Hard drive prevents Windows boot

By kaltira
Sep 29, 2008
  1. Windows XP SP3

    About 4 months ago, my computer froze up, and I had to force it off with the power button. When I restarted, it would get to the Windows screen, but it would be stuck with the bar scrolling across. After 5-10 min I would get a blank screen, but no functionality. I tried reinstalling Windows but still had the same problem. After messing around for a bit I found the problem to be one of my hard drives.

    If it was connected, the computer would not boot. If it was disconnected everything worked normally. If I booted the computer without it connected, then tried to connect it, the computer would freeze while trying to initialize it. I formatted the hard drive, and everything worked great till last night.

    I opened a video file on the hard drive in question with Media Player Classic, the program froze and I tried to close it. The entire computer ended up frozen and I had to shut down using the power button again, and now I am in the same situation. With the same hard drive connected, the computer gets stuck at the Windows startup screen then goes to a black screen after 5-10 min. With the hard drive disconnected, everything works perfectly.

    I assume I can just format the hard drive again, but I would rather try to figure out what the problem is and fix it if possible. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Sounds like either a faulty HardDrive (ie bad spots) that requires replacing
    Or you need to run CheckDisk (hopefully in Safe Mode

    To run CHKDSK (in Safe Mode I suppose)

    Open My Computer
    Right Click on C drive
    Select Properties
    Select Tools tab
    Select Check Now button
    Tick "Automatically fix file system errors"
    Start YES OK
    Restart your computer
    Wait for Check Disk to start/finish

    If you can't get into Safe Mode you can run CheckDisk on a command line using your bootable Xp CD, and the command: chkdsk volume:/f, and then press ENTER (substituting your volume name to the Drive letter ie C )
    More info here:

    If you don't have your Xp CD, try one of these free CDs

    Ultimate Boot CD

    XP Recovery Console
  3. kaltira

    kaltira TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the incredibly fast response. Im still not sure what caused it but for some reason when I plugged it all back together it worked just fine, so I have no idea what went wrong. I guess Ill take it though. Thanks again for the help though and Ill try that if it happens again and Im not so lucky.
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Oh if it suddenly started working again, do this if it happens again:

    Remove power cord (and battery if it's a laptop)
    Hold the ON button in for 30secs (dispersing all internal voltage)
    Plug the power cord back in
    Turn on

    Also, you really should run CheckDisk (even if it's now working)

    Manual steps to run Chkdsk from My Computer or Windows Explorer
    • Open My Computer, and then right-click the hard disk that you want to check.
    • Click Properties, and then click Tools.
    • Under Error-checking, click Check Now. A dialog box that shows the Check disk options is displayed
    Use one of the following procedures:
    • • To run Chkdsk in read-only mode, click Start.
    • • To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically fix file system errors check box, and then click Start. (tick)
    • • To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box.

    Note If one or more of the files on the hard disk are open, you will receive the following message:
    Click Yes to schedule the disk check, and then restart your computer to start the disk check.

    Wait until Chkdsk finishes Checking / Repairing any faults
    Windows will then either restart your computer or continue loading Normally.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    Sounds like a bad drive to me too. Drive failures can cause seemingly odd behavior where things will be fine some times and then other times not. I'd recommend running one of the Drive Diagnostic Utilities you can find in the linked thread.
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