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Error loading Operating System

Posted on 2013-11-18
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
One of my Dell Optiplex 380 systems has been working fine for over 3 years now.
Today I turned it on and it had a black screen with a flashing cursor.
After a few minutes, I received the message "Error loading Operating System".
Using a different hard drive from an exact same system (I have 5) - same message.
I tried to run a repair from a Windows XP Pro install CD and I got the same message.
The Dell diagnostics (pre-boot) showed no problems with the hard drive or memory.
Please help!
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Question by:tcexperts77
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Expert Comment

by:kadafitcd
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Make sure you're removed any CDs/DVDs/USB Flash Drives/External Hard Drives and try rebooting.  It may be trying to boot from one of those sources rather than from the Hard Drive.  I've seen this many times and mostly it's from a USB Flash Drive being connected and the BIOS automatically defaulting to try to boot from it.

Good Luck HTH.
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by:tcexperts77
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The hard drives (note - more than one drive) are the size that came with the system.
Besides, it doesn't even boot from a CD.
This computer has nothing external plugged in except the keyboard & mouse.
Thanks for your efforts.
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Expert Comment

by:Gary
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See if you can get into Safe Mode.
When booting keep pressing F8 after the initial bios check.

Have you installed any new software/drivers?
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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It doesn't go into safe mode - F8 doesn't do anything.
Nothing new was installed - nothing extra is connected.
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by:tcexperts77
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Update:
I am able to boot using a XP Boot CD only if the hard drive is disabled in BIOS.
If the hard drive is enabled, I will get the "Error loading operating system" message
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by:nobus
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does that happing with another disk drive also?
i would start by resetting the bios  - does not seem very normal
but it can be another problem (motherboard) also
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by:tcexperts77
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I have tried other hard drives with no success.
How would I reset the BIOS?
Could it be the hard drive controller?
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Accepted Solution

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nobus earned 500 total points
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reset the bios :
remove the bios battery for a minute; best do that with ac cord removed
then put it back in - and boot to test

it can be anything on the mobo at this stage; you can test  also by using another sata and power cable - and on another sata port
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by:Gary
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In BIOS you will need to change the boot order to be able to get a CD to boot first otherwise it will keep looking at the hard drive first.
Or during the initial BIOS check press DEL of F2 then you should get options for what to boot from.
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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The cable was good, but Ididn't try another SATA port.
After switching with the CDROM drive, the PC booted OK!
Thank you!
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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I made a mistake!
The solution was actually written by Nobus - NOT GaryC123.
How do I fix this?
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by:nobus
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i asked a mod   - with request attention - to lokk into it
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Author Closing Comment

by:tcexperts77
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The following comment by nobus was what fixed my problem:

it can be anything on the mobo at this stage; you can test  also by using another sata and power cable - and on another sata port

Thank you!
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
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thanks for the feedback, and points
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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You deserved it.
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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To nobus:
I have another one if you are interested...

See:
Cannot open some shortcuts on Windows XP desktop
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
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post the link please
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
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Actually, to my surprise, it was fixed.
There may be other issues with that PC.
I will post a new question & let you know if that happens.
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by:nobus
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fair enough
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