Hal.dll Missing or Corrupted in Windows XP

My uncle called the other day in a panic because his computer had pooped the poop. As it turns out, he was getting the dreaded Hal.dll error message. Not referring to the evil computer from 2001 (kick arse movie), but rather Microsoft's hardware abstraction layer, which is well...abstract. Part of the problem is that when this file goes bad, or more commonly, can't be found, you end up with all kinds of problems, since it's vital for accessing the hard drive. The repair doesn't have to be all kinds of difficult, however. The quintessential fix, from Infoweek:

* Boot from your XP Setup CD and enter the Recovery Console
* Run "Attrib -H -R -S" on the C:\Boot.ini file
* Delete the C:\Boot.ini file
* Run "Bootcfg /Rebuild"
* Run Fixboot

http://www.informationweek.com/news/windows/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=...

Unfortunately, this didn't work in my uncle's case, since his computer could not find the hard drive. He was unsure if it was a SATA drive -- which can be a pain with XP installs as the drivers aren't present -- or if the problem was because of Hal. In fact, he had no idea even what brand the computer was, or when it was made. In any event, it took a second Windows install to fix his hard drive, since the OS repair was not an option. Hopefully this helps someone, and I'll remember to try the 'quick fix' next time this comes up, since it happens so often and XP boxes are getting up there in years.