General discussion

Disk boot failure: What is it and what can I do to resolve it

Jul 26, 2007 7:20AM PDT

I'm receiving a "disk boot failure" error each day when I try to boot up my desktop. What does this mean exactly? It appears, with rare exceptions, only when the PC is started each morning. Once or twice in the six weeks since I purchased the computer, the error did not appear. If I shut the PC down and restart it, everything appears to run OK. I've run diagnostics on all the hardware, followed the recommendations on the HP site to correct this error, run chkdsk and talked to the HP tech support. The only thing left is to wipe my hard drive and do a system recovery. Before doing that, I need to know if there is anything else I can try.

Submitted by: Marlene O.

This answer was voted most helpful by our community members


Disk Boot Failure - Some Things To Try


The disk boot failure could come from a number of sources. As an ex-HP tech, I can offer some solutions one or a combination of which will hopefully correct the error.

First, check your BIOS settings to see if S.M.A.R.T drive reporting is enabled. If it is, disable it and give it a test run of 2-3 days under a regular rebooting cycle to see if the error persists. S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)is a somewhat outdated standard developed as an "early warning" system to detect hard disk issues. If your desktop is newer, it may not even be available as an option as it is not widely used these days. The SMART technology while useful under certain circumstances had an extremely wide margin of error and would throw errors on boot occasionally when there would be nothing from either a physical or configuration standpoint failing or pending failing in the drive.

While we're in the BIOS, I'd recommend that you ensure that it is recognizing the drive correctly on each startup. The easiest way to ensure this is to reset your BIOS default settings. While on the BIOS screen, look for an indication either along the top or bottom designated by one of the function keys (I believe it used to be F10 to restore defaults). Be sure to save your changes and exit. Again, where you did not get the error every time, you may need to monitor it's progress to see if the error returns.

Second, physically check all cabling. A loose or in some cases failing IDE cable (assuming it is an IDE and not SATA connection) will produce these errors in the Pavilion line (and most others I would well imagine). Power everything completely down, remove the side of the case to give access to the drives and start with reseating the cable both at the drive end and the controller (where they plug into the motherboard) ends. Ultimately, if you were to pick up (or could somehow borrow) a different IDE cable to test for a short time it may also call out a failed or failing cable as well.

Third, we can't overlook the possibility of a failed drive itself. Formatting and/or recovering the drive will most likely not correct an error of this type. If any of the steps on the HP forums resemble those suggested above and have already been attempted, the issue may well point to the disk itself. How old is your system out of curiosity. HP had a now-infamous recall issue back at the early part of 2001-2002 with a batch of Fujitsu brand hard disks. Although I am skeptical that there are still some of those offending drives floating around (and if so that you are only receiving errors 6 years later Happy), the company *are* still obligated to replace should the drive be determined to be part of this recall. I realize this option is quite a stretch given the timeframe.

Keeping with issues with the drive itself however, if all steps listed above don't correct the errors, there could be a strong possibility of a failing disk. Since you say it will boot on occasion the failure may not be severe enough at this stage to completely fail, but a total inability to boot may be looming on the horizon. If the system is still within the warranty, HP will replace the drive for you (you will most likely have to ship the tower to them in a postage-paid box they will send you if you are unfamiliar with the repair process).

Should the system be outside of any manufacturer or extended warranty you may have purchased additionally, you will need to purchase and have a new hard drive installed. Some facilities may be able to salvage information off your original disk for transfer (although where you are still at a point where your OS boots occasionaly, backing up data important to you is something I would go about starting ASAP) before installing the new one.

I hope one or a combination of the recommendations I've made correct your issue. Keep me posted if possible.

Submitted by: H41N

Please see below for additional advice from our members. If you have any additional recommendations for Marlene, let's hear them! Click on the "Reply" link to post. Please be detailed as possible in your answer. Thanks!

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System start and boot errors
Jul 27, 2007 12:34PM PDT

I would think that HP would have suggested this, but just in case. It is possible that the Boot options set up in the system CMOS are not set up properly, or may have been changed, normaly this wouldnt happen for a new computer, however if it was a demo, and someone reset the boot start up sequence it is a posibility, or if someone after played with the system bios, and reset by accident, I have learned not to be surpirzed by what can be done by accident, and people think they have touched nothing...

First, Try a test, put a floppy disk that you know is bootable into the floppy disk drive. Restart the computer, If the computer wont boot from the floppy disk, then it is probably because the boot sequence has been changed, which is why you may get the error your getting.

You can also skip that step and just go to the system Bios to check the CMOS settings for start up. The way to do that is to Restart the computer, and press F2 and hold on the keyboard, it will get you into the System Bios, then you will see options, you want to go the the CMOS settings. The CMOS start up sequence should be. 1.Floppy drive 2. CD-ROM/DVD drive 3. Hard Drive 4. Other If it is not set up that way, change it to that sequence. then save and quit.

Try that, Restart again, and you should no longer get that error message. If that is ok, and set properly already, then I would suggest making sure that your computer is able to read from all the drives properly. When you talk to HP and the store you got it from, write down dates, and times, and people you spoke with, Just in case there is a problem with mother board, or wiring, that requires you to take it back for repairs.

Good Luck,

Richard Elkind

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Boot Errors
Jul 27, 2007 1:01PM PDT

Since most new computers do not have a floppy, you can check to make sure your CD Rom is first in the boot order, then HHD next, etc. Since you say you bought it 6 weeks ago, I believe I'd have them send me a new one under warranty, and return the problem one. It's obvious that it wasn't set up correctly or has other issues with the read heads or has been tampered with. In any event, a new computer shouldn't be such a hassle.

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Boot Failure
Jul 27, 2007 4:50PM PDT

1. Check BIOS Settings - Your bootup error might be from starting from the wrong location, or the drive does not show in the BIOS, meaning it is either busted or old or just lazy...

2. Before trying to bite the PC in the face or do the ?CrashTest? check the drive selection on the Hard Drive next to the Data Cable, there should be an indication of which pins are for Master, Cable, or Slave selection. You can select the Cable selection or remove all jumpers.

3. If all else fails cheat, cheat until you get caught then lie!

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disk error
Sep 23, 2011 3:54AM PDT

My computer, at startup, states "Invalid system disk,please insert disk and press any key to continue." It is an older model with a floppy drive "Hp pavilion XG843" and runs on Windows XP Home Edition . What do I do to resolve this? Do I need a boot disk or a full system restart? Please help.

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Four years later?
Sep 23, 2011 4:03AM PDT

I think either the solution was told here or you need to install the OS and if this is a machine you FOUND or just acquired you check to see if it has a hard drive.

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Disk boot failure
Jul 27, 2007 12:57PM PDT

Before you start wiping your hard drive I'd check the BIOS settings on the computer and if you haven't done so and if it's possible on your computer renew the Nicad battery on the mother board. A 'disk boot failure' error message could just be that the bios is looking at the wronge drive! And that can happen after a cool night if the battery is on it's way out. Worth a try before you start formating!
Good Luck

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Yes, I replaced the sata cable and that resolved my problem
Aug 12, 2007 10:41PM PDT

Thanks for this answer. Is close enough but the failure continues. I Have the same problem as Marlene. I get error messages as "Disk boot failure" "Hard Drive Missing. "Hard drive 0 missing" and some other times "Disk Write Delay Failed". I have the following configuration. Asus AV8 Deluxe MOBO- AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Processor Socket 939, (2.2GB) CPU - 300GB Maxtor SATA HD.- 500GB SATA storage HD WD. 500GB Diamond max Maxtor Storage. 500 Watts power supply-- Radeon All In Wonder 9600XT. When this problem started taking place I has an IDE ultra 60GB HD where the Win XP SP2 was installed. After reading many forums I ended up replacing the HD. Big mistake as there was nothing wrong with it. Now I use only SATA HDs.
And the problem still exists. One thing I do to "TEMPORARILY" fix this problem is:
1. unplug the power cable of my PC
2. move the CMOS jumper to the second jumper position for 5 seconds
3. remove the CMOS battery and clear CMOS>
4. Reinstall the Battery
5. move the jumper back to its original position
6. Disconect and reconnect my SATA Drives at both ends (MOBO & HD)
7. Reconnect power line to my PC.
8. Restart my PC>
This provides me with a temporary fix ONLY but not permanent as the problem continues to take place. 3 weeks ago I replced the CMOS battery and my PC worked fine for 3 weeks uninterrupted but the problem came back. I put this PC together in 2005 so is not that old. All 3 HDs are practically new.
This past week I had it the worst. The problem was very persitent I read a lot of the articules posted here (A lot of guess work and BAD advise) I wish people that have no idea as to what the real solution is would astain from giving the wrong advise. I ended up replacing the SATA cable to my HD and that resolved the problem immediatellly. I have reasons to believe that SATA cable connectors are NOT reliabale and in fact loose enough to the point to allow oxidation to set in and from there the problems. So far my PC worked fine the entire weekend and hopefully will remain that way. Thank you for the advise. You and a couple of others really knew what you were talking about. The rest is just guess work at best.

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Aug 14, 2007 11:42PM PDT

buy a comparable western digital hard drive, image it (or replace and re-install from scratch) and that may very well fix your problem. i currently am running about 12 hard drives including externals, never had a maxtor last more than warrantied (most under 6 mos.), and have yet to have a problem w/a western digital, as tony would say they're greaaaaaaaaaaat!

to get one go to (very important for price!)
in the search box just type western and you are on your way!
p.s. prices listed include shipping, very easy!

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Replace the SATA cable
Dec 14, 2013 6:56AM PST

I researched and tried a number of possible solutions to this problem.

Replacing the SATA cable gave instant results.
I agree, these SATA cables dont seem very reliable or well designed. Never had this problem using IDE drives. I expect there is some way to securely fasten them to the HDD more effectively because as is the metal clip is not sufficient.

Thankyou heaps for your post.
I love u laltuna! xoxo

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how do i check BIOS settings ...
Apr 20, 2012 8:57AM PDT

When it won't even start? I keep getting the same error message as everyone else. I reboot (control+alt+del), turn off the tower, even unplug and it just wont get me anywhere. Completely frustrated to the point I'm ready to put my KelTec to it! ! PC is just 3 years old.

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May 29, 2012 10:28PM PDT

That was exactly my problem. After 10 (or less?) years, the battery (in my Windows XP desktop computer) wore-out. After inserting the new CR2032 lithium disc battery and booting the computer, I simply had to press the F1 function key (as prompted by Windows) to confirm using the factory default BIOS settings (which automatically get re-set when you replace the battery). Pressing F2 and entering the BIOS set-up utility was unnecessary for me.
The only thing left is to re-set the date and time, though if the box (in Date and Time Properties, within the Internet Time tab) is checked that auto re-sets date/time and you're online, that takes care of itself.

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Disk Boot Failure Solution
Jul 27, 2007 12:57PM PDT

Shut down the computer, and unplug the power cord. Now take the side of the case off. Find the hard drive, unplug the blue IDE cable and then the power cord that connects to the hard drive. Now wait a few seconds and then plug the power cord back to the hard drive, and then plug in the blue IDE cord back. Put the side of the case back on. Plug the power cord back, turn on the computer. And that should fix it, if it doesn't let me know.

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Disk Boot Failure
Dec 25, 2008 1:54PM PST

I have a P4 which is about 5 years old, i all of a sudden received a boot from cd error message. Fearing that i had lost my drive, i followed the easiest advice of turning of my pc, removing the power source, removing the case side panel, unplugging the power of my C: drive, unplugging the IDE cable. I waited a few seconds and plugged everything back and powered up my pc. What do you know everything is back to normal. Thanks for the advice guys.

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Disk Boot Failure
Jul 18, 2011 1:20AM PDT

Your solution is very god but is working only temporary, the problem appears. What cause this error?

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4 years old
Jul 18, 2011 4:34AM PDT

This discussion is 4 years old now. I hope you are not expecting a reply from that poster.

Why don't you use one of the forum links in the left hand column to go to an appropriate forum and start your own thread. Be sure to give full details of your system and of the problem.


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Disk Boot failure
Jul 27, 2007 1:03PM PDT

It's been my experience that when you get those messages intermittently, the hard drive is getting ready to crash. If you haven't done so, back up all your work or create a hard drive image and save it in case it does crash at an inconvenient time. You can then install a brand spanking new hard drive and load all your applications and files to it.

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Aug 5, 2007 4:02AM PDT

Hi, i'm new to PC & get quite alot of fail & Error Messages & The only way i kow how to solve the Problemm is Reboot with a Recovery XP SP2 Disk, but it has Build in AVG & you can not un-intsall it Sad.

I wish i could because i have Norton 2007 (And i am interested in Norton Ghost), but i can't run both = Instant Reboot Failer again loosing all my work, my fault i know because i dont back up.
/em SlapsMySelf. Ouch !

I'm wondering if i use AVG Because i have to :-/.
Will Norton Ghost solve any of my issues?
Or should i allways try & Backup & set a new System Restore?

Thx For Any Questions & Help Wink. & State You'r Msg. Thank You!

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yes your are correct
Aug 29, 2009 7:15PM PDT

But when your computer is about fail cloning your hard drive is your best bet, in the case of a laptop all you need is a 2.5 ide pata or sata hard drive enclosure kit. This will allow you connect your new hard drive to your computer via a special usb cable (included) and with then help of some cloning software like norton's ghost you can copy all your file to the new hard drive including the operating system then it is as easy as removing the old hard drive from your laptop and replacing it with the hard drive you just created

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Get SpinRite
Jul 27, 2007 1:10PM PDT

Buy a copy of SpinRite:
It's expensive, but it'll find and fix HD errors. Sometimes it'll get a flaky drive to behave long enough to transfer your data off. Or it'll confirm that your HD is OK and you have a different issue.

The HD cables could have come loose or gone bad... possibly the former, unlikely the latter.

Running MemTest86+ is also a good idea:
If that finds any errors then you either have some bad RAM, a bad motherboard, or a bad power supply. Odds are it'll report that everything is OK but it's good to know.

I'd bet on a failing HD and/or a broken Windows installation, most likely the HD.

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Also make sure you didn't leave any floppy discs or CDs in
Jul 27, 2007 1:13PM PDT

the drives. If they're not bootable they'll cause that error.

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how to get ride of error
Aug 11, 2007 7:38PM PDT

hi I am hasan hasanat from jordan I want to take place to solve this problem first of all check at the comes that the pc identifid the hard disk or net if it,s ok check if there is afloppy disc in the floppy drive if there is no go and recover the windows you may have viurs in your pc

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Ominous Disk
Jul 27, 2007 1:17PM PDT

Since it's intermittant, it's very possibly a sign of a hard disk going bad. Since you mentioned that you've only had it six weeks, I'd take it back to the store where you bought it. Before you get much invested in it, in terms of work and files and such, it's best to get that drive replaced and re-imaged.
If there's no warrantee, replacement hard-drives are relatively inexpensive. Hopefully you have the system installation disks to restore your system software.

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disk boot failure" error
Jul 27, 2007 1:28PM PDT

I noticed that you said you've only had this computer for six weeks. Well, it must still be under some type of warranty program. I suggest that you go to the people you bought the unit from and get them to fix the problem. Why should you have to put up with this? Put it on their shoulders to get it working right. People should always contact the sellers of this equipment if your system is not working right! Stand up for your rights!!!

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Disk Boot Failure
Aug 17, 2007 6:41PM PDT

I accept all the good advice given on this matter, but fundementally this error message is emitted by the BIOS on the motherboard, and indicates that the boot sequence is failng.
On pre XP machines DOS was used to load Windows and the sequence to loading DOS was to load IO.sys, DOS itself and execute the internal command within DOS or autoexec.bat. In due course would be loaded and if all the bits of code were in place then windows would come up.
With XP this dos sequence is hidden and eventually the loader for XP is loaded and XP comes up in the same way.

There are a few excellent utilities within Windows for making boot disks for pre XP machines, and some excellent work externally for rewriting boot tracks. All however need some minimal work to make their function seamless and appropriate for the home user.

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Nov 27, 2008 2:29PM PST


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Try replacing the cable!
Jul 27, 2007 1:33PM PDT

I had a problem similar to yours, did a lot of digging on google and got lots of advice, ran a bunch of diagnostics and could not find any problems. I thought my drive was ready to fail, so I looked into replacing it. But I happened to have a spare SATA cable lying around, and for the heck of it, tried replacing the cable. Since then, I've had no problems!

My advice - before you buy a new hard drive, buy a replacement cable and see if that makes a difference. You might save yourself lots of $$$, like I did!

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Try replacing the hard drive interface cable!
Aug 3, 2007 1:19PM PDT

I have been in the computer and electronics industry since 1962. I have found that whilst product is often well designed the production people love to save a few cents here and there and usually it is always with connectors. I have seen quite a few problems with the ide 40 pin connectors and I guess the new SATA cables and their fragile looking connectors are almost begging to cause trouble. These cables are very cheap and whilst HP should fix it all under warranty often the hassle is not worth it. If you can replace the Hard drive data cable with a replacement cable you will save yourself all the hassle of having to reload all your data and programs again. Do save any data you have eg documents or pictures etc and do not forget to save any emails which are a pain because they are stored in the Documents and settings folder in an obscure location.
So your action plan should be
1. Save/backup your email, your documents and pictures and music.
2. do not bother trying to backup your programs because generally they need to be installed not just copied back.
3. Unplug the AC mains cable so the computer is NOT powered on. Replace the hard drive cable or at least unplug it and then re-plug it back in again. If you have a spare 4 pin power lead in the computer (with yellow, black, black, red) then unplug the power connector from the hard disk and swap it over with the spare, if not then unplug and then re plugin the power connector as I have seen these give trouble, but the error message is usually "hard drive 0 missing" or something similar.
4. Listen for any noises of the hard drive spinning up when you turn on the p/c, with practice you can easily tell if the hard disk is starting, it is just a quiet whirring noise, but it is important to note if it is starting up.

Good luck and remember the motto "He or She who backs up their data can smile when things go pear shaped in the computer."


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respond to Marlene
Jul 27, 2007 2:11PM PDT

Hi, I had a problem somewhat similar to yours.
The restore option has been on since I had my computer. I started to do a restore operation on every restore date available from the date I start having problem, and after restoring to five earlier restore point of the bad operation starting day, I got back a stable PC.

I also lost the use of some program I had download and tried in this period, so it appear that one of those program was interferring in my system, and I did not retry any of them since.

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Re: Disk boot failure
Jul 27, 2007 2:58PM PDT


Until recently I was experiencing the same boot failure problem. It's weird as the problem began when I installed Vista. Since it seems that your computer is new, I assume that's the operating system. The solution is to leave the Windows vista (or your recovery cd) in the drive when you start up your computer, but don't press any keys when prompted to boot from it, then the operating system will load. This is only a quick fix though.

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Since this is a new computer....
Jul 27, 2007 3:00PM PDT

Ordinarily, I'd tell you to back up all your data and then do a clean install. However, this is not an ordinary situation. Since this is a new computer, and the problem you are describing has been happening since you got it, I suggest backing up your personal data, reinstalling the factory software, and returning the computer immediately. There is no reason that a computer that you just bought should do something like this. They should have immediately advised you to do this. Either there is something wrong with the computer or it is not new. In either event, you are entitled to an exchange.


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