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NTLDR Missing intermittently

Posted on 2003-11-19
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
A friend asked me to look at their PC because the vendor has never been able to fix it. Once every few boots, it says either "NTLDR manque" (french for NTLDR missing) or "error accessing disk" (or something like that - i don't have the info with me).

I've done a "chkdsk /F", a full reformat and reinstall of XP (it had 98SR2), and I found another utility that does a physical scan of the disk also. I also tried updating the system bios (it's a QDI Legend Advance motherboard).

I've tried every diagnostic utility that I could find. I tried the SISoft burn-in wizard and some memory scanner. Everything works fine. It's just that periodically it will not boot. I must shut down and restart several times before it will reboot.

Any ideas?
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Question by:rkogelhe
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20 Comments
 
LVL 14

Accepted Solution

by:
kronostm earned 100 total points
ID: 9778906

Hard Drive Diagnostics

*****Vendor Specific Support/Diagnostics*****

Maxtor/Quantum (Fireball) http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/
Samsung http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html
Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html
IBM/Hitachi http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT
fujitsu/Seimens http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic

If you do not know the drive manifacturer try some generic drive testers

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ZDU http://www.webattack.com/get/zdu.shtml
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An easy to use report wizard allows you to create detailed reports in the format of your choice

*****TRIALWARE*****

DiskChecker http://www.webattack.com/get/diskchecker.shtml
Disk Checker is a disk diagnostics, repair and disk image tool for FAT and NTFS.

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Drive Health helps you to estimate your hard disks life resource. It allows you to predict possible hard drive failure


0
 
LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9778919
Very suspect. I suspect a failing disk though.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9778936
There is a small chance for a failing IDE controller (this can be tested by booting a few (tens) times with a nother hdd instead of this one). Anyway, I doubt a failing controller can boot two times from threee attempts. It shouldn't boot at all. In fact it shouldn't detect the drive.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Mr_Skinny
ID: 9778939
I had a similar problem a while back.  It turned out be be a bad stick of ram, try swapping some from another machine or if it has more than one stick try removing one, see if still happens and then try the other etc.

I know you've tried a memory scanner but they dont always pick up a problem.
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Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9779010
Mr. Skinny ... I'd diagnose bad RAM too, but that should manifest in some other cases too, such computer freezes, errors copying files (especially while installing Windows, that's a very stressing operation for RAM that rkogelhe said he already did). So I don't think a bad RAM stickj can cause ONLY this problem.
If you don't have a spare RAM stick you can try testing for a few hours  www.memtest86.com    but again ... I'm sceptic
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Author Comment

by:rkogelhe
ID: 9779062
k... thanks both for your help. i'll try some of the diags tonight. i'll try to dig up another disk somewhere also. the memory scanner i tried was memtest86.

i'll try to update this tomorrow...
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9779077
waiting ....
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:asurada2003
ID: 9784128
Try to check u mainboard.
I was having this problem recently.
The OS startup program will be missing by it self.
Change a HDD also will have the same error.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:pegasys
ID: 9795899
Whats happening is that the FAT is disappearing. fdisk the entire PC, and reinstall XP/NT OS... Dont forget to fdisk the MBR :-) i.e. boot off of floppy, in MSDOS mode, type fdisk.exe /MBR
that shopuld clear the MBR, what could be causing the prob, and tada, reinstall finish :-)
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Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9796054
pegasys .... wiping out the system and reinstalling is the last resort, and most people don't call an "expert" just to hear this especially that he might experience some hardware errors, so a reinstall is just usless wasted-time.
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Expert Comment

by:pegasys
ID: 9796183
With all due respect, that was an expert opinion. Would anyone else have a better way of fixing a FAT?
If the hardware is literally NOT firing up, then its definately hardware. I've twice come across this before, the first time, it was just a dickie power connection on the HDU, try changing the power connection for another. The second, it was the fat had corrupted itself. Sometimes a fat garbles itself, needs resetting, also achieved via LLF (low level format), even fdisk/mbr...

Another option is to ghost the harddrive (thats excl FAT), then MBR it, then resore the ghost :-)

Next... this site is here for sharing information, not questioning peoples expertise, so I ask you kindly to keep your views of who is and who isnt an expert to yourself; myself, and many others on here wont/wouldnt appreciate that... Please refer to the Terms of Service...
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:kronostm
ID: 9796364
pegasys ... I apologize if my remark offended you. It was not intended so.
I used the term "expert" w/o intending to offend you. I personally don't consider myself an expert ... anyway ... it was not intended to offend you or anybody.

About ghosting the drive ... ghost won't clone a drive with FAT errors AFAIK.

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Author Comment

by:rkogelhe
ID: 9798514
Thanks for your responses.

I did already install XP, and when I did, I deleted all the existing partitions (with the installer) and recreated, but what I don't know is if that would have recreated the MBR...

I'll probably do as you say and fdisk /MBR because I saw that as a solution on another site.

Still haven't run the diags tho. (no time... yesterday was beaujolais nouveau)...
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:pegasys
pegasys earned 100 total points
ID: 9802722
kronostm, no offence taken :-) I must have misunderstood..

Try downloading the diag tools from the manufacturer from the website, run a low level format on the drive, then do a thorough scan on it (scandisk could do the same, but own manuf. tools would be beter)..

If by the off chance you are running a Fujitsu, there is a massive batch that went out with that problem. This is known, and it is noted somewhere on the web, I remember reading about it. The company that I work for had to return a load due to clients coming back with crashed hdu's...
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by:kronostm
ID: 9803089
rkogelhe ... the ball is in your half now.  ;-)
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by:rkogelhe
ID: 9900381
Whew... sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Women, flus, and colds...

Tried every test known to man.

Then just using the XP fixmbr. It did something and I suspect the partition table was not in there, so booted from the PM disks. PM complains about the disk geometry and refuses to do anything. Cool. Never even heard of some of the things it was sayting ("1m 40s" what the heck is that?).

Tried reinstalling XP and got a PNP driver error during the setup loading.

Ok... downloaded the seagate disk wizard thing. That repartitioned and reformatted and I also told it to redo the MBR.

Able to reinstall XP. So far no problem. Testing...



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by:kronostm
ID: 9903320
Good work.
Keep us informed.
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Author Comment

by:rkogelhe
ID: 9911086
The machine worked fine when it was running for a while (including several reboots during s/w installation). When I shut it down for the evening, the next morning it started complaining.

The first boot froze with a blank screen right at the beginning of the boot. The second complained about ntoskrnl.exe being corrupt or not found. The third about hal.dll. The fourth boot worked.

So it seems that something needs to "warm up" before I can boot.

I'm going to recommend my friend buy a new disk and use this one just for backups and non-critical data.

I seem to remember that in the 90's, we had something by Norton that allowed us to scan a disk and mark sectors as bad. Why does this no longer exist?
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LVL 3

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by:rkogelhe
ID: 9921185
It's painful to move XP from drive to drive:

1) Install new drive as slave.
2) Us PM to copy partition from C to D.
3) Reboot D as master. Doesn't work. Repair with XP CD.
4) Use PM to switch C and D (reboot).
5) Use drive wizard to change all refs of D to C.
5) Reformat new partitions on old volume.
6) Reboot doesn't work since XP was using vol info on D.
7) Repair XP with CD again.

Blech!

Testing... so far so good...
0
 
LVL 3

Author Comment

by:rkogelhe
ID: 9927335
Definitely quite confident that it was the drive.

I have the problematic drive as F: now and sometimes it shows up as unformatted. If I reboot after the machine has been running for some time, the drive is fine (warmed-up).

So I think that about the only thing that we can learn from this is that it is possible that a drive can behave perfectly when it is warmed-up, but return errors when it still cold and that no matter the diagnostic, it's not going to find the problem. Another symptom would be this Partition Magic error about drive geometry. I think the only solution in this case is to replace the faulty drive.
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