I have an Dell Inspiron 531 2GB RAM 250 GB hard drive running Vista. Yesterday morning the power had gone off in the house. I don't know for how long, but it was long enough that the APC battery my desktop was plugged in to must have run out of power because my desktop was off. I turned it on and instead of booting up it gives me this message
No boot device available
SATA 0: Installed
SATA 1: Installed
SATA 2: Installed
SATA 3: None
I had to go to work so i turned it off and it sat for about 4 hours till i got home for lunch where i tried it again, still same thing. turned it off, another 4 hours later came home from work, turned it on (yes wishful thinking mostly) and to my surprise it gave me the screen that says windows didn't shut down properly etc and gives the options for safe mode and normal mode. I chose normal mode and it acted like it was booting up, but then restarted itself and it's back to the no boot device message.
On the advice of a friend I tried booting it with the windows install CD. It boots from that and takes me through the install screens, but it will not repair anything, and if i try to install windows, the only "drive" it comes up with is 7.5 GB which i think is the backup partition. It should be a 250GB harddrive.
After awhile of giving up I turned the thing on and it came to the didn't shut down properly screen this time presenting me with the option to run startup repair or run windows normally. I did the startup repair and it worked. My computer booted up, everything was there and seemed to work perfectly for about an hour i even restarted it just to be sure. Then the whole system froze and I had to do a force restart. Now Its right back to square one, where i was before with the no boot device available, install disk is no help, and i can't figure out how to get it to the screen that actually fixed it before, though i suppose it didn't really fix it since it later crashed and came right back to where it was before.
I tried again later and managed to get back to the screen that allowed me to run the startup repair. Again it worked for about an hour before freezing and back to square one again. So it seems I can get it to work for about an hour at a time, after turning it off and on a few times and letting it sit, it seems to eventually give me the screen that asks about startup repair. After maybe an hour of normal use, it just completely locks up. stops working all together, i hafta force reboot and it's back to saying no boot device. Is the problem the hard drive or is it something else like a short in the motherboard? (i have very little knowledge of how the hardware works in a computer, it just seems odd that i can get it to work fine for short periods)
Also I checked inside to make sure no wires were loose, the fans are working etc. Nothing seems physically amiss.
Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated.