First of all, I know next to nothing about this subject, so if I post something seemingly ignorant or plain stupid, I'm really sorry.
I'm running Windows 7 32-bit on a 3 year-old Samsung laptop, with a i5 processor.
My computer was running really slow when I started it (from sleep mode) so I restarted it. No Windows Update was installed.
Windows then told me that it failed to start, directing me to either Startup Repair or Start Normally.
Starting normally didn't work. Startup Repair directed me to a blue screen (with green leaves on the right) and a cursor.
Recovery directed me to a nice green screen with 'Please Wait' in the centre. Didn't work.
After entering F8, Safe Mode/Last Known Good Configuration directs me to the Startup Repair/Start normally screen.
To top it off, the light on the HDD icon on the laptop is off.
My hard disk is dead, ain't it?
I really appreciate all help provided!