It sounds like a hard drive issue.. my advice is to replace it .. i had the same problem with an older laptop and the hard drive was actually not even spinning.. so go to you manufacturer and order a a replacement or a new pc...
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Take disk out. Power down. Restart. See if will start up without a disk in it. Might be confused by your disk. Did you try to F8 or F9 while restarting to get into BIOS (trying to remember which one will boot you to BIOS). Then see if the CD/DVD was disable for boot up. Turn that back on if you can get into BOS so it will boot up you recovery disk.. If your OS is completely gone, you will have to reinstall...
The Recovery disk could be damaged or corrupted. The reason you are getting the Ethernet controller error your laptop can not find an operating system on the drive. With the aspire try ALT-F10 when you power on the system it will take you to a system restore partition. This will only work if the Hard drive is working. And it will wipe your drive so if you did not have any backups well you will lose all data on the disk.
Before you use the Recovery CD you need to backup your data because to restoring your laptop will wipe your data off the hard disk. To backup your data when you cannot boot up your laptop, remove the hard drive and connect it to an USB hard drive adapter. Connect this hard drive/USB adapter into the USB port of a working computer. The computer will see it as an external storage device, you can then open the folders and backup your data. You can then fit the hard drive back into the Dell laptop and boot up with the Dell recovery CD to reinstall Windows etc.
If your computer came with a recovery disk, insert the disk into the optical drive and power the laptop down. On the initial boot screen, select BOOT Options by pressing, typically, F4, F8, F10, or F12 (Each computer is different).
Tell your computer to start up using the "CD/DVD", and run Windows Repair from the recovery disk.
If you do not have a recover disk, remove the battery and the power cord for a few minutes (Let all the power drain out of the motherboard, replace and restart.
As a last resort, you may have to reinstall Windows. If you install Windows 7, there is an option when selecting a drive to install on (You can't miss it) that will backup your files prior to the installation.
Yes everything will be wiped out, once you do the recovery. It will reinstall the factory settings. You may try this first; Turn OFF the laptop, remove the power sources (ac adapter and battery). Without power sources, hold power button 10 secs. Put back the power sources, then try to boot from safemode. Tap F8 upon booting up to enter the advance boot option. Select safe mode, save your files once loaded in safe mode. You may first try the system restore from , go to start/all programs/accessories/system tools/system restore, select the previous date the laptop was working fine. If this will not work then the last resolution is the recovery.
You should see what is written on screen as reason for not going with the restoring ..It may have a hardware fault ..Usually the only things that may go wrong is the hard disk recognition ..or functionality .. cause anything else will not even start it .. So .. my advice is to go to bios first and check the hard disk and see if it is read proper..and all its properties appear on ...after that select hdd0 (the one it is working ) ..and under its settings ..select to disable the ahci function ..and let it run ide compatible ..or sata as ide..depending on the choices you have there.. after that changes..select F10 to save the changes..and restart and try to boot again and see if its functionality is back .. If it is not ..try the restore partition again if it has one ..or the recovery disk ..If those do not work ..it may be cause you made changes on hardware level ..so try a boot-able disk with the operation system on it .. make or borrow a disk .. insert it ..and restart ..and press F12 or f11 to go to boot menu ..and select to boot from cd /dvd drive ..and enter ..This will start boot from the disk ..and will ask to press a key (any ) to confirm the action ..and go on with the installing .. same procedure for the recovery disk is required.. let me know if you have issues ... It may be the case your hard disk is corrupted and you may need to change it if non of these are working ..but after trying ..let me know what you've done ..and how it behaved ....to see what is to be done before getting to hardware replacements ..