So I woke up yesterday to a PC with a screen informing me that it had no boot drive available. If I attempt to reboot, I get two beeps, and nothing more. I don't get to an option to attempt to start Windows in Safe Mode -- nothing.
Any ideas? If I throw in the XP CD to reload Windows, will my data still exist from before the re-install (if it comes to that)?
So the three lights apparently indicate that "a failure has occurred"... which is AWESOMELY descriptive and almost makes you wonder why they bothered to have that indicated at all.
I'm not optimistic about your hard drive. If you're lucky, you may just be looking at a hosed boot partition - but I think you might want to be prepared for something worse. I *really* hope I'm wrong.
I'm not going to be awake much longer tonight, but a list of color and beep codes (as well as where to find other diagnostic info) can be found here (manualslib.com). Yeah, it a manual, but it might be helpful.
Edit: So yeah, I would also try a Linux LiveCD. And maybe try a USB enclosure if you *need* the data. But I think you may need a new hard drive.
The hard drive could be bad (80%) The hard drive could be disconnected (10%) Bad cable (10%) HD Controller issue (low)
If you want to try the most likely fix, go buy a new HD and install it, boot with your Windows CD and reinstall the OS. You can then decide if your backups are good enough (You have backups, right?) or if you want to muck around with the other drive.
If the new drive isn't detected, you're on one of the lower probability issues. Cables and HD Controllers on motherboards don't generally go bad, but this is an older PC if it came with Windows XP, so maybe its hardware. You can always try cables from a different PC if you have one laying about.
You can probably get a surplus PC with better specifications than the one you are trying to fix for under $50, if that helps your decision making process at all.
Here's a price comparison for your PC from a random site from Google. Don't pay more than this to fix the old one.
About eight months ago, I picked up a Dell Latitude C400 from thrift shop, planning to put some sort of Linux on it. The laptop booted, but I got the gray screen of death (later diagnosed as a hard drive lock).