Getting a Dell was your first mistake. I dunno what happened, but they've been using crap components in their machines recently. Bought a netbook of theirs for the wife and the whole thing fried and started coming apart at the monitor hinge after two months!
Yeah. Believe me when I tell you it's been more than just recently
D'oh! This Dell replaced another Dell which lasted nearly 8 years. My fiancee has a Dell laptop that's still going strong after about 5 years. Shame the quality has apparently gone downhill. In fairness though, for the whopping 16 days it was running, I was extremely pleased with the performance of my new PC.
Researching my current problem I've discovered that the Western Digital hard drive Dell used is a piece of crap and presumably they'll just send me another. I'm almost tempted to just go to a store and buy a good hard drive. I don't want to void my warranty though and I don't feel like coughing up more money for something that's Dell's fault.