Problem with old Dell Inspiron

Trying to fix someone's latop here and run into some problems, once it's finished posting a blinking white dash appears in screen and that's as far as it'll get, nothing further then this, not even a failure to find boot device error.

Ran chkdsk which found and fixed one or more bad sectors, still wont boot.
Tried Windows recovery console, nothing again but it still detects the XP installation without any problems.
Ran manufacturers HDD diagnostics tools, no more errors found.
Booted onto Ubuntu live cd, HDD spinning up fine, seemingly nothing corrupted, managed to pull a bunch of files off.
Cant use the recovery partition or boot into safe mode, doesnt get far enough.

Short of re-installing XP, anyone got any ideas I could try first?
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  1. It sounds like the boot loader got corrupted.
  2. Already tried it, made no difference unfortunately.
  3. Did you try FIXMBR?
  4. Did you try a FIXMBR?
  5. Probably should have mentioned in the last post, yeah I've tried that as well.

    Again made no difference. Ran another chkdsk /r, no more problems found.
    Still wont boot though, just stops on that flashing marker once post's done.
  6. Sounds like you will need to perform an in-place upgrade to repair the damage. Boot from the CD and select the upgrade option. Does your CD have SP3 slipstreamed into it? That would help with the process.

    Last, question, for now. Is this the only HDD in this system?
  7. It's only got SP2 on it, XP professional.

    Yup, only hdd.
  8. Make your own slipstreamed XP CD and then do the in-place upgrade. Here is one of many links on the process. Actually, pretty easy to do:

    http://lifehacker.com/386526/slipstream-service-pack-3-into-your-windows-xp-installation-cd
  9. Made a Sp3 cd, tried repairing/upgrading the instalation, progressed without any problems, restarted, blinking cursor.

    Thanks for the help, seems like I'm going to be stuck with a re-installation though.
  10. If you had a spare HDD with XP loaded, you might try swapping the drives just to eliminate some off-the-wall hardware issue.
  11. Dont unfortunately, the only 2.5" I own is my SSD, which is sort of in use.
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