First Problem: The computer in question is a refurbished Dell Dimension 4300 desktop with WinME. I can't remember the exact processor speed, but I believe it's somewhere in the 800MHz range. Some time ago, my dad was poking around in the box while installing a CD-RW drive and must have mixed something up because ever since, every time the computer starts up, it displays the initial "Dell" screen, and then provides a message displaying:
Secondary hard disk drive 0 not found
Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility
Though an inconvenience, when you'd hit F1, everything would run normally. Since it isn't the computer I normally use, I didn't bother fixing it, but now, if anyone can guide me through the steps on how to do so, I'd very much appreciate it.
Second (MUCH more serious problem): This same computer is one my brother uses to play games on. He downloads tons of unneccessary stuff, and has an annoying affinity for putting EVERYTHING on the desktop. After finding the desktop quite literally filled from top to bottom with shortcut icons, I finally decided to try and clean some of his junk up. I deleted numerous files and uninstalled (properly, I believe) several programs (I'm almost positive I didn't delete anything crucial to the system). Then, (and HERE is where things started to go very wrong--->>>) I tried to defragment. The defrag would work for a minute, but then kept restarting over and over and over. Finally, after putting up with an hour of this, a message popped up saying there were disk errors and to run ScanDisk. I tried to do this, but to no avail. ScanDisk behaved exactly the same-- restarting again and again -- until a message popped up saying ScanDisk had had to restart 10 times because some other program (didn't specify which) was trying to write to the disk. Exasperated, I asked my boyfriend (who is SUPPOSEDLY a computer expert) and he said to open taskmanager and end all processes except SYSTEM and EXPLORER, then try again. I did as he said, but it didn't help. As a last attempt at finding the problem, I tried to run Norton AntiVirus (not updated in quite some time) which eventually froze about 3/4 of the way through. THEN, when I tried to restart the computer, it appeared to start up normally until the blank blue (NOT the one that usually displays errors, but the one right before Active Desktop finishes loading) came up, and then...NOTHING. I had a mouse pointer, but absolutely nothing else on the screen. After several restarts and attempts to go into Safe Mode, I finally got a grey screen with "Safe Mode" displayed in the corners, but everything else blank with nothing to click on.
1. Hard drive almost constantly makes ticking noise.
2. (Before problem #2, all desktop icons were hidden by a HotSync icon---really weird, I thought)
SO, FINALLY (and I think I definitely failed at the "succinct" part):
1. If anyone has ANY suggestions/info on what might have caused ANY of the above, even if only PART of the answer, I would appreciate it so very much.
2. Is there anything more I can try to get it to start up? (keep in mind possible problems caused by the first problem I described, since all drives may not be in their proper place).
3. What information can be salvaged, if any?
4. If I have to completely reformat, would you suggest installing either Windows 98 or Windows XP since we have had problems with WinME from the beginning?
5. Will I need to replace any hardware?, e.g. hard drive
Thank you so much, and sorry long-- I'm just trying to make everything clear.