My HP 520 laptop was just turning off all of a sudden with increasing frequency in the last few months. The cause, I discovered, was that the cooling fan was choked up. Then finally one day, it turned on, but windows wouldn't start... giving me options of either starting windows normally, or on the last good configuration, etc. But none of the options worked. Ive finally cleaned the fans but windows still won't start. Was it all that sudden shutting down that's caused this?
I don't have my software CDs anymore - my laptop is at least 3 years old. What can I do? how can I fix this and finally, have I lost everything on my hard drive or something?
No, you did not lose everything on your hard drive (most likely).
Its probably a hardware dying or some awkward setting.
First: can your computer boot up to the BIOS screen (the black background screen with like white or blue or low-resoultion text).
If so, good. If not, well your computer's motherboard might be dead.
After that: can you get to your BIOS settings or safemode (usually holding F2, F10, or F12 will bring you to your BIOS, F8 to safemode).
Can you get to the black background/Windows animation screen that normal starts up when your computer stars? If so, looking good. If not, then there is probably a bad file or something preventing Windows from starting up. At that point you will need someone who has the tools that can get the data off your HDD and back them up somewhere, then a Windows installation/reformat CD (that may or may not have come with your computer)
most likely a corrupted os file that's preventing it from loading. if you can't do a recovery reinstall of windows that does not erase the data on the HDD, I'd recommend to take the HDD out of the laptop and hook it up to a working desktop, copy the data you need and then reformat the hdd after putting it back into the laptop