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Author Topic: Disk Boot Failure on Win7  (Read 1412 times)
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whiteboyskim
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« on: September 21, 2011, 02:23:05 AM »

Alright so my PC has started crashing lately. Boots up fine and I get to the desktop no worries. Then a black screen with the normal startup text only this time it says Disk Boot Failure. Please insert system disk and press enter. WTF?
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2011, 10:20:04 AM »

If I'm reading you correctly, sometimes when you boot the system, it works properly, and sometimes it fails right away with the disk boot failure. Aka it's never partially booting and THEN failing.

Narrows it down quite a bit. The failure I just indicated is caused by the system not spotting the disk properly at boot time.

It can be caused by... disk not finishing its internal boot process properly in time for the system boot, so the system doesn't spot it.

Bad cables (you'd probably have more than just the symptoms you mentioned though, even with just an intermittent cabling problem. note: key symptom for this would be drives dropping out of the chain while the OS is running... if it was the system disk, your system would lock up at this point)

Disk controller starting to go on the fritz (built into the chipset... how old is your motherboard? see also notes for cabling)

Ram problems. Yes, believe it or not. The good news is, easy as pie to test. And free.

Disk corruption. (less likely... you'd be exhibiting more problems than just what you mentioned)

Probably some other stuff goes here. I'm tired.

Ok, easy way to start. Assuming a: you have a bootable optical drive in your computer, and b: that you you have an optical burner installed in at least one computer in the house. These are pretty reasonable assumptions.

Go here. http://memtest.org/

Download, and burn a copy to disk. Make sure you have a valid copy, etc.

Stick disk in bootable optical drive. Reboot to the cdrom. It's fully automated. Let it do its thing, preferably overnight, when you have the time. If it finds problems, then you get to have fun.

Also, keep the disk handy. Wait for your error, then when it asks for a system disk, stick the cd in the bootable cdrom, and see if it boots from it at that point. (if it does NOT, that lends more credence to the drive controller being an issue).

If the memory scan finds errors, at that point, you need to power down the system, pull all the memory dimms except one, mark them a, b, c, d, and test them one at a time until you find the one giving you problems. If you get to this point, and can't get one of them to 'give it up' so to speak, don't sweat. The simple process of unplugging and re-plugging memory dimms, sometimes fixes the cause of the problem.. aka dirty contacts.

Get back to us and update this thread smile

Atomic

PS: When you have the disk boot failure symptom, if you warm restart, aka without powering down, by hitting the reset button or cntrl-alt-delete if it's working at that point, does it then start up without issue? That makes me look more at the disk being the problem. (my comment earlier about the disk not finishing it's internal boot process in time would be relevant here)
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Vidiot
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2011, 08:37:29 PM »

Quote from: whiteboyskim on September 21, 2011, 02:23:05 AM

Alright so my PC has started crashing lately. Boots up fine and I get to the desktop no worries. Then a black screen with the normal startup text only this time it says Disk Boot Failure. Please insert system disk and press enter. WTF?

As Atomic said the disk isn't coming ready before the bios is ready to start loading the OS, so the BIOS is reporting that it doesn't see a boot disk.  Can you listen to the drive as you boot?  Is it clicking?  Is it whirring a lot reving up and down?

In general I believe most disk drives will enumerate themselves on the bus before they are fully spun up, but if it is having real issue it could be stalling long enough that it is timing out.  Does it seem to take a long time at the BIOS loading stage?  Unfortunately without a protocol analyzer listening to the disk (and testing other component as Atomic noted) are really your only choices for segmenting the issue that I know of.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 03:13:45 AM »

Update?

Atomic
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whiteboyskim
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2012, 03:48:42 AM »

So this is what happens when you have a work laptop, three months filled with non-stop birthday parties, holidays, and crushing work schedules - you completely ignore your home computer and let it sit under your desk gathering dust. Fired it up tonight after all this time and here's what happened:

Bad checksum error - probably due to lack of use for several months. Hit enter and went straight into Windows. The desktop appeared along with my icons but the tray items in the bottom right did not appear. Also, to Vidiot's point, the HD makes a normal sound of fans whirring when it works as advertised. Such was not the case tonight. The only whirring came from my case fan and that's it. I was able to open a single folder before the machine froze and crashed out to the DOS screen with the aforementioned disk boot failure message.

My time is limited again at night this week but I have a free Saturday afternoon with everyone out of the house for a few hours. I'll run the memtest then if it will allow me to do so. Additional testing to follow though I suspect it's simply a bad drive. If that's the case, it's going to piss me off but it's a relatively cheap fix.
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2012, 01:38:04 PM »

I hear you tend to enjoy your cheap fixes.

slywink
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whiteboyskim
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 05:04:33 AM »

OK so I ran the memtest today and it came back clean. I let it run for six hours this afternoon, it ran 10 tests, and all came back with a passing grade. So now I'm baffled. I can still try to pull one stick of memory then test, then pull the other, etc. but if the mem sticks are fine, I'm beginning to worry if it isn't my motherboard and/or processor. A few months back I swapped out the mobo battery just because I figured that might be it, but it never made a lick of difference.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 05:25:53 AM »

http://www.networkworld.com/supp/2011/041811-windows-7-crashes.html
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 06:21:02 AM »

Please give us the details on any and all hard drives and optical drives (mostly interested in sata vs pata vs other here)

Atomic
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