|"Thanks I have printed your information out ...."|
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Continuing with the last part of response 1....
If you know someone who has a regular Microsoft OEM XP CD of the same version - Home or Pro - you could borrow it, or use a copy of it (use "disk at once"or similar to copy it), and use that, along with your own Product Key, to install Windows from scratch (that will delete your personal data), or to do a Repair installation of XP, which if it is a success will NOT delete your personal data on the drive.
A regular Microsoft OEM XP CD has the Microsoft holograms on it, and "For distribution with a new PC only." printed on it.
If no one you know has one, you MAY be able to buy a used one cheap on the web.
In order to be used with your Product Key, it must be OEM and be for the same version - Home or Pro - as on the Microsoft label.
(Do not buy or use an XP re-installation CD that came with a different model of brand name computer - it's an OEM CD too, but they will usually refuse to install Windows or run a Repair installation of XP unless the computer is the model the disk came with.)
Or - if it comes with a valid Product Key (on the official label) , you can use that key, however, if you want the option of doing a Repair installation of XP and possibly NOT losing your personal data, it MUST be the same version - Home or Pro - as on the label on your computer.
You can access files on the hard drive even if the operating system will not work properly, if the hard drive itself is not failing,
- in any case, by removing the drive and connecting it, one way or another, to another working computer with an operating system, and not attempting to boot from your drive on that computer
- if your computer is otherwise okay, by booting the computer from something with an operating system that can read XP's NTFS partitions, such as a CD with Linux installed on it.
You don't need to recover standard Windows files if you can install Windows, or the original Sony software, again, or any data that you can easily install again. You only need to attempt to recover your personal files that can't be replaced.
In XP, most of, if not all of, those personal files are here.....
C:\Documents and Settings\(your user name)\(the sub-folders and files of that)
"If the hard drive has already been "wiped" by pc repair shop about a 1 1/2 years ago will I still be able to find the utility to do the restore/repair discs myself."
Whether it was there on the hard drive after they did that depends on whether they just installed Windows or your original Sony software installation - if they didn't do the latter, it probably wasn't there after they wiped it and installed the software,and isn't there now on the hard drive.
Even if it is there on your hard drive,.I don't think it can be used unless you get Windows to work properly again on your own computer.
If it did or does have that on the hard drive, it requires data that is on a second partition on the hard drive - if the hard drive is failing, or if that data on that partition is damaged, or if the guys that wiped your drive deleted that second partition, the program cannot make Recovery disks.
The second partition on the hard drive may or may not have been visible to you in Windows - some brand names hide it from Windows, some show you it in Windows but it' labelled Recovery partition or similar and you are discouraged via messages from altering the data on it when you attempt to.
If you have a Recovery disk set, you can restore the original contents of the hard drive that Sony had on it even if there's something wrong with the original hard drive and you must install another hard drive.
Your User's or Owner's manual may or may not have info in it about removing the hard drive.
Usually the hard drive is accessed by removing screws in a plastic cover on the bottom of the laptop It's often a rectangle a little less than 3"x 5".
You must unplug the AC adapter, and remove the main battery, BEFORE you remove the hard drive.
The hard drive is usually in a metal bracket -one end of the hard drive plugs into a connector connected to the motherboard.There are usually no more than two screws that hold the bracket the hard drive is in down, often on the end opposite where the hard drive plugs in.
You will probably need a screwdriver with a tiny Phillips (cross) tip. If you don't have that, "dollar" stores, or Radio Shack if you're in the US, or The Source if you're in the US or Canada, often have sets of tiny "jeweler's" screwdrivers that have those tiny Phillips tips on some of them.
If you tell us the model "number" found on the label on the bottom of your laptop, we MAY be able to find a Service Manual for your model series. That would have specific info in it about how to remove your hard drive.
Your hard drive may be IDE (EIDE), or it may be SATA.
If it is IDE, if has a connector with 44 ? pins.
Note that there MAY be an adapter plugged into those pins -that adapter is specific to connecting it to your laptop - you must remove that adapter to connect the drive to another computer or if you want to install the drive in an external drive enclosure (for 2.5" EIDE drives).
If you don't install the drive in an external drive enclosure, you will need an inexpensive adapter to connect to an IDE data cable connection on another desktop computer, or an adaspter that costs a bit more to adapt it to connect via a USB connection to any computer.
If the hard drive is SATA, it has two connector sockets, one for power, the other for data, that are identical to the sockets on other laptop SATA drives and to the ones on the physically larger desktop SATA drives - it can be connected internally to any desktop computer that has SATA data headers via a standard SATA data cable and spare SATA power connectors from the power supply.
Or your could install it in an external drive enclosure for 2.5" SATA drives and connect via USB to any computer.
Assuming the hard drive itself it still okay...
NOTE that if you can no longer read the Product Key on the official Microsoft label on the laptop, if you connect the drive to another computer with the same operating system - it probably doesn't matter whether it's XP Home, Pro, or (XP) MCE, you can download and run Keyfinder (search for it on the web - it's free ), and use the Load Hive available in the top menu selections topoint it to your drive's Windows installtion, it will find the Product Key your Windows installation was using.It may not be the same as on the label but it will work to install the same version of Windows - Home or Pro -or to run a Repair installation of Windows.
You say you are able to get into the bios Setup.Can you see there that the hard drive is being recognized.