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Error loading Operating System

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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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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.

Author

Commented:
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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Commented:
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?

Author

Commented:
It doesn't go into safe mode - F8 doesn't do anything.
Nothing new was installed - nothing extra is connected.

Author

Commented:
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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Commented:
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

Author

Commented:
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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This one is on us!
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Commented:
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.

Author

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

Author

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

Author

Commented:
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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Commented:
thanks for the feedback, and points

Author

Commented:
You deserved it.

Author

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

See:
Cannot open some shortcuts on Windows XP desktop
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Commented:
post the link please

Author

Commented:
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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Commented:
fair enough
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