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A 13-inch "2-in-1" laptop with a 360-degree hinge that allows it to convert to a tablet-like form factor.

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Erase hard drive when computer won't boot into Windows?

About 2-3 months ago, I started getting notifications that my battery needed to be replaced. I never bothered to replace it because I’d rather not waste more money on it. At some point, it wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes unplugged even though it was fully charged. A few weeks ago, I had to perform a custom installation because I got locked out and wanted to save the files (so now they’re all located in Windows.old).

I haven’t touched the laptop in weeks. I tried powering it on today, and while it does turn on, the screen stays blank and the power LED constantly flashes. I also noticed that the fans run extremely loud—something that never happens when I normally use it. The laptop doesn’t turn on at all when it’s unplugged, and it automatically turns off when I unplug it. Not sure if this has something to do with the battery, or if it’s also another problem. Really all I want to do is transfer the files to a USB or something and then erase the hard drive before I get rid of the laptop. How would I go about doing this if it doesn’t even boot to the OS? Or rather, how would I be able to fix the issue and boot into Windows 10?

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I would try reseating the RAM and see if that helps the boot issue - it may even be bad and you’ll need a whole new set. If RAM doesn’t help, feel the heatsink where the processor resides (the part where it’s screwed in, but leave the heatsink on next to the RAM) to see if it is getting hot - if it does not get warm or even hot in ~30 seconds-1 minute, there’s an issue with the CPU VRM or CPU and it requires a board repair/replacement. Boards for these tend to total out the system since a used one isn’t that much more a lot of the time.

What I would do to get the data off of a machine like this is open it and pull the drive, and then connect it to a USB SATA bridge or put it in an enclosure to save the data. Since the laptop is scrap if the VRM or CPU is bad, I would keep it as a final backup - put the files somewhere safe and copy them to your new machine. The guide to access the hard drive can be found here.

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I don't really have any tools or anything at home. Where would you recommend I purchase screwdriver/bits and the USB SATA Bridge or enclosure?


@evanesce The essential electronics toolkit has the right bit (Phillips #0) and the pry tools. You need something like this enclosure.

The files will be under Users/[profile name]. You may need to allow permanent access since the drive is not booted from the laptop.


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