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It seems there is a problem with the autorun file in your boot disk thats why it is not booting properly or you are missing the step to make primary boot device "cd/dvd" from BIOS setting.
if problem is very high then try to first run that cd on a running system and copy its file to either a usb or any storage. then its upto you whether you want to make that usb bootable or try burning files in someother disk.
use software to make bootable usb and try working on it , it will surely work. Hope it works for you
if I understood correctly you have the recovery software loaded on a stick flash drive and you want to boot from usb to restore the pc .....There are a few things that you have to know about to do that ... first you have to go to bios and enable boot from another device ....other than hdd /cd or flopy ... for some elder bios this isnt even a choice ..or ..if it is ,,it will be as a sub options into the hdd...choice .. another thing that you have to keep in mind ..is that you have to disable the other options to force it boot from this one ...or ....to press f8 on boot and manually choose the usm or the stick name that will appear on boot devices... the most important thing is that if you already formatted the hdd it does notr have a usb driver loaded and that why willl not see the device ...also the device you are using to boot ...has to be specially formatted to be bootable ....this is made ussualy with a hp format tool ...and it is explained in more than one places on the net ...just look for making a boot-able stick (usb device) in short ...make sure the sticvk is boot-able ...second the pc ha s teh capability to boot from another device ...and this is a feature that you already enabled like first boot device ... than things will be easy ...it will ask you to press any key to boot from the usb ...and continue like an installation from the cd ... if you cannot do it ...I recommend using a cd ..or an image that you will ***** in a virtual cd ...for those that do not have cd drive ( use daemon tool )
Insert the xp install disc into drive "d" or whatever letter is assigned to the drive, restart your dell, if it doesn't boot from the cd, restart and press and hold down F2 while it boots(or F2 or F8 deoending on setup) until the boot options appear, select drive "d" as boot device and continue the restart. Then when the options appear, select the choice you need, full install will allow you to format and partition your drive.
create a bootable cd with the bios rom file, and a dos based flash utility (included with bios download). Boot to cd and flash.
Connect a usb floppy drive and create bootable floppy. Copy rom file and flash utility to floppy, boot to floppy and flash......option 2 may be easier if you are not familiar with creating bootable cd's.......Let me know if this helps or not.
This sounds awful, but a friend just had the same problem - no bootable device. He had dropped it, hitting keyboard first. Now he thumped it on the opposite side and IT WORKED! Must have been a loose connector
With any standard laptop (your Aspire included) the default boot disk should be set to drive C:
If the system is not finding drive C:, the boot sector may be damage or the drive may have failed completely.
Depending on your operating system (probably Win XP for this one) you can make a boot disk on a friend's optical drive and change the boot sequence in the BIOS setup to your optical drive.
Just make sure the disk you've made is compatible with the drive in your Aspire; such as CD - DVD+-, etc.
Once you can get some kind of prompt, either from a basic Desktop or just E:\ from your boot CD, try typing in "C:" (without the quotes) to see if it is accessible.
If not, the drive may be bad.
If the drive is still readable, you have more work to do to restore the damaged boot sector.