most external dvd writers are gonna fail for you if you have something messing with you to badly (massive registry errors, system32 file gettin swaaped with corrupt garbage.) acer's e-recovery "ghost drive" is set up to boot with the command ALT+f10. so while the computer is booting up, hit alt+f10. then from the recovery window, you can either completely wipe everything and start with a fresh xp, or just try to repair. if u try to just repair, then any documents and settings and such that the user had will be saved under C: Backup. or C: Backup 1 or so on depending on if you have done multiple repairs. :) good luck!