error message

Posted on 2005-04-15
Last Modified: 2010-04-26

When I start my Dell and after the manufacturers prompt clears I get the following message:  the  screen goes blank with the following message.  I can't get into safe mode, setup or anything.  Is my hard drive dead?

a disk read error has occurred
press ctrl*alt*delete to continue
Question by:mbcasey
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    Your hard drive most likely died if you were working before.  This is vague but it is indicative of a boot drive issue.  Start out by swapping hard drives and if the new one works, you solved the problem.  You may also be able to recover some data by putting your old drive in as the slave once you get it to boot.
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment


    "Dead" may be too strong a word, but the suggestion is that there is a problem with the hard drive.  Download the drive diagnostic and test software from the web site of the drive mfgr. and run it, but before you do that, install the drive on another computer as an additional drive (2nd or 3rd drive, whatever) and get your data off the drive if you can.  The first priority must be recovery of the data.  It may be possible to "repair" the drive, or the problem may be elsewhere (cable, power supply, motherboard) but the most immediate concern should be your data.  Understand that the message is suggesting a symptom (drive can't be read), but it's still a bit of a leap from that symptom to the assumption that the drive is dead (although on further examination, that may well turn out to be the case).
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    boot from a floppy first, then try accessing your hard drive.  Is that the exact error message?
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    First I would recommend remove the Power Cord, then remove the case cover, locate and remove the CMOS Battery, an almost nickle shaped battery, press the power button on the PC and wait for 10 to 15 seconds, re-insert the battery.  Power up the PC and try to enter BIOS, on most PC's it is F8, F2, or Delete...if you know which one, press it continueously until you are in the BIOS Screen.  

    Reset to Default Settings, save an exit, the pc will reboot.  This will clear any out of whack BIOS settings.

    Unless you are sure the partician talbe is okay, I will tell you how to run the Recovery Console and how to run fixmbr Master Boot Record, if you are unsure, do not attempt unless you have a way to back up your data.

    Else you have a damaged MBR on the Boot Sector, or an MBR Virus, which  means if you can rescue any data by useing a  known good hard drive, then do so.  

    You will most likely have to re-install Windows.  Dell usually sends a Revcover Disk with the computer, set your BIOS to CD ROM insert the recvorey Disk and reboot.
    LVL 14

    Accepted Solution

    This kind of problem is indicative of both a hard disk failure which is imminent or a corrput Boot sector. In both cases u can get similar errors. To fix boot sector or partition table u can use the command listed above from a manual recovery console. Howevre if u did not get a windows XP CD along with ur system and just a recovery disk then u cud be in trbl over the data on ur disk. If ur primary aim is to just get the system back running then i suggest u use the recovery cd.

    Get your hard disk manufacturers diagnostic utility as suggested above and run a thorough test and see what kind of errors come up.

    After ur through with this u can choose to reinstall windows Xp with a reapir install option. Any problems with the boot sector or partition table shud be sorted out and u shud be able to use ur system just like before. To run setup from the WIndows XP cd you need to enter the BIOS and set the boot sequence to CDROM. To enter BIOS you can press the F2. F1 or F10 key or maybe the DEL key. Check ur user manual.


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