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Toshiba 2505 CDS HDC error

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The desktop died and I just need my laptop until replacement PC arrives. Haven't used the old brick for at least two years but it was working fine back then. When I plug it in and turn it on, I get "HDC error. Please insert system disk" So I do and it asks permission to reformat, which I give it and then it whirrs a little and returns to HDC ERROR message. So I figure either the HD or the controller is cooked (though someone suggested it could also be the CMOS battery). I do have several external HDs floating around and the recovery disk for the laptop. Is there any way to jerry rig something so I can use this machine for the next five or six days?
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