|""There are TWO places you can choose Repair........To get to the second place you can choose Repair, you continue on to Setup, and you will see the second place you can choose to Repair Windows.""|
"Yes I did that and was offered choices only to install or quit. After the Licence Agreement again the Repair option was not offered, just to install in existing partition, new partition, or quit."
Did you look at this??:
You have to go through several steps before you see the second Repair choice. If you did do that correctly, if the second Repair choice does not appear on the screen, then essential data on the Windows installation is corrupted or missing.
By the way, I have found the XP CD you use to boot the computer with MUST have at least SP1 updates included on it in order for the second Repair choice to be able to appear.
XP CDs with SP2 or SP3 updates included on them have SP2 or SP3 printed on the original CD.
The original XP CDs, and all OEM CDs with SP1 updates included on them I've seen, none of which were ones for a brand name system, have NO SP anything printed on them.
The volume label - the label - name - of the CD displayed in Windows - of the original XP CDs are different from those for CDs that include SP1 updates. You can search using the volume label on the web to determine whether the CD includes SP1updates or not.
Also, when you run the Repair installation of Windows, the second Repair choice, you have only ONE time you can enter a Product Key Setup will accept . If you quit Setup at that point, or possibly if you quit Setup at any point after you have entered a Product Key it does accept, before it has finished, the second Repair choice will NOT appear, when you boot with the Windows CD after that.
"I tried running hard a hard drive diagnostic which returned an error code 7, whatever that is. Using the manufacturers CD and it seems there is a problem - it is having trouble reading from the hard drive."
If the manufacturer's diagnostics will not even complete either or the shorter or longer test, or both, the drive is malfunctioning, and there's nothing you can do about that. If the diagnostics do complete both tests successfully we would need to know which one you were using. Many diagnostics will quit the long test if more than a certain number of errors are found - e.g. SeaTools quits when there are more than 99 - because they "know" it's pointless to test any futher - your drive isf definately failing. In any case, the error code is probably something you can do nothing about and NOT a good thing.
You MAY be able to connect the drive as slave or as a secondary drive on a working computer that has an operating system installed on it, and be able to access the drive from that operating system and copy data you want to save off of it, but the mboard's bios and the operating system must recognize the drive properly and be able to access it.
" ...tried safe mode, it wouldn't start. Got a screen full of error messages -
then the same with isapnp.sys at the end
Did you try cleaning the ram module contacts and re-seating the modules BEFORE you did that, and BEFORE you ran the hard drive diagnostics?
Even when there is nothing wrong with the hard drive itself or the data on the Windows installation, the operating system can have problems finding essential files when you're experiencing errors reading the ram, and/or if there is a problem with the CD or DVD drive reading an operating system CD or DVD.
"RAM failure may cause sort of problems you are having. To eliminate that area, reduce RAM to a single stick (if two or more present) - min 128Meg; If possible borrow/test with a known good stick too?"
Contrary to popular belief, it is extremely rare for ram that was working fine previously to go BAD, unless you have damaged it by something you did when installing or removing it, or unless it was damaged by some event such as a power failure or a power supply failing. Almost always, when you have a ram problem, it's either because the ram has a poor connection, or you have installed ram that is not compatible with your mboard's main chipset, or it's CPU's memory controller if that applies.
If there's nothing wrong with the hard drive itself, when you get errors regarding files on the operating system's disk when you boot from it, you have a problem regarding ram errors, or regarding the optical drive reading the disk properly, or both of those.
If you get errors reading from an operating system's disk when you boot from it, if you have ruled out ram errors or incompatible ram being the problem, try using a laser lens cleaning CD in the optical drive, or if you have more than one optical drive on the computer try another optrical drive.
However many computer bioses only allow you to boot from a bootable disk in one optical drive - in that case, you need to go into the bios and find the list of optical drives - it's often on the same page where you set the boot order - and make the model of the optical drive you have the operating system disk in the first one. in the list, save bios settings
"Do you see any alternative to either get a new XP CD and try to repair from that, or reinstall windows on new partition? Is this recoverable?"
There's probably nothing wrong with your XP CD. If it doesn't have at least SP1 updates included on it, you can make yourself a bootable "slipstreamed" CD, preferably a CD-R, that has the data contents of your XP CD with the SP3 updates integrated into it, and use that to install XP, along with the Product Key you're already using. You can use the Product Key that should be on an official Microsoft label on the outside of the computer case somewhere , if it's for the same version, Home or Pro, that your CD is.
"Another option might be new hard drive but i would want to recover the data from this one anyway."
There's no point in trying to repair a Windows installation, or installing Windows from scratch, when the hard drive is malfunctioning. As I said above, you MAY be able to retrieve data from it.
If you have the disks that came with the computer, you can at least install Windows on a new hard drive, or if it is an actual Recovery disk or Recovery disk set rather than a Dell slightly modified version of an OEM XP Pro CD, you can re-install everything on the new hard drive that the original harddrive had on it orginally.
See the Dell web site regarding the Recovery procedure for your specific model.