DISK BOOT FAILURE error message

By Centurio ยท 21 replies
May 16, 2005
  1. Problem: When I try to boot Win XP from harddisk, I get an error message: DISK BOOT FAILURE INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER.

    I'm running Win XP professional on a Soyo Dragon Plus mainboard carrying an Athlon Palomino 2100+ and 2*512 Infineon DDR RAM. BIOS is Award v6.00PG. Two WD 60GB harddisks (same model) are currently Master/Slave on the primary IDE channel, with the OS installed on HD-0 (Master). On the secondary IDE channel there are a BTC DVD rewriter (Master) and a Cyberdrive CD rewriter (Slave). HD-0 contains one primary partition for Win XP Professional (active) and one extended partition with two logical drives, HD-1 one extended partition with three logical drives. All partitions are formatted to NTFS.

    Funny thing is, the computer will boot into XP without any problem when I set the BIOS boot sequence to CD ROM as first and HD-0 as second boot device, leave my XP installation disk in a CD-ROM drive and refrain from pressing a key when asked to do so in case I want to boot from CD ROM. In fact, the machine does not really seem to care about the BIOS boot sequence, as long as CD ROM is selected as the first boot device - it will boot into my XP on HD-0 even if HD-1, HD-2, HD-3 or even SCSI is selected as the second boot device.

    Once past the boot phase, the system runs like a charm and is rock-stable - no other glitches, no hang-ups, and I even can't remember when it last went BSOD on me.

    What I've tried up to now, to no avail:
    1. Playing around with the boot sequence in BIOS setup.
    2. Rewriting the MBRs and the boot sectors using FIXMBR and FIXBOOT, both from the recovery console.
    3. Switching the two harddisks on my primary IDE channel from Master/Slave to Cable Select, and back again.
    4. Clearing CMOS ram.
    5. Letting the BIOS re-detect the harddisks.
    6. Setting HD-1 to None in BIOS Setup.
    7. Temporarily removing the data cable from HD-1.
    8. Looking at the HD MBRs or the boot records with a hex editor does not reveal anything out of the ordinary. These structures, including the partition tables, appear quite straightforward and clean.

    And oh, BTW - I also run the latest Soyo BIOS which was published for my mainboard.

    Now, I'm fresh out of ideas. Judging by the error message I get I suspect I'm dealing with a BIOS-related problem - the message is a BIOS error message, not generated by Windows. What I don't understand is how the BIOS can see my two harddisks well enough to identify them correctly during POST and on the BIOS Setup screen but obviously fails to recognize them at boot time without external help from the XP installation disk.

    Anyone out there think of something elso I could try?
  2. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    Hello and welcome to Techspot.

    Have you tried doing a repair install of Windows as per this thread?

    I don`t know if it`ll solve the problem, but it might be worth a try.

    Regards Howard :wave: :wave:
  3. Centurio

    Centurio TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 25

    Thanks a lot.

    No, not yet, and intentionally so. Doing a repair install definitely is an option, but one I'd like to save until the very last. I'd prefer to solve the prob without having to resort to a repair, if at all possible; for now I'm just shying away from having to reinstall the service packs and all those hotfixes. Took me hours (although I'm well aware that I've spent more time trying to fix what must be broken)!

    Regards, Martin A
  4. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    I know what you mean. doing all the Windows updates again is a bit of a pain.

    Fortunately it`s almost a year since I had to do anything like that. Oh no is that the kiss of death I ask?

    Regards Howard :grinthumb
  5. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    AutoPatcher will save some time and aggro with the patching, if you have to go that route:AutoPatcher

  6. Centurio

    Centurio TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 25


    Thx for your advice. Will keep it in mind.

    Regards, Martin A
  7. Centurio

    Centurio TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 25

    I'm more than happy to report that I've managed to get a grip on my boot problem, at long last.

    The trouble was caused by the HD0/HD1 data cable. I had been using a round cable to improve airflow to the processor fan although I knew the round cable was slightly out of spec for UDMA-5 (i.e. a tad longer than the allowed 45 cm). It had worked allright with my 98SE installation on my older 60GB WD harddisk, but the trouble began when I added another HD (same model) and installed Win XP Pro on it, at the same time getting rid of 98SE. After replacing the round data cable with a flat one today, things are finally working again like they should.

    What this boils down to, for me, is that there can be critical differences between HDs (and probably other hardware items, for that matter) of the same make and even the same model. My second, newer, HD obviously expects me to stick much closer to the spec than the first one did.

    This is just something you might want to bear in mind when facing otherwise inexplicable problems.

    In any case, I'm glad that I won't have to do a repair install - especially as most likely it would not have made my problem go away.

    Regards, Martin A
  8. raebees

    raebees TS Rookie

    great info, thanks for the update on what actually resolved your problem. i see so many forums where people post their problems, other people post things to try, then you never hear whether or not it worked. its like reading a whole book only the find the last page is missing!!
  9. jfarrug

    jfarrug TS Rookie

    disk boot failure

    I have the exact same problem in that windows XP home edition gives me a "Disk Boot Failure" error, unless i have a bootable CD in my CD player.
  10. alphaint

    alphaint TS Rookie

    It's not much more than a comment...

    The only time i've seen that error is when i was using a WesterDigital HD and i had the jumper settings on it set to Master with no other Hard Drive on my system. Even though this is correct (or good enough) on most all other HDs, Western Digital has caused probelms for me set up this way. If i you only have one hard drive and it's a Western Digital, you do not need a Hard Drive jumper. If you have two hard drives, then you will need to set the jumper(s) appropriately. This comment comes from my experience with 4 Western Digital Hard drives ranging from 80Gb and up.

    Like i said...just a thought

  11. jfarrug

    jfarrug TS Rookie

    The system wasworking fine until i used the windows XP recovery console and changed the mbr and diskboot. I then got the disk boot error and when i changed back to my old mbr, the error persisted. At present i can only boot if i keep a bootable cd in my optical drive. I can then select booting from the cd or from the hard disk.
  12. abbefekadu

    abbefekadu TS Rookie

    unable to boot from CD-ROM

    it's my frist ... but, i hope u can help and teach me as well.
  13. abbefekadu

    abbefekadu TS Rookie

    i'm unable to boot from the CD-ROM
    i see an error masage " boot from CD-Rom faild please insert system disk ..."
    Why is that?
  14. Centurio

    Centurio TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 25

    Stupid question, I know - but still...

    First: are you sure the CD-ROM in your drive is really bootable? To verify this it'd be easiest to try it in another machine.

    Second: if your CD-ROM is in fact bootable, it may be scratched and/or dirty.

    Third: your (data) cable may be defect or non-spec.

    Fourth: your drive may be defect.

    After having made sure that my hardware is all right, I'd delete the drive from my system configuration, reboot and let Windows find it again.

    If none of the above works and the problem persists, I'm at my wit's end...

    Regards, Martin A
  15. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    have u set set the first boot device in the BIOS as CD. there could be a whole lot of other problems but this is the first one I think of.
  16. gyurika

    gyurika TS Rookie

    To Centurio

    I was amazed that someone else (and then j... also) figured that with an [ignored] XP disk in the drive the system would boot.
    OK, I will now swap the cable (SATA). However I do not understand that if it is a cable problem, then how come only the booting causes a problem (and following BIOS settings) and after that it would work?
    The only thing that figures in this that it started when I was talking on he phone with my wife! The mouse froze (I was still OK) the computer started continuously beeping, so I figured I would push a button to end its misery. Well, that is when my started...
    Thanks for all your inputs.
  17. Centurio

    Centurio TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 25

    Quote by old Bill S.: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Serious, I have no idea. Exactly this same question had me tearing my hair out for weeks.

    SATA, huh? My prob was with a PATA cable. You may not be dealing with a cable length issue after all, unless your cable is longer than 1 m. AFAIK, SATA cables can be up to 39 in (1 m) long and still be compliant to the spec. So, you may have to look somewhere else to resolve this. On the other hand, I seem to remember reading somewhere that SATA cables are susceptible to accidental unplugging, so it could pay to reseat those connectors.

    However, it surely won't hurt to try a different cable, if only to exclude one possible cause for the defect.

    Regards, Martin A
  18. gyurika

    gyurika TS Rookie

    The solution for me

    Hi, of course cudos to Bill...
    Knock on wood, so far it appears I found the culprit. How the culprit happened, when it happened, (if recently: why would a BIOS setting change) if not recently, then how come it never bothered the computer before.... but what happened was, I got in the BIOS because that was one thing I could do...
    And I just went through the settings and also clicked on harddrive... And there I noticed that the other disk was set as first boot device.
    After the scare I got serious about backing up, and wiped the second drive to make a backup there in case I was dealing with a disk failure coming... and in the process I had to figure out the serial numbers of the two disks. These numbers had been meaningless to me before, that is why I had had no clue which was which so it did not matter which one was on top. But now I could tell, changed the order, and ever since it is working fine, I even feel it is booting faster...
    As I said, Bill was right, this one will go down as a success story that I understand nothing about... Maybe virgin Mary had the same feeling...
    Thanks for your reply,
  19. sparxx

    sparxx TS Rookie

    Just an update - had same probs as mentioned above. Reseated the Sata cable to hard drive - everything ok now.
  20. john_peter_t

    john_peter_t TS Rookie

    john---can u teach me how to trouble shoot my system when it shows a "disk boot failure "
  21. Jinto

    Jinto TS Rookie Posts: 49

    Rather then make a new thread I simply will ad my problem to this one. I too am having the "disk boot failure" situation. My problem started about a couple days ago when I turned on my computer and about 20 minutes later a message appears within the toolbar area stating something along the lines of, "warning, system 32/"" ""/"' ""/.exe may be corrupt". I ignored it and opened up Firefox and then about 1 minute into my web browsing the same message appeared again this time saying firefox.exe was corrupt.

    I sent the error report to Microsoft and then I received a link to a solution page on their website. It said to open up the command prompt and enter, "dskchk" or something like that. After I restarted my computer I then received the disk boot error.

    I sorta jumped the gun like an ***** and inserted the XP disk without asking for help. What I think I did was installed another copy of XP on the same hard drive or something like that and now when I start up my computer I shows to Windows XP options. The first one works but the second one doesn't and the screen just goes black. What the hell have I done?
  22. benhanson

    benhanson TS Rookie

    Lifesaving Comment

    alphaint, your "not much more than a comment" was just the bit of information I needed to fix my Disk Boot Failure issue. It led me to rearrange my jumper settings and now all is working perfectly. Thank you so much! Allow me to explain my situation below:

    Thank you for this thread Centurio! You are a true tech troubleshooter. And just as you concluded, my issue also had to do with my hardware. My situation is that my hard drive and CD-rom are sharing an ATA/IDE cable; it is a splitter that allows TWO devices to be connected to ONE connector on the motherboard (it's a newer board that supports SATA, so what I need to do is buy a new SATA hard drive, but still saving for that).
    Because of the shared connection, I had the jumper settings on my hard drive set to Master and on my CD-drive to Slave (seems like common sense to me). In BIOS, I had the Boot Priority set right and everything was recognized. For whatever reason, after having a fresh Windows XP installation running and working perfectly, whenever I would go to restart, my motherboard's boot utility program would begin and show me the boot error. However, like most in this thread, inserting the Windows installation disk at turn on would somehow be the thing needed to jumpstart windows and then my hard drive installation would kick in and take over from there and run just fine...until next restart; same thing all over again.
    It was alphaint's comment that led me to tinker with the jumpers. Here is the ONLY configuration that works for me: CD-rom set to Master and Hard-drive with no jumpers at all...that's right, just take them off and set them aside! For some reason, this is how it needs to be set up and at turn-on, everything works like a charm with Windows starting from the Hard Drive right at the get-go. Thanks to all who have posted!

Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

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