black screen with blinking cursor

December 10, 2010 at 16:29:52
Specs: Windows XP
When I turn on my lap top, after the Dell logo, all I get is a black screen with a blinking cursor. I ran diagostics and it says no diagnostic utility partition identified. When I try to use the Windows XP restor disk it says I have no hard drive.

What do I do now......

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December 10, 2010 at 19:12:11
Start thinking about a knackered hard disk.

Boot up as normal without anything in the CD drive and go into the BISO. You will need to press a key during the initial boot process,probably Delete or F1. You will get a message on the screen press XX to Enter Setup.

Check that the hard disk is showing in the BIOS setup. If not it may be that the hard disk has keeled over.

Report back what you find and we will take it from there.


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December 10, 2010 at 19:57:54
Tell us the model of your laptop.

For Dell computers, they have a Service Tag number - the specific model can be determined by using that on their site, or can often be determined there automatically by you downloading some software, if Windows is still working, on the subject computer. The Service Tag number should be on a label on the outside of the case, probably on the bottom on a laptop, on the back on a desktop, and is often also shown in the bios Setup.

"I ran diagostics and it says no diagnostic utility partition identified."

The link to run the diagnostics utility is built into the mboard's Dell bios version. That's there even if the hard drive has no data on it. If the hard drive has ever been reloaded with other than the original Dell software installation, someone may have deleted the diagnostic partition, and/or the data on it for the diagnostics utility.

"When I try to use the Windows XP restor disk it says I have no hard drive "

There may be nothing wrong with your hard drive itself if the computer has a SATA hard drive.

When the computer originally had XP on it on a Dell computer, usually the Recovery disks that came with the computer are an XP Re-installation CD, or similar, and a Drivers and Applications CD or DVD, or similar.

The Dell XP Re-installation CDs I've examined are merely a slightly modified Windows XP CD - you can use it the same way as you use a regular XP CD.
They have exactly the same files on them a regular XP Home or Pro CD has that has the same SP updates version or no SP updates included, except some of the *.OEM files are different internally, and some unimportant small folders and the files in those folders are missing.

That XP Re-installation CD ( the same situation as a regular XP CD) has no built in SATA drive controller drivers.
If your hard drive is a SATA drive, the initial files loaded by the CD by default cannot find any SATA drives, unless the bios Setup on the computer has the SATA drive controller set to an IDE compatible mode.

Go to your bios Setup - if it shows the hard drive there, then you need to set the SATA drive controller in the bios to an IDE compatible mode in order for the XP CD to recognize SATA drives, as IDE compatible drives.

If you supply your specific model, we may or may not be able to find info about exactly where and what that setting is in the bios Setup. It would presently be set to SATA or AHCI mode - that needs to be changed to an IDE compatible mode of some sort.

You should try running a Repair installation of XP procedure first, which will NOT delete your personal data, rather than installing Windows from scratch, which WILL delete your personal data, unless you copy it to elsewhere BEFORE you re-load Windows from scratch (e.g. you can boot the computer with a Linux CD and be able to copy files).

How to do an XP Repair installation, step by step:

You need the Product Key that's on the official Microsoft label that's on the outside of the computer case.

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