You are probably right...... This is how it starts most often. You haven't said what O/S but that will not make a difference, except perhaps to what can be, or is worth trying to recover from, the old HD.
You didn't say if you had tried booting from a floppy or a CD with the idea of running virus check, though that is not very high on my list of likely causes
Sounds like time to fit a new Primary HD, get everything up and running and then see what can be saved from the old 'un now set up as a Secondary HD.
The machine belongs to my assistant and she is bringing it into the office to-morrow. I will then see exactly what is reported. I have start up dics for both 98 and me. Which I use will depend on the size of the drive, should I need to run fdisk. She has a recovery disc, but if the hard drive is replaced it is unlikely that this will work.
The machine is running XP Home. But I am bit confused. She says that when in the past it has shut down incorrectly it runs scan disc when next started. I've never seen this on XP, but I have never seen the Home version also. is this normal for this version?
If nothing works it looks like a new drive and a new copy of XP. I've got a full copy of '98 so an upgrade will do.