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Operating System missing?

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I have a fairly old laptop (it was previously running Windows 2000, or something like that), and my uncle fixed it up lately with XP. A couple months ago, I turned on my laptop, and it said something about inserting a setup disc. I completely forgot about it until today, when I randomly turned on my laptop, and it said Operating System missing. Any ideas on how to fix this? Thanks for any help.
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    motto - Just get-er-done

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Quite often the hard drive has gone bad when this happens on laptops. The bios sees a connection to the drive but the disk read heads have been damaged. I would try a bootable CD(linux?) and see if the computer will boot. If not it is because no data can be put on the hard drive.

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