Ok here's the problem. Please excuse the details but I think they are necessary for you to understand all facets of the issue. Thank you in advance for your help!
Here's how it all started. My sister was copying a DVD image to my hard disk drive when suddenly she calls me... "Uhhh nora your computer just gave a blue screen that said something about windows needing to protect your computer from damage". I told her to just hard reboot the system. When she did that, she told me something was wrong and I needed to come see.
Unfortunately what I saw sucked majorly... system was not booting windows from my HD. Crap. System post fine, although it took awhile to detect IDE drives during the boot process, but eventually it did try to boot windows. However, it could only make it to the splash screen before booting windows failed. At which point the system restarts itself and begins the boot process over. On the "failed reboots", the system never detected the IDE drives and hangs there indefinitely.
At this point I am assuming the problem is likely that my HDD might be dead. But before jumping to that conclusion I do some basic troubleshooting. I switch IDE cables, no luck. I put the drive on the second IDE channel, no luck. I changed the jumper settings from master to cable select, and vice versa, no luck. I tried booting in safe mode, it failed every time it got to the file "mup.sys". I tried formatting the drive using the windows CD (deleting the partition & formatting). When I did that I got a blue crash screen informing me the computer could not access the drive, at which point the system again restarted itself.
I tried pulling the drive and trying it in 3 other complete working systems, all had the same problem (not booting the drive).
Ok, so now I am pretty sure the HDD has died on me. I'm thinking the problem will prove itself resolved when I put in a working drive.
I got the 3 drives from the other 3 systems. Those drives were:
1) a 30 gig samsung
2) a 60 gig maxtor
3) a 80 gig seagate (an exact replica of the drive that failed).
I was fully expecting all 3 drives to work however they did not. Drive 1 and 2 did not boot windows, however the problem is slightly different than with the broken drive. For drive 1 and 2, everything appears to work fine (drives are detected rapidly, appears to be fine) but when it gets to boot windows, it fails at the splash screen and cycles over. It does this indefinitely, unlike with the broken drive (which fails to detect IDE drives on reboot once the OS fails to load and just hangs frozen). Safe mode did not work, changing jumper settings and reseating the cable did not work.
When I plugged in the 80 gig seagate, it DID boot just fine. I tried switching cables to make sure it wasn't a cable thing that caused the other drives not to boot, and all cables worked with this drive.
So my question is what on earth is wrong with my computer? Why is it only booting from 1 80 gig seagate and not the other 2 drives? The original 80 gig seagate is very likely imbued with a problem or dead, because it will no work in ANY machine. How unlikely is it that my hard drive should "break" at the same time as some other computer part in my machine?
So I've thrown up my hands in despiration here, and am turning to you tech gurus to guide me .
I was about to spend 65 on a new WD 80 gig caviar (a superior drive to the seagate IMO) but I don't want to do that if when I plug the thing in it STILL won't work, you know? So before I do that help me figure out why these 2 drives will not work hehe. Thanks.
Here are my sys specs if you are curious...
MSI K7N2-L mobo
AMD athlon 2400+
512 MB kingston pc 2700 ram
ATI radeon sapphire 9500
2 optical drives (NEC 16x DVDR & an old 8X DVD ROM)
and of course, an 80 gig 7200 RPM seagate baracuda IDE drive that has just crapped out on me.
If you need additional information please let me know.