Vista Home Premium on a Dell 1720 laptop got corrupted. While the PC seemed to remain fully operational, an attempt to do a backup, prior to reinstalling Vista, failed. The backup routine could not detect the internal (source) hard drive with the corrupt OS installed. Attempting to do an "update" with the Dell supplied Vista CD also failed; needed an additional 1.9 GB of space on a drive that had over 30 GB free. A Catch 22 head scratcher. The only recourse that I could think of was a full install which would wipe out all data on the drive. I did a manual backup to an external HDD to preserve all I thought important. I then tried the full installation which failed at the very end offering up a black screen with an active cursor but nothing else. In desperation mode I decided to erase the hard drive OS partition and start from scratch and, yes, in doing so, I erased the MBR; a lesson learned the hard way.
Powering up with the UBCD in place results in a black screen with "invalid partition table". Powering up with the Vista CD gets me a little further until it asks to load the device driver but cannot find the HDD device needing it.
All the hardware tests performed using the UBCD; HDD, Memory and CPU passed. To avoid tossing a perfectly good hard drive (Fujitsu MHW2160BH PL) is there any way to write this record to the disk while it's in the PC, assuming the MBR is available within, or more likely, elsewhere, and where might that be? Fujitsu transferred support to Toshiba awhile ago and, looking for a source of drive initiation software, I could not find any support there.
All advice I've seen online does not address the problem of a blank, fully erased HDD.
Maybe a simpler alternative would be to buy a new hard drive. This wouldn't be too painful since the now useless one on hand is only 160 GB and runs at 5400 rpm. An upgrade is overdue. My only concern here is whether or not the Dell supplied Vista OS Installation CD is up to the task of a full install. Right now a questionable unknown.
I'd appreciate any helpful advice relevant to this problem.