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


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 S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)is a somewhat outdated standard developed as an "early warning" system to detect hard disk issues.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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It's a motherboard problem

Exact same problem I have like Marlene. Fortunately, I have two hard disks installed on my computer so I can diagnose it better. Mine was not a hard disk problem because during POST, it will not detect both hard disks and it will only show "NONE". It will however, continue bootup and will say "disk boot failure". THIS IS A MOTHERBOARD PROBLEM

Marlene, I have to ask you, during POST, what do you see? If on the "Detecting IDE Drives", you cannot see the hard disk or it says NONE, it's a motherboard problem.

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I hear that...

I kept loosing my harddrive, system couldn't see it, loss the device manager as well...swapped out the mobo and great.

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Have you checked bios boot settings?

In some circumstaces this error can result from the bios having a non boot drive as the first selection in the boot priority section if you have more than one Hard drive installed. If it is this normally on a startup you get the error then when you press enter the machine then boots correctly. To correct this you enter the bios on starting your machine. Award Bios generally require pressing the Del key as your machine starts up before the windows startup begins and some HP machines require ctl + atl + esc or F1 but the HP screen you see on starting your machine should describe which key or keys should be pressed to enter your bios. Once in the bios look for the section that has the boot order in it. On most bioses it is the section before the exit section. Look at the drives selected to boot from and in what order (you can change the boot order to try booting from your CD/DVD drive first or from your floppy etc and for a slightly faster boot select the hard drive as the first one). If the non boot hard drive is showing as the active hard drive for booting change to the correct hard drive, usually you can swap them by pressing the + and - keys. Once you have the correct drive selected save the changes to your bios and restart your machine. If this was the issue you should no longer see the error.

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Disk Boot Failure

Dear Marlene,
Disk Bot failure error comes mainly because of corruption of the boot record stored on the disk. The best way to get rid of this is, go to command pompt and use "sys" command to reload the system files (original DOS files, namely,, IO.sys and MSDOS.sys

Then this problem will not reoccure

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Disk boot failure

I have had this message a number of times. There were different explanations on different occasions.

Before you do anything else, back up your computer. The time it takes to back up is much less than the time it takes to recover from a disk failure (if you can). I've been there. At the very least, back up your documents, pictures, music files, and data files.

Two possibilities you need to consider: your system is attempting to boot from a disk/drive/card without a system file, or your Master Boot Record (MBR)is faulty, a sign your hard disk may be about to fail.

The first possibility occurred to me: my computer (a Gateway Core 2 Duo) was giving me the message 'Unable to find DOS.' It turned out that it was trying to boot from a memory card in my USB-connected photo printer. When you boot/reboot, you may see a (sometimes brief) message "Press <Del> to setup BIOS options" or similar message. The keys are usually <Del>, <F2>, <F10>, or <F12>. When you are brought into your Setup screen, go to Boot Options. The most frequent sequence for boot is <Floppy> (if you have one), Optical Drive (CD/DVD drive) and HD0, your main hard drive. Unless you have a boot system on a USB flash drive, you do not want your machine to attempt to boot to a USB. This was the cause of my difficulty. I had to disable 'Boot USB First', an option I hadn't seen when I set up the machine.
If this does not work, you need to try to refresh your Master Boot Record. I have a program from GRC associates ( called SpinRite, which refreshes the signals on the tracks on your drives. It has save a failing drive long enough to allow me to copy it over to another drive. There are other programs, including free ones, that will refresh your MBR. A copy of your MBR is kept in the early tracks on the hard drive, and various programs will 'refresh' your MBR.
If you succeed in getting your computer to boot, I suggest you think about a new hard drive. The 'failure to boot' is often the early death call of a failing hard drive.
If your drive fails to boot, not all is lost. Borrow a hard drive from a friend who has the same OS as your computer. Use the other hard drive to back up your hard disk. Once a drive has failed to boot, I replace it and use it as auxiliary storage for non-critical data (e.g., music and video files I can replace).
I hope this is helpful.
Whatever the outcome of your situation, I cannot emphasize enough backing up your hard drives periodically (e.g., once a month) and your data files frequently (daily). Been there. Done that. Saved my skin more than once.

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Disk boot failure due to Memory Card

I have similar problems with a Dell that won't boot properly whenever another memory device (SD card, USB memory stick, external HD) is present. I've had several IT professionals look at this machine and none have been able to remedy the situation, so I just make sure that I turn on the external HD, and make sure there are no other memory devices in attached, after booting.

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Well written.

Good advice on the MBR fix. I never had a HDD failure that was polite enough to try it yet. What I did the last time was to reformat the drive and then use my backup to restore the computer. I got 2 months out of the defective drive before I pulled it.

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yes wipe drive and reload os

It will get rid of most errors that might come up. Wiping the system has so many advantages - but can be time consuming to put all your software and it's updates. Actually for heavy users it is quite normal to wipe the system once a year - especially if you try out all kinds of software. Everytime I wipe the computer - the first impression is that it runs much faster. This is because you put so much material on the hard drive over the years. On the other hand I know people who are opposite of me and their computer runs as slow as molasses and has errors. They find ways to adapt to the errors like rebooting. The best of both worlds is to install a second internal harddrive. Backup your data. Wipe your C drive/ reinstall your os,softwares and backup data. Buy and install a Norton Ghost - amazon has good prices - (used is fine). Ghost will backup whole system with everything on it and direct it to second hard drive.
Take the Ghost files and burn them to DVD as extra precaution.
From that point you can use your computer as you normally do. If you ever get a problem error or system gets sluggish you do system restore using ghost. It has taken me 12 minutes to completely restore my system.

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disk boot failure

once u have to insert your oprating system cd which is using by you like 98,xp.. and boot from cd and repair your system after that maybe your prob was resloved.

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Disk Boot Failure

When you turn on your computer, it searches for the boot device. The (disk boot failure) message comes when the computer fails to find the boot device. There are several reasons why it may fail to find it, the more obvious being that a non bootable disk has been left in the drive, or that the BIOS boot order settings are wrong.

The first thing I would do is check that I have not left a non bootable disk in one of the drives, especially in the floppy drive. Next I would check if the BIOS boot settings are in the correct order, I have known them not to be. Usually it is set to search for a boot devices in the following order.

1st Boot Device (Removable) this is usually the floppy disk drive.
2nd Boot Device (CDROM)
3rd Boot Device (Hard Disk)

To access the BIOS and check the settings, boot the computer. When you see the first splash screen, at the bottom it will normally tell you which key to press to enter the BIOS. Once in the BIOS, use the arrow keys to go to Boot. Here you will see the Boot Device Priority list. If it's in the wrong order you can correct it by clicking Enter on each of them in turn and selecting the right setting. When you've finished, press Esc to go back to the main menu, select Exit and save the new settings.

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New installation

I will advise you to install fresh window so that you can have total control of your desktop,but make sure you install all the utilities supplied by your desktop manufacturer if there is any.hope that will help,moreover if you know you have too much stuff on your desktop and you think you dont want to loose them,you can make backup of all those stuffs on cd.

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Disk boot failure

Hi Marlene,

A "Disk Boot Failure" commonly is caused when something is physically wrong with the harddrive ( something hardware related ).

You could try to defrag the harddrive if you want to, by using either the Windows Defrag tool ( Start --> All programs --> Accessories --> System Tools --> Defragmentation ).

Personally, I don't use that tool anymore.

In stead, I'm using Auslogics Disk Defrag ( ).

This is a freeware program that defrags your harddrive even quicker than the Windows tool.

If the defrag doesn't help you could try to find errors on the harddrive. To do this open Windows Explorer ( not Internet Explorer ) and click on "My Computer" and then look for the harddrive or drives if you have more than one.

Right-click on the harddrive and choose "Properties".

In the new window that appears click on the "Extra" tab and then look at the first section which says "Error Control" or something like that.

There is a button more to the right of it which says " Scan now" or something similar.

If you click that one you would probably have to reboot your machine and it will look for errors on your harddrive(s).

If that doesn't work, try to backup the data on the harddrive and simply buy a new one and just copy the files back to the harddrive.

I recommend using Cobian Backup for that.

I hope this answer helped you further.



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disk boot failure" error

i also experienced disk boot failure error message. I suggest 2 options 1) unplug your Hdd cable and plug it again, then boot your pc.2) go to setup- boot menu, then make your hdd your first boot.

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boot Problem

Have only foun this problem with older motherBoards as the cap (condenser) are leaking if this unit is not new then look at all the caps for leakage or bulging at the top thay should be flat
Yours Erica

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This problem tends to indicate a hard drive that's a little on the flakey side. If the drive is an old one, the platters my have been covered by and early medis coating using ferrous oxide, technically a refined form of rust. When you boot one of these old drives from a cold dead start. the drive begins to heat and correspondingly, the platter and media expand. This may account from the implied intermittancy of the problem. Unfortunately, the media will flake in microscopic bits as well. Newer drives have technically superior coatings or platings, like chromium dioxide.

In any event, backup your system onto a separate media ASAP, purchase a new drive and transfer your **** image over to the new drive using a utility like DriveCopy or any of the other suitible commercial packages. They make life easy and are pretty much fool proof if you have any technical savvy at all.

When your done, pull the old drive and make the new drive the master boot drive. You can use the old drive as a door stop, paper weight, techno sculture of for skeet shooting.

Good luck!

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Don't dump the hard drive yet!

When your computer starts, there is a screen that should appear that lets you change the boot sequence. It requires you to push a key, sometimes F8 sometimes F12, anyway, it should tell you which one to push. After pushing it, another screen should appear that shows how your computer looks for bootable devices. I have found that the best settings for proper boot up is to have the CD drive first, the hard drive second, and then all other drives and devices after that. If your computer is showing a network boot or a removable device as the first boot device, then that could be where your problem lies as the computer cannot find the device and possibly times out before it gets to the proper boot device.

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os not found

try hitting f11 key on reboot on the HP and use the non- advanced system restore , this will repair the windows files on the computer , sounds like it could be a corrupt boot sector or possible the hd, I would return the computer if this does not work .Also the AV on these new computers is usually only good for 60 days . I would try AVAST for home with the windows defender both free and so far, quite good.

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take it back

If the computer is only a few weeks old take it back.

I would probably take the side of and check the power and data leads are firmly connected to the hard drive and that everything else hasn't been disturbed in transit, but if its quite new and you are unfamiliar with the hardware, and HP have put their do not remove stickers across the side panels then you'll only invalidate the warrantee.

The error is usually because the PC cant read the boot sector of the hard drive, this is because its either not there or there is a read fault. As your system will boot sometimes It has to be the latter so i wouldn't carry out a recovery you'll only wipe off your data. You either have a data cable fault, a hard drive fault or a motherboard fault.

If you can get the side off the PC and the connections are all good, then have a look at what make the hard drive is. If you cannot then ask HP and see if they know. Once you know the make you can go to the manufacturers website where there is usually a free download to some hard drive tools that will interogate your hard drive more thoroughly and often cure simple faults.

After all is said and done, on a new PC, it's really the retailers problem so get them to do it.

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Boot failure

It looks like your drive don't have time to come up to working speed fast enough.
When you first boot up, the drive is still gaining RPMs when the system tries to access it, resulting in a failure.
On subsequent restarts, the drive is already running at the correct speed, so it's accessed correctly.
It could be that your PSU don't provide quite enough volts or current to the connector on witch the drive is connected. If that's the case, you may need to replace the PSU. This is however a low probability possibility.

But, it's more probable that the drive is faulty, it's motor been under-spects.

Another possibility, is that the drive have bad thermal compensation.
When you first startup, the drive is cold, but when you restart, it had time to warmup some. If the thermal compensation is faulty, the drive's heads can't be positioned properly on the tracks at some temperature, low in your case.
In that case, as the case of weak motor, you should get a replacement drive. A possibility would be to get a new drive and keep the original one and set it as the secondary one, used mostly for storing various personal files.

It's obvious that if the drive is slow to start or need to warm up to work properly, by the time you perform the various tests, the drive is comfortably up to speed and warmed up. Then, no test will show anything wrong.
One morning, DON'T start your computer, but bring it directly to a service center. Start it in front of a service man and show him the problem. Then ask for a waranty covered drive exchange.
As the system is relatively new, transfering your files to the new drive should be relatively easy and qwick.

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Re: Disk Boot Failure

The first thing I would suspect is that the hard drive is taking a bit too long to come up to proper operating speed. You'll want to go into your system BIOS. The BIOS is accessed differently on different machines, so check your system manual, or watch on your boot screen for access instructions, such as Press DEL. Once in the BIOS, review the various sub-sections, looking for a 'Quick Boot' option, and disable it, then save your changes and exit. This will allow the system to run a memory test upon bootup. The extra delay should provide the extra time needed for the drives to spin up to speed, which may alleviate your boot disk failure message.

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Disk Boot Failure

Hello Marlene,

While a "disk boot failure" can occur from a corrupt windows installation (in which case a full system restore from an image or restore CD's may solve your problem), it is often a sign of imminent hard drive failure and the hard drive should be replaced as soon as possible.

If you don't need to or don't want to save anything, then just reformat the hard drive and run the system restore CD's (or DVD) from HP that came with your computer. If you didn't receive any CD's or DVD's with your computer for restoring your computer, the files are on the computer and you have a utility from HP that will allow you to make restore CD's. You can find this on your start menu - program files. If using CD's you may need as many as six or seven blank CD-R CD's (do not use CD-RW disks).

Since your computer is probably still under warranty (unless you only got a 90-day warranty), your hard drive should be able to be replaced at no cost to you. If you bought the computer at a store, like Best Buy or Circuit City, they can do this for you, but don't do this yet if you want to save any of your data. To save your data, read on.

Before you start, gather up all your installation CD's from HP (or the ones you created) and any other software you've installed. If you downloaded software from the internet and the installation files are still on the computer (look on the desktop and any folder labeled "download" or "my downloads". Copy these also to a flash drive or CD. Print any email messages from purchased software that list your logon, password, product or activation keys.

If you want to save email, email account data, or favorites, you can do that also.

If you're using Outlook, your email files and data are contained in an outlook.pst file, which by default is located in C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\. Copy this file also. This folder is normally hidden, so you may need to go to My Computer - Tools - Folder Options - View. Under "advanced options, check the button that says, "Show Hidden Files and Folders". When you restore your PC, you will use this file to re-import your email, calendar and contact data.

If your operating system is Vista, your mail may be Windows Mail, which replaced Outlook Express. Your email will be in a folder called C:\Users\[your user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail,
but it will probably be easier for you to export your mail and contacts. Open Windows Mail and under the "File" menu, select "Export". For contacts use the CSV format and browse to your Documents folder for the location. Select all fields you wish to export. Do this again for your mail. Choose Windows Mail as the format and navigate to the location you wish to save the mail in (I recommend the Documents folder)

Next, copy all your pictures, documents, music and any other data files you wish to keep to a flash drive or CD or both. Depending on the amount of data you've accumulated in the six weeks you've owned the computer, you may exceed the capacity of a flash drive and may have to burn several CD's.

Once you have all your data backed up, you can reformat your current drive (though I still recommend replacing your hard drive) and reinstall your operating system plus all programs and data. Reinstall any antivirus and antispyware applications you may have and enable automatic updates from Microsoft. Go to Windows Update and download all critical updates for your operating system that are available for you.

If you're not comfortable with doing any or all of this yourself, I recommend you contact a local PC technician to either assist you or do it for you. If you want to save and restore your data as described above, make sure you stress this with the technician so there are (hopefully) no unpleasant surprises.

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Disk Boot Failure on initial startup.


I've seen this bit of weirdness in the past. The issue is actually fairly simple to diagnose.

What seems to be happening in this situation is as follows:

The computer starts off in a "cold" state - meaning it's been off for some time.

1.) You hit the power button
2.) The power supply engages, starts feeding power to the peripherals and the motherboard.
3.) The motherboard "wakes up" and begins it's POST (Power On Self Test) sequence.
4.) Peripherals (hard and optical drives) being their POST sequences as well.

Now then, the POST for the motherboard finishes before the hard drive finishes spinning up and POSTing itself. Therefore, when the motherboard's finished, the hard drive is still not ready for action. The motherboard decides it's not going to wait for the hard drive to finish and the motherboard fails the drive.

Now, if you hit the reset switch, the next time the computer boots, it recognizes the hard drive as it's already had a chance to power up at least partially.

So... What's the cause? When you power up a computer, all of the devices that are connected to it are activated at the same time so they can, if nothing else, be at the ready when the system comes online. So, if you've got a LOT of devices - two hard drives, two optical drives, multiple USB devices that draw power from the USB port, etc..., then it may be the power supply is inadequate for the task at hand. Additionally, things like video cards/chipsets can be quite power hungry.

Having a weak power supply can be the problem. Unfortunately, vendors these days tend to be as cheap as possible with their hardware. After all, they do want to make a profit. The problem lies, however, when the system and the components in it require say, 350 watts and the power supply installed is only rated at 300 or even 250 watts MAX. The word "MAX" appears on many power supplies these days - and means the power supply can deliver a maximum of it's rated wattage for a short period of time. It doesn't mean it can deliver that for an extended period of time.

However, it can also be the hard drive itself. Some drives tend to be "lazy" and not come up to their "ready" state fast enough.

Either way, wiping the hard drive and starting over isn't going to be a solution.

So...what to do about this... Given your post, it would seem you've only had the system for a couple of months and that means it should still be under warranty. The obvious fix would be to power it off, crack open the case and look at the power supply. If it's fairly small - say a 250 or 300 watt PSU, a replacement with a 400 or 450 watt PSU would be the quick fix - however, replacing it yourself could possibly void your warranty. Contact HP for assistance.

If the power supply is rated to be a reasonable amount, it could be faulty. It happens. Contact HP for a replacement.

The first thing I would suggest would be to have the computer checked out by someone who's got a larger power supply handy. If it seems to solve the problem, take the results of the test and going to HP and insisting (politely, of course) that they do something about it.

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Battery on motherboard.

I have had some experiences like this with HP computers.

Take the battery out of the motherboard socket, check it for output, reinsert it or replace it, and start the computer. If the battery is bad the settings in the CMOS are not being retained when the computer is shutdown. Once the computer is restarted, the CMOS has has had time to pickup the hardware settings, so the computer will start.

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Power Supply

I thought H41N and Wolfie2k5 gave you some great advice. I have seen this on one computer and doing extensive testing found it to be a weak power supply and the hard drive not POSTing in time for the motherboard's call. Even though the power supply voltages seemed to be coming up in time and to spec. this was the problem.

An easy check is to disconnect some of the hardware such as the CD, DVD or floppy drive and try some startups. If the system starts up consistently with less power load on the supply, it is a "too small" power supply.

Of course, an actual failing hard drive is a real possibility also.

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Boot delay

This was a common problem in the past as well. Some motherboard manufactures even put in a spin-up delay option some BIOS. The delay would pause the mobo's POST test for the hard drive long enough for the hard drive to spin up to it's proper speed.

Basically, you don't really need to spend any additional money for repairs IMHO. Just know that you will have to warm-boot your PC several seconds after a cold-start.

If your motherboard has an updated BIOS which includes the boot-delay you can try to using it. I still wouldn't throw money at a machine that works OK after you give it time to warm up.

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(NT) Buy a Dell
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Answers for Marlene-disk boot failure

Sounds like you know a few things about computers. That being said, I'm surprised you bought one with someone's name on it--Dell, HP, etc. This doesn't mean they are bad computers, but if you want to upgrade some things like memory, etc., you would have to go back to them to get a component that would work in your system. Although some things don't work like that, other components do.
Back to the matter at hand, I'm assuming that all your data files are also on your "C:" drive. If you can boot, burn these to a CD ASAP so you don't lose them. If you wind up having to wipe your hard drive, then reinstall WINDOWS ONLY on the C: drive. Partition the rest of the drive to hold the other stuff. The way my system is set up has Windows and some antivirus on the "C:" drive, programs and utilities on "D:", data from that software on "E:". I also have video drives and other special storage areas, but hopefully, you get the idea. That way, whenever you have to "Format C:", all you'll ever lose is Windows. And you're going to replace that anyway.

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I also know how to build my own machine. However, in recent years, it has been much less costly to buy a new machine instead of building your own. It does seem like Dell's prices are starting to climb higher than the others right now, but the CPU costs still make it a huge savings to buy a new name brand machine. A new dual core CPU alone will be half the cost, or more, of building a machine.

About upgrading... You DON'T have to go back to Dell, HP, etc. to buy the proper memory for the machine you purchase from them. The last few Dell's which I've upgraded memory in (for others) have had slower memory than the board could accept. Also, the price of buying from Dell has usually been 50% more than buying elsewhere. There are many online tools available to select the proper memory.

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Check the DVD Writer Drive for disc left inside

Have you used your DVD Recorder and see if there is a disc inside? This sometimes happens if you accidentally leave a disc inside. This happened to me once. After removing the disc, the problem is gone.

Hope this helps.

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Boot Failure

Seeing it is a new computer and the boot problem is erratic, I would check for a hardware connection problem especially the hard drive connection ribbon to the hard drive and to the board. Also check that the power connector is firmly connected to the hard drive.

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