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Cannot boot up

By JohnVace · 18 replies
Jul 11, 2009
  1. I was trying to plug in headphones and accidentally disconnected my sound card, during which my windows explorer started to unexpectedly shut down. I restarted the computer right after it had re-loaded and was not able to load back up after it shut down.

    It gave me the "Disk Load Failure, Insert System Disk and Press Enter" message. I did that and it goes to "Loading Files from Windows", completes it and then goes to the boot screen where Windows is suppose to load up. The bar cycles through about 6 or 7 times and then freezes for several minutes and then goes to the BSOD.

    I've tried loading in safe mode but it doesn't do anything different, tried boot logging but I'm not sure where I'd go to see the result. Does anyone have any possible solutions for me?

    Thank you.
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I'd try running chkdsk.

    What version of Windows do you have? Depending on your Windows version (2000, XP, Vista, 7 etc..), you'll need different instructions.
  3. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    I don't know about Windows 7 but i think these instructions should work for chkdsk whether you're running W2K, XP or Vista. Aside from chkdsk you may also find it useful to use the instructions to help back up all your data if you haven't done so yet (plus i find Knoppix CD is just helpful to have in one's "recovery" toolset :) )

    /* EDIT */
    Oooops. ANd here's the link! See How to recover your folders/files when Windows won’t boot
  4. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    Sorry, running Windows Vista 64 Bit.
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Vista 64? Hmmm...

    Well if by no other means you should at least be able to run chkdsk from Vista Recovery Console using
    1) Recovery console off your Vista installation CDs or
    2) For anyone reading, Vista 32 and Vista 64 Recovery console ISO image downloads available here. (Of course, for your particular case use the Vista 64 RC)

    I'll have to update my prior help post about "Recovery when Windows doesn't Boot" to reflect the current Vista RC downloads. Thanks for making go double-check and take a look! :)
  6. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    How do I run chkdsk? I've tried every option and there is no where where I cold ever input any text.
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Warning: To be as safe as possible with your data, it is prudent to run a memory test before you run chkdsk. Memory errors during a chkdsk repair can destroy your file system and could be responsible for your original problems.

    Run chkdsk under recovery console using a Windows XP setup disk
    • Insert your CD and restart the computer.
    • It should prompt you to 'press any key to boot from CD' or automatically start the CD boot process automatically (if no boot sector on your drive is found)
    • Press any key at this point to continue.
    • Wait a couple of minutes for the initial pre-setup junk
    • At the "Welcome to setup" screen, press R to select the "To repair a Windows XP installation" option.
    • Wait several seconds and you should be at the recovery console. You may be prompted to choose your Windows installation: You'll probably want to press 1 and type in your password if necessary.
    • Type: chkdsk /r and go out for a bite to eat, take a shower, read a book etc.. It could take an hour or two.

    Restart and let us know what happens next.
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    If i might add some comments if only for discussion...
    1) I don't think i've ever seen a memtest recommended before doing a chkdsk
    2) I would guess you have a better chance of chkdsk encountering a damaged sector on the disk and taking it out of service itself then being damaged by memory
    3) In fact, what i do and advise myself, if i suspect or worry about corruption is very-first-thing to create a sector-by-sector disk image backup by booting from something like Acronis True Image Recovery CD. (This allows you to preserve the disk image regardless of what happens next)
    4) Also (i am thinking) even while running chkdsk if mem erorrs occuring you're still gonna end up with a BSOD. i.e. an event that stops chkdsk from running and wiping out your disk
    5) Also, is no sign of any memory issues i think so far?

    In any case, it certainy does NOT hurt to do a memtest but if one is really concerned i would recommend doing the sector-by-sector copy. (i only mention it sometimes in these forums as i don't think many users will actually do idisk image "ghost" backups let alone sector-by-sector ghosting anyway ;) )
  9. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

  10. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    Ok but I can't get that far... the login screen never boots up. It stops everytime at exact same point while booting up. It doesn't even get to the booting up part without the disk.
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    1) But that sounds like you're trying to boot from the hard drive.
    2) And also sounds like the hard drive is corrupted so sounds like booting from it is not possible
    3) Which means you must boot from a CD and then use the CD to run chkdsk on the hard drive

    Just to be 100% clear:
    have you tried booting from a CD? As i don't believe you will be getting Windows graphical screen logon (maybe just prompted for administrator account id/password as simple text on a black&white text display on your screen
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I know that seems like an odd suggestion and I *know* it is unlikely... I also realize my experience may be an anomaly, but allow me to regale you with this colorful anecdote:

    <!-- Begin flashback

    About 5 years ago, I was working with a PC. I would later discover it had a bad memory module, but at the time, the problem manifested itself in such a way that a bad hard drive seemed pretty likely. It wouldn't boot into Windows and always greeted you with a blue screen (ntfs.sys). It seemed pretty logical to run a drive diagnostic, which passed. Once I verified the drive was OK, I run chkdsk. Oddly, chkdsk started doing lots of 'hacking and slashing': 'correcting' index files, deleting attributes, orphaned files etc... Nothing out of the ordinary I guess, but it did this for several minutes which was definitely strange. When it was done, there was hardly anything left on the hard drive... sparse files sprinkled through the Windows folder, many programs were missing, user documents and desktop files were deleted and so on...

    Fortunately, the data was of no consequence. I partitioned, formatted and reinstalled Windows XP. It installed without a hitch and performed a full, unconditional format just fine. After about a half hour or so of getting Windows setup, it blue screened while installing Office with an ntfs.sys error. It prompted me to run chkdsk again, so I did and it starting hacking and slashing files again... Once again, almost nothing was left.

    Curious, I scanned the hard drive again with the manufacturer's diagnostic. It passed. I installed XP again. The same thing happened, but this time I didn't run chkdsk on the computer. I removed the hard drive and connected it to another XP system. A quick browse through the file system seemed just fine. I run chkdsk and it found errors, but they were fixed in a matter of seconds and there were not huge swaths of files that went 'missing'.

    I put the drive back into the original computer, replaced the IDE cable, booted it up and after a period of time, I receved another ntfs.sys error. It prompted me for chkdsk and I did it -- It started 'fixing' tons and tons of files again. Yes, it deleted many, many files. At this point, I'm wondering what the significant correlation of chkdsk, ntfs.sys and massive data loss are.

    I decided to do a memory test since I know that ntfs.sys errors can be a result of bad RAM. It failed the memory test. I isolated the memory module, removed it and partitioned, formatted and reinstalled XP again. The problems went away. I did a manual run of chkdsk on the system from recovery console and everything seemed to be working.

    This blew my mind -- does this mean memory was responsible for the ntfs.sys? That seems likely, but chkdsk deleting data? Really? I had never seen anything like that before and at this point, I had serviced many, many, many, many computers. I was still skeptical though; I mean, maybe it was just a coincidence? I made an effort to find out by reinstalling the original memory, installed a different hard drive with a Windows XP install image on it. I booted the computer into recovery console using the XP CD and run chkdsk.... It started 'repairing' errors like crazy. I checked the aftermath and the file system was actually corrupted. I couldn't read it with the other computer.

    I tried extra hard to get the computer to 'mess up' with the new RAM installed, but I couldn't. It worked just fine and it never came back me after it left the shop.

    Was this scientifically indisputable, empirical evidence? Not quite, but I like to think I did a pretty thorough job troubleshooting. Since then, I've certainly had data loss occur because of bad memory, but never because of bad memory + chkdsk. I still like to keep an open mind about it though, because it isn't worth losing someone's data and a relatively quick memtest isn't a bad idea anyway. :)

    You also have valid points in making a backup first and the fact that chkdsk is more likely to screw things up than my situation above. I've grown somewhat complacent giving advice though, as I should have suggested backing up first and performing a drive diagnostic before doing a full on, 'destructive' chkdsk scan.
  13. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Did I read incorrectly? I thought he said Windows XP 64-bit. Ha. Maybe I should stop giving advice. :D

    If your computer is not booting into the Windows Vista setup from your install disc, then chances are your DVD drive isn't configured in the BIOS as a bootable device or there is something wrong with your CD/DVD drive.

    We still don't know much about your computer, but with most brands of PCs, tapping the F10 key during the very first screen (Before the windows logo) will bring up a 'quick boot' menu. Your BIOS screen may even tell you how to access the quick boot menu by placing a message near the bottom or top: "For boot devices, press Fblah". Other keys it may be are F8, F12, ESC, F1 and F2.

    If you can get into this menu, you can manually specify that your computer should boot using the DVD drive *first*. This will get you to where you need to be and if it doesn't, we know there is a problem with your DVD or DVD drive.
  14. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    I went into my bios and went to the boot priority and disabled hard disk, leaving only the "boot from cd" option in the 1st column. So there is nothing else for it to boot from. Still getting the same problem...

    I've had problems with my cd-rom in the best (Can't play audio disk or have video games play music or they freeze). I was considering buying a new one, is that something that may fix the problem of not being able to boot from the cd?

    Also, just to clarify I do have a system disk that I used to install windows and just to be safe I downloaded the imo file and made another, basically the same disk and both run into the same problem.
  15. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    I've got ahold of a friends external cd-rom and used it to try and boot up. Didn't change anything.
  16. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Certainly quite an interesting anecdote! Your troubleshooting results documents yet another interesting PC/Windows anomaly. I'll have to "tuck away" and remember your experience for my own future reference if ever see anything similiar. Thanks for the story!

    Given all the issues and problems you report with loading from disk vs. CD, It's not clear just what's going on for your specific hardware /software situation.

    You might find it easiest (or at least most straightforward) at this point to just remove the hard drive from your computer and then test it using a friend's computer

    You can either:
    > Buy a hard drive enclosure and put it inside to hook it to a friend's computer OR
    > One can also just buy a USB to IDE or SATA drive cable (as needed for your specific hardware) and then just connect it to friend's computer directly by cable (without using an enclosure)
  17. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    I was afraid you'd say that but I figured you would. I'm kind of at a lost right now as well, doesn't seem to make much sense. I'm wondering if I possibly knocked something loose and overlooked it, I might end up re-assembling my whole computer just to be safe as well as take your latest advice.
  18. snowchick7669

    snowchick7669 TS Maniac Posts: 660

    Would just like to add in here that today I experienced the same issue as Rick with chkdsk deleting files with corrupted memory. What happened with this customer however was that they ran chkdsk themselves and it deleted everything. It wasn't just the RAM itself that was buggered, it was actually one of the RAM slots that was frying the RAM, by putting a new piece in one of the other slots everything was dandy and chkdsk would run fine.

    Thanks Rick! It would have bugged me all day had it not been for your past experience. Very interesting
  19. JohnVace

    JohnVace TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 43

    Just a little update to my problem. I bought an external enclosure and tried using my hard drive with other computers. It didn't quit work out that well and I'm not sure if that's because I just couldn't get the software working right on other computers or if my hard drive just isn't recognized anymore.

    When I go into boot menu I don't even see the option to boot from HD when it's plugged in and the "SATA 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc" only list the CD Rom, I thought it was suppose to list the HD as well.
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