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#1
tony177

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My XP Pro pc has been fine for several years but in the last week or so has experienced boot problems, namely the pc won't boot but displays an error 'disk read error occurred'. Note - the disk is healthy so there is not a problem with the physical disk per se.

I get around this by booting from the Windows CD into repair mode and then, but without having done anything in repair mode, reboot without the CD (ie normally) and Windows then loads normally. This is an intermittent error as sometimes I can boot Windows normally for a few days but then the next time (for no obvious reason) Windows won't boot and the error appears as above.

I was going to run fixmbr from repair mode but the warning message about an invalid or non-standard partition table put me off the idea (I have 2 partitions).

Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

tia


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#2
Kelsenellenelvian

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My guess would be ram errors...

#3
jaclaz

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Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

I have seen defective hard disk cables/connectors behave like that.
In any case the partition issue you reported needs to be investigated and fixed IMHO.

jaclaz

#4
tony177

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While faulty hw could indeed account for such a problem, the computer is used daily but hasn't been opened or moved for many months so it would seem strange for some internal connector or cable to suddenly become defective. The parition 'issue' was a warning about runnning fixmbr that the partition table was invalid or non-standard (implying running fixmbr might be risky as opposed to indicating per se a problem with the partition table) but having researched this on the net it seems the appearance of the message when running fixmbr is not uncommon, although there is a wide range of views about what the implications might be for running fixmbr (from none at all to lots).

I am particulary curious why booting from the Windows CD in repair mode without doing anything else fixes the problem which seems to me to indicate some manner of software corruption somewhere or other rather than a hw problem with cables, connectors (or ram as a previous poster suggested).

#5
jaclaz

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While faulty hw could indeed account for such a problem, the computer is used daily but hasn't been opened or moved for many months so it would seem strange for some internal connector or cable to suddenly become defective. The parition 'issue' was a warning about runnning fixmbr that the partition table was invalid or non-standard (implying running fixmbr might be risky as opposed to indicating per se a problem with the partition table) but having researched this on the net it seems the appearance of the message when running fixmbr is not uncommon, although there is a wide range of views about what the implications might be for running fixmbr (from none at all to lots).

I am particulary curious why booting from the Windows CD in repair mode without doing anything else fixes the problem which seems to me to indicate some manner of software corruption somewhere or other rather than a hw problem with cables, connectors (or ram as a previous poster suggested).

Look, I don't want to be more grumpy :w00t: than usual :ph34r: , but you come here asking about a problem that you have, that you have NO ideas how to solve and specifically ask other people (supposedly more expert than you are):

Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

and when some ideas are given to you, you start criticizing them?
You are of course free to ignore them, but please, refrain from citing "not uncommon fixmbr errors" that you "researched on the net", if fixmbr throws a warning about an issue with the partition table, "common sense" (and rest assured a few years of experience of yours truly in this specific field) should tell you to investigate the issue.

Of course you are perfectly free to ignore the posted advice :).

It's my fault :(, I should have replied properly to your:

Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

YES. :yes:
http://homepage.ntlw...no-answers.html

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 26 March 2012 - 12:58 PM.


#6
Kelsenellenelvian

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ALSO = Just because the Harddrive reports as "Heatlhy" does NOT always mean there are NO bad sectors or corruption in it.

It ONLY means that it starts up and runs fairly OK!

Edited by Kelsenellenelvian, 26 March 2012 - 12:58 PM.


#7
tony177

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<dispense with much moaning drivel>

I have various ideas on how to solve but thought it worthwhile to solicit opinion from a specialist forum although I hadn't appreciated it would result in having to respond to an ill mannered petty prima dona deficient in reading comprehensions skills. I am quite capable of evaluating the technical relevance and calibre of responses here as well as the content of the numerous other sites I visited pursuing information about this problem. So far here I've had suggestions about ram, cables, connectors, and partition table (based on a pre-fixmbr message about the partition table being non-standard or invalid that many others have reported seeing, ignored and proceeded without difficulty despite your several centuries of computer experience along with your impeachable grasp of common sense assuring you how folly-ridden this would have been) and in other places cmos battery and hard drive. I didn't bother checking out the link you posted as I assume it would likely be as germane as your last post.

#8
Kelsenellenelvian

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I see your people skills rival that of your PC experience and expertise.

OK smarta** = Have you run a sector scan of your harddrive?

How about MEMTEST?

NO? WHY THE HELL NOT?

Edited by Kelsenellenelvian, 26 March 2012 - 01:46 PM.


#9
tony177

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ALSO = Just because the Harddrive reports as "Heatlhy" does NOT always mean there are NO bad sectors or corruption in it.

It ONLY means that it starts up and runs fairly OK!


I have run Spinrite 3 times as well as the manufacturers diagnostic utility and no duff sectors (or duff anything else) have been identified - clean bill of health each time so I am confident the disk is healthy. I am still trying to discover why the problem gets fixed (at least to date) by just booting with the Windows CD into repair mode and doing nothing else but so far no takers.

#10
jaclaz

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@tony177
I am sure you will make many friends on this board. :thumbup

Have fun while booting (or completely failing to :ph34r: ) that PC :hello: .

jaclaz

#11
tony177

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I see your people skills rival that of your PC experience and expertise.

OK smarta** = Have you run a sector scan of your harddrive?

How about MEMTEST?

NO? WHY THE HELL NOT?


See recent post re sector scanning. I have memtest and it is on the list of potential actions but still working its way towards the top. The last time I ran it (about two years ago) no problems were reported but that of course is no guarantee about ram state now. I probably have more computer experience than you although my expertise is no more than moderate. I take it your comment about people skills was an attempt to parade your sense of irony and in that context it was successful enough. My people skills are deployed as appropriate for the situation and I have little time for the ignorant, arrogant or unintelligent (you choose), not to mention those who resort to upper case shouting, a certain sign of emotional instability and psychological immaturity.

#12
Kelsenellenelvian

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Hey, I know more than enough to be able to figure out that a problem like yours is hazardous to data (That, which you seem to be afraid of loosing because of your hesitancy to run fixmbr) I really hope your system goes critical and you loose that precious 2nd partition...

#13
tony177

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@tony177
I am sure you will make many friends on this board. :thumbup

Have fun while booting (or completely failing to :ph34r: ) that PC :hello: .

jaclaz


Just passing by in the (it now appears forlorn) hope that I might find some useful information here. I will get the booting problem sorted out one way or another but it seems unlikely this board will have made any contribution to its resolution.

#14
Ponch

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Never mind.

Edited by Ponch, 26 March 2012 - 03:14 PM.


#15
tony177

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Hey, I know more than enough to be able to figure out that a problem like yours is hazardous to data (That, which you seem to be afraid of loosing because of your hesitancy to run fixmbr) I really hope your system goes critical and you loose that precious 2nd partition...


My original estimation of your intelligence was waaaaaaaaaaay too generous - I initially thought you might have something worthwhile to bring to the party but you truly haven't got even a hint of clue, not even enough to comprehend the glaring magnitude of your cerebral inadequacy. I am hesitant to run fixmbr without making the effort to discover the nature of the problem and a potential solution as it may be fixmbr is irrelevant in this situation (just as you've turned out to be). If I ran fixmbr and it screwed my system I would then have to spend a lot of time putting it back together which I'd prefer not to have to do so I want to explore other possibilities before going down that route. Your comments about my second partition just emphasize how utterly thick you really are - I have all my data backed up on a second internal disk, an external hard disk and a flash drive. Plus I take a system image each week and store it on the second internal disk. But thanks for the kind wishes about the well being of my system- it is always comforting and reassuring when you yourself provide confirmation that my assessment of your being an ignorant unpleasant jerk was right on the money.

#16
Ponch

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I have all my data backed up on a second internal disk, an external hard disk and a flash drive. Plus I take a system image each week and store it on the second internal disk.
...
If I ran fixmbr and it screwed my system I would then have to spend a lot of time putting it back together

yeah, right.

the pc won't boot but displays an error 'disk read error occurred'
...
seems to me to indicate some manner of software corruption somewhere

yeah, right.

My original estimation of your intelligence was waaaaaaaaaaay too generous

Yeah right. Please step back, take a deep breath and stop this.

#17
puntoMX

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Not closing this topic, BUT we better start over again. All calm down a few degrees or come back tomorrow after killing some bad brain-cells.

---

Now, here are my 2 "could be" answers:

- Bad chipset on motherboard, including bad capacitors can lead to all strange kinds of hardware failure.
- If hardware failure is ruled out, how about those nice root-virus that dig themselves deep into the HDD, thus delete partition, power off/on cycle and re-install that 2001 dated OS

Now, about what hardware are we talking as I'm for 99% sure it isn't XP related...

Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

Yes it probably does, you might have a bad or corrupted XP driver as well, that could be the other 1%. Try de-installing the ATA drivers and restart directly XP. You might need to redo the repair again when booting up.

#18
Yzöwl

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I'd suggest you get a copy of a utility/program which will firstly back up your MBR, then fix it. You are being told that the MBR is not that which is normally expected therefore unless you've got some special partitioning system or non Windows OS installed on the hard disk, (doubtful unless you were willing to destroy that earlier with fixmbr anyhow).

You can use the Command Line Interface freeware version of MBRWizard to perform this task.

#19
tony177

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Not closing this topic, BUT we better start over again. All calm down a few degrees or come back tomorrow after killing some bad brain-cells.

---

Now, here are my 2 "could be" answers:

- Bad chipset on motherboard, including bad capacitors can lead to all strange kinds of hardware failure.
- If hardware failure is ruled out, how about those nice root-virus that dig themselves deep into the HDD, thus delete partition, power off/on cycle and re-install that 2001 dated OS

Now, about what hardware are we talking as I'm for 99% sure it isn't XP related...

Anyone have any ideas as to what would intermittently cause the computer to behave like this and why the problem would be fixed after booting from the Windows CD in repair mode (does that replace some file(s) on the hard drive?).

Yes it probably does, you might have a bad or corrupted XP driver as well, that could be the other 1%. Try de-installing the ATA drivers and restart directly XP. You might need to redo the repair again when booting up.



Ok, tks for that. I am fairly confident that I am not virus infected as I run the usual AV stuff and immediately investigate anything even remotely unusual or suspicious. The computer started normally today (just as it had done a few times after the first occurence of the problem) but I am not at all confident about next time I boot. I have been using the computer daily for about 4 years without any boot problem and although that might suggest a hw fault has developed, I think a hw fault is unlikely (but not impossible) as previously when the system failed to boot (repeatedly as I tried about 4 or 5 times first time round in quasi-panic mode) it then booted immediately when I used the Windows CD and this pattern has constantly repeated each time the problem occurred so It seems unlikely to me to be either coincidence or that a hw fault would be so rigorously sensitive and consistently responsive to the boot source. So my guess (and that is all it it is) would be some form of sporadic sw corruption is taking place for some unidentified reason after the computer has booted which then causes the problem next boot.

I note your suggestion about ata drivers but am reluctant at this stage to go down that route without further investigation both to get a better understanding of the implications and mechanics of de-installing/reinstalling those particular crucial drivers as well as the (ever increasingly unlikely) hope that someone might be able to identify from the symptoms what is actually happening. I checked out the various drivers and not suprisingly since the computer booted their devices are all showing as working properly. Although they are all showing as accessed today their last modified dates are years in the past. However even if those drivers were being sporadically corrupted and then replaced when booting from the Windows CD that would still not address the root cause of whatever was instigating the corruption in the first place which means the problem would just reoccur. Still, I will add your suggestion to the list of various solutions I might try if this situation persists long enough to become intolerable.

#20
tony177

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I'd suggest you get a copy of a utility/program which will firstly back up your MBR, then fix it. You are being told that the MBR is not that which is normally expected therefore unless you've got some special partitioning system or non Windows OS installed on the hard disk, (doubtful unless you were willing to destroy that earlier with fixmbr anyhow).

You can use the Command Line Interface freeware version of MBRWizard to perform this task.


Tks for that. I've dl'd mbrwizard and will have a look - I dl'd another mbr utility (called mbrtool) yesterday but haven't checked it out yet. The fixmbr message could indicate that the mbr is damaged or that it is non-standard either as a result of the partitioning tool used to create a second partition or from some sw hooking into it. It would be interesting if I could find some kind of reference dual partition mbr so I could compare with mine to try to determine if there were any obvious non-computer specific differences although I have no idea how feasible or useful that exercise would turn out to be. In a bad, if not exactly worse, case scenario I have weekly back ups of the system image so I could always reformat the disk and load the image although if the image contains whatever is causing the problem it would be ground hog day all over again.

#21
submix8c

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(...sigh...)

ATTACH THE BACKUP and MAYBE (if you LET US HELP YOU) someone will be kind enough to VERIFY the contents.

There are TWO "basic" parts to the First 512-byte sector (MBR) - the Boot Code + the Partition Table

Do yourself a favor - search "starman pcministry mbr" (without quotes) on the Internet and do a little light reading. What you'll find is both some good info on various "versions" of MBR's (depending on which OS "initialized" it) and links on the Partition Table layouts.

"Starman" is a well-respected and (nearly) definitive person/resource for what you insist is the "apparent" cause of your problem.

edit - "...the partitioning tool..." - WHAT partitioning tool? Trust me, those that have been around a while ("not our first rodeo") will immediately recognize it and know how it functions.

Edited by submix8c, 27 March 2012 - 08:08 AM.

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#22
Tripredacus

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You only have to worry about a non-standard MBR if your PC is configured with dual boot. If your other partition is just a data partition, you shouldn't worry. The only exception is if there is a recovery/service partition which would technically make the system be a dual-boot anyways.

Swapping drive cables is a simple enough fix to try. I've seen that happen as well, and especially for SATA cables that do not have clips or the soft orange ones.
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#23
tony177

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(...sigh...)

ATTACH THE BACKUP and MAYBE (if you LET US HELP YOU) someone will be kind enough to VERIFY the contents.

There are TWO "basic" parts to the First 512-byte sector (MBR) - the Boot Code + the Partition Table

Do yourself a favor - search "starman pcministry mbr" (without quotes) on the Internet and do a little light reading. What you'll find is both some good info on various "versions" of MBR's (depending on which OS "initialized" it) and links on the Partition Table layouts.

"Starman" is a well-respected and (nearly) definitive person/resource for what you insist is the "apparent" cause of your problem.

edit - "...the partitioning tool..." - WHAT partitioning tool? Trust me, those that have been around a while ("not our first rodeo") will immediately recognize it and know how it functions.


That site looks useful so will have a peruse. I infer rather than insist as to what seems to me to be the apparent cause of the problem and explained why. The computer came partitioned so I don't know what tool was used. I've used different patitioning tools on various computers over the years but none on this computer (although I have a couple installed). Also, I shall keep in mind your generous offer (for who can fail to notice upper case shouting) on behalf of that kindly someone who might verify the contents of a backup when I get round to making it.

#24
tony177

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You only have to worry about a non-standard MBR if your PC is configured with dual boot. If your other partition is just a data partition, you shouldn't worry. The only exception is if there is a recovery/service partition which would technically make the system be a dual-boot anyways.

Swapping drive cables is a simple enough fix to try. I've seen that happen as well, and especially for SATA cables that do not have clips or the soft orange ones.


The system is not dual boot and the se

#25
tony177

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You only have to worry about a non-standard MBR if your PC is configured with dual boot. If your other partition is just a data partition, you shouldn't worry. The only exception is if there is a recovery/service partition which would technically make the system be a dual-boot anyways.

Swapping drive cables is a simple enough fix to try. I've seen that happen as well, and especially for SATA cables that do not have clips or the soft orange ones.


Reply, take 2 - my brain appears to have got out of synch with my fingers first time round....

The computer is not dual boot (seems more like duel boot now) and the second partition is just a logical drive. As I said in a previous post it is my (somewhat tenuous) understanding that MBR can be seen by fixmbr as non-standard if it has been altered by some intrusive software although I've seen in other boards a wide range of responses to that warning message from ignore and proceed without fear to cease and desist immediately - my heart leans towards the former but my head the latter. I've had my finger poised over the go button a few times after seeing that message but discretion always prevailed.

Is your suggestion re swapping cables to the second internal disk (that I put in just after I got the computer about 4 years ago and has been problem-free) to check that the problem is not due to a defect in the physical connection? I haven't had the computer open or moved for many months so I revert to my familiar refrain about my belief that the problem is not due to defective hw although if all other avenues turn out to be dead ends then I will start exploring hw aspects.




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