Windows XP Pro will only boot with cd in drive

I recently did a fresh install of XP pro on a thinkpad.  After installing everything was fine.  I ran a few windows updates, rebooted a few times, then started the install of Office XP.  Halfway through install there was an error and the laptop locked up.  I turned the laptop off and on, but it was unable to boot.  "Insert system diskette and press Enter key to reboot".  If I put the XP pro cd in and reboot it will boot into Windows just fine.  After it boots i can take the cd out, and use it like normal.  However everytime I boot I must have the cd in or else i will get the insert system diskette error.
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SabyreConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Why not just do a CLEAN install of the OS. Doesnt take all that long. When you say that you installed a few updates did you do SP1? What about your copy of Office; is it on CD? Is the CD free of blemishes and scratches? Are the BIOS settings set correctly? If you think that your BIOS settings may be to aggressive try humbling them. Is DMA on your ROM drive enabled? Is it supported?

I would set all the BIOS settings low. If your not sure what it is, how it works, or what it does; disable it, go with auto, or leave it at default. Then make sure the XP disc is clean. Reinstall XP, make sure that you format the drive so that it will be a clean install. It's not necisarry to use Fdisk at this point. After a successful install make sure all the drivers are installed for all of your hardware. After the hardware is all installed and working properly go ahead and do your updates. do the service pack first. then the others. Make sure everything is working properly before you start the instalation of software. Then go ahead and install Office. Make sure the disc is clean. It should work fine. Make sure you reboot after any software installation. Be sure to test any new software installations before installing more software.

Hope thats helps a bit.

If it doesnt work then there could be a problem with your hardware, or software configuration.

Hi kak268,
Youll have to do a repair install, or enter the recovery console to fix this.. Some system files are damaged!

First make sure your BIOS has the proper boot order configured.

For example:

First Boot Device:  Floppy
Second Boot Device: CD
Third:  IDE1/HD1/Primary HD

If that still doesn't work, boot from your windows CD (is if you wanted to re-install windows).  Enter setup, select the option for the recovery console.


Once in the recovery console you can press ? to get the exact command...I'm pretty sure it's FIXBOOT or FIX BOOT

That may resolve your problem.  If all the above fails try booting INTO windows.  When you've sucessfully entered into windows, insert your CD (which you'll probably already have in the drive since that's the only way you seem to be able to get into windows), run setup....

When prompted for  CLEAN INSTALL or  UPGRADE,  select UPGRADE this will preserve any settings you've made, any programs you've installed, it will simply re-install the OS (overwriting any damaged or corrupted windows files).  

If you do a CLEAN INSTALL it's like formatting your HD, everything will be removed and started completely from scratch.
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Before resorting to a reinstall run SFC ( system file checker )

Leandro IaconoSenior Premier Field EngineerCommented:
You should also check out your Boot.ini File manually. However, thinking about it a bit more, if you choose to fix you problem with the recovery console or with a repair install, you will be fixing the boot.ini file, and other boot files automaticly.

So you should try out the recovery console fix, or the repair install ...

I would personally check out the boot.ini file with notepad (manually), and check out where its wnating to boot from.

Whats happening to you is very, very wierd. You could also have a registry problem. A registry entry could be pointing to another drive apart from your HD...

I am guessing that this obvisouly has something to do with a misconfiguration (drive letter change / mislead), making you only able to boot from CD...

Hope you can get this fixed up ...
Liek i said, do a repair install or a recoery.. No point in messing with something else.
Hi kak268,

sounds like your MBR is shot. No windows file error causes your disks to fail on boot up.

Go with TheBrothaULuv2H8's response, it'll save you the most time. Unfortunately, MBRs are not easily fixed, though they are very easily smashed. You may have to do a quick format on your drive, and reinstall the OS, just to start up with a new MBR.
kak268Author Commented:
So far I have tried a repair install and that produced the same result.  Changing the bios boot order produces the same result no matter what the order.  Reparing the MBR made it worse.  I don't even get the insert diskette error.  So I guess it is off to try a fresh format.
I experienced this problem on a clone XP Home machine with 2 serial ATA disk drives. The only way I found to resolve it was to physically disconnect the cables for all the disks except the boot hard drive and start up. I found it started normally and then I was able to connect the other drives and all was well. This may be a little more challenging to do with a laptop.

kak268Author Commented:
I formatted the drive and reinstalled xp.... which produced the please insert boot diskette error.  I played around with the bios settings for a while... tried the default bios settings with no luck.  I then disabled everything that I could, and it seems to loads into windows.  Thanks for all your help.
I just experienced this again with the same PC 2 serial ATA drives. Again disconnected all but the boot drive and went into the Bios but changed nothing. Saved and exited and rebooted. Was then able to connect the other drive and CDROM. I do not know why it happens but this fixes it. If one reboots a lot as when fixing a problem it seems to occur.
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