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blinking cursor when booting

my girlfriend brought home a computer from her office that she said wasnt working and asked me to fix it. i've never seen a computer do this before so i thought i'd post a question about it before i do serious damage to it. When i turn the power on it goes through the boot up tests (lists amount of memory, drives, etc.) then goes directly to a blank screen with a blinking cursor in the top left of the screen. No keyboard commands work here, all it does is beep when i touch a key.
i was pretty sure it was the a problem with the hard drive, so just to make sure i put it in a working system and tried booting, to no avail. same thing happened. i tried two other drives in that same working system and they both worked, so i am pretty sure the problem is with the hard drive. i also ran a boot floppy diagnostics program to check the disk and after 3 different tests it reported the drive had no errors. so if there are no physical errors with the drive then it must be software related, right? and if so how do i go about finding out? i really dont want to lose any information on the drive seeing as how it belongs to my girlfriends place of work. any help would be much appreciated here.
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jdennis4486
Asked:
jdennis4486
2 Solutions
 
ridCommented:
Seems like the best thing to do is to hook this HD up as slave on a working system, and see if the data can be accessed and copied off of it.

Of course, you could try booting off a win9X floppy and running fdisk /mbr to restore the boot record (windows O/S assumed...).

What O/S is the machine supposed to run anyway?
/RID
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jdennis4486Author Commented:
supposing i can copy the data off the disk if i slave it, then what? by running fdisk and restoring the boot record is there a chance i may lose any valuable data? i think that the drive has 98 or 2000 on it.
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jdennis4486Author Commented:
ok i tried slaving it and was able to access the drive. there's a folder called winnt, so does that mean it has win 2000 as it's operating system? i can back some of the information up to my other drive, now what?
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WEINBERGERCommented:
If there is a folder winnt it is running either XP or 2000. It sounds like one of the OS files have been corrupted. I would suggest backing up the data that you need on your existing machine. Then install the harddrive back in the other machine where it originally was , format the drive and reload OS.

Sounds like either a driver files has been corrupted or one of the startup files for the OS>
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ridCommented:
Back up the things y ou want to save by copying them to another drive. Then put the problem drive back in its machine and try fdisk /mbr (after booting from a floppy). If that doesn't help, you need to run a restore operation and you'll need the O/S install CD. If that also fails, you need to check the HD with a diagnostic program. If it is OK, wipe with a zero-fill and do a clean reinstall of your O/S.
/RID
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stockhesCommented:
I would say with HD prices these days, I would simply dump the faulty HD after retrieving data

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jdennis4486Author Commented:
ok here's what i would like to do if possible: save ALL the information from the bad drive to my good drive as an image file or something (?), this way i dont have to guess at what they would want saved and just save myself some time. then reformat the bad drive (assuming that will fix it), install win xp on it, and restore all the original data to it from the image i saved on the good drive. what would be the best way to accomplish this?
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ridCommented:
Why complicate things? Create a folder on the healthy drive, call it "bad_hd_backup" or something, Copy all files and folders from the bad drive to that directory. Copy back as needed when the time comes.

Generally, it's not very useful to back up program and system files, as you'll have to reinstall O/S and programs anyway, from their install media.
/RID
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jdennis4486Author Commented:
great help, i finally got it! i copied the files from the bad drive to a folder on the good one, reformatted the bad one, installed 98se, and then copied backup files back to drive. worked great! thanks again.
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