I'm an idiot.....?

I thought I'd post an update to my issue... I took my computer to a local repair shop. They spent days trying to figure it out what was wrong with it. They finally came to the conclusion that the hard drive is bad. I'm thinking that was the answer only because whatever was going on, was too complicated and taking way too much time to figure out. Either way, when he hooks up a different hard drive, things seem to work. So, who knows.. after $190, I should have my computer back by the end of this week (almost 3 weeks after the initial break down!)

Thanks for the suggestions from the patient and wonderful people on this site! I will be sure to pass the word along to your resources that you offer!
I'm glad you got it to work in the end, erin; though it sucks that you had to plunk down 200 bucks!

Anyway, stick around and enjoy the community!
I am having the same exact problem a friend gave me a computer to look fix because it stopped booting up. so i tried to run the vista dvd that came with his gateway laptop and i get the loading files screen and then it goes black and just stays there. I made sure everything in th Bios was correct as far as boot order and tried again to no avail. when i try to boot to vista normally it starts like its about to load and just goes to black screen i tried to fdisk from a boot disk(lol didnt know it doesnt work for vista) i even tried to run the xp install disk just to get the vista off and re install at a later date but still no go when i put the xp cd in it says that it cannot find a hdd i dont think i have a bad hdd (i could be wrong if anybody has a diagnostics i can run to see if my hdd is bad that would be much appriecated) so i am at my wits end and dont know what else to do please someone help my friend is leaving for school in a week and i need his laptop up and running thanks in advance i know somebody here will be able to help me
Hi Hardheaded , welcome to NST.
If you go to the website of the manufacturer of the HDD, most of them provide a free download to health check any of their disks. That will tell you if it's got any problems.