My computer's boot drive appears to be corrupt. Should I reinstall Windows?

Episode 896 (18:29)

Alexis from Georgia

Alexis has an older Toshiba laptop with Windows Vista. When he boots it up, it asks him to "recover", but there's no recovery partition. Leo thinks the hard drive is starting to fail. Hard drive failure can either be permanent or temporary. It could be physical damage to the disk, or it could just be data that's been lost that the operating system needs. There's a program called SpinRite that can detect and fix problems on hard drives, but it's not cheap. It'd be easier and cheaper to just buy a new, 1TB hard drive for under $100.

If it's not a mission critical computer, he could try doing a low-level format of the drive that will rewrite the whole disk, and install Windows 7. Many times that will fix it if it isn't a physical problem with the hard drive. Then if he still has problems, he should buy a new drive.