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A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart


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higbee's Avatar
higbee higbee is offline
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18-Feb-2006, 12:54 AM #1
A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart
I'm running Windows XP on a EMachines PC. The PC is only a little over a year old. Suddenly tonight I have what appears to be a DOS screen that says "A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart". After doing a ctrl alt delete, I keep getting the same screen again. Can anyone shed some light on how to restart my PC? Is the hard drive shot?
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18-Feb-2006, 11:22 AM #2
There seems to be about a thousand solutions to this problem. I assume that if your system is a little over a year old it's out of warranty. If it is still under warranty then you may need to check with eMachines. Not sure what their policy is concerning opening up the case.

If no warranty check that the IDE cable is firmly attached to the drive and MB. Also check the power plug to the drive. And some questions:
What do you have for an XP disc? Restore disc only or full install disc?
Do you know how to get into BIOS on your system (I think on eMachines it's often the 'Del' key)?
Do you have a floppy drive?
Do you have access to another system?
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18-Feb-2006, 12:31 PM #3
Thanks for your response. I'm pretty computer illiterate but here's what I know about your questions.

I've checked all the connections that I can see without opening up the tower.

The only eMachines disk I have is called a Restore DVD. I tried to run that and it gives me two options. One is to reinstall everything and lose all that was on the hard drive or two, to boot using commands. When I pick option two, it shows some type of a dos command prompt but I don't know what commands to use to start.

I did get into some screen that said Phoenix BIOS something. I got there by using the F9 key during the startup before the Disk Read Error screen came up. Again, not knowing what I am doing, I changed a few things but I still ended up with the Disk Read Error screen.

I do not have a floppy drive on the PC. I have an external one the attached via a USB port but that is not connected and wasn't when this started.

By access to another system, do you mean another computer? I do have a laptop that I can use.

Thanks again for the help. Sorry to be so naive about all of this.
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18-Feb-2006, 04:29 PM #4
What did you change in BIOS? When you are in BIOS is your hard drive listed there?
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18-Feb-2006, 05:01 PM #5
Under the Boot tab, I changed Boot-time Diagnostic Screen from enable to disable. I changed Quick Boot Mode from disable to enable. I did not change anything under Boot Device Priority.

Those are the only things I fooled around with. I was just shooting in the dark since it's all pretty foreign to me.
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18-Feb-2006, 07:05 PM #6
In BIOS check in two areas. One lists your IDE drives. It varies where to find this but it's almost always somewhere under the MAIN heading. Make sure you see your hard drive listed. Also check under boot device priority (Advanced BIOS features or Boot menu) to see that the hard drive is listed as the first boot device. Most likely things are set up correctly but let's make sure.
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higbee higbee is offline
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18-Feb-2006, 08:10 PM #7
I'm not sure about the IDE drives. The only thing I see under the main heading is something called the Primary Master, which has some numbers WDC WD ...... 22GU. I'm not sure if this is the hard drive.

Under the Boot Device Priority, the First Boot was listed as CDROM. I changed that to Hard Disk. The second boot was set to removable and the third was set to Hard Disk.

I tried to restart and the same message, "A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart", came up.
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18-Feb-2006, 09:17 PM #8
OK that looks OK. One last thing while in BIOS. There is an option to set BIOS to default. Try doing that. How to you feel about taking the cover off your case?
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higbee higbee is offline
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18-Feb-2006, 09:34 PM #9
Do I set whole BIOS to default? How do I do that?

No problem in taking the cover off. What should I do?
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18-Feb-2006, 10:25 PM #10
In Bios the exit heading should have load fail-safe or default. Choose one of those. With the cover off just make sure all connections are good to the drive and MB. Try a different cable if you have one.

Next go here and download the diagnostic tools for floppy http://support.wdc.com/download/inde...pid=999&swid=2
Put it on a floppy and set your bios to boot from the floppy and run the diagnostic program. We may or may not run into a problem with the floppy drive being a USB external.
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18-Feb-2006, 11:30 PM #11
I feel so stupid but my laptop doesn't have a floppy drive. Are the external floppys universal? Are the USB ports all plug and play?

I can't find the BIOS heading for the default. I'll keep searching around.
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dobbelina dobbelina is offline
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19-Feb-2006, 07:17 AM #12
If you open the cover to your comp and put your fingers onto the hd is it spinning
and warm ?
If not, have a look at the power connector and see to it's firmly connected.
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19-Feb-2006, 01:41 PM #13
You should be able to just plug in the floppy drive. Then set the system to boot from the floppy with the diagnostic disk in. Now we could run into a problem booting from a USB floppy I just don't know and we will have to see what happens.

Another thing to try. With a retore CD you probably can't get into the Windows Recovery Console. If you can type in chkdsk /r and see if it might fix your problem. If you don't have a recovery console option restart you system and continuously hit F8 and see if you can get into the options screen. You may or may not be able to do this with the problem that you are having. If you can type chkdsk /r as before.
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higbee higbee is offline
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19-Feb-2006, 02:27 PM #14
Thank you both for your replies.

One thing before I do the floppy solution, I do have a recovery disk. When I use that, I get 2 prompts. Option one is to restore Windows XP, which I lose all that was originally on the hard drive. Option two is to Boot To Command Prompt From CDROM. If I use option two, is this where I type chkdsk /r ? Or do I need to do the download which you suggested? it shows like it wants some command for the A drive. Again, not sure if I'm describing this correctly.

When this crashed, a Microsoft virus scan was running. It locked everything up for some reason so I did a cntl alt delt to reboot. At that point, Norton Go Back started up. That froze also. That's when this "A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart " thing started. Does any of this info help?
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higbee higbee is offline
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19-Feb-2006, 02:31 PM #15
I tried the chkdsk /r using the option two. It came back as "invalid switch".
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