Acer Laptop Issues! Trying to restore my IT Credentials for my girlfriend! :D

So, here's the story.

My girlfriend's mother has a laptop that she has asked me, after I displayed some general PC knowledge while she was visiting, to help fix. I have a budget for this, but I suspect the issue is one that SHOULDN'T require any hardware... but I might be wrong and a new hard drive might actually be needed.

So, we started off with what I do for almost any critical failure issue where Windows won't full boot, etc... etc... I tried to reinstall Windows. Sadly, that's worked for me more often than I can count, so I figured, hey, let's start there. It was then that I discovered a few things about Acer in general, as well as what the previous person who had tried to fix it had screwed up.

1. The "hidden partition" for Acers, which I guess is supposed to be used to restore to system defaults had been emptied then deleted (and the original windows partition had been expanded to overlap it).
2. Acers do not like me. We got a full install through on Windows ONCE... we got to the desktop, I was setting up a network connection so we could get online and start downloading drivers when the computer hanged, I was left with only a desktop, and upon rebooting, Windows Install popped back up and the partition says 0.0MB available and used. Nothing can change this, and we don't know why.

Aspire 5735-4774 is what it is. If anyone has any info on how to fix the partition, maybe what hard drive is inside to get drivers, etc... would be greatly appreciated!

Did I miss the "Demos has a girlfriend" dating thread?

If you can't get a fresh install from a disc to work, go Here to order "recovery media" that's basically a copy of the hidden partition. I had issues with getting a different version of windows on a computer at work that had this, and I ended up taking the hard drive out, hooking it up to another desktop as a slave, and reformatted the whole drive before I could install from a disc.

One thing that might also work - to get access to the drive etc. is to use a linux boot disc. Worked for me when my laptop was no longer booting into windows properly (it would just reboot) and i loaded into the linux, checked all the files - saved the important ones and rebooted.... went into windows just fine. Never did work out what the problem was. :/