We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Can't access recovery tools on Windows 8.1

Hi All

On Monday night my PC was working fine and closed down with no problems. It is a HP Envy - H8 1485ea, running with Windows 8,1. This was a downloaded upgrade, which I installed ages ago, upgrading from Windows 8, which was pre-installed on the system.

When I switched it on on Tuesday evening it started repairing the drive (I assume this was chkdsk or something). There was a message displaying the % of the disk it had completed. When it reached 100%, after about 40 minutes, Windows tried to start, but went straight to a message saying "Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We're just collecting some error info and will restart for you". The error code it advises me to check online is 0xc 000021a.  Then, after a few seconds, it went to a black screen with the message "ERROR: No boot disk has been detected or the disk has failed".

This "PC ran into a problem" and "ERROR, etc." is all I get every time I try to switch it on.

The problem is, I can't even access the repair menu, or start it up in safe mode. I don't have a recovery disk/usb. I have tried F8 and shift+F8, but it is always the same. It just won't boot up.

I've tried leaving it for 24 hours and starting with all peripherals, etc. disconnected, except for the usb that runs the wireless mouse/keyboard - but still no access.

I can't understand how it can be fine one minute and totally inaccessible the next.

I've spent hours googling this but all the solutions seem to assume that you can actually boot up the system and get to the recovery/repair page.

Is there any way I can get to at least the recovery tools or safe mode to try and sort this?

I rely heavily on this PC, so a quick reply would be much appreciated.


Watch Question

Thomas GrassiSystems Administrator

If you have a failed drive you will not be able to start in safe mode or access the system tools which reside on a partition on the same hard drive usually your D Drive.

You can go into the computers systems settings and see if your hard drive is being detected.

If you have a true hard drive failure then the system will not show any drives listed.

Check you system bios usually F2 on HP's

By the sounds of this you will need a new hard drive.

contact HP may still be under warranty



I tried F2 and managed to get the HP systems menu and tests. Ran a quick check on the HD and, according to the scan, it is present and seems to be fine. Not sure what to look for as regards system bios, but the F2 main menu is showing  the bios version and various other hardware, memory, processor, etc.

But, as soon as I exit the systems menu back into Windows start-up, I get the same message and error reported in my post.


Thomas GrassiSystems Administrator

Check this link


Check the resolution section
Press,f8 at system startup
Distinguished Expert 2019

you said "I can't understand how it can be fine one minute and totally inaccessible the next"   that's always so with failures, they just happen, and don't give a forewarning in most cases

i would test the disk with the manufacturer's diagnostic , long test - you find them on the UBCD :

Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD

go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP : http://cdburnerxp.se/

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/                        ultimate boot cd
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html             download page

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick

****after this runs to completion without errors - run chkdsk again
Distinguished Expert 2019

The MS approach would be http://blogs.technet.com/b/joscon/archive/2009/10/15/getting-out-of-a-no-boot-situation-after-installing-updates-on-windows-7-2008r2.aspx
If that does not work, you could use the other options of dism to offline-scan-and-modify the system files of your non-bootable installation like documented here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825265.aspx

NOte: you need a setup DVD or setup USB stick for this. The command prompt can be reached from there by pressing shift F10.
Unfortunately none of these has fixed the problem. I have given up and booked the PC into a repair shop.

Not sure what to do about points in this situation?


Distinguished Expert 2019

Select your last comment as solution since that was what "solved" it.


None of the expert suggestions solved the issue and I desperately need to get the PC back up and running. They will salvage the data I need from the HDD and reinstall Windows from scratch. This is not an ideal solution, as I will have to reinstall everything (hence the C grade). Please note that this grade is for the repair shop option and is not a reflection on the expert comments.