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My older Windows XP laptop halted suddenly last Thursday, and has not booted since. I think the hard drive might be shot, but I'm not sure and not sure how to diagnose.

Here's what happens:

1) Normal Boot - goes into CHKDSK and asks to check drive.

1a) If I cancel CHKDSK, screen goes blank (black), loads Windows pointer. I can move pointer all around with mouse, but nothing else loads and nothing happens. no keys (C-A-Delete) or anything else loads any Windows, prompts, task manager, or anything else. Continues thus indefinitely until I force shutdown with power button.

1b) If I let CHKDSK continue, it finishes stage 1 quickly, then halts at 2% through stage two. The longest I've let it sit there was several hours. After many repetitions, always halts at 2%.

I can also get into the boot options menu, with these results:

2) Last Configuration that worked - identical to 1, 1a, and 1b.

3) Safe mode (plain, with networking, or with command prompt) - starts loading files w/o gui. Halts after ~30 seconds, while loading *.sys drivers. It doesn't always stop on the same file.

4) I tried booting from a Windows recovery CD, and when I loaded the recovery console, it said "no hard drives found on this computer."

Does this mean my HD is gone? Is there some other hardware failure blocking my hard drive? Something else I'm not thinking of?

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hmm sounds like a dying/dead drive. Have you tried hooking it up to another computer as a secondary? – Not Kyle stop stalking me Jan 24 '11 at 1:32

I finally took drive out and hooked it up to another PC as a secondary (as @Kyle suggested, though before he did). CHKHDK on mount took ~4 hours, and successfully corrected a whole slew of errors, and now drive works again!

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Might want to back up your data like there's no tomorrow... – Mehrdad Jan 24 '11 at 5:51
true. in progress. Also getting a spare HDD... – Benj Jan 24 '11 at 16:43

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