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Boot sector problem

Posted on 2001-06-08
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
Trying to format my HP Omnibook.  When I try I receive this error: 'cannot write BOOT. format terminated.'

I've tried removing the partition with fdisk and partition magic, and I've also tried fdisk /mbr. All of them return with the error that they cannot write to the disk.  Partition magic suggests that I may have virus protection software running, which of course is more or less impossible without a HD.

So, any suggestions? I can't do a low-level format either - for some reason the laptop BIOS won't permit it.
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Question by:tenoq
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8 Comments
 
LVL 49

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 6166820
Could your laptop BIOS be protecting your boot sector?  Some BIOSes do this, check the settings in it.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:kahlean
ID: 6167179
check out form your bios if there is a built it virus scanner in acitve
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 6167702
I think you've got it from the above suggestions. A low level format is not recommended for IDE drives, even if it were possible. HD manufacturers often have utility programs for diagnosing their drives. Some provide a program that writes zeroes (or some other character) to all positions on the drive. Good for a total clean-out but seldom required.
Regards
/RID
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:SunBow
ID: 6169899
Ensure you are cold booting to a diskette. Run fDisk from DOS boot diskette. As above, make sure BIOS is configured to allow you to access these sectors when you do reboot.
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Author Comment

by:tenoq
ID: 6172754
The BIOS doesn't appear to be protecting the boot sector in any way, and if it is these features are not accessible from the setup menu.  

There is also no built-in virus protection, and I have done this a couple of times before without this problem.

I've also purchased a new HD, to no avail.  It has the same problem.  

I did have McAfee VirusScan installed before I tried to do this - do you think that it may have protected my boot sector in some way?  If so, how do I reset it?
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LVL 49

Accepted Solution

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dbrunton earned 150 total points
ID: 6172819
Hmm, scratches head.  Interesting.

I am guessing now.  If you are doing this from the floppy disk and it is a boot disk then the hard disk <<HAS>> to listen.

Can fdisk see the disk as it should be and recognise the size correctly?   And the present partitions and information there?

You should not need to do a low level format?  How are you trying to do this and why?  

It still sounds like and smells like BIOS protection.
0
 
LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 6174078
Some HD manufacturers have utilities for doing a total disk cleanout - like writing any specified character to all addresses on the drive, or just to the sectors containing the partition and boot records. This may be a situation when such a utility is called for. If BIOS isn't involved in protecting the drive, it should be fdisk-able after this. However, you say that a new drive behaves just the same, so I have to agree with dbrunton about sound and smell. Can you get any input from HP at all on this?
Regards
/RID
0
 

Author Comment

by:tenoq
ID: 6176006
HP support had no ideas on this problem.  They just told me to use the Recovery CD - which also couldn't write the partition for me :P  However, I have solved the problem - I managed to reset the BIOS and this worked (though this is the second time I tried it - go figure).  So you're right, the BIOS must have been protecting it somehow...but I'm buggered if I can actually find where.  Anyways, thanks all.
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