just lose everything?

I opened up my computer this morning and as soon as the OS (XP) finished loading, I heard a strange noise, as though my computer was choking and nothing seemed to work.

When I reset the computer, it was able to do the first 2 steps.
1- Checking the Bios and system configurations
2- Booting my computer up using the CD Rom

After that, a striped bar showed up on the screen and 30 seconds later it said I had a program error, there's a DLL problem.

I reset the computer one more time (after cleaning it; there was a lot of dust), same thing happened.

I decided to see if I could create a second Windows XP on my hard drive using the remaining data I had. I created a second partition and tried installing the second one. Upon doing so, I noticed it was actually eating up my original partition's data. I closed the computer as soon as possible, it did not even reach 1%.

The problem I am having right now is that I have a lot of very important documents on this computer, pretty much my whole life's work and I am going on vacation tonight so I can't see if I still have all my data that was on the original hard drive or if I will ever be able to retrieve it, did me trying to format a second partition erase or corrupt some of my files on the original partition?

In the Windows menu, it says I have 130 000 Mo on my 1st/original partition and (129 000 Mo) beside it, as though there is nothing on it. Does this mean I lost everything?

**Please no comments concerning backing up my files, I am aware of my mistake.**
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  1. Best answer
    As long as you didn't delete the original partition, your data should be fine. An install of Windows won't delete any data files unless you tell it to remove a partition. It sounds like what you did was to start an installation into the same partition as before, which may wipe out some of the files in the Windows directories but shouldn't touch your personal folders.

    You might be able to boot from the Windows CD and do a "repair" to get everything working again.

    Failing that, if I were in your place then I'd put a new drive into the system, remove the old one, and install Windows onto the new drive. Once that's done, re-attach the old drive and access it from the new system to get your files. It may be a bit overkill, but it's the safest thing I can think of.

    Alternatively, if you have another computer, connect your drive to it to get a copy of the data files before you do anything else.

    One note - if your personal folders are protected then you won't be able to access them from another Windows installation unless you use an administrative account to (a) take ownership of them and then (b) change the protections to allow access.
  2. If your hard drive is failing and isn't booting right. I recommend that you stop using the disk immediately and get a second disk with windows.

    Boot to the new disk and grab your files.
  3. Thanks guys for your help.

    I asked one of my friends to help me out on this. It seems that you were both right, my HDD was failing on me, but most of my files were still on it after the incident. I was finally able to get it working on a second HDD and retrieved most of my files from the original.

    Thanks again.
  4. Best answer selected by TonyBoudro.
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