Hi all. After dropping a weight on the keyboard of my laptop, the computer instantly rebooted but stopped at the Windows loading screen. Now I can only access BIOS. I see that the processor, HDD, and RAM are all listed in the BIOS. So I need to figure out how to diagnose which piece(s) of hardware got damaged. Any tool out there I can use?
I can almost guarantee that your hard drive is damaged. If your RAM was bad, you would not be able to POST or boot to Bios. Hard drives, even if turned off and looking physically okay, can be very easily permanently damaged. The reason for this is that the Hard Drive has magnetic read/write heads that hover mere micro-meters away from the surface of the platter. If the read/write head bumps the surface and scratches it (this is called a head crash), it will ruin that section of the disk and can damage the read-write head.
Now, when a hard drive is powered down, the arm pulls itself away from the platters and parks to avoid damage in transit or storage, but the drive is still made up of incredibly sensitive electronics that can be destroyed with an unfortunate bump, drop or shock. The best way to find out of your drive is indeed the culprit (and to recover data) would be to do one of the following:
A: Use an other computer and a USB thumb drive to download a Linux image and put it onto your USB stick (if new to Linux, I'd say for simplicity and familiarity, download Mint 64bit, whichever version is the latest. Use a USB imaging tool like Rufus or the Universal USB Installer tools to flash the image to your thumb drive (all data on that thumb drive will be erased, so back it up first on an other computer). Then, pop the USB into the computer and go into bios - tell it to boot from the USB. Boot the USB and start a live session (don't install linux, just "test-run / try" it. Then, once in you can use the built-in disk utilities to view the status of the drive hardware, and you can also access your data from your HDD and from there find a way to back it up. Google will be your friend here, but it's pretty straight forward and is very robust.
B: If you have access to a tower PC / you have a friend with a tower desktop, plug your drive into the tower and boot into THEIR copy of windows (make sure not to boot from your own drive). Then, they will be able use utilities to test the drive, and also read the contents of your drive to recover them as well.
Lastly, a simple thing to check is to power the system on and listen for light (or loud) clicking noises which indicate drive failure.
Please let us know how it goes.