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A disk read error occurred Press Crtl+Alt+Delete to reboot

Posted on 2013-05-24
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Last Modified: 2013-05-25
I have a customer that brought me an older HP laptop with the above message. It is as if the drive is unreadable. However, I can connect the drive as an external USB drive via cables and can see all the data. I was even able to image the drive which gives me some belief that there is nothing physical wrong with the drive. I think there is something wrong with the MBR but when I try to boot to an XP CD and go to the Recovery Console it tells me that the disk is unreadable. Just trying to eliminate the laptop itself, I put a different disk in the laptop and it booted up without issue. Anyone got any ideas? I was going to try and boot with Paragon's HD Manager to see if there are utilities that might allow me to repair the MBR.
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Question by:aahoskins
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39195770
Test the disk with it's manufacturer's diagnostic tool. You'll find that on the UBCD:

http://ultimatebootcd.com
http://pharry.org/data/ubcd523.iso
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39195786
In addition to the above, the user may have gotten a severe root kit virus which may have caused this.

You said you imaged the drive which means you have backed up all the data previously. Is this so?

Assuming so, delete all the partitions on the problem drive, do a full format to check for drive errors, and then install Windows again.

XP is dead, so make sure any effort is worth it. It may be time for a new computer with a supported operating system.

... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 39196090
I have seen bad RAM give such messages.  My assumption is that the code generating the message is incorrectly initiated by RAM errors corrupting it.  Run some sort of memory test (memtest 86+ is my usual one) to eliminate this as a cause.
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Author Comment

by:aahoskins
ID: 39196778
Thanks for the suggestions. I tested the memory a few days ago and it all tested fine. Retested just for confirmation and all tested fine. Will also perform HP's HDD Self Test through diagnostics.

The odd thing is the disk will boot in another system but it gets the read error I the HP. Last night I place the disk in another system and tried to do a repair. Right at the end of the repair it errors out and I have to press F3 to quite the operation.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39196814
Run the disk manufacturer's diagnostics like I mentioned, and not HP's self tests. Only the manufacturer's diagnostics will give you more or less reliable results.
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Author Comment

by:aahoskins
ID: 39196873
So get this, the system turns off in the middle of the Seagate short diagnostics HDD test. The system is also doing this now after trying to boot to the C drive and sitting idle for a about 5 minutes. Not sure what the heck is going on but it is not good. I am not even sure it is the HDD at this point.
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Accepted Solution

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rindi earned 1000 total points
ID: 39196902
Run the long test, not the short one.

Also, a system that just shuts down usually means there is overheating. So remove the heatsink from the CPU and clean both surfaces very thoroughly. Also clean out all the dust. Then add a very small drop of thermal transfer paste to the CPU and firmly and properly reattach the CPU. Make sure all the fans run smoothly.
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Author Closing Comment

by:aahoskins
ID: 39197234
Thanks for the advise on overheating. I am going to assume this is the issue and get it confirmed at a local repair shop.
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