Thanks guys, it would indeed seem to be a duff hard drive
we made a boot disk when we first had the pc BUT put it on a dvd, read today can only do that for Vista and we're on XP, it kept asking for the next disk
Thanks for the link Codders,we've bought one, we can put an additional HD in but have got 2 or 3 old ones lying around we've been meaning to clear them for ages.
Thank for the suggestion Mike, we'll have a look at Carbonite.
Rad, no, no van. There's a whole tribe running around here with Kernow this and Kernow that in their business names.