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I saw that there are other questions like mine here. But O also saw that some problems where solved with fixmbr from a Windows 7 recovery console, but that didn't work for me.

I bought my laptop with Vista installed and later reformated and used Windows 7. During formatting with Windows 7 I had some problems with my hard drive and found out it was dead so I bought a new one.

I wanted to reformat with Windows XP,because Windows 7 is consuming more RAM that it is able handle and I wanted to use it for other programs. So I formatted with Windows XP Service Pack 3 but after first reboot a message appeared: "Error loading operating system"

Reading here, I assumed that maybe I had installed it on the wrong partition and maybe having two OS now, so I used fixmbr but it is still not starting up. Anyway I am sure that is not the case of two operating systems.

Is there any chance that when the computer designed to work with Vista you would face problems with Windows XP? Like not recognizing a hard drive?

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I do have a suggestion: do regular backups, and always before reinstalling an operating system or playing with partitions !!! I hope you get your data back, but really try to have a regular backup system for your data. – rems Feb 23 '11 at 16:06
No idea why you want to go back to WinXP (2002 os) vs Win7. Windows7 works very well on lower hardware, it will throttle back some of the bells and whistles to match your spec. Also it does not 'eat up all your ram' – Jakub Feb 23 '11 at 16:13
well with 1 GB ram for the moment, I want to install newer version of visual studio than of windows, maybe wrong approach but anyway this is another thing, the point is: what is happening during reformat and how can it be solved. – Blerta Feb 23 '11 at 16:23
"I formatted with win xp sp3" - what do you mean by this? You formatted the disk at the first part of the XP install, and now after the first reboot it errors? – MartW Feb 23 '11 at 16:29
Probably your HDD ist a SATA drive. This are not recognized by windows xp setup. That is why you cannot install win xp on them out of the box. There is probably a bios setting, that you can switch to make win xp setup recognize the drive. BUT if successfully installing windows xp you will have to search a LOT of drivers for your laptop in the nets as dell does not deliver them. This could be a real pain. Good luck anyway. You could (if you have them) insert the SATA drivers during the windows setup. There is a message at the bottom of the process. You will have to press a key. – Darokthar Feb 23 '11 at 16:29

Windows 7 will insert a 100MB partition on your HD. I suspect that the XP installation formated over the Win 7 OS install portion of the HD but not this 100MB partition.

I would run the XP setup making sure to verify that you have no partitions on the HD and reformat/install.

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Check 2 things:

  1. Boot into GParted Live CD and check the exact partition layout. Your partition with XP bootloader should be primary and active.
  2. Change SATA mode to IDE(not AHCI) in BIOS. This causes XP boot problems sometimes.
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