I managed to find the manual online and within that it explained how to remove the hard drive, which wasn't difficult - just a case of removing a few screws. We ran the boot discs which showed no errors other than the lack of operating system - on the boot menu there wasn't anything listed for hard drive when it was removed and when it was still in place, so to me sounded like the hard drive had definitely had it!
You only have to look at google to find out that this model has had so many problems with overheating, something to do with the i7 processor inside it, since Mark has had it, it has constantly crashed and turned itself off. In this case the heat has obviously burnt out the hard drive - so to be honest I am not sure whether we are doing the right thing and replacing as it may just happen again?? It's only 3 years old.
I was back to PC World today to pick up my laptop as I got them to double the RAM so it could run in a speedy fashion again and not wurrrr along slowly lol! They charged £25 for fitting and £50 for 4GB RAM so I didn't think that was too bad. I am now loving having a youthful laptop again, it's a Sony Vaio VGN-AR51M and I have had it about 6/7 years and it has NEVER let me down (touch wood) - I love it :). While I was there I noticed a hard drive on offer at £45 for a 500GB WD Blue so I decided to buy it for Mark's Dell as I hadn't found cheaper than that online.
Back home and with a swapped hard drive, the Dell is now picking it up in the Boot Screen, I now just need to buy a windows operating system to load onto it. I have ordered a cheap XP disc as didn't want to spend a fortune in case it doesn't work.
So today I have had a geeky day!!!