My friends computer which was running windows XP recently failed to boot. Initially on being turned on it displayed a message saying that it couldn't find the boot device and to press enter and select boot device. When you then press enter it brings up a list of possible boot devices but the only item in the list is the dvd drive.
I took this to mean that there was probably something wrong with the hard drive. I should say at this point that holding down delete would take you into the CMOS but holding down F8 wouldn't prompt the computer to boot into safe mode. Since there was no boot disk in the dvd drive it is not suprising that selecting the dvd drive here takes you back to the same error message that was displayed in the first place.
We did think that at this stage the best thing would be to insert the windows cd and to try and use the recovery console to fix the master boot record or whatever is wrong with the disk hoping that it isn't just fried. Unfortunatlely we don't have the windows cd (it is a legal copy we have just lost the cd). So first question is: Is this actually what we should be doing at this point anyway?
Next I asked my friend who knows a lot more about computers than me whether i was right in assuming a problem with the hard drive and whether he would be able to give us a windows installation cd. He had no CD but said it sounds like a hardware problem (the drive) and that recovery console probably wasn't going to help us anyway. I'm slightly dubious about this having read posts on here because they are saying that even if it is the drive it may only be partly corrupted and we'd be able to copy files which would be good because there are pictures and stuff on there which he doesn't want to lose.
Anyway my friend said it was probably the drive but it couild also be the bios battery having gone and caused the bios to lose its settings. I suggested taking the drive out of my machine and swapping it for my friends possibly blown drive to see if that worked and he said that doing that and changing the bios battery were the best things that we could try doing.
So next we tried swapping the drives over. Doing this did result in what looked like an improvement but didn't get the computer to boot. Now the computer gives a list of options for booting, start windows normally at the bottom but it gives us an option to start in safe mode, safe mode with networking, safe mode with command prompt, last known good configuration
Neither safe mode or last known good configuration work though they just take you round in a loop, first a whole list of files scrolls down the screen they are all driver files ending in .sys i say they are all driver files because all the path names have DRIVERS in them
i am assuming that these are files which windows couldn't find because they are missing or corrupted and which it needs to boot?
the machine then displays a message saying that it could not start windows and that a it may have been shut down incorrectly previously then it loops back to the screen for selecting safe mode or start windows normally... all of those options again.
so as the machine doesn't boot with the other drive in it does this mean that the initial problem wasn't the drive? or is my drive gone as well?
I should say at this point that i took the drive out another machine that wouldn't boot! not ideal i know but we didn't have any other drive and i was convinced the problem with my machine was not the drive. The reason being that its gave a beep code and didn't display anything on the screen at all making me think it was the graphics card. Also previously the machine had got bashed around a bit in moving stuff about the house and its old and on its second graphics card (a pci one where the agp one had previoulsy conked out) and i've found graphics cards to be sensitive to the machine getting knocked particularly with the monitor plugged in because the monitor connections can be quite fragile. Plus thats what happened when my previous graphics card went beep code and no display on screen. I know i need to look up the beep code on the internet but I haven't yet as I'm much less bothered about being without a machine than my friend is.
So basically am I right in thinking that either it wasn't the drive that was broken in the first machine or that there are two problems (unlikely since it was working one day and then just wouldn't boot up after being turned off)? And is our next logical course of action to
1) Put the original drive back and change the bios battery
2) If it still won't boot then get a windows installtion cd from somewhere and try the recovery console
3) If we still get no joy put my drive back in the machine and try with the installation CD again