1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Can't boot windows XP home

By woodbtreasures ยท 19 replies
May 3, 2006
  1. Ok so first of all I apologize if my specific problem has been addressed before or if this is somehow in the wrong place.

    First off, the computer with the problem is apporoximately 2 1/2 years old and is a Compaq Presario with Seagate 80 gig HD and a Intel P4 2.20ghz. Everything is completely "stock" other than a tdk cd burner which was added about 3 days after the computer was purchased

    The whole story is that about 4 days ago my son was playing an online game on the computer and the system robooted itself (which it had been doing more often than normal) and then simply went black.

    When I tried to restart it refuses to boot and and gives me a "Disk Boot Error, Insert System Disk and Press Enter". The only thing that will come up is the Compaq screen and then the bios startup screen.

    Well for some stupid reason we can't seem to find our Windows XP home disk anywhere, and because we needed a computer immeadiately we ran to wal-mart and bought another compaq tower. This one is an AMD Sempron 3200 1.79Ghz with 224MB Ram.

    I figured that since I couldn't find my XP cd that I could just use the cd's that came with the computer. Well none came with the computer but I burned them per the instructions and then I tried to boot from the cd.

    I went into bios and made sure that the cd was before the HD in boot priority and the gave it a shot. Now it's saying "Invalid System Disk" and says something like replace the the disk and press any key. Which of course does nothing.

    So since none of that worked I set the old HD up on the new computer as a slave. I made sure through the manufactures website that the jumpers were set up correctly.(I had it wrong at first) Well I finaly got the new computer to boot with the old HD set up as the slave, though it probably took about 15 minutes and it tried to hang up 3 or 4 times.

    Well I went into the device manager and it says that both drives are working normaly though it shows no partitions or any information whatsoever on the old drive (I'm assuming this is bad). When I go into my computer it doesn't show the old drive at all...

    I'm really completely at loss. I've done 4 days of reading boards and searching the internet trying to find different answers and solutions and thus far nothing has gotten me any closer to an answer *though I have learned a lot about HD's in the process* All that I'm really concerned about is saving several thousand pics that I'd never gotten around to burning and some 2000+ scrollsaw patterns which were the basis of my ecommerce store.

    If anybody has any suggestions then I'm all ears. I hope someone out there can help me out.
  2. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    When you have the old HDD in the new computer with the jumpers set to slave, did you go to My Computer and click on the old drive (you did not specify what drive letter it was assigned in the new computer) to open it up and see if all your programs and data are there? If they are, copy what you want to retain to the new computer's HDD, and then you can go about trying to fix the old computer.

    Contact Compaq and arrange for them to supply you with a replacement CD, or borrow an Installation CD if you can, for the express purpose of using the CD to go into recovery console to run the necessary commands to fix the boot sector of the HDD. I assume that you did not have any CD in the CD ROM Drive if the bios was set to look at the CD ROM before the HDD when you got the "Disk Boot Error." If so, then that error would seem to indicate that something is wrong in the boot sector of you HDD. Also, make sure you change the jumpers back to master when you reinstall the HDD in the old computer.
  3. woodbtreasures

    woodbtreasures TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hey Wlknaack

    Thanks for your response.

    The reason that I didn't specify the drive letter that the old hard drive was assigned in the new computer is because it's doesn't show up under my conputer at all...so therefore I don't know. Does this mean that I may still have all the jumpers and crap set up wrong? **start edit**I don't understand why the drive will show up under the device manager and display as working, yet it doesn't show under my computer at all**end edit**

    I bought some floppy's last night. The new computer doesn't have a floppy drive but the old one does...so I'm going to buy a usb floppy drive and then make and use the set of 6 microsoft boot disks to try to launch the recovery console that way. Do you think that might work?

    And thank you for the tip on conacting Compaq...I never would have thought to try that myself.
  4. connerwayne

    connerwayne TS Rookie Posts: 46

    board should support Legacy Boot Devices... check the BIOS.
  5. woodbtreasures

    woodbtreasures TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry to sound like a ***** here but I forgot to mention that all this stuff is completely new to me (but I'm a fast learner)

    So at the risk of sounding stupid...What does that mean?
  6. connerwayne

    connerwayne TS Rookie Posts: 46

    Legacy Device Support

    Go into the BIOS (del, F11, etc) during post. Look for boot settings, then make sure that Legacy devices are enabled. Also make sure that the legacy USB device (USB Floppy) is set to a boot priority higher than the HDD.
  7. connerwayne

    connerwayne TS Rookie Posts: 46

    I was just reading through the thread... (I know I know, Im a bad poster, I didnt actually read the entire post before I replied) and it appears that this is all stemming from a HDD issue. How about running Check Disk to mark bad sectors on the drive?

    Running Check Disk from Windows Explorer
    To run Check Disk:
    Click Start and select a My Computer window for the drive that you want to examine (usually C).
    Right click the icon for the drive that you want to check (again, usually C) > select Properties and on the Tools tab click Check Now.
    Unless you just want to see a report of file system errors (no action taken to correct errors), put a check in one of the following options:
    Automatically Fix File System Errors. This option is straightforward. If it is not selected, file system errors are reported, but not fixed.
    Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors. In addition to automatically repairing file system errors, selecting this option causes the utility to perform a thorough check of the entire drive, locate bad sectors and try to recover data stored in bad sectors. If you select this option, you may find that it takes the utility quite a few hours to complete its work. You can quit Check Disk only by manually shutting down your computer.
    Click the Start button.
    If the drive that you want to fix is the system drive, there will be open files on the drive. You will see a dialog box announcing that the utility needs exclusive access to operate and can't gain that access unless you re-start your computer. Click Yes.
    XP will re-start in character mode, meaning that you can't do anything other than run the utility. Unless you strike any key within ten seconds of seeing the restricted boot messsage, Check Disk will run.
    After Check Disk has finished, you will either see Disk Check Complete (no errors) or a list of errors and repairs.

    Running Check Disk from command prompt:
    To run Check Disk from the command prompt: Start > Run > type cmd and hit the <Enter> key. At the command prompt, type chkdsk, then <Enter>. This command does not fix or repair. If you want to fix, repair or both fix and repair, you must use a switch for the chddsk command. If you use a switch, the disk must be locked and the command with a switch or switches will be run when you re-start the computer. The two most commonly used switches are:
    /F - fixes errors.
    /R - marks bad sectors and tries to recover data.
  8. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    connerwayne: As I understand it, woodbtreasures cannot get into Windows, or Safe Mode with command prompt, in order to run chkdsk. That is why the suggestion to borrow an Installation CD.

    woodbtreasures: I apologize, I misread your post and did not realized you could not see the drive in My Computer. I agree that the WinXP Boot Disk Set is an option to try, but one that may be simpler is to use a Win98 Boot Disk, and run chkdsk, fdisk, fixboot, etc. commands to find out the status of your HDD, fix bad sectors and rebuild the boot sector if necessary. Suggest you try this with the HDD, properly jumpered, installed in its original postion in the old computer.

    Go to Bootdisk.com for a Win98 Boot Disk at:


    Here are some links to help with the commands available:


  9. woodbtreasures

    woodbtreasures TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you again. This is something that I can try because I happen to have an old windows 98 disk that was given to me recently with another computer (that one was supposed to be my lesson is fixing this stuff...not my good one)

    And I just rememberd that I actualy DID try putting that disk in back when this all first started and it would actualy read that disk so this just might work. Now I just have to figure out what to do with DOS to make sure that I don't take a simple fix and trash my info beyond repair...

    I'll take a look at those links and see if I can get it figured out on my own...if not then I'll be back with more questions later.

    Thanks again to all of you for the assistance.

  10. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Let me clarify the above statement: You can use chkdsk and fdisk /mbr to first find and correct any bad sectors on the HDD and second to rebuild the master boot record and partition table. Fixboot is a Recovery Console command which I do not think is available in the Win98 Boot Disk, but would be available in the WinXP Boot Disk Set. It was my negligence to include it in the above statement.

    Good luck in recovering your boot sector.
  11. woodbtreasures

    woodbtreasures TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok well this is what I have so far.

    First of all I can't get the chkdsk command to work at all. I must be somehow typing it in wrong. Any suggestions here are welcome.

    Then I tried to run the fdisk command. It went to the screen where it said I have a larger drive blah blah blah and then Y/N.

    I tried it both ways with Y and N and both ways got me a response of "error reading fixed disk"

    When I tried to run the fdisk /mbr command I got "Master boot code has NOT been updated"

    I also tried to do an outright install of windows 98 when I got pissed off and it said that there was an error reading the hard drive and that it could not be loaded.

    So I don't know...you guys tell me. Does this mean that my hard drive is fried?
  12. woodbtreasures

    woodbtreasures TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh and btw...I haven't tried the xp boot disks yet so I'm hoping that at least not yet that all isn't lost :(
  13. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    The chkdsk command should be written: chkdsk [drive letter with colon] /R or, if you have only one drive, chkdsk /R or, if you are in the recovery console of the WinXP Installation CD, chkdsk /r (the attribute R or r specifies finding bad sectors and restoring readable information, and implies the attribute F or f, as the case may be).

    Until you execute the chkdsk command, I don't think you can rely on the results of the fdisk /mbr, or fixmbr in the recovery console. If for example there are bad areas in the boot sector, then those areas must be corrected before you can rebuild the master boot record. So lets not give up on the HDD until we try to fix and rebuild the boot sector.

    Have you been able to borrow an XP Installation CD?

    Also, try the following link to obtain a HDD diagnostic to see if your HDD is dying:

  14. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    After everything u've tried, I'd say ur HDD is dead. It doesn't seem to respond whatever you do(even Windows 98 doesn't install), so I think it is most definitely gone.
  15. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    alrite. if you are using the win98 disk, chkdisk is called scandisk. Fdisk if i remeber is a format utility.. although i dont recall much about its mbr fixing capability (never needed to use it, so i never looked for one)

    to assign a letter to a drive go [right click my computer>manage>disk management] and find your hdd there, right click it, select the appropriate option and change it.

    download seagate's disk diagnostic utility to check your hdd ok: http://seagate.com under support>download etc..

    i'd suggest borrowing a retail windows xp home/pro cd and using the recovery console's fixmbr/fixboot commands to make things easyer...
  16. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    Correction, chkdsk is a separate program, as is Scandisk. Plus N3051M if I recall, he said the HDD doesn't show up in My Computer. So no point in trying to change the drive letter.
    ***edit*** woodbtreasures, why don't you go into the Setup utility during POST and then use the Standard CMOS Setup utility to autodetect ur drive. Just enter the above utility and then go to Primary Master and press enter. Repeat for all other drives. If ur HDD shows up here, it's likely to show up in Windows.
  17. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    In my defence, its been a while since i've used msdos/win98 and its boot disk so things get fuzzy.. and hence i'll admit the mistake after i do a bit more googleing later...

    Re. to the My computer/hdd thing, sometimes that drive letter is taken (happens to me when my network drive, usb and external hdd competes for drive letter "N", but first come first serve, then assign letters..) and there was no mention on the hdd showing in bios (apart from your last post) or anyone mentioning checking disk management (unless i've missed it) for the hdd...
  18. nork

    nork TS Maniac Posts: 306

    neither chkdsk nor scandisk will work, if i recall, on a hard drive that has a bad boot record. From the error messages that woodbtreasures has mentioned, and from the other things he has said, it is certain that he has to repair his master boot record (mbr).
    Again, you can do that by using a win98 boot disk. First you boot the pc up and go into bios and set bios to boot first from floppy. Then put win98 boot floppy in floppy drive and reboot. Once the win98 boot floppy disk gets you into dos then you type fdisk /mbr. I am guessing that maybe you did something wrong when giving the fdisk /mbr command, but i could be wrong of course. Its pretty certain that your mbr is messed up though, and has to be fixed.

    Another thing you could do is go to your hard drive mfgrs website and download the diagnostic program for your hard drive. You then put this prog on a floppy and first boot your pc using win98 boot disk, then insert the diagnostic floppy and enter the prog. Inside it you will find a program that says something like "write zeroes to the hard drive". This will attempt to put your hard drive back into the same shape it was in when it left the factory.
    Bear in mind that you lose any data you have on that hard drive.
    No use trying to install win 98 or any other os on that hard drive until it is fixed, that would be a waste of your time as it wont work.
  19. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +36

    Hey u can also try Hiren's BootDisk. It's great and comes with a ton of utilites that u can operate from DOS, including virus scanners and the like. Just make a CD with the ISO image and boot ur PC with it. Google for it.
  20. nork

    nork TS Maniac Posts: 306

    Thats good advice as well, as long as he knows he must repair the mbr.
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...