First of all, I'm not sure if I'm posting this in the right place, so if I'm not, let me know.
My basic problem is that when I start up my desktop, it hangs at the HP blue screen and ignores any keyboard input. I have an HP Pavilion desktop that is about a year or two old and the only hardware change I've made is installing a new video card, but that was a couple of months ago. I believe my problem is my hard drive, but I'm really not sure.
It all started a couple of days ago when my desktop would randomly bluescreen while I wasn't doing anything in particular, and occasionally when I would restart my computer, I would get messages such as "Hard drive failure imminent" and "Failure to boot from hard drive" or something like that. After another restart, though, it would start working again.
Today, I tried to start up my computer again but this time it refused to go past the initial HP startup screen. It's a blue screen that comes up immediately when the computer is turned on. All of the lights on my usb devices (Keyboard, headphones, mouse, etc.) come on and the monitor works fine. All of the lights on the desktop and my graphics card come up fine, and all of the fans seem to be working normally. The computer just doesn't load windows and it won't let me access anything, even though there are onscreen instructions such as "Esc: Boot Menu."
I figured that my hard drive had finally died on me, but I decided to try a few things. First, I took out all of the ram sticks and tried them one by one. After a while, the computer actually started up normally when one of the sticks was removed, but it ended up bluescreening again after a little while. After a little while, I tried replacing all of the RAM sticks again, and the computer started up normally again, and crashed again soon after, so now I don't think the RAM had anything to do with it.
Just for the sake of it, I unplugged and replugged everything inside my computer, took out that one suspicious ram stick, and tried getting rid of some of the dust. Now every once in a while, but very rarely, it will actually start up normally (although it does ask to check my drive for consistency) and seems to work for a while. Sometimes it blue screens, and sometimes strange things happen like the task bar and desktop icons being unresponsive, but whenever I start up the computer again it usually goes back to hanging at the blue startup screen.
From my experience, you can have one of the following happening. Your hard drive is failing, your cable going from motherboard to hard drive is bad, a stick of ram is bad, your boot manager has corrupt files, or you have a nasty virus.
Easiest to test is the hard drive cable, just find another cable that works and replace your cable with it. (Another computer is usually where I get mine).
Then you can test the RAM (Even though you tested each stick of RAM in it) you should try testing with a stick of RAM from another PC or one you have extra.
To test the hard drive you could boot up a Ubuntu Live CD/DVD and run a hard drive test, or use another computer and hook it up as an external drive.
There are tools out there to fix boot manager files being corrupt, or you can put in your OS disk and repair your files.
If none of these are the problem you should try to get it to boot up and run a virus scan.
If your machine is non responsive and not allowing you to get into Setup/BIOS something fundamental like RAM most likely to be the culprit, outside chance the RAM controller which is integrated into the CPU if it's AMD or Intel i5 onwards. Create an alternative boot device from CD/DVBD/USB Flash as unlishema suggests, or try to run a Win 7 install disk, and if that fails it would indicate RAM/memory slot/motherboard.
Remove hdd and power on .wait some minutes if system hang "problem in ram".to detect which ram is problem plug one ram at a time put ubuntu cd select try before install option so the temp files for boot files are stored in ram at that time a comblind ram hang the system.then remove comblind ram.
If all done.Insert hdd power on.if the hdd failed and give some scratch sound that means hdd totally failed. no way to cure the problem. so backup datas if u wanted by the help of ubuntu. then buy a new hdd.
Thanks for all of the responses guys, I really appreciate it. I'm beginning to think my hard drive is the problem, but I'm still not sure. Here's an update of what I've tried.
Edit: Well, after testing nearly everything I can think of, my computer went back to its original problem of not getting past the HP start up screen. I can't access the boot menu, boot from usb, or anything. Most of the rest of this message is outdated now, but I kept it here so you can see how my process was.
Since I couldn't even get it to start up, I tried to test the RAM again. I got a new RAM stick and put it in a slot that wasn't being used before. Now whenever I start up the computer, it actually does start up normally, but after about 2 minutes it becomes completely non-responsive, as in I can still move my mouse but clicking on anything or typing anything has no effect. I have a desktop gadget that shows my CPU usage and it continues moving (with no unusual information) when the computer is unresponsive, so it isn't really freezing up, it just won't do anything.
I tried booting it up without the hard drive in, just for the sake of it, and I get a normal "Reboot and Select proper Boot device" message.
I'll try it a couple of more times, just in case, but my problem seems to have changed. It boots up alright, but the computer just isn't functional afterwards whenever I try to access something. I'm going to see if I can get another hard drive to test and an ubuntu live cd later today, and I'll let you guys know how that goes.
Update: I tried using another hard drive, and the problems are basically identical. It starts up alright, but when I try to access something (start menu, a folder, etc) the computer becomes unresponsive, and sometimes it even returns to blue HP startup screen. Sometimes on startup, it actually gives me that "Reboot and Select proper Boot device" screen again. Maybe it's the cord?
Update 2: I took out the cord from my computer (the one that connects the hard drive to the motherboard, sorry I don't know what it's called) and put it into the other computer, and everything works fine, so I guess there wasn't anything wrong with that cord.
Update 3: And now my original computer isn't getting past the HP startup screen ever, so I'm really at a loss.
Now that sounds like a RAM problem. My Mothers computer did something very similar. It wasn't actually a stick of RAM going bad but one of the slots on her board went bad. I tested each stick of RAM in each slot and found that 1 slot went bad and when a stick of RAM was in it, the computer wouldn't start. If I was able to get it to start I wasn't able to do anything.
Try taking out all the RAM and using 1 stick at a time test each slot. When you find a slot that wont work with the RAM in it remember it. Also remember which sticks of RAM didn't work. Figure out what sticks of RAM you are 100% sure work and put them in the slots that 100% work.
If your slots went bad the easiest thing to do is buy a new board. But using the working slots can allow you to use it until you get a new board, or can repair your board.
Agreed with unlishima, i felt it was RAM all along, and have had a similar situation with an Asus board where only one slot was dependable. As I said, there's an outside chance it's the CPU as that's where the RAM controller is located, so if you get no joy from swapping RAM sticks/slots you know where to look next. What brand CPU?