Won't boot from hard disk but filesystem ok

June 14, 2010 at 17:21:39
Specs: Windows XP, Intel Pentium M 2.13 GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB Samsung HM160HC HDD

POST (laptop self-test) passes as do Dell tests, but laptop stops as soon
as it attempts to boot from hard disk, leaving cursor flashing top-left. Could
access files fine by booting into Knoppix on a boot CD, when I boot into
Acronis Backup it says C drive (Windows boot) is fine. Hard disk and
motherboard recently replaced and worked fine until few days ago.

XP Repair console Chkdsk finds errors and says it fixes them, every time I
run it.

XP full repair process copies files across OK but when it reboots the laptop
stops as soon as it attempts to boot from HDD (as part of the repair). I have
deleted and rebuilt boot.ini, and run fixmbr and fixboot and removed and
reconnected HDD but nothing makes any difference.

Is this a motherboard problem or a hard disk problem? Any ideas what I can
do? Please?! I've been bashing at this for days and nothing touches it.

Problem started when I did a reboot following an AVG update, very much
doubt this is relevant but mentioning just in case.

Thanks for any comments or time reading, any suggestions or thoughts
however insignificant gratefully received, as I am out of ideas and nearly out
of hope!

System is Dell Precision M20, 2.13GHz, 2GB, 160GB Samsung HM160HC
HDD, nothing else plugged in running XP Pro SP3.

See More: Wont boot from hard disk but filesystem ok

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June 15, 2010 at 07:06:26

... take a look @ Step 3 here



... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
Grrrr... ...im

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June 15, 2010 at 09:27:28

Download and run a drive fitness test from the manufacturer of the drive. Install the test to a CDR and boot from the CDR to run the test.

If the hard drive passes the tests then follow mavis's advice.

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June 15, 2010 at 14:33:02

... good point "OtheHill"

... it might be wise to image/backup your drive first.

... some have tried to do a recovery only to find that it failed at the last stage(s) leaving them with zippo on the drive!


... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
Grrrr... ...im

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June 16, 2010 at 03:52:24

Thanks hugely for the tips!

Ran the manufacturer test and it found errors and it is recommending a low-level format. Will try Ctrl+F3 but assume low level format will stop that working. So now burning a knoppix CD to try to get some files off before trying Ctrl+F3 and if that fails, low-level format and reinstall.

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June 16, 2010 at 04:15:53

"...Will try Ctrl+F3..." ???

"...but assume low level format will stop that working..."

... as long as you do'nt format the recovery partition!


... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
Grrrr... ...im

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June 16, 2010 at 05:46:23

You might wish to clone the entire drive to a new drive first.

Disconnect the old drive and then use the restore partition to return to factory state on the new drive. After testing to verify the Windows installation is good then reconnect the original drive and attempt recovery.

With the old drive connected as a non boot drive you may be able to access all the needed files without resorting to Knoppix.

Hard drives are cheap enough that it isn't worth the chance of data loss to attempt rejuvenation of a bad drive and use it to store mission critical data.

If parts of this response are not detailed enough please ask for additional help.

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June 16, 2010 at 06:05:53

Thanks so much for all your support - absolutely invaluable.

There are only a few files I don't have backed up, I can see them in PartitionWizard but I can't get anything to boot that accesses the file system (no idea why Knoppix stopped working).

I have now used up all my CDs and DVDs so am looking at creating a boot USB like this to try a few other options for getting the files off, to avoid having to wait a day or two for more media to arrive. My original HDD died completely, at which point I installed XP onto a new one from scratch so don't have the partition, but I'm fine with installing XP from scratch when I get my few files or decide it isn't worth perservering, assuming the disk is not fatally wounded. Hugely grateful that I'd run a backup about an hour before the disk died!

And Huge thanks to all your generous assistance - so helpful.

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June 16, 2010 at 06:15:14

Just re-read your response OteHill and agree - will buy another hard drive rather than invite future troubles. If I can't get to the files I want, I'll also buy a SATA interface to grab a clone of the damaged disk and get the files I need from that.

Huge, huge thanks for all your help everyone.

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June 16, 2010 at 06:43:10

(To save someone else the trouble of pointing out my error -
there's no need to clone..!)

To elucidate for any future readers and responders, given the
Samsung disk test passed on all tests except the surface test, I
feel the motherboard is exonerated and blame lies with the hard
disk. (Which is only 8 months old and I've found the receipt, so
I'll get a replacement.) Will try the ISO booting USB in case it
saves me buying a SATA interface.

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June 16, 2010 at 06:53:53

Probably the best course of action. I have multiple threads going at once and forgot this is a laptop, so part of my advice is not possible.

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June 16, 2010 at 09:26:18

... "technicaltitch" nice bunch of tools you posted!

... @ first glance I thought "OTT" (over the top)

... @ second glance ya I like it! ... looking into it.

... thx for the link!


... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
Grrrr... ...im

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June 16, 2010 at 14:05:05

I flicked through all the ISOs in that boot disk and in the end I
just used the AVG Rescue CD - has been the most reliable and
capable of all the boot disks I've tried, and it is a very easy
process to create a boot USB drive (without the need of
formatting it) here.

It isn't for complete novices as you need to use the keyboard
and navigate the linux file system, but as soon as you find the
file manager in utilities, and get used to the fact that your
drives are under /mnt/sdb1 etc, it works a treat!

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June 16, 2010 at 15:04:02

... getting page not found!

... check out #Response 11 >>here<<


... Posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties
Grrrr... ...im

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June 18, 2010 at 07:50:03

Oops thanks for pointing that out.

AVG Rescue CD (if it doesn't work google AVG Rescue Disk
or click the link on the AVG homepage)

Forum describing how to make a USB bootable (download the
rescue CD rar from the AVG site, expand the contents into
the ROOT of your USB drive, start, run, 'cmd', type the drive
letter of your USB drive then a colon, eg 'F:' and enter, MAKE
and press enter. Done!
Footnote - if using WIn 7 rather than Start, Run.., click Start,
type 'cmd' and wait for it to appear in the start menu search
results, right-click it and click 'Run as Administrator'.


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June 18, 2010 at 07:51:27

I have fixed the links in the original post and reposted - seem to work now.

Editor seems to add a < b r > in the middle of the URL if it wraps. Widening the textbox, possible in Chrome, fixed it. Possible it was user error too.

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