It happened again for the third time. I bought this Dell Inspiron 530 at the end of November and it crashed two weeks after I got it. I try to boot the machine and it says "Loading PBR for descriptor 2". Every time I've spent 2-3 hours on the phone with Dell. The first time, the tech was cool enough to help me try to save my data. We did disk diagnostics that ran so slow. It took over an hour to get 60% through the disk, then suddenly it started going fast and it booted. The second time was 3 months later, I wasn't so lucky and we ended up reinstalling XP. And here it is another 3 months later and it happened again. The tech wanted me to reinstall XP right from the start. He wouldn't even try any other option. He also wouldn't think it was hardware. We started reinstalling XP and it was super slow. It took over 15 minutes to try to find a previous version. I bitched at him and he said if I wanted something faster - I needed a more powerful machine. Give me a break. Then we deleted all the partitions including the small little boot partition and started formating the hard drive. It was so slow. It would take almost 10 minutes to do 1% of the hard drive. Sure I have a large hard drive (320 gig) but it shouldn't be that slow. After 1 1/2 hours, it was only 80% done. He finally agreed to send me a new hard drive. I'm not certain if that is the problem but after corrupting the primary boot record for the third time - I'd like to try it.
I got the new hard drive the next day. And it only took seconds to do a fast format and XP was reinstalled in probably 30 minutes. I'm starting from scratch again. Fortunately, I have a great spreadsheet that has all my software keys and information on what I have installed. I'm going to have to rebuild my Ipod library again. And yes, I did lose some personal data. The fortunate thing is I keep all my email and bookmarks on the web. My photo library and music library are on an external.
What is weird is my previous dell didn't have any problems and I had it for 6 years. I never had any problem with the machines at work. I'm seriously considering HP and MAC next time.