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"Operating System not Found" message

I have a Hewlett Packard Pavilion 6540C with Windows XP Home Edition operating system. Today, while the computer was on, but not being used, the monitor suddenly went black and the message "Operating System not Found" appeared at the top left of the monitor. I shut it off and let it rest for about 2 hours and tried to restart it. Within a few minutes the same message appeared. I repeated the off/on cycle a couple more times and the same thing happened.

Can anyone tell me what is happening to cause this and what, if anything, can be done about it.

And please be conscious of the fact that I am a kindergartner when it comes to any knowledge of computers.
 
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Can you open up the case and point what is the hard disk in there ? You might need to check if the hard disk is getting power and your IDE cables are connected well. If it is not the HD power - IDE cable we will need to worry about your Hard disks health. See if everything is seated well in the case.
 

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I'll do that and let you know. However, I will probably not be able to get back on this computer until tomorrow.
 

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My cousin came over (he is the computer expert in my eyes) and he got things running again. I'll have him tell you what he did:

I went into the cmos setup screen and told it to autodetect the hard drive. And also told it to load setup defaults. I hit save and exited. It booted up normally. To make sure, it was shut down and cold booted. It seems to be working normally again.
 
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