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Hal.dll & Compaq system recovery issues

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Running Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, other pc specs in profile.

Two days ago I got clicking noises from HDD, pc started to stutter and freeze, eventually got a blue screen. Rebooted and I am now getting the error message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

So today I removed HDD and inserted as slave in our other pc. Was hoping to replace hal.dll, however C:\WINDOWS\system32\ is not even there at all. And before you ask I have opened folder options and checked the boxes for show OS files, hidden files and base files. So I just went and stuck the HDD back in the original pc (backed up a load of important files and documents before this) and decided I'd just use the compaq system recovery tool (It stupidly never occured to me to try and use the XP cd to repair it though ><). Started it there and I got a bunch of error messages about how "X file could not be recovered!" with OK being the only continue option. I got a few 100 errors of this type all in a INF folder in windows root. I clicked OK for all of these and its now at about 45%.

What I'm worried about is how likely is it that its a physical problem with HDD? I infered from the fact that I could still back the files up with it as a slave that its probably not so. Also what about all the files that couldn't be recovered will this be serious?

All info/help greatly appreciated.
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    BSOD Warrior/Computer Surgeon

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A clicking noise from a hard drive is never a good thing. I would say that your hard drive is bad. Do you have all the important data of that drive?
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