It is related to bios enabled computrace models.
It has happened twice to my dell 1525 I bought it 12/08. The software used to image your recovery partition is incompatible with the two tiny hidden partitions computrace uses. Computrace gets corrupted and shuts you down like you stole the laptop through no fault of your own. All of you data is still there so don't worry.
According to dell, you have to remove the hard drive, download your correct bios from their site using another computer of course, and while the hardrive is still removed, flash the new bios and then reinstall the hardrive and it should work fine with all your data intact.
I found this tech update at dell's website this problem goes back to 2005 but the most recent update was dec. 2008 and includes many laptops including the 1500 series.
Computrace freaked out and completely disabled your system. You can send it back or follow the instructions in the update if you are out of warranty.
I am a graphic designer so I needed to finish a project, so I did this to get it running again, backed up my data, and sent my laptop back for a replacement.
I have included part of the update and the Dell web link for you below.Certain Dell™ Portable Systems Display a Black Screen with a Flashing Cursor when Booting from the Hard Drive
This issue only occurs on Dell portable systems that shipped after Oct. 31, 2005, and have the following configuration:
- The CompuTrace BIOS feature is supported and has been set to Activate.
- A system account has been created, and the laptop is registered with Absolute Software.
- The Altiris Backup and Restore application for local client has been installed.
Affected systems manifest the following symptoms:
Altiris Backup and Recovery
- When the system is powered on, it does not complete the boot process, and the only indication that a problem has occurred is a black screen with a flashing cursor in the upper left corner of the display.
- The system cannot boot from any media as long as the hard drive is attached. The only way to boot to other media is to remove the hard drive from the system.
software uses an atypical mechanism to hide a partition within the system volume. This mechanism involves hiding valid data relating to the Altiris Backup and Recovery software in marked blocks that the operating system is designed to ignore. The installation process for Altiris also leaves table entries that store directory information for NTFS. These entries are formatted differently than those normally observed on an NTFS-formatted partition. These changes were not anticipated, and we are not aware of any other product that uses the file system in such a manner.http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/dsn/en/document?c=us&dl=false&l=en&s=gen&docid=2A28448CB118EBAFE040A68F5B2854D5&doclang=en&cs
I hope this helps.