Inaccessible boot device

February 24, 2009 at 17:42:31
Specs: Windows 2000pro, AthlonXP, 512MB RAM
My recent Windows installation has gone awol after I changed a heatsink and fan. When I try to boot the computer it gets as far as the white "Windows 2000" splash screen then immediately goes to a blue stop screen with "Inaccessible boot device" on it. It does it every time. I tried to run a Windows repair from the CD, but afterwards I booted to the same blue stop screen. Then I tried the CD in recovery console mode, but when it asked me for my password and I entered it, it told me my password was invalid!

It appears that the fault is in the bootable part of the primary master hdd. If I try to load the Windows Recovery Console it tells me my administrator password is invalid. I know 100% that it is valid, and caps lock is off. I assume my administrator password is stored in the boot sector of the drive? If so, then it appears the Windows CD also cannot access the boot sector.

I did put a fair bit of pressure on the board when changing the fan and heatsink, but I have no reason to suspect at this stage that any damage has occurred as a result of this pressure.

This is a fairly recent installation, less than a month old, and has been running flawlessly up 'til now, with no errors or problems. Something has destroyed my boot sector, I cannot think of any other explanation for the repeated boot failure. It seems the Windows CD is unable to access the boot sector to repair it. Is there a miracle freeware boot sector repair program I can download and image onto a floppy?

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February 26, 2009 at 12:00:44
mmm... first I'd be inclined to see if you can recover data - then set about resolving boot issues? To this end do you have a "linux on a cd" variant (Knoppix/Ubuntu etc.)? If so boot up with it and transfer data off to optical media; verify those copies are truly accessible on the same system (via linux) and another system too. Then set about phyxing problems various?

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February 26, 2009 at 12:17:16
Also have you tried safe-mode? And possibly a repair installation - an overwrite of existing version - after you have copied off
all data first! And another variation is a parallel installation to same partition etc. Make it a short simple minimum installation and see if resolves both the boot issue and creates a dual-boot (original and "new" versions)? If it does... then see if you can then boot into original version - and if so verify it's all OK and then delete newer version?

But key issue to recover all data first...?

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February 26, 2009 at 13:33:56
Well the only data that needs to be backed up is the My Documents folder, which I did as soon as I discovered I could access the drive. I just dread the thought of having to reinstall all my software all over again.

Safe mode works perfectly. I'm convinced the problem is a driver file, but I'm not sure what to look for. I could remove all non-Microsoft drivers from the System32 folder, but I wouldn't know which ones they were at a glance. It would be like looking for a collection of heavily disguised needles in a haystack.

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February 26, 2009 at 15:36:03
You could try to hit enter for the password.

The Administrator password would not be the same password you use for your regular account.

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February 26, 2009 at 16:28:12
Did you try reseating the drive cables at both the board and drive?

If you can get in under safe mode then you don't have a boot sector problem. Admin password is not stored in the boot sector.

You next step would be to boot into safe mode and using msconfig disable all startup items. Then boot normally.

Report back if you can then get in under a normal boot.

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February 26, 2009 at 17:21:19
Tried most of that. But... I have decided to go for the big one. The complete reinstall. I can't afford to spend any more time trying to get through impenetrable barriers. It will take a while to reinstall everything but there's nothing irreplaceable and it should be complete again within a day. The only thing that really upsets me is that it all happened so easily and without any good reason that I have been able to see. But thanks for trying your best to get this sorted.

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February 26, 2009 at 21:45:03
a repair install will refresh the OS and you won't lose your data or programs

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