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Author Topic: "A disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart"  (Read 5341 times)

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"A disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart"
« on: February 21, 2010, 05:48:28 AM »
"A disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart"

That's the message I get every time I try to turn on my computer. Or, at least it's the one that happens every time I turn it on after it's been off for a while (ie. in the morning). It seems the only thing I can do is to restart it until Windows loads, which it always does eventually. It can take a couple of tries, or it can take 8. I just don't understand what it is.

I recently installed Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, as well as put in a new hard-drive, (Samsung SpinPoint F2 EG SATA2 1.5TB). The error has occurred ever since. On three separate occasions I've thought I might have fixed it, since after all three the next time it loaded on the first try (though that might just be because the next time I booted my computer was on the same day, after I had rebooted my computer to fix the very problem).

The first time I figured it might just be a physical configuration issue. I unplugged my DVD drive and my old ATA hard-drive (which is completely empty at this point anyway), and rechecked the cables on my new 1.5TB and my old 500GB SATA (where my Windows 7 partition is). I've since plugged both of those back in.

The second time I did some googling, and it seemed it might have to do with the BIOS. Now, I've never updated the BIOS in the two and a half years since I got a new mainboard (partly because I don't have a floppy drive anymore). I used MSI's in-windows BIOS flash service, and again on the next reboot it worked, but not after that.

Then finally I took a good look at the BIOS, and noticed that the 1st device in the boot sequence was the floppy drive. Which doesn't exist. So I changed that to the DVD drive (and later the Windows HD).

After all of these (which might or might not have had anything to do with the actual problem), it still has the error. I've also unplugged my newest SATA-drive, just to see if the problem was connected to that, but my old SATA-drive still got the disk read error. The fact that this happened only after I installed Windows 7 and put in a brand new hard-drive might be masking the true error, which very well could be the SATA drive Windows is installed on right now. Before I reformated everything, Windows 7 was installed on the old ATA drive I'm not even using at this point. My last option would be to install Windows on the newest drive, but that would be very inconvenient. Perhaps I should install it on the old ATA drive again, though I don't fancy another reinstall of Windows and all the programs I need.

Just in case it matters, my other specs:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3.0GHz Socket AM2
Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB
MSI K9N NEO-F V2, nForce 520, Socket-AM2
Hiper Power supply ATX 580W Black, 18dB

Hope anyone has any idea what the problem might be.



  • Thanked: 23
    Re: "A disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart"
    « Reply #1 on: February 21, 2010, 01:22:45 PM »
    I think if you had a configuration error, it would be more consistent.

    Since your problem only occurs on startup when the computer has been cold and powered down for a while, it sounds more like a thermal issue.

    For example, a hairline crack on the motherboard might make contact after the MB has warmed up and the traces have expanded a little to bridge the gap.

    Similarly, such erratic behavior can come from poorly seated or dirty edge connectors on the memory or card edge connectors on expansion cards. Also from cable jacks not properly seated, or cables separating from their plugs.

    So sometimes you can get things running with some cleaning and reseating things.

    Others may have other ideas for you, but this gives you something to do while you wait...


    • Thanked: 35
      • Experience: Expert
      • OS: Windows 7
      Re: "A disk read error occurred, press ctrl+alt+del to restart"
      « Reply #2 on: February 22, 2010, 01:32:22 PM »
      Is there an unusual clicking noise coming from your computer when you start it up?  If so, then chances are, one of your hard drives might be dying on you.

      If not, then try this:

      1) Create a Windows PE boot disc.

      How to create a Windows PE boot disc:

      2) Plug the old hard drive in only.

      3) Boot to the PE disc created in Step 1.

      4) In the command prompt, type in the following commands exactly as shown, pressing Enter after each line:

      list disk

      Does the old hard drive show up on the list?  If so, type exit at the command prompt to exit diskpart, then type in the following commands:


      Does anything happen after the dir command?  Do you get a ginormous list of files/folders on your C drive?  Does the drive click/clank/hesitate when putting in this command?

      5) Repeat Steps 2-4 with the new drive.

      6) Repeat Steps 2-4 with both drives connected, substituting c: with d: for the second drive when appropriate.

      If everything checks out fine with both drives, then boot to the Windows 7 DVD and launch Startup Repair (click "Repair My Computer" when asked).  Your BCD database could be corrupted and Startup Repair can often repair this.

      However, if one of the drives are showing symptoms of being on its death bed, then boot back into the PE disc and start copying files from the dying drive to the good drive.  For example, if you had a folder called "Music" on the root of the bad drive (let's say drive C) and you want to copy it to the good drive (let's say drive D), use the following command:

      copy c:\music\*.* d: /e /y

      If the drive letters are flip-flopped, then substitute accordingly:

      copy d:\music\*.* c: /e /y

      Alternatively, you could use disk imaging software to copy the entire drive to a spanned image on your second drive, a set of DVDs/Blu-ray discs, or an external USB drive.  Acronis TrueImage and Symantec Ghost are two known products that do this (the latter can be used from a Windows PE environment!).
      Quote from: talontromper
      Part of the problem is most people don't generally deal with computer problems. So for most they think that close enough is good enough.