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can't boot from HDD

Posted on 2004-08-15
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I've got an interesting little problem. I'm sure I'm missing something glaringly obvious, but for all I'm worth I'm scratchin my head on this. One of my clients called me about a machine I worked on for her in the past. The computer all of a sudden boots to a message that says "disk read error occured". Initially I think of course, HD problem. This was confirmed when I took the HD and slaved it in another system that told me the drive wasn't formatted....would I like to.....no. I took a look at the drive with partition magic. It said the drive had an unknown geometry and I needed to back up data and reformat. I can however, get to all the files on the drive via GetDataBack(wonderful little program). Here's where it gets interesting. I took a known good drive containing xp and plugged it into my clients computer and ....."disk read error occured". hmmm. I tried another HD..same thing. Bios sees the drive no problem.  So I put one of the xp drives I didn't need in the comp, and inserted a win2K cd. rebooted to the cd, was able to kill the HD's partition, create a new one, format the partiton and install a win2k preinstallation environment. I got to the point in 2K install where it reboots the pc from the HD instead of the cd rom and continues installation. not this time. "disk read error occured" Okay, at this point I"m thinking motherboard problem, cant read from primary ide channel,  but then again if the piece of crap couldn't read from the drive we wouldn't have made it through the whole first part of the 2K install would we? Can't find the MBR....I think not because I tried 3 different HD's. It just seems to me the motherboard can facilitate reading from and writing to the hard drive, it just won't seem to boot from it.  I'm out of ideas on this Sunday morning. Need other brains.

By the way this is a Dell Dimension 8100 1.7Ghz
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Question by:dorkestra
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by:Jeff Rodgers
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I always look for the cheapest solution first... have you tried replacing the ide cables?

Just a stretch but hey better $5.00 in cables than a new MOBO.

Bottom line if its not the cables and its not the HD... it must be the MOBO... You have already ruled out the OS, and the drive itself (because if another HD does the same thing in this computer... well you know)

You seem to have a handle on the elimination of possibilities...

If it looks like a pig , it sounds like a pig and smells like a pig... it must be a pig.
Could be a flaky ide controller on the board...
Check the cables and if they are good... it must be the Motherboard.

Good Luck
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by:dorkestra
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Yeah, I tried a different IDE cable, sorry I should have posted that. And yes, that's what I'm afraid of, MOBO's are a pain in the arse. Dell told her it'll be $1400 to replace her tower, and she's just looking for a cheaper option.
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by:Jeff Rodgers
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Is it a Dell branded MOBO?  if it is a standard Motherboard i.e. Asus... look at the dimensions of the board including all of the connectors... can you drop in a different MOBO, and Processor in the case? (Not all that familiar with dell... sorry, don't end up with many in the shop).  

Alternately can you add a PCI Ide card to it and install from those?  

Just a few thoughts to try and help you out.  Better a $200 solution than a $1400 solution...
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by:dorkestra
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yeah it's a dell branded board, but looking at ebay there's several of the exact same board out there all with a buy it now price of $30 or under so I think that's probably how this is gonna end up. I thought about a pci ide controller, but would that adversely affect performance? The more I think about it, the more that seems like a duct tape solution when the mobo's are so cheap.
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by:Jeff Rodgers
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Like I said.... I always look for the cheapest solution first... if you can get a replacement MOBO for $30 or so... Fill your boots! Its a lot cheaper than a new Motherboard or PC.

And yes the PCI ide contoller may be marginally slower than a new MOBO.

Good Luck

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by:lexicon_dominus
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What happens if you connect the secondary IDE to the hard drive ? Does the same thing happen ?
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by:avidya
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maybe a stupid option, but have you tried detecting the harddisk again in the BIOS?
could be that the hd settings are user defined and wrong.
autodetect will do the trick, otherwise you can try adding the head/cylinders, etc manualy
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by:dorkestra
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I tried connecting the hd to the secondary ide and it won't boot. It says it can't detect primary HD 0. I didn't see any bios options to tell it to use secondary ide for boot devices.

also avidya, I know that when the hard drives are swapped out the bios sees the different drive sizes. I'll look to see if there are any settings I'm missing.
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by:lexicon_dominus
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Sounds interesting to me. I have 2 hdd's and they are connected to the secondary IDE.
In my opinion, the problem is probably caused by broken or damaged pin.
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cooljai1 earned 100 total points
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As a last option, have you tried flashing the BIOS to the latest version?
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by:The_Maverick
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Just my 10c Worth ...

Reset the CMOS

Upgrade the BIOS

Strap the HDD for 32GB Max (and test)

Strip the PC to the absolute minumum configuration (take out / disconnect EVERYTHING) that's not essential

PSU OK?

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by:nobus
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did you test the HDD with the manufacturers utility? if not, do so. Some links :

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

nobus
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by:crazijoe
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If you buy a MB on ebay watch to see if they offer a guarantee. Why are the only selling it for $30? You don't want to buy a duplicate problem.
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by:tuaris
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Mabey the Memory? I know that Windows 2000 and XP are very sensative to bad Memory sticks.
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by:bmhydro420
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have you tried plugging the hard drive into a different ide controller or even a pci ide device
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by:dorkestra
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well thank you everyone for your ideas, a couple of the things you mentioned I hadn't done yet cause I'm lazy, so I decided to go ahead and pull all of the components off of the board, made sure the hdd in the bios was set to auto, clear the cmos, got it to accept the hd as a boot device on the secondary ide, flashed the bios including the boot flash and by the way that was a bitch because guess what...the POS doesn't want to read floopies either, I had to make a bootable cd from a cd-r with the bios executable on it. anyway none of that helped......at all so I'm about to just replace the board and give up.  any other thoughts? btw I couldnt swap the ram out because it's friggin rims and I don't have any of those, so that's about the only option I haven't explored yet.
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by:bmhydro420
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See I told you that it may be the ide channel is the cd drive working on the primary now or slaved on the secondary
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by:dorkestra
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I put the cd rom back on the secondary ide by itself. The system has always read the cd drive just fine no matter which channel it's on, it'll boot from it and everything. but when I put the hd on the primary or secondary ide channel I get the same error message. actually, I just noticed after all that crap I just did, it no longer says disk read error occured, now it's saying error loading operating system when it gets to the point of booting from the hd. I'm trying a 2k install again. It just pisses me off that if you boot from the cd rom it will read from and write to the hd just fine!!!, but if you try to boot from the hd it just cant do it. and the fact that I've tried 2 different floppie drives now and they both give i/o error makes me suspicions too
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by:bmhydro420
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have you tried changing memory if you changed ide controllers then you probably have to rewrite your boot.ini.  Boot into the recovery console and type fixboot
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by:dorkestra
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man I can't spell tonight floopies and suspicions
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by:dorkestra
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the memory modules are rimms and I don't have any of those sitting around, I just tried to run chkdsk /r from the recovery console and it immediately said that the volume contains one or more unrecoverable problems. right now I'm running a fresh 2k install on a completely different hd, but I'm not getting my hopes up
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by:bmhydro420
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If chceck disc finds unrecoverable problems at the begining may be corrupt drive then try running a manufactures hard drive diag which can be found on most manufacturers sites.  Also see if S.M.A.R.T. is enabled in the BIOS if not enable it and see if it gives drive failure errors.
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by:dorkestra
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the bios doesn't have a smart option, and I flashed it with the most recent bios compatible with 2k. If the drive I have in there right now installs okay and boots up I'll scream loud enough to wake my kid up, and at that point I'll see what I can do with the old drive. I have a feeling no matter what happens I'm gonna have to manually pull the data off of there and reformat it. There's definately something wrong with that drive because my other pc doesn't see a file system on it when it's slaved, and partition magic says the drive has an unknown geometry. I waited too long on getting that board, now I can only find one on ebay, and they've got a 6 day auction on it with no buy it now...man this is getting to be a PITA
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by:bmhydro420
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Yous should try seeing if you can ghost the drive using norton ghost or any other imaging software if it fails chances are data is mostly unrecoverable also you can slsave the drive when windows gets installed on other one and see if it shows up chances are it all will.  The corruption may be at the begining of the drive and your data may be retriuevable for the most part.  Also you may want to consider low level formatting it then recreate the boot sector by using fdisk to create a primary partition and see if the drive allows you to install to it then
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by:dorkestra
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I can get all of the data off of it easily. while the hard drive is definately all jacked up, it's not the root of the problem, I've got a perfectly good drive in there now formatting without a problem, and the windows setup files will get copied to it with no problem. I dont know why I'm wasting my time doing this though, I'm hoping that after the pc boots to start the windows install it will actually do it and not say "error loading operating system" in the same way that I hope that one day maury povich will have a show besides, "I'm not the babies daddy"........It's all just denial.
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by:avidya
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Hi dorkestra,

Hope it installs fine and the computer is up and running again.
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by:dorkestra
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Well, after everything I've learned about computers in the past several years, I STILL believe that they have a mind of their own. after all of this, out of nowhere i put a different hdd in the computer and.......it booted. I reinstalled 2k on it and all is well. of course the original hd is junk, but the user doesn't even have any files she needs off of it, so I'm good to go. No mobo needed or anything. I apreciate you all trying to help. I will assign some points here and there just for the quick helpful responses.
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by:avidya
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Nice one dorkestra, glad it works!
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