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Cheers, all.

So, one of the teams I work with fired up their HP Pavilion dv1019ea laptop yesterday morning and instead of watching the Windows XP Pro loading screen appear, they got this one ominous sentence flashing on a black screen: Operating System Not Found.

Here's what I've tried so far, and I'd be grateful if anyone had any other ideas:

I went into the BIOS, but at first glance nothing seemed out of place. I booted from my Winternals ERD off the DVD drive, figuring it was something wrong with the OS. The Winternals disk detected the hard drive and installed OS fine, and could find no errors with the system files. I looked at the event listing, registry, all the usual places without seeing anything out of place, and ran a comprehensive virus scan. I plugged in a USB flash drive and copied out all the important data and then rebooted.

I booted back into the BIOS to take a more thorough look around. It's Phoenix NoteBIOS 4.0 Build 6.0 (Version F.12), and it seems really stripped down compared to the usual options you have available. There's nowhere to manually configure a HDD, for instance - and upon closer inspection, it isn't detecting the hard drive (I missed it the first time because "Hard Drive" is listed okay in the Boot Order, but it's supposed to be expandable - have a '+' - if one or more HDDs is detected). The "Hard Drive Self Test" under "Tools" says "No IDE Device".

Mystifying. Hadn't I just used the hard drive from a boot CD? I booted from my Windows XP Pro CD just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, and sure enough it detected the drive, partitions, operating system, everything. I ran recovery console and executed FIXBOOT and rebooted. Then FIXMBR. Rebooted. Still nothing.

I went to the last resort and starting taking things apart. I reseated the hard drive, checked the cables and connectors, and, when all else failed, stripped the sucker right down and popped out the CMOS battery to reset the whole thing. Same old story.

So what do you think? Anything else I can try? Please don't tell me I've got a large paperweight on my hands here. I'm a development volunteer working in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, and if I can't fix this one-year-old computer (essentially irreplaceable here), an entire medium-sized school district will be robbed of its only IT resource.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi Dai

Chkdsk reported no errors, and all the SeaTools (the h/d is a Seagate 40 GB) tests passed. Then something strange happened. Right after running SeaTools, the h/d appeared in the BIOS (I went straight into BIOS after running SeaTools). When I exited the BIOS and rebooted, it disappeared again! I haven't been able to duplicate the effect by re-running SeaTools. I did run the IDE controller test in SeaTools, and it passed. What do you think? I suppose I could try flashing the BIOS...

EDIT: Further work on it will have to wait for Monday... Thanks for your help, cheers
 

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i'm kind of a noob so don't take me to seriously, but you could try replacing the hard drive?
 
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