Windows Xp Boot Failure : System Halted (Setup Cannot Access Disk)

By kl44 ยท 24 replies
Dec 21, 2004
  1. I was curently running Win Xp when ive gotten a blue screen about unmountable volume so i tried to just re-install all of Win Xp. Well now i get black screen that reads "boot failure system halted". I dont have a Win Xp cd just Win Xp upgrade cd. i tried to put that one in but i was told you need the full cd.I recently found a disc that read Winows Xp OS so i thought i would give that whirl. I put that in and it goes through the installation process i get to the user agreement and to the screen where its says press ENTER or R to repair.Ive tried to press enter but i have no partions listed. where they should be in the box below i have (setup cannot access this disk).Anyone have any thoughts? I was thinkin there was something wrong with the HDD although it detects it in BIOS.Well I'm lost i cant find any help....anyone..anyone? lol
  2. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    First, you might have failing hard drive or have had a head crash in a system sector of the hard drive. That is very probably what is giving you the BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death). Also, if it was just a damaged sector, reinstalling and reformatting the hard drive should take care of it. But if it is a truely failing hard drive you will very probably still have the BSOD problem.

    Second, you can do a full install from an upgrade CD on to an unformatted hard drive. You just have to have the CD of a qualifying Windows version and you just have to put it in when the installation process asks you for it.

    Third, the installation process gives you a chance to format the hard drive. You seem to have missed it and gone right past it. I don't remember the details now, but I did a full "clean" install from an upgrade CD and did reformat my hard drive during the process. I had the CD for my previous, qualifying, Windows 98 SE system. By "clean" I mean that I wrote binary zeroes to my entire hard drive before formmatting - which also you can do during the installation. Start over again and watch carefully for the opportunity to reformat your hard drive.

    Post here again with how you make out - successfully or not.

  3. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I cant continue with the reinstall because i reach the screen after the user agreement which states select which partion u want to install Win XP can press ENTER to do a new install C to put it on the unpartioned parts or D to delete partions.Then it says use up and down arrows to select the partion and what you want to do with it.Well I have none to select because there is only the text that reads (setup cannot access this disk) the only thing i did was put the cd in and follow the instructions i havent came apon formatting ...eek... lol
  4. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90

    It sounds like you have a bad harddrive. Are you familiar with the sticky insides of your pc?
  5. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    I agree with Hoopajoop. The only thing I can think of trying before telling you to junk the hard drive is to boot into DOS from a floppy, if you have a bootable floppy, and see if you can detect the C: drive and try and format it from there.

    I think there is a way to boot into DOS from the Windows CD but I don't know how. Put the Windows CD in and boot. Press any key when it asks you if you want to boot from the CD. I suspect that just after this if you press F8 repeatedly it will give you the boot selection menu and you can choose the Command Prompt. If this works it will probably position you on the CD drive. But here I'm just guessing.

    Failing that, try putting in another hard drive, even an old one, that you know is working and see if you can get any further in the installation process. If you can, then this hard drive is definitely kaput.
  6. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    now ive ventured into C:> prompt of course here it gave me the option to format but when i tried to do that i just get " the specified drive is not valid,or there is no disk in the drive" ive just been playing around with the commands nothing happens.I'm working on getting a HDD over here to test it to see if the HDD is bad or not. although i do think it saw the white light and walked towards it i better go get my shovel eh
  7. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90

    The reason I askd you if you are familiar with the insides of your computer is that you should check the cables to make sure they are seated properly and that there is no damage to them. If anyone has been in your machine you may also want to check the jumper settings.

    Barring jumper settings, and cable problems, i'd still say you have a bad harddrive.

    Good luck.
  8. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    And, the reason I suggested you try another HDD that you know is OK is precisely to check the cables and the rest of the system. If that works then the only thing that could be at fault is your current HDD. It is often difficult/impossible to tell by just physical and/or visual checking whether the cables or your mobo or some other board are damaged or physically seated (plugged in) properly or not.

    Of course the problem with your current HDD could still be either incorrect jumper settings and/or the cables (data, power) not being pushed in into it properly. If you have checked those, and I presume you have by now, and the other HDD works then your current HDD is truely kaput.

    Even then it may not be physically damaged. The fact that you are seeing the C:> prompt would indicate that it is physically OK. I suspect that you need to do what is called low-level formatting. That is usually done at the factory and needs to be done before the normal formatting that we all know about. I've never had to do low-level formatting so I can't help you further there.

    Of course all this may not be cost effective in terms of your time and effort - except possibly to learn. It may be simpler, quicker and cheaper to just get/buy another HDD. If you have a current warranty on this HDD you could get a replacement. But those are decisions for you to make.

    Let me also wish you Good Luck!!!
  9. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90


    If you know the manufacturer of your hard drive you may be able to download tools to do a low level format. Most hdd manufacturers include that, but it probably wouldn't have it if it's a prebuilt system.It will take a LONG time so be prepared to wait. Often times there is little or no notification either. Just a start and finished.
  10. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    i got another hdd that i know is in working order i put it in and i get the decision to start window in safe mode...start normally etc. well no matter what i push it just keep retstarting and restarting it dosnet go into windows . Is it suppose to do that ? ive been playing around with diffrent jumpers and what not to see if maybe thats the cause. no luck yet....i dont know if n e one tampered with the insides before i recieved this or not so i thought maybe it had wrong jumpers to start. when i first got this computer it did the unmountable volume screen but i somehow got onto it i remeber playing on it. i forget what i did but it did work. i went to reinstall windows and i got the option to format and i formatted it but then it shut down and never let me log back onto windows.this was a long bit ago i even forget playin with it since i have 2 older computer i keep just in case im strickin with bad luck lol. i was given this one to fix but i dunno if i screwed it up or what not.anyways...any new thoughts :D

    i just put the old HDD (the supposed bad one) in a diff computer i know works. now i have a "insert BOOT disk in A: Press any key to continue"......
  11. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    Looks like your computer system itself is faulty - not your supposedly bad HDD.

    I suggest you put your supposedly bad HDD in a different "working" computer, boot from your Windows CD, format the HDD to NTFS and install Windows on it there. If you can do that then the supposedly bad HDD is not really bad. It just got screwed up somehow when you tried to install Windows on it.

    Then I would suspect either the power supply unit or the mobo of the faulty computer. It may just need a BIOS upgrade. You may just need to change the BIOS settings for your now proven good HDD. The power cable from the wall to your computer's power supply unit or from your power supply unit to the mobo may not be properly and firmly plugged in or connected. The power supply unit itself may be failing. The mobo itself may be failing. It could be any one of a number of things that is bad.

    But I don't think the jumpers on either of your HDD's are the problem.

    You will have to play with it and see what you can come up with. If you have a current warranty on the computer you might want to get the vendor to deal with the problem. You could try exchanging the power supply unit and the mobo with the other "working" computer one at a time to see if you can "shift" the problem. Or replace the power supply unit and/or the mobo with a new one. Or junk the whole computer system itself completely!!!

    Good luck!!!
  12. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    i tried to install windows on the HDD that i put in a working computer...hmph...:( gave me the same options and the same errors could not find specified drive ... obviously its the HDD now
  13. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    I agree, it is a faulty HDD. What about the "working" HDD you moved to the first computer? Is it working OK there?
  14. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    i didnt know what u meant by change the BIOS do u mean did i change it to boot from HDD first ?
  15. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    No, I meant the type of HDD. It may be looking for a type of HDD other than the one you have. If there is a option to set it to Auto Select (or Auto Detect?) you should try that. I'm sorry I can't be more precise. I don't know your computer and I am not sure if all computers provide the Auto Select option.

    As for boot order your normal device, i.e. your HDD, should be last in the sequence.
  16. kl44

    kl44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    just put the old hdd back in the old computer ... just for my own amusment i put the disc in so i could say ooo well n put the new hdd in. but then it loaded windows xp until i hit a screen that says insert a full version of any windows ... i thought it was said u dont have to have a full version a upgrade cd will work ?
  17. Gunny

    Gunny TS Rookie Posts: 66

    You can do a full install from an upgrade CD of Windows XP provided you have a CD of a qualifying earlier Windows version. The CD for the qualifying Windows version can itself be an upgrade CD - it does not have to be a full-install CD.

    That is how I installed Windows XP. During the install I reformatted my HD and proceeded with the full install. When it asked me for the CD of a qualifying Windows version I inserted the upgrade CD for Windows 98 SE. And it went through without any problems.
  18. david-swanson

    david-swanson TS Rookie

    Hi, I am also having this problem. My hdd disk is fine but it just wont read it! :mad:
  19. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Kl44 where are you at right now? Have you reinstalled the OS? If not, I would like to make a suggestion: You were looking to reinstall XP as a solution to the Ferro you were experiencing. That may not be necessary. Your mbr may be corrupted and that is why you are not booting. If you have or can get a Win98 Boot Disk (available at, boot to the disk and at the command prompt run fdisk /mbr. If you cannot get a Win98 Boot Disk, use the XP CD in repair mode to run fixmbr. The fdisk /mbr is my first choice because it will also zero-out the partition signature, which fixmbr will not. I don't know whether this will solve the problem, but it is worth the shot since you are having trouble reinstalling XP.

    As a note aside, the fact that the "good" drive you installed did not boot, may not be evidence of anything wrong with your system. The partition signature, including the drive letter assignment, of the original drive is recorded in the registry. The partition signature of the "good" drive you installed would be different, and therefore your system would not boot.
  20. trunksi

    trunksi TS Rookie

    actuall i have the same problem some speciallist say that i may have broken the mbr.. if u have an ultimate boot CD u can zero fill your hdd than try to install your os..
  21. Paulbocio

    Paulbocio TS Rookie

    Same Problem :/

    As for me, here's what I went through.

    I have a Toshiba Satelite P15-S409, with some pretty out-of-date grahpics drivers. It took me a while to mess around with NIVIDA installations (which we incompatible w/ my card), but I finally found a working one. After playing World of Warcraft (BC Expanded), I ran into the Error #132, a problem conflicting most often with drivers. I decided that I would just re-install windows and start from scratch. I rebooted my laptop after WOW locked up, arriving to the message

    "Disk Read Error". I assumed it had something to do with a bad boot, so I threw in ye' old recovery CD and "Chkdsk" to see what was up. After having to /p it, it told me there were everal unrecoverable problems on my HD. Oh well, I'm re-formatting it anyway. I fixbooted and fixmb'ed, just to come up to the next error after the reboot.

    "NTLDR Missing". I went to Microsoft's website and went through all of the directions to replace the file. Copied it from the recory CD onto the drive itself, and it still wouldn't read. So I threw in the CD again, and just went with a clean install of windows. Somewhere between me partitioning my drive into a 40/20 Master & Backup drive, the computer cut off. Now when I turn it on and try to access my partitions, I'm reminded of my 57888 bytes of space that aren't accessible. It states, "Cannot Access this disk". I highly doubt my Hardrive could go bad over a 2 hour course like this. But I have been seeing alot of BSOD's (post video driver installation). I'd appreciate if someone can tell me wtf to do from here.
  22. medicnot911

    medicnot911 TS Rookie

    Ide Cables

    Hey guys i noticed you were talking about boot failures and i just recently resolved a problem similar to this one this pc i was fixing kept giving me the bsod and saying boot failure system halted i tried near everything and nothijng resolved this until i replaced the disks ide cables and all was well not saying this is what will work for you but its worth a shot cuz you can never rule out a bad connection
  23. boyguapo

    boyguapo TS Rookie

    i have this problem also...

    but i reformat my hdd, is already done, work very well, but after a one day, the problem is back.. so.. any idea...
  24. topman99

    topman99 TS Rookie


    I agree, i've encountered this problem also and i figured it out by replacing the IDE cable...
  25. plasma dragon00

    plasma dragon00 TS Rookie Posts: 172

    not to hijack your thread but i have one quick question:

    both of my hard drives are about ready to die. seagate disc tools hard drive diagnostic software reported both drives "failed with critical errors". my parents have an old ibm 13.6 gig hard drive. im formatting it with windows right now, and plan to use it as a sole OS drive for dual boot between ubuntu linux and windows xp home. now im not selling this hard drive or anything, so do you think using windows formatting (right click it, click format, select ntfs, so on and so forth) or should i use dban to completely zero fill it?
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