Check the system setup - F2 at powerup. Is the drive listed or not showing?
If it's listed, run a full diagnostic on it.
If it's not showing, and the system is other than an N-series (N5110, etc.) Inspiron, remove the base cover and remove and reinstall the drive. If it's then still not seen, the drive is toast and was the cause of the problem.
If it's an N-series Inspiron, you basically have to dismantle most of the system to access the drive - in that case, you may as well purchase a replacement drive before even checking the existing one, as it is not a quick exercise to get to the hard drive.