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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 S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)is a somewhat outdated standard developed as an "early warning" system to detect hard disk issues.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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I am a bit of a novice and seem to be in some trouble here.
I have recently bought a 320 gb Western digital SATA Hdd and I am getting Disk Boot Failure insert system disk and press enter. this is not working when I try. It is now saying the same thing when I put the original 160 Gb Western Digital Sata drive back in . It has a gigabyte AGP 8X motherboard. Can anyone help, I messed with bios a bit but restored the defaults and still can't boot either drive?

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

Hi all,

I have read all the responses to this problem and I think that sometimes it can be a combination of problems causing this error and it is correct to first assume that it is in the Bios where the problem lies. I am sure however if the problem is on a newer machine that does not have the S.M.A.R.T function in the BIOS that you should first check the cables and in the case of a newer machine it will use SATA connection and they do tend to suffer a few problems as mentioned, as they are not as tight a fit as the old IDE connectors which held on for dear life. So the things do tend to get a bit of oxidation on the connectors.

I have just had this problem with one of my customers and I am pretty sure that as it is a newer machine which I put together that it is the SATA cable but I will check because some of the the BIOS for mainboards on sale to Jo Public still have the S.M.A.R.T enable or disable function. I will be looking at the machine this coming week and will let you all know how it goes and keep you posted to see if it recurs, like it has been doing, as I made the mistake before of just backing up data and restoring and clean installs. I should know this as a MCDST but we all overlook things at times, I just needed some reminder from my days of training.

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anyone help with "disk boot failure"

hey my coputer got screwed up with this error i formatted my computer and tried everything up but on restarting that d***head system gave the same error. anyone help me to solve this mess up.

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Please re-post.

This discussion was started in 2007 and is now up to 147 posts, (with yours). Any requests for help and guidance is likely to be by-passed in such long threads.

You would do much better creating your own thread in one of the more suitable forums listed in See all forums.

I can't advise which forum is best for you as you give no details about your computer, so perhaps the "Computer Help" forum, or the "Computer Newbies" forum, or any others that you feel is better suited.

Use the red "Create a new thread" button in any of the forums to start your own thread, and please remember to give full details of your computer system and of the problems you have.

Good luck.


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Disable SMART

Thank you! I have been reading many forums and making notes before trying anything. This was easy to try and solved the problem, quickly. I think sometimes techs get so far into the problem they forget the simplest steps first.
History..I am building a computer from old parts from various computers. AMD GA-7ZMMH, 2-128mb PC133 ram, Quantum 20gb master hard drive & 20gb slave, Sony CD/RW. Computer is for friends just to access internet without using my computer. If it comes up and works well I will increase ram to maximum. Thanks again.

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