Hard drive not secured in system

I have a xp pro system (used) that worked for a few months.  When I attempted to boot the system today, the bios booted up and memory, then there was a blinking cursor on the left of the monitor.  
When I opened the computer to check the hard drive, the drive was not secured in the system - all plugs and power where in but the drive itself was half hanging against a metal casing inside of the system.   Could this be the reason the system does not boot?  and is the drive ruined?
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zephyr_hex (Megan)DeveloperCommented:
a hanging drive itself does not pose an issue...
but if the computer was moved while powered on, and the hard drive was not secure, that could cause a problem with the drive.
if you suspect the hard drive, run a diag on it.  DFT (drive fitness test) works on most drive types.  run the quick test.  if it passes (green screen) then run the advanced test.  if the quick test fails... then you don't need to run the advanced test.
if you get a red screen, you can look up the disposition code in the manual.  the manual and the CD Image are located here:

create the cd on a good computer, then boot the bad computer using the cd.  you may have to change the startup order in BIOS in order to boot up on the cd.

this test will verify if the problem is the hard drive
A hard drive can actually work in that position - I have done so when trying something out temporarily.  It can be the cause of not booting if the cable is flexed too much or the connector is a little loose.
Could be.  If any of the solder joints on the hard drive's pc board contacted the chasis, it altered the electronic signals.  It may or may not be burnt out.  It is just as likely that this is not why the system is not rebooting however.

The only way you'll know is to plug that drive into another system and check it out.  If it's okay on another system, as a slave drive or second primary master, then it should be okay to boot from, except that it may not have it's boot bit set.  Find out why using another system.
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Replace/Switch the connector cables, if the system still wont work try to use disk checking software for par sectors and so forth. Hard drives have little motors in them that spin the magnetic media around, and just like any motor the are designed to run optimally in a certain position, while it may not seem like much hagining a hardrive down like that actually puts more pressure on the motor which can cause it to fail after time.
The drive could easily have shorted itself against a piece of the case or motherboard and been damaged electrically.  It's also possible that the drive's chassis could have shorted out the motherboard.

It might be helpful to try the drive in another system and/or try another drive in this system to see if it's the drive, the motherboard, the power supply, or something else.
I doubt the half hanging of the harddrive caused it to go bad(if it is bad). The bottom line is that the system won't boot to windows which means that windows does not load for
1. cannot find harddrive (check cable and power cord[try exchanging with working ones])
2. harddrive is defective ( run disk diagnostic software[usually found on manufacturers site])
3. other hardware causing the issue (try booting with only the harddrive connected unplugging all other cables and slotted cards except video])
4. Windows is corrupted (boot from CD, do a repair[NOT the first repair option but the 2nd)
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