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I have a Dell desktop that is hanging at the Windows XP splash screen and eventually (after about 5 minutes) cycles to a "F1 to retry boot F2 to enter setup utility".

I tried to start the computer in Safe Mode but it eventually cycles to the same "F1, F2" screen.

What are the likely causes and what are the remedies?

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There are very many likely causes, mostly hardware.
Such problems cannot be solved by remote control.

I would take the computer to a qualified repairman.
Or if it's relatively new, activate the warranty (unlikely, given that it's XP).

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Sometimes it's "cheaper" to just solve the problem directly instead of spending ages looking for the cause – Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '10 at 9:26
    
OK. I'll bite. How do I solve the problem "directly"? – ssvarc Mar 4 '10 at 20:15
    
@Ssvarc: Ivo probably meant the hands-on approach. A repairman has the needed tools and spare parts. – harrymc Mar 4 '10 at 20:46
    
@Ssvarc: for Ivo to get your message you should prefix the message with "@Ivo:". – harrymc Mar 4 '10 at 21:11
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I ran DFT on the computer and it shows that the HD is going. That would explain the strange symptoms.

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