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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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19 Comments
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:kadafitcd
ID: 39657054
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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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39657075
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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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39657131
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
ID: 39658530
It doesn't go into safe mode - F8 doesn't do anything.
Nothing new was installed - nothing extra is connected.
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39658535
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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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39658598
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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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39658658
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

by:
nobus earned 2000 total points
ID: 39659126
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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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39659475
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
ID: 39659684
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
ID: 39659850
I made a mistake!
The solution was actually written by Nobus - NOT GaryC123.
How do I fix this?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39659947
i asked a mod   - with request attention - to lokk into it
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Author Closing Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39660386
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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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39661659
thanks for the feedback, and points
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39661825
You deserved it.
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39666064
To nobus:
I have another one if you are interested...

See:
Cannot open some shortcuts on Windows XP desktop
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39666136
post the link please
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Author Comment

by:tcexperts77
ID: 39666290
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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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39666511
fair enough
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