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windows xp will not boot, black screen with blinking cursor

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The other day my fiance's laptop and mine both mysteriously had the same problem. His internet wasn't working and after restarting it he got an error message saying that he was missing <windows root>\system32\hal.dll. After doing some research I ended up having to do a fresh install of windows and it worked so that I was able to still keep all of his files. Only he doesn't have any of the discs that came with his computer, so I need to use a working computer with internet access to download the necessary drivers again...but of course now my computer has failed.

My computer was fine at first and then a day or so later it just shut down and when I tried to restart I get the Dell screen, and then a black screen with a blinking cursor on the top left hand corner. I tried unplugging the charger and removing the battery and holding down the power button because that used to work in the past, but it didn't this time. When I try hitting f8, nothing happens where it used to give me options to run in safe mode. So I tried to do a reinstall of windows on my computer as well, but when it gets to the part where it restarts the computer to finish the setup, my computer reboots and goes right back to the black screen. I can't lose all my files, I have all my wedding stuff on there with the guest list and addresses... I've looked on this site and plenty of others and haven't found anything. Someone please help!

I've run the bios set up and my hd is detected, and I ran diagnostics using the cd I got from dell and it scanned and tested my ram and hd and nothing came up. I'm using a dell inspiron 6000 laptop. I haven't installed anything or made any changes to my hard drive at all to have caused this, and I know our wireless network is encrypted and password protected. There was no unusual behavior before this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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