Flashing underscore after Dell loading screen, Windows 7, no boot

By yolizzy
Nov 1, 2011
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  1. A couple of days ago, I'd fallen asleep with my laptop on and thus it went to sleep and eventually into hibernation. When I went to turn it on in the morning, the hard drive whirred as usual and the Dell loading screen came on (the screen with the Dell symbol, loading bar, and setup/boot options), but after that, my laptop went to a black screen with a flashing white underscore and wouldn't boot.

    I restarted it manually a few times (as much as I hated to), and eventually hit F12 and selected the option of booting from the internal HDD. I'd thought it was maybe a one-time thing, but I wouldn't be so lucky.

    Today when I got home, after my computer had been shut down from 7am to 8pm, I went to turn my computer on and the same thing happened. So, as last time, I restarted it manually and selected F12, but my laptop didn't even go to the options menu; it went right to the flashing underscore. I restarted again and selected the boot from internal HDD and it booted like it usually does, but I'm worried that this is going to become a trend.

    My laptop -- a Dell Inspiron 1545 -- is only 2 years and four months old. I take great care of any electronic I own and am adept when it comes to computers, but not with this type of thing. Anyway, tonight I did a scan with System Checkup for free, and it told me that I have signs of physical corruption on drive C. I don't really know what that means and I want so desperately to fix it, but I really have no idea what's going on. I can fix it if I am told what to do, but for now I'm just going to wait it out and pray that it lasts until I can get my external hard drive back.

    Please help! Thanks.
  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,271

    The first thing I would suggest is that you back up all your important data to an external source, if you want to wait until you get the external hard drive back (wherever it is) that may be beneficial if you have a lot to back up, or use CD/DVD's.

    Then I would run the manufacturer's diagnostics to get a clear picture on the health of your hard drive. If the results indicate the drive is failing then you will need to replace it, but if it comes up clean we can proceed with further diagnosis.

  3. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I got my external back today and have been working on backing up my data.
  4. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I don't have any screwdrivers small enough to open up my laptop right now, but I can give a little more information if that'll help.

    Last night, I went to Dell.com and was able to run a program called System Checkup and it checked my computer for problems. It was what told me I had signs of physical error in the c drive, but, of course, I was prompted to pay in full for it to be fixed. I wonder if it could indeed be fixed, or if it's something that does just need replacement. My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1545 and I will work on trying to find the hard drive make online.
  5. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,271

    If there are problems with the hard drive it is unlikely that any software can fix it. Any physical defects on the drive are unrepairable, it is only data corruption that stands any chance of being fixed. I am glad to hear that you were not tempted to buy the System Checkup software as this would probably have been a waste of money.

    If you cannot get your hard drive out to find the name of the manufacturer look in Device Manager and under Disk Drives you should find some details from which I may be able to identify the make. Post back with what you find there ignoring any line with USB in it.

    I take it that as you are doing your back ups the PC is still booting to the desktop?
  6. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    When System Checkup gave the option to fix the drive, I was really wondering how any software could fix physical problems because in my days of tech classes, we always just had to replace physically corrupted drives. If this were a desktop computer, things would be much simpler, but I've never done much with lapotps as far as physically fixing them goes. But yeah, I'm not much of a person to buy a bunch of things like System Checkup.. I'm good with AVG.

    All right, I looked under my disk drives and the drive is a Samsun HM320JI ATA Device. I actually right-clicked on the device for properties and the status of it was listed as okay, but I know it's got to be something just wrong with my hard drive. Or, at least I don't think these malfunctions are being caused by anything else, but there probably is a possibility. There were only two disk drives listed and the other was the USB device, which I'm assuming may be the card reader.

    Yes, my PC is still booting to the desktop. It's actually running quite normally, which surprises me. It booted properly yesterday and today so far, so hopefully it'll last until I can get my next hard drive (as soon as I can figure out which one to buy..). I sadly can't remember how much disk space my current hard drive has, but I think it's only around 300-320 gb, but I'd like to upgrade to a 500 gb hard drive. Could I do that?
  7. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,271

    You've no doubt guessed that you need to use the Samsung link in my diagnostics guide.

    I would run this dagnostics and then you will know for sure that it is the drive, or isn't.

    You should have no problem upgrading to a large driver, they are pretty much standard for most laptops but I would check the fitting on the end that has the connectors on it, some have adapters fitted so you have to buy the drive specifically for your model if the adapter is permanately fixed. Your drive is labelled as a SATA so don't get an IDE which will not fit.

    Usually you will find just two to four small screws in the base of the laptop that hold the drive into its bay, remove them and it should just pull out. The screws will be cross head or possibly your will need a torx key of the appropriate size, you can get these is small sets from a DIY store.
  8. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I've checked the list on Samsung's website up and down, but I can't find what you're talking about (sorry for being terribly ignorant). Do I download ESTOOL301v_CDROM.zip or ESTOOL301v_FDD.zip? I don't think there are anymore download options on the page, but I might be missing something.
  9. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Oh, and here's another bit of information that I've been meaning to write but keep forgetting: every so often, when I'm just on my laptop, my computer will make one short little beep. It never beeps at startup, but just does that one little beep sometimes. I haven't been able to find anything on Google about this, but maybe it's another sure-fire sign that my hard drive is messed up or a sign that something else may be the culprit. (Again, sorry for being so ignorant; my allergies have decided to flare up and it's making it hard to do much of anything. Haha)
  10. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,271

    You need the EStoll CDROM.zip (top left of the page) the other one is for a floppy disc. The instructions are all there on the page.


    Edit, are posts just crossed, I have no idea what a single bleep could be, I would get the hard drive test done and we will take it from there.
  11. yolizzy

    yolizzy Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Okay, thank you a ton. I don't have any CDs today, but I can pick some up after work tomorrow night. (Tomorrow night because I have school during the day and work at night, so yep.)


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