I sold my 6-7 year old Dell desktop computer to my friend. It was running Windows 98 when I got it but I received a Windows ME upgrade within a few weeks following purchase. I upgraded to Windows XP some time ago and had never had a problem. This computer is perfect for my friend and if I can fix it, will remain perfect for years to come.
Started with the computer slowing down incredibly. I'd already turned off everything in msconfig and had cleaned up and cleared out all junk and regularly defragged for her. She was running Norton 360 and I assumed that a major part of the problem was this and was considering changing to a less bulky Anti-virus/spyware, etc. Then I turned on the computer for her one day and received a black/blank screen with only the following in the upper left corner:
Disk read error occurred
Press Ctl-Alt-Del to reboot
Rebooting didn't help. It just returned me to the same screen.
I did a Google search and found some information on this problem along with suggestions. I tried numerous things but I couldn't get the thing to boot to safemode or even a DOS prompt. At one point I did get a message that said, "unable to locate FAT32 partition" which seemed odd because I switched to NTFS when installing Win XP. After numerous attempts where nothing worked, I finally thought, I'll just fdisk and start over. I've never not had that work for me but it didn't work this time. The problems I've had just don't make any sense whatsoever, after first fdisk I partitioned and started the Win XP setup/install but then the files wouldn't transfer from the CD properly. I attempted another fdisk and then partitioning got weird on me. It kept changing the drive letter; D, E, F, each time I attempted a partition, a new drive letter was given. It wouldn't let me create proper sized partitions, on and on. I attempted a scandsk but it instead told me to run chkdsk as "it does a better job" but then found nothing wrong. I checked the hard disk surface and it said it was fine.
Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm at a complete loss here. I thought that maybe the hard drive went bad. Maybe RAM is bad or CMOS needs cleared. I hate spending more time on it if its a hardware issue. If it needs a new hard drive, my friend will probably just buy a new laptop. HELP!