Thanks brunble. It doesn't answer my prob. Also, please remember that it is not always easy to use search because you get far to much useless hits. Sometimes it is best to present a problem as a new problem.
XP CD - should have come with the Dell - I'm not certain if it would give you the repair options an original Microsoft XP installion CD should, so if you can borrow a genuine Microsoft XP CD, it will do. Or if the machine has a floppy drive and you have 6 disks handy you can download and create the XP boot disks (on a working machine) needed to run the disk-checks that might solve the problem. click here
You need to boot with a CD or the floppies to tackle it.
Yes, we have tried that. The main thing is he can't boot, or when he does, he gets the message I said at the top of this thread. Obviously, I have been helping over the phone so it is not an ideal situation. I know this. But he is one of my best friends and, sue me, I like to help!!!!