General discussion

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 S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)is a somewhat outdated standard developed as an "early warning" system to detect hard disk issues.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

First of all you asked what the error actually means: before the operating system is loaded, your computer knows just enough to read one chunk of data off the hard drive and start executing it. That chunk is smart enough to read the system loader and start executing it. The system loader then loads and starts the operating system--this is why it is called a 'bootstrap load' as in 'lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps'. The 'disk boot failure' message indicates that the process broke somewhere. Since this only happens when you first turn on the computer I would expect that the Hard Drive is too slow to come up to speed but it could also be that when your computer is too cold it causes an open circuit because of a misaligned plug, a bad solder joint, a broken trace on a circuit board, or some similar problem.

This is the point where the CE for our Mainframe used to start swapping parts to see if the problem moved so it's time to bring the computer to someone who has the resources to do that--the repair technician.

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Answers for Marlene

I would do these in the following order

1. Check the hard drive using the drive manufacturer's diagnostic tool. If it returns A-OK for the full tests (no zeroing, please!,

2. Can you access the drive consistently and repeatedly from a boot floppy, like Tom's root boot floppy? If not--I'd suspect the drive, or the signal CABLE to the drive before I look elsewhere.

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"disk boot failure"

I have hade this "disk boot failure" message after running windows registry pro i was runing it for Classes Section, invalid known DLLs, File associations & system services, i have to be honest i really diddnt know what i was doing and i obviously removed somthing i should not have, even worse i diddnt back up before doing it.
My comp would run fine but i would still get "disk boot failure" message when i boot up.
The only way i could resolve my problem was buy putting in a recovery disk & rebooting my whole system & loosing everything i had on comp.
That is yhe LAST thing you should do.
My advice is - To do a System restore if you back up often?
Try & run a windows registry to refind the missing file/DLL.
Ignore it and carry on if its causing no problemms untill you 100% know how to fix it, dont mess with what you dont know even though the "disk boot failure" message is annoying.

I'm no PC Pro im just learning through the misstakes i have made so please take my advice with a pinch of salt & i hope it is of some or any use to you.
PC Experts Quote Me If I'm Wrong!
Good luck & i hope you solve your problem soon Marlene Wink.

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This Might Help your disk might be corrupted!

After Hitachi took over IBM's HD division they came up with some neat drive utilities i was impressed that DFT & FT worked on a whole slew of problems! try the HD manufactuers web site for possible fixes. such as any utility that will rebuild the mbr (boot segment)of your drive! In any event your going to need access to another computer to download the software and create a bootable cd. While i'm on this have you tried to reinstall windows when it comes time to create the software it will ask you if you want to repair (note the software will ask this twice answer yes the SECOND time) this will rebuild the bootsegment and retain all your settings and software!

All thde best!


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addendum to my post!
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Re: Disk boot failure

Hi Marlene,

I had a similar problem some time ago and tracked it down to a faulty power supply. I think the hard drive was not getting up to full speed fast enough for the boot process so resulting in the error message. At other times the computer would boot up okay. I recommend installing an alternative "good" power supply as a replacement in order to test this out.
Best of luck

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restore your system

have you tried system restore,try it from the first day everthing was set up,i find it works fine with me,
all the best


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Minidump Blue screen

I have experienced this in the past, and it somehow has to do with amount of physical memory available on your computer. the safe way to take care of the problem. Is to click on My Computer, and on that menu right click on the C:\ Drive, then on Properties. This will open a window which will allow you to check the drive, and defrag the drive. It will also allow you to clean accumulated cookies. If you select to clean & repair the drive windows will tell you that it can only do this when you re-start your computer. It would be worth your time to install Adaware a program that can be obtained from CNET

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Disk boot failure error message.

Check the cables (both ends of them) connecting the hard disk drive. They could have been bumped loose when the memory was installed. I think this will resolve your problem quickly.


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Where do I find the CNET download site for Adaware? Also, I need to change my address immediately for CNET-HOW do I do it?

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Where to get Ad-Aware
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Go into BIOS and ceck boot order

Go into your motherbord BIOS setup and check the boot order. my order on my laptop is 1. CD Drive, 2. Hard Drive make sure hard drive/ disk drive is last in the boot order. then save changes and restart the computer. typically how to enter BIOS as soon as you turn on the computer hit keys F5-F8 at the same time. one of them will get you in to setup.

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The only thing I can recommend is to do a system recovery. First backup all of your important files to either an external hard drive or cd/dvd.

You said you have an hp computer which means there is a recovery partition built into the hard drive (my hats off to them for that)
when you start the computer it is a real quick message to start system recovery. This process is very lengthy and will reinstall all of the original stuff that came with the computer. Then you will have to uninstall anything you do not want and install any software you may be using since you bought the computer.

If that does not fix the problem you might need a new hard drive. But since the computer is only six months old you should be able to get hp to pay for it, if it is still under warranty. You would just have to pay the shipping to get it to them.

I hope this helps.

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When is an Error not an Error?

Hi Marlene,

There seems to be a little bit of information missing here to give you a definitive answer to your question. Usually, when you start up your computer from a cold boot and see a Disk Boot Failure, very simply, it means that your computer is attempting to find the operating system on a disk that doesn't have one.

If your computer shows this message and then continues to start up normally, it's probably a problem in your system's BIOS (Basic Input Output System). This is where every computer starts when you turn it on. The BIOS does lots of things when you start your computer, like finding your memory, looking for your video output, and checking that the computer has the files it needs to start the operating system.

Your task is to get into the SETUP menu when you start your computer to make sure your BIOS is looking in the right place to find your operating system files (this would be your hard disk drive). There are some other technical areas you could explore, but this is where I would start. On some computers you have to press ESC, on others it's F2 or F1, and on still others you would press the DEL key to enter your BIOS SETUP screen on start up. This information is usually found on the splash screen that comes up at the very beginning when you turn on your computer. You have to look fast because it's not usually up there for long.

Once you have entered your setup menu you want to look for your BOOT SEQUENCE menu and follow the directions to boot first from your hard drive. Then restart your computer and see if the message still appears.

If you are still seeing the message, there may be some other culprit playing games on your computer in the background. If you think this may be the case, press START - RUN - MSCONFIG and press OK. This will take you to your Microsoft configuration screen. Press the STARTUP TAB, and take a look at all of the programs that are running when you start your computer. If your are using Windows XP, you can safely start your computer without running ANY start up programs at all. I would still recommend you keep your antivirus programs running or other software you really need when you start the computer. All of the others you can start later when and if you need them. You can select the programs that run at startup by placing a checkmark in the box next to them on the list. Just click to check or uncheck. Once you're finished, click on OK and you will be prompted to restart you computer. Do so and see if your problem persists.

Good Luck
High Desert Charlie

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Good answer

I feel there are two things not mentioned by high desert pete. Do you have a non boot CD in one of your drives or a disk in the A drive that is not a boot disk. This can cause the error you are getting. Ok so that really is just one thing. (prime the pump you've got to give before you get) Thank you kindly desert Pete

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Marlene's Hard Disc Problems

Hi Marlene

Hmmm This can be a real tough question because it can be anything from an improperly aligned cable to just plain old having a bad drive day. Like women have a bad hair day, except it is probably far easier to fix the hard drive.

First things first, my philosophy is to stay out of the innards of the computer first, don?t crack case open (don?t open up the case). That is to do everything without getting into the physical mechanics of the computer, so we will pretty much stay on the outside of the computer for the time being.

Let us get down to finding out what might the problem might be from the out side without going inside or to even find if it is really ?Intel Inside?. Here are some software utilities, depending upon who manufactured your hard drive: NOTE: anytime you see ?>?, means to go to the next item on the dialogue menu. If it is in quotes ??, it means to look for or to click on exactly that spelling or in the case of a text box to type in exactly what is between the quotes.

Go to the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) on you computer. In most instances keep pushing the ?Delete? button until the BIOS comes up then you will have to find where set up would set up the sequence for your computer to check for how you would want your computer to look for the boot sector on the different devices. Some systems will even look for nowadays on a USB Flash Drive, Set the sequence. If that proves not to be the problem then go on to the next section.


chkdsk This is a utility comes with Windows 2000/XP. ?Start? > ?Run?, type ?chkdsk /r? for full scan. This can be run from recovery console. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR DIAGNOSING DISC PROBLEMS.

Hitachi/IBM - DFT "Drive Fitness Test"

Western Digital "Data Lifeguard"

Maxtor "Powermax"

Fujitsu "FJDT"

Samsung "hutil"

Seagate "Seatools"

Toshiba - N/A
There are no tools available for Toshiba, but you may be able to use IBM or Maxtor's drive tools as well as other third party programs

TackTech is a very informative section on Hard Disc Drive utilities.


HDD Regenerator - Repair bad sectors
Repairs most bad sectors by re-magnetizing the disk surface without losing your data, works independently of the file systems. Making it compatible with all PCs, operating systems and hard drives.

Active@Partition Recovery
Recovers most deleted, lost or formatted partitions.

Partition Magic
Fast and easy partitioning, Supports all Windows and most Linux file systems. Great for ignoring bad sectors and for advanced partitioning schemes.

GPL/Freeware partitioning program for use with Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and more. Not much on eye candy, but it works.

GPL/Freeware partitioning program for use with Windows and Linux. Nice, intuitive interface and comes available as a bootable CD image.

Acronis Partition Expert
Easy to use interface, supports Windows and Linux partitions.


Symantec Norton Ghost
Ghost 8.0 or less runs under DOS, but extremely reliable. Ghost 9.0 and 10 requires Windows 2000 or XP. 9.0 & 10 are Windows-centric. Ghost 9+ supports full "hot imaging" of system partitions while in Windows, but not incremental imaging.

Acronis True Image
Supports Windows and Linux file systems. Allows "hot imaging" of system partitions while in Windows, supporting full and incremental (fast) backups. TI 7 & 8 are reliable and excellent. TI 9 has a number of serious bugs reported, but has worked fine for me over the past few months -- Recommended.

Drive Secure Erase Utilities

Darik's Boot and Nuke
Securely erases all data on your hard drives, beyond the point of possible recovery. Be careful with this utility! Tip: You might, if you do not want to erase those disc?s you intend to keep intact, not leave them connected to the EIDE cable.

I thought I would add some disc utilities other then recovery.

Hard Disc Terms: An explanation

FIXBOOT writes the "boot sector" to the specified partition. FIXMBR repairs or replaces the master boot record of the disk.

You will also want to ensure that your partition is active, because Ghost will not make a partition active unless you do a sector-by-sector backup and complete restore.

Here's what to do...

Boot from the XP / 2000 CDROM and allow the setup to begin. Once the beginning files are copied, you will be asked to Install Windows or use the Recovery Console. Please choose "r" here, to run the recovery console.

You will now type in the following commands when the prompt appears:

chkdsk /f * This will repair any obvious file system damage, which could complicate things.

diskpart * This will run the XP disk partition utility. We will be checking to see if your partition looks OK. If you see your partition, and the information diskpart provides appears correct, then that's a good thing.

Press [ESC] to exit Diskpart, when everything looks peachy.

fixboot * We'll write a new boot sector, so the computer knows how to boot the computer

fixmbr * We'll write a new boot record, so the computer knows how to boot Windows

If it still does not work, you may need to delete your partition(s) using diskpart, then recreate the partition(s) (using diskpart, again).


Here are other problems that might be a problem. Most people assume that if they pick up an EIDE Hard Disc cable that it is going to work. A broken wire in the cable can mimic a bad Hard Drive. It is not easy to diagnosis.

Round vs. Flat
There have been systems that have had problems when I have used round cables to increase ventilation for the sake of the CPU only to find it would not address the C:\> (drive0). Change to the flat and the problem cleared up. Use the same round cable on another computer and have no problem with the cable. Go figure! It also could be a defective cable, whether it is round or flat EIDE cables, you cannot beat a broken wire in a cable.


The newer drives are held to tighter specs then the older drives. What you used to be able to get away with on the older drives you cannot get away with today. If the instructions say dot your I?s and cross your T?s, then you should do it otherwise your drive might not work

Hope this helps you to understand what the problem might be, Rick

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Disk Boot Failure

"Disk Boot Failure" error indicates that the hardware is not able to find the "necessary files" on the hard disk required to "Boot" the system.
This could be either a hardware problem or a software problem.

First of all try booting the system using a "bootable CD/DVD" placed in the DVD/CD drive. If the system boots normally every morning this way then it narrows it down to you hard drive - either the hard drive itself or most probably the connectors to it, both the power and data cables.

Follow the next step, with caution.

Sometimes during shipping due to "heavy handling" some connectors might get a "wee bit" unseated - resulting in intermittent errors like the one you are having.They need the "morning kick" of electric power to get connected. Once the "kick" is removed for a long time the connection goes back to it's original state until the next "kick".

If as you say you have run all the hardware diagnostics, have you run a full "surface scan" of your hard drive - takes a long time.This "may " indicate a bad sector which could be causing the problem. Though the "SMART" drive characteristic of the hard drive should indicate this before it happens.

Does HP allow you to open the system tower/box if it is within the warranty period? If the answer is "yes" then go ahead with the next step. If the answer is "No" stop reading any further.

If yes, disconnect the mains power cord outlet to the tower/case. Disconnect all the peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer etc.) and note the orientation of the connectors. Touch any exposed metal part of the case to discharge "static" from your body or don't stand on a carpet and perform this operation. Keep the power button pressed for 30 seconds, to discharge internal static in the case. Open the case. Take a can of compressed air (available at the local hardware ACE or Radio Shack) and disconnect each power connector/data cable clean it with compressed air and connect it back "firmly but not forcibly" - noting the orientation of each connector while disconnecting, so that you connect each device properly.

Close the case. Reconnect all the peripherals first and then lastly connect the mains power cord to the tower/case.
Hopefully this should solve the problem.


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Serious Warning

Be careful
My "disk boot failure" was an actual warning of sorts/ after several attempts to boot up over 2 days - I lost my entire C Drive and I did NOT have it backed up. So the advice to back is serious and important.

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Houston, we have a hardware problem

Hi Marlene,

This is indeed a frustrating problem. Without having access to your PC to test it, it's hard to say for certain what it is, but I think i can give you some idea what may be happening. My thought is that you have a hardware problem, and you need a new motherboard, or possibly hard drive. Maybe even power supply. I'll explain why.

First, 'boot disk' is (almost certainly) your C drive - the disk Windows usually lives on. The failure means that for some reason, while trying to boot, there was a problem reading the hard drive. You probably know this.

Now there are two different places this (or similar) error can occur, and as you didn't say exactly when it happens, I'll cover both.

The first is during POST when the hardware is getting itself ready to load. It's checked out basic processor and memory function (and a whole lot else), initialized the hardware, and then it tries to find the operating system. If at this point it can't find a disk with windows - it will complain...

Now since HP suggested running CHKDSK, I suspect it gets started and fails during boot. After all, a fragmented disk doesn't matter if you can't even start booting!

Now I have had disk boot errors when I've tried to put a hard drive onto a different motherboard. The reason here is that the drivers set up in Windows for the old motherboard would not work for the new motherboard and everything falls apart. However, this always happens - just rebooting won't fix it. This isn't your problem.

However, if you have a Windows (software) problem, you can expect it to do the same thing every time during boot. Yes I know Windows has ... idiosyncrasies? but the odd happenings usually occur after it's been running a while.

But your problem happens some times and not others. It happens when the computer is cold (just switched on), and then when you try again it works. The thing about software is that (fundamentally) the same code with the same data does thing every time. But hardware... When hardware is acting up all sorts of strange and inconsistent things can happen. Sometimes.

Now what can happen that makes a boot fail - and then succeed at the next try?

One thing is temperature. It is possible that something, perhaps a solder joint or other connection, doesn't make good contact when cold, but does when warm. Perhaps a component changes characteristics with temperature, and only works properly (or well enough) when warm. This applies to any chips, including the processor.

Another possibility is the simple fact that the machine is switched on and the power supply is present. It's just possible an electrolytic condenser is defective and causes a malfunction, but after it's been on a while, the fact that the voltage is present allows it to heal itself and work well enough.. until it's switched off again...

Now HP has had you run diagnostics and turned up nothing wrong. I'd say of course not - you can only run diagnostics after booting - and by the time you can boot, the problem has gone away.

one thing you can try - as soon as you switch on, press f1 to enter the BIOS to stop it booting. Wait a few minutes and then exit the BIOS and let it boot. If it does, it sounds a lot like warm-up problems.

So my strong suspicion is you have a hardware problem. If it's under warranty - get it fixed or replaced. Right now it is an irritation, but, whenever hardware is messing up, it's only likely to get worse. And you'd be really upset if it limped along just long enough for the warranty to expire.

If it's out of warranty it's a case of can you live with the inconvenience .. and remember to take frequent backups.

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I had to "boot" my disk

doing the spring,my home made pc failed to boot up.i had a friend reformat it.two of my 256meg cards were gone,brand new,just like that.he informed me that static could couse it.well,three weeks ago,i turned my pc on and get boot failure!no matter what i tried, i decided todo some maintenence.i turned the power off and removed my cards.they were full of i decided to us a fine artis brush,and a hair dryer.idudted every where i could using the dryer.i couldnt believe how much dust there was.i carefully wiped my cards.then when all looked good,i pluged in,turned the power on and presto.all problems gone.if you can,every now and then,house clean everything!

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booting up,down sideways,etc. etc.

imagine that,a little pledge and voila. BE sure and let microsoft know of this high tech offering.Then again they probbaly already know,and have a tech update on it, but they probally dont mention pledge. they have bottled it with yet another high tech. name. m

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One potential problem with "dusting", or "de-dusting"


Did dusting affect your spellchecker? Is your computer no longer able to check punctuation, capitalization, and grammar? If so, I'll stick with a dusty computer.

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houston we have a hardware problem

Redking 44 seems to me,to hit it on the head, so far. when you factor in all that is all, variables seem to play on one another, so yes indeed it could be ambient temp affecting a simple process of scattering info to the right places. by all means acsess your warranty if it is still in effect. companies,not all but most relish expired fix it once,correctly fixes.Go for it girl. good luck, power to the people[consumers] m

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temperature change is the likely culprit

I concur that heat is the likely culprit here. Not that it is getting too hot but when it boots up cold some variables are not quite right. I would start with the hard drive though since it is the easier to mess with. I build alot of computers and I have seen some strange behavior from hard drives that were partitioned and formated HOT(after they were running a while)being flaky when first booted. I have also seen the problem with bad electrical connections on the motherboard. Heat expands metal and other materials whether it is in the hard drive or elsewhere on the system. I would say your big problem is getting HP to quit screwing around with checkdisk and actually troubleshoot the problem.
Someone mentioned cleaning as a solution. Dust can generate two problems. One is insulating the heat in and impeding airflow such as can occur with heatsinks and fans. The other less known problem is dust around sensitive electrical connections can actually build up a static charge and during high humidity can actually aid in acting like a short. When cleaning be very careful to have the machine unplugged and not touch or bump cards and always wear a static strap. Contrary to what one person said you cannot mess your spell checker up by cleaning.. I prefer compressed air for cleaning.

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bootup error

biggest bootup error is usually a virus or trojan in computer. regardless of how many anti virus programs you run, windows will attract them and trash your computer. the only remedy is a complete reformat

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Circuit board on HP hard drive fails

I work for a school district and we have had problems with hard drives in HP desktops.

We have found that the problem usually lies with the circuit board on the hard drive. We have swapped out the board from a drive we know works with the one we are having problems with and 9 times out of 10 the problem is corrected.

The HP's we received seemed to show the drive problem within a month or so.

I hope this helps.

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bad booting

I seem to have the problem more with Sata HDD, simply wiggle the power and control connections to make sure they are working. I seem to do this every 2 weeks and away I go. The IDE drive works ok, so it can only be put down to cheap manufacturing techniquies

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Let your words be few and to the point.

Excuse me but I have to tell you that your answer to this problem is nothing short of "GUESS WORK". You shouldn't even have bothered in trying to help Marlene when in reality your answer to her problem has no substance, it is extremelly general and it is confusing at its best. I have been experiencing the same problem for a couple of years now. I have read plenty of forums and seen many people change parts in their computers in vain. I even fell in the trap of replacing my hardrive for nothing. My hardrive wasn't even bad. Asus blames Maxtor. Maxtor in turns blames Asus and so on. Thanks anyways for traying to help but next time please try to stick to the point and let your words be few. Nothing personal by the way.

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No offense, but your solution is...?

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You're welcome to disagree with me. And yes, I posted opinions formed from too little information about the problem and 37 years exprience working with computers, 12 of those building repairing and upgrading PCs (not all of them mine).

I admit I have no formal PC training but I do understand computers. I also understand divide and conquer. It's very hard for someone with one PC to isolate an obscure problem - much easier with a supply of spare parts. I'd love to tell of some of the obscure problems and solutions I've encountered but brevity forbids.

I still think it's hardware at the root of the problem. I hope it gets fixed (or already has), and I'd be interested to know how.

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