A baffling boot failure situation

By hfffoman
Dec 28, 2009
  1. I have a windows failure that doesn’t seem to fit into the usual categories.

    I get blue screen (BSOD) during windows load with the message unmountable boot volume. As the system has been stable for a long time this suggests a hard drive error - though not a fatal one as windows starts loading and gets a least as far as the logo screen.

    The usual solution is to boot from the windows disk and run chkdsk from the recovery console. Unfortunately when I boot from the windows disk I get BSOD just before the menu which contains the recovery console option (this time there is no unmountable boot volume message). I also have recovery console on my normal boot menu and selecting it also gives me BSOD. This means the system is incapable of taking a new windows install.

    I tried putting an additional hard drive onto the computer. I get the following results when I attempt to boot from the windows disk.

    Disable, or unplug, the original hard drives (which are a RAID pair), switch OFF RAID in BIOS – works (but now I can’t access my original hard drives)

    Disable, or unplug, the original hard drives, switch ON RAID in BIOS - BSOD

    Original hard drives enabled, new hard drive at top of boot priority – BSOD regardless of the BIOS RAID setting.

    It therefore seems like the presence of the original hard drives is enough to stop the Windows disk from booting, even if they are not the selected boot disks.

    I am running XP SP3 with drivers in good order and I am fairly confident there are no viruses. Computer is a Dell. Hard drives are 250GB a couple of years old.

    Can anyone think of a way I can run chkdsk? I have another computer with a CD writer.

    One solution may be to transfer the drives to another computer, run chkdsk and then return them. I am not familiar with RAID drives, though. My other computers don't use RAID.

    Another solution may be to find a floppy drive (there isn't one on the machine at the moment) and make a recovery disk. However, I can't see any reason this would work if I can't get as far as the recovery console with the Windows install disk.
  2. hfffoman

    hfffoman TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It's looking bad. I downloaded the disk checking utility from Western Digital and made a bootable cd. I checked this cd works on the afflicted computer by switching off the original hard drives in BIOS, switching off RAID in BIOS so the new hard drive is the only one running. The CD works fine. But if I switch back on the original hard drives I get the message telling me that DOS is loading then nothing happens. The screen stays blank.
  3. hfffoman

    hfffoman TS Rookie Topic Starter

    chkdsk finally running

    I was using a different XP install disk from the one that came with the computer. When I found the original one I managed to get to the recovery console and run chkdsk. (It has taken 4 hours and so far got half way). Presumably this is because the Dell disk had the right RAID drivers on it. I am not familiar with RAID and use of the F6 option.
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