Hello and welcome to Bleepingcomputer.
Please confirm that this is your computer.http://support.dell.com/support/DPP/Index.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=anavml&SystemID=DIM_PNT_P4_E520
Other helpful information.http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/kcs/document?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&docid=DSN_362110&isLegacy=truePlease note: (My personal computer is running Windows 7, this page at the link above mentions Windows 7 on my computer.
I am not sure if it is because the Dell web site recognizes the fact that I have Windows 7. I do realize you have Windows XP.
If for any reason the link above is referenced to Windows 7, please click the link on that page that says "click here to change operating system" which is in blue lettering.) This change the reference to Windows XP
There are articles on this page that should help assist you in determining what is causing this issue.
If the problem persists, you should double check that your data cables are secure and making good contact with their connections.
Intermittent issues like this can sometimes be caused by a connection to which is NOT making 100% contact with its metallic mating surface. I have seen hard drive data cable connections that looked secure and making full contact, but the computer exhibited issues such as yours. The IDE/PATA data cable connecter was not making a full electrical contact with its mating surface. This was corrected by disconnecting and reconnecting the plug into its socket.
The most likely cause was oxidation build up on the metal surfaces, but may have also been because the connection was not as tight as it is supposed to be.
If the problem still persists after those attempts have been tried, I would try resetting your BIOS, there are two ways to do this.
One way, is to enter your BIOS setup utility and choose an option from the main BIOS menu related to loading setup defaults. Save and exit the utility.
Most motherboards have a jumper on them, the most common name for this jumper is CLR-CMOS, but it can be labled differently for various motherboard makers.This jumper should NOT be used while the CMOS back-up battery is still in its holder, because it can short the battery out!!!
For precationary issues please do the following:
Please disconnect the PSU from the AC outlet!
Please discharge your bodys electrical source (static electricity) to a known well grounded metal source first.
Keep one hand on the computers metal case at all times while working inside the computer case!
Remove the CMOS battery observing how it was installed, it has to go back in the same way.
Move the CLR-CMOS jumper over to pins 2 and 3 and wait 60 seconds, longer is Okay.
Return the CLR-CMOS jumper back to pins 1 and 2.
Return the CMOS battery back to its holder same as it was before you removed it.
Re-connect the AC power cord.
Power up the computer.Please boot to your BIOS setup utility first!!
Once in your BIOS please correct the time and date, as those should now be incorrect and need to be corrected.
Auto-detect all your hardware such as hard drives and optical drives.
Check SATA0 SATA1 Etc.
Check PRIMARY MASTER, PRIMARY SLAVE, SECONDARY MASTER Ect.
Once everything seems in order, save the changes by hitting the F10 key on keyboard, this will save the settings and exit.
Please test drive the system and please post back the results either good or bad.
Thanks in advance.
Edited by MrBruce1959, 07 December 2010 - 04:20 PM.