At the time, I was trying to diagnose issues with my Acer laptop (Windows XP) with the limited insight I had. Since then, I have tried a few things and attempted to research online. Here is my update. I'm trying to now figure out why the situation is getting worse, and if it actually is the HD or something else (like memory?)
Note: This laptop has fallen onto a carpeted floor on two occasions. Otherwise, its only just over 2 years old, purchased in summer 2006.
Laptop would boot fine, but after only a few minutes (most often using IE) I would get a blue screen. This degressed into delayed write failure messages and delayed typing/mouse responses before the inevitable blue screen. As I said, this was most often when using the internet, as opposed to say typing a document or playing with MS Money or other simple programs. (Could this be because the use of a web browser requires more memory usage than a simple program like Word or Money? I don't even know... just a guess.)
This degressed further into boots not always being successful. When successful, it would be the same old song and dance: Boot, work for a few minutes, delayed write failures, blue screen. When unsuccesful, the boot would be the usual Acer splash screen with F2 and F12 options at the bottom, followed by a black screen with a white blinking cursor. Most often, the cursor would be a bit faded with a quicker pulse. This lasts indefinitely and requires a cold shutdown holding the power button. Occasionally, the blinking cursor would be more bold/solid with a slower pulse. This leads to a successful boot!
During the above symptom (black screen with semi-successful boot), I find (oddly enough) that a physical shaking of the laptop often leads to a successful startup (might this be jiggling something into place within the laptop? not recommended, i'm sure...)
A few weeks ago I tried a couple of solutions. First, I tried to burn a recovery DVD using Acer's eRecovery tool. I also bought a new hard drive, but upon booting it, I had the same 75/25 chance of a successful boot past the black screen/white cursor. I tried to use the burned boot disc with the new hard drive, but it was not successful. It stopped part of the way through. Acer wants me to purchase a new recovery disk.
The latest development: After a successful boot, Windows starts but only the wallpaper is visible. No icons, no toolbar or Start button. I can control+alt+delete to see all the running processes. I can also use that to start a new task and browse the web or work in a program as long as I know the .exe name (i.e., msmoney.exe). I went a roundabout way to scan for viruses: opened Excel, went to Open, and found the C drive, right clicked and chose "scan for viruses". None found. Definitions are fairly up to date (a week?) As I said, I can open MS Money or Excel or a website in IE using the "new task" feature under the Task manager. However, I cannot open Windows Explorer or else I get errors.
One program that stopped working a while back was Photoshop. It would load and then say something about being unable to load photoshop; not enough memory.
So after all of this, I looked up some symptoms of failing memory. It mentioned things like blue screen, boot issues, inability to load large programs like photoshop, etc. But, some of the issues (delayed write failure) tend to point to hard drive issues.
Given all of the above (and I apologize for the length of this post), might anyone be willing to offer their 2 cents for this inexperienced user? Should I return the new hard drive and give new memory a shot? What is the knowledgebase as far as the inability to see windows desktop icons and the start menu with no sign of a virus? As my laptop is seemingly on life support, what should I do?
I appreciate any and all help. And I thank you for reading this novel.
One program that stopped working a while back