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My Windows XP Home stalled in the middle of start up - after showing Win XP logo the screen went black, never opening the desktop, the HDD indicator kept flashing irregularly for a minute or two and then turned off as well, computer is still on (I can hear the coolers) but would not respond to anything but a reset button. When restarted the story repeats.
Yeasterday it took surprisingly long time for the machine to start and then to shut down - a last symptom?
This happened for the third time in the last two months or so, and it makes me think this is no coinsidence :(

History: I have a 2 year old Compaq Presario laptop. Earlier this year I was rather successfull in cleaning it from spyware (TechSupportForum was VERY helpfull and virtually saved my data!), but the machine was still quite slow and I was brave (and stupid) enough to completely format the hard drive and installed back the XP itself, all the downloads which start automatically when you go online, SP2, nice fresh antivirus and all the rest of it. All went glorious for about two weeks, when one morning the machine just wouldn't start (with exactly the same picture as I've described in the first paragraph) with no obvious reason to trigger it to. My solution was to go back to the "factory image" using CDs which came together with the computer. It worked. For another two weeks. Doing it for the third time sucks.

A colleague of mine suggests the problem could be caused by hard drive malfunctioning at some point, but I don't know how to check it. Could it be somehow linked to the SP2?

Please, any suggestions?
 

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I would download the hard drive manufacturers disk utility and run a diagnostics against the drive.
You can find the manufacturer of the drive either by going into the BIOS or opening the case and physically looking at the drive.
You can download the utility from the drive manufacturers website and it is free.
 
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