Well, after five years and out of warranty, my Dell 8300 gets the Blue Screen of Death while going to screensaver mode. When I try to reboot I get
"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
Please re-install a copy of the above file."
I find a lot on this online with the laptop, for example on About.com this article from Tim Fisher with the article "Missing Or Corrupt Hal.dll Error Resolution: Steps to Resolve the Missing Or Corrupt Hal.dll Error in Windows XP"
I load the original Install CD which goes back to Service Pack 1, and the restore procedure finds another corrupt file in his third step. So I guess the hard drive really crashed. But it is five years old.
So I call Geek Squad. They will come soon. I hope the data is recoverable, but it looks like a new hard drive. Five years old, already obsolete. Cheaper to start over, particularly during a recession.
Judging from the Net, it looks like this happens a lot.
HAL is supposed to be a hidden file that communicates with the hard drive. It was also the spaceship computer in 2001 A Space Odyssey (eg IBM - 1). I wonder if this a coincidence.
Update: Dec. 12, 2008
The (Best Buy) Geek Squad "double agent" came. He restored hal.dll from my 2003 purple system disk, starting with option 5 on the F2 menu, but needed a disk of his own, and a lot of "complicated" checks and tests. No data was lost, and no hardware problems were found. No reloading of the operating system was necessary; all changes from Service Pack 3.0 are in place, The problem is corruption of the dynamic load library module HAL itself (it's rather like one of the Vantage LIOM modules in the dynamic link deck, for people who know that "Vantage rules the world" in life insurance). It seems as though the Blue Screen came up when the machine went into standby mode, and there could be some kind of problem with a recent Microsoft update affecting standby. It has been disabled. (Remember: "Best Buy" = "Buy More" = Chuck!)
Visitors receiving automatic updates themselves may want to be very careful about allowing standby mode (in "always on" mode) until we can find out if there is a problem.
He also says that McAfee is no longer the leader in anti-virus protection. He prefers Spysweeper. But the industry leader changes every year. He doesn't like automatic subscriptions to anti-virus software. I'll look more into this for the Internet Safety blog.