troubleshooting Question

Can a disk drive (HDD) be SO dead (so crashed) that Operating Systems can't see it?

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DFlaschenFlag for United States of America asked on
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Can a disk drive (HDD) be SO dead (so crashed) that Operating Systems can't see it?
When I boot this Windows laptop, the system usually (but not always) behaves as if it is NOT there.  In other words, it skips right by it, in the Boot Sequence.  When I boot with the Norton Recovery Console, it is almost never there (maybe always never there).  My son booted with Linux and it was there and we started copying files and the whole system crashed.
We have terrific backups.  I have ordered a replacement drive, but I am wondering if there's a RAM problem, or a FAN problem, or a power supply issue.  
Things had been working fine and then suddenly, the other morning, the monitor went BLACK.  We rebooted everything and I forget what happened but it wasn't normal.
I realize this is rambling.  Since I need to start somewhere, I am starting by asking "can a disk drive be so dead that it appears (usually to just not be there.
I may pull the drive and try to look at it in a USB enclosure,.

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