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Try F8 after restarting your computer quickly..if you see windows advance options go to safe mode with networking and check if its working there...in most cases like this we have to reinstall the windows..so try the inbulit recovery or if you have the cd..insert it and then restart the computer...press f12 to get the boot sequence select cd dvd hit enter..boot with the cd..get into the windows installation wizard...follow the instructions there
Your optical drive might be dirty or bad. Try an official Dell disk to see if it will read it, especially a Dell drivers and Utilities disk. Also try a boot flash drive or boot floppy(since your system is a older) to get the system up. If your system comes up any of those ways, I would try a disk cleaner. If that doesn't help, then you probably have a bad cd drive. You could also look in bios setup to make sure the bios is showing your cd drive. It should list it there somewhere. Probably on the first page.
this might be due to a corrupted driver in your system. this can cause problems ranging from simple messages to computer not starting .try to reinstall your copy of windows by using the windows 98 cd that came with it. this will reinstall windows 98 with all files and drivers on it you have to boot the cd from startup . but before you do this you must back up your data in case it goes wrong. or if you dont have a win 98 disk go to a computer shop and ask them to do it. i dont know if you will have to pay or not.
Convert your windows 98 cd into many boot floppies. Then install from floppy. There is a utility on the CD (although I can't remember its name. I think it's something like makedisk.exe) that when ran will prompt you for many floppies.
You can remove the hard drive drive from the laptop, and insert it into another desktop computer. You'll need a small adapter to do this, like the one found here:
When pc first starts, press the F2 key to open the pc cmos settings. Look around and find the boot list and ensure that the machine will boot on cd before hdd. Than boot on your OS cd and attempt to repair existing. This will at worse case reinstall your system.