Wont boot from hard drive

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i have a packard bell h5 notebook (3.2ghz, 1g ram, Win XP) which is playing up.

most of the time, the machine will not boot to windows. it'll run through the usual initial statup screens then stall on the packard bell startup graphic (where i'm given the option to enter bios setup).

it'll pause for much longer than usual (i'm assuming it's trying to detect the OS to boot from) then after a while it'll bring me to a DOS looking screen where it advises: "reboot and select a proper boot device or insert boot media in selected boot device and press a key". i have checked bios and it correctly has the hard drive as the he primary boot device, and there is on secondary selected.

On occasion, like now, the machine will boot successfully to windows, altho it takes much longer than usual. when i use the laptop, applications are slower loading and media files stall alot. internet exlorer also seems slower too.

the laptop has not suffered any physical damage and i haven't installed any new applications/software. nor is the machine left on overnight often. the machine was working fine before hand and i haven't opened up the machine and messed about with the hard drives jumpers or anything.

how do i fix this and get the machine back to its super dooper, high performing self?

help (!)
Yes that start boot screen you need to disable it and run system test. Other laptop it's call quick boot or test. Was you have that enabled to test the system then you'll know if the BIOS has detected the HDD. Also you could go into the BIOS when it ask you too and check to see if it does see the HDD.

HDD seen then you have OS is missing or corupted Windows OS
This need to be re-installed. Recovery options doesn't always work

HDD not seen than you have a serious problem with the HDD in the
laptop. Fix is to replace the HDD with a new 2.5 size. 3.5 would be
the ones for full desktop PCs. Laptops uses 2.5 smaller size.

I use Windows XP PE to fix problems like this you could also get
the free BART PE which would allow you to boot XP OS PE on
CD to see what's wrong. If you're not an expert and have tried
what I have told you above about the HDD you might want to go
that avenue.
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