Tried booting a Hirens CD and that booted into mini-XP fine. Have run various HDD surface tests from that any they seem to pass ok. However mini-ZP file manager cannot see the C drive and display, for example, its size and free space, it hangs (though I can get the size from other utilities).
I'm beginning to wonder whether there is a corrupted Windows system on the HDD, but don't see why that would stop the displaying of size & free space. Could the partition table be corrupt? But how would it manage to display the driver list or the Windows logo?
I've tried repairing the MBR but that made no difference.
I'm beginning to wonder whether it may be necessary / worth reformatting the drive and seeing if that brings it back to life.
Your collective wisdom would be appreciated.
[Apologies for replying to myself but it seemed to be the best way of replying to all]