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My laptop won't boot up - "Operating System Not Found"


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Scott_J

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Posted February 22 2004 - 12:54 PM

In November, my brother-in-law gave me a barely-used Dell laptop, which I just started using on a regular basis less than a month ago. This evening, when I turned it on, it won't boot and I get an error message saying "operating system not found." And there's a weird ticking-like sound coming out of one of the compartments on the bottom of the unit - so I'm thinking that has something to do with it. I'm going to borrow my friend's screwdriver tomorrow to open that compartment and see if I can fix it. In the meantime, does anyone know what's wrong, and/or what I can do to fix it? If I have to re-install or get a new OS, it's no big deal since I just started using it - the only important thing I would lose is the resume I've been working on, but I can re-type if I have to. Any help would be great.

Computer specs:
Dell Latitude L400
700 mHz Pentium 3 processor
256 MB RAM
30 GB hard drive
Windows XP (Professional, I believe)

Unfortunately, I don't have the manual, OS disks, etc. He may, I'll have to call him and find out. Thanks for any help anyone can give.

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   WayneO

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Posted February 22 2004 - 03:00 PM

Sounds like your hard drive might have taken a dump on you. I would get a DOS boot disk, put it in the floppy and see if you can find your "C:" drive, which is what I'm assuming your default Windows partition is. If you have another computer you can make a boot disk by right clicking on the floppy drive to format a new floppy and check the "Make MS-Dos boot disk". It'll put all the files on it and then try it in your laptop. If you can't find your "C:" drive, the hard drive may very well be kaput. Might be a warranty on it as well. I strongly advise you not to take it apart unless you have experience working on laptops and most certainly have a grounding strap.
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#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Brian E

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Posted February 22 2004 - 03:26 PM

Yep, I'd bet it's the Hard Drive.
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#4 of 11 OFFLINE   mike_vigneau

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Posted February 23 2004 - 08:11 AM

Usually a ticking noise indicates a hard drive and the hard drive is usually in a bracket inside one of those compartments.

That boot disk will not let you see your hard drive because DOS is FAT16/32 while Windows XP Professional is NTFS so they are incompatible.

What you can do is: when the computer starts up press F2. Look under Primary IDE Interface to see if it lists anything. If it does, there could still be a problem, but the computer is recognizing the drive.

I would download the DELL Diagnostics and see if it finds anything. Also, update to the latest BIOS if you intend to call them.

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Scott_J

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Posted February 23 2004 - 10:27 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. But trying a boot disk or trying to download the Dell Diagnostics to my notebook isn't possible because I can't even get it to the desktop.

Mike, under Internal Hard Drive and Secondary IDE Device, it lists "none." That means it's a hard drive issue?

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   WayneO

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Posted February 23 2004 - 11:25 AM

Quote:
Windows XP Professional is NTFS
Just a clarification, Fat32 is available with XP. It is clearly a format option in the setup menu, but of course the question is which one is the Dell using? Either way, checking in the BIOS would be the right thing to do first, I missed that.
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#7 of 11 OFFLINE   mike_vigneau

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Posted February 23 2004 - 12:06 PM

Mike, under Internal Hard Drive and Secondary IDE Device, it lists "none." That means it's a hard drive issue?


Yep...If the bios doesn't notice your hard drive, then there is definitely a mechanical problem with it and if you wanted to recover any data (which you said you didn't) you would have to pay someone to do it via hardware.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Mike Fassler

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Posted February 23 2004 - 12:27 PM

if your partition happens to be ntfs use an app called NTFS for dos and you will be set to go, you can download it on the internet just do a search for it.

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Mike LS

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Posted February 24 2004 - 07:53 AM

You might check with the guy that you got the computer from and see if he happened to buy one of Dell's warranties. It's possible it might still be covered.

I've got a Dell 900mhz laptop whos HD crapped out a few weeks ago. It was still in warranty and they shipped a new one right out. Lost all the data still (someone else deleted the partition b4 I could do much with it), but the swap is an easy one.

BTW, if it's an Inspiron model, the HD is located on the left side of the unit (on the side). There's a single screw holding it in (on the bottom). Take that out and slide the HD out sideways.

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Mike_Bauer

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Posted February 25 2004 - 07:21 AM

It might be worth opening up the case and reseating the disk connector. It might be an electrical problem with a loose connection. It still might make a clicking noise in that case. Other than that I don't know. Since you don't have the operating system disk which would allow you to attempt a recovery. If you have access to another computer at all you can still make a bootable floppy and look for the c drive (at the command prompt type A: dir C: even if it is NTFS the disk will show up. Another option is to borrow a OS CD and see if it will boot from a CD? If it does you can still look for the C drive. If there is a CompUSA near you they will take a look, but will charge to fix
Mike

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted February 27 2004 - 08:57 AM

Hard drives usually have multi-year warranties directly from the manufacturer these days, don't they? Might be worth looking into to avoid forking over cash for a new one.

Of course, it might be a good time to splurge and get a faster hard drive; a 5400 RPM drive with 8MB of cache made my Inspiron 8200 so much snappier it wasn't even funny. The old 4200 RPM drive was really dragging the whole machine down performance-wise.
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