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  Getting rid of "A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart" error. 
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David Wickersham Feb 04, 2006, 09:56am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
One day I attempted to boot up and from out of nowhere I began consistently getting this message every time I tried to boot. I had made no recent hardware or software updates except that I do use automatic update for Norton Internet Security and Windows XP.

I first checked for cable issues but found none. I have two identical Maxtor 200G drives. I swapped the drives and installed Windows on the one that is normally my secondary drive. I had no problem booting from that drive and no problem reading the original primary drive from the new Windows installation.

I read most of the posts in this thread and began trying the suggested solutions working my way up from the least drastic to the most. The thing that cured it for me was flashing the BIOS and refreshing the settings in the CMOS console. There was a slightly newer version of my BIOS available but I have a hunch that if I had only refreshed the the settings in the CMOS console that alone might have done it. There are some earlier posts in this thread from folks who had success doing just that.

Hope this is helpful to someone else fighting this extremely frustrating problem.

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Paul Guenette Feb 05, 2006, 02:09am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Possible solution found!

Just thought I'd post my experiences in hopes that it may help someone else out. I had the same problems, where a clean XP install on a brand new Seagate IDE drive would fail after reboot (Dimension 8250, so an older machine but still usable). Once it failed the first time, XP setup would hang with a black screen before even getting to textmode setup, and nothing short of erasing the drive would fix it (using Seagate's zeroing tools) - although nothing seemed to be wrong with the drive itself (Linux could read the data just fine). The problem only occured when using NTFS; if I set up a FAT32 partition and installed WinXP on that, it worked fine. But, the first reboot after converting to NTFS triggered the same problem. I tried most suggestions found here, to no avail.

The solution: a BIOS update! This should have been one of the first things I checked. Dell had to replace my motherboard for an unrelated problem a few months back. Turns out, the BIOS version on this new motherboard was out of date. I had been running WinXP, with NTFS, with no problem under this old BIOS for months, but I guess I never actually did an install. Updating the BIOS seems to have done the trick. I zeroed the drive, installed XP (choosing to create a new partition using all available space on the new drive, and quick formatting the partition with NTFS) and got the usual message. I then updated the BIOS - and changed nothing else - and rebooted. Ever since, it's been working perfectly, which means if you see this error, your drive could be fine, waiting for a BIOS update to resurrect it.

So, the list of things to check if you have this problem seems to be:
- Check for BIOS updates.
- Try swapping IDE cables.
- Use explicit master / slave jumper settings rather than cable select.
- Use a SP2 build of the WinXP CD.
- Fiddle with BIOS settings / disk utilities (read thread for details)

Hope this helps.

joseph broderick Feb 08, 2006, 01:58am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I would have to confir with the Gent above. I ran into this problem 3 times thus far suprisingly enough with a current install going down vice a new install of win xp pro. I was using an AMi Bios dated 2000 on a ecs k7s5a V1.0 amd duron 1.0ghz WD 160gb hd. Problem After checking out the hd by swapping my trusty 4gb fuji hd with an XPsp1 load out (laugh but its great to have laying around in times like this) I found that even though BIOS was not seeing the partition I could access the disk through the slaved HD. Here are some noted on the TS process:

from repair:chkdsk/r,fixboot, fixmr no joy on any
attemped to use a partion manager to see if the partition was still valid : yes still valid (60 bucks wasted on the program)

swapped in the spare hd hey look the "bad" drive is still good.. backed up faulty volume just in case.
OK here was the point I had come to before in which after more lost hours of playing with the Bios setting checking and rechecking cable connections I just reinstalled XP and started over agin. The OS from this point ran great for a few months till low and behold back to here

This time i tried posting into XP from a startup disk recieved the following could not find <windows> system32:\ Hal.dll

after looking with microsoft to find the right version of hal ( ) I replaced the .dll off the xp disk tried it again same error microsoft claims that this error is from abad boot sector and you should replace the NTLDRand modify the boot.ini ( Also at this ppoint if you are not up and running there is a program that you can get from MS Support that will "fix" the problem ... You would have to use the links above to find it if you want it.... I was not about to give MS any more of my cash for some thing that may or may not fix the problem.

As a last ditch effort I flashed the BIOS/ entered setup reset to default save exit and bang reboot straight into XP with all data intact. Can I get an "AMEN"??

On a whim I kept digging through the MS knowldge base oddly enough for Win Server 2000 when reporting the same errors the first step listed is to check for BIOS upgrades. If you are new to flashing BIOS if you are sure its what you want to do AMI has a utility that wiull pull MOBO/BIOS info up for you to help you make sure you get the right info (if you do a "bad" flash you can/will kiss it good bye) if you can't get the utility you can unplug your key board and restart. the screen will lock up at the post screen there you find bios rev. date and MOBO info to aid in finding the right BIOS flash. I hope all of this helps some one save some time.


Also I wonder of all the above people who encountered this problem how many people's HD's were of a larger size than the mobo allowed .. ie a 160gd hd will be seen in bios with a max size of 137 .. just a thought though.

maiky merens Feb 08, 2006, 06:47pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Problem + fixed (only 6 hours wasted!)
Well, one day i decided to change my cluster size of my windows partition to 16KB (i know, i know) . I took my partition magic, and it did the job.... Except that windows wouldnt boot anymore (yes, the message).
Partition magic didn't warn me that the windows boot manager (WBM, see above somewhere) requires cluster sizes of 4KB or less.

I knew the mbr was ok, because my lilo and linux worked fine
Also the filesystem was ok, cause linux could read the partition just fine

What did i try without succes:
*put in the windows installcd and chkdsk /r: no errors and no goodies
*didnt even try to recover windows, useless
*flash bios
*put the windowsxp boot files (NTDETECT.COM, ntldr, boot.ini, ..) on a floppy and boot it

Fortunatelly, i had a spare disk with another windowsXP for my platform. inserted the spare disk together with the original, and booted the spare, installed partition magic and changed clusters back to 4KB, removed the spare disk. and DONE. It booted.

If the previous had failed, the last option to recover windowsXP, which i think should work.
1)Boot linux (for example: download a linux live cd (knoppix, mandrake move) and burn it on an empty cdr)
2)copy all files from your windows partition to somewhere (external disk, another partition), except ofcourse your pagefile, filesystem folders
3)reinstall windows (format and so on), but stop installation after first reboot
4)Boot again in linux and copy all files back

Joojoo vaisanen Feb 27, 2006, 09:55am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Not again! At this point I have to say its not about FAT32 or NTFS. I have Matrox 160 GB sata drive and I have this effing problem too. When I bought this drive I installed XP on NTFS, it worked fine about a month. Then this problem occured. I tried everything and nothing worked. Last thing I did was that I format my hd in to FAT32 and that seem to do the trick. But now I'm back in the starting point, it worked again about a month and today I got the bleeding message on my screen again. I'm using boot disk now, its working most of the times, but I'm not happy.

Alan O Connor Feb 27, 2006, 10:02am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Hey all

Just read 11 pages of this problem. I have the same problem on a custum built machine. AMD duel core based.

BAsicly i get the same disk read error. The only problem is that the windows install cd will not boot when it says boot from disk and i click a button on the keyboard it goes to the inspecting hardware screen but then it goes to a black screen it doesn't load the xp install files.

OK... next i ran a dignostics boot up tool from western digital (ive got a 200gig wd drive) and it says the hard drive is fine...

How do i fix this.. I don't care if i have to reformat the hardrive and start again i just want to get it workin :)
any idea would be cool..

Erin Hasenkamp Mar 05, 2006, 03:37pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart

James Oskam Mar 06, 2006, 12:25am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I too have had the same problem as detailed in the last 11-pages, my HDD is an 120Gb Seagate so the MAxtor theory has been shot down. My initial thoughts were that heat is the issue, as we have had 3 days of 36-38 deg celcius temperatures where we live. I have had no problems first thing in the morning when it is cooler, i have changed the layout to make it cooler it will let you know if it works!

c n Mar 08, 2006, 01:27pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Well to burst that BIOS thing. I just installed a new mobo, processer and vid card into an old system..replaced the stock mobo that was in my old HP...which was th elast part of it's stock parts making it no longer an HP other then the case and the PSU.

I know it's not the BIOS, cause it still boots for the system I pulled it out of. The drive is not faulty because the data is accessable. Replaced the cables. Tried repairing the file alacation table. Tried reinstalling windows over it's self. Tried moveing jumpers around. One last thing is to wipe the partition.

Note when trying to boot with the systems old mobo it comes up with missing or corrupt PCI driver.

Luckly this drive only has like a couple files of data which I think aren't some where else or easily replacable.

David Traish Mar 14, 2006, 12:42pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Just thought I could help a little on A Disk Read Error Occured.

I have had the same problem, after a hard disk upgrade. I have a number of hard disks in my machine, 2 UDMAS from Seagate, and one SATA drive, also from Seagate. I replaced the the system disk, one of the UDMA drives, (Windows XP) with a new Seagate drive and thought reasonably that I should use cable select as the method of differentiation between the disks. After re-building the whole machine, the PC worked for around 2 weeks without any problems. I cold booted one evening only to find the error message A Disk Read Error Occured.

I have Norton ghost on my machine, so I tried using some of the recovery facilities on the boot recovery CD you can make using Ghost. It proved there was nothing wrong with any of the drives, and I could see the data in the NTFS partitions. I thought that I could try disconnecting all other drives except the system drive and try to boot only this disk. This worked !!

I then tried to add all the other drives and see if the PC still booted. It did. Thinking I had solved the problem, I found the PC reliably booted for another 2 days. The error returned. This time I went back to using a master/slave set up for the two UDMA drives. This again worked for a few days and the problem returned.

I still have to solve this problem, but from my experience, my problem (If it is one problem?) has nothing to do with certain types of drive and nothing to do with damaged data. I think what is happening is that windows is getting confused as to what disk it should be booting from. I know the MBR was not changed at all during the changes I have made to my PC, so it is not that.

I have a motherboard that requires a special driver to use an SATA drive, and I have a suspicion it might be this that is causing the problem. Either I upgrade the motherboard, or get rid of the Sata drive to solve my problem. There is one other possibility, windows has assigned a drive letter of F to my Hard disk 0. I am sure this may also be a factor behind the problem, but why the system is ok for a while, and then decides to report this error I have no idea.

Steve Zap Mar 14, 2006, 04:55pm EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Ok, Here is my situation.

I am part of a huge XP migration in my office. The user has Windows 2000 on her laptop, we are dumping a generic sysprep'd image of XP onto her machine.

I brought her computer to the lab, uploaded a ghost image of her drive to our server, then ghosted down the SysPrep XP image to the laptop. Suddenly I get the "A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart" message. Thinking, perhaps the hard drive might be going bad, I toss it into my lab computer which is a desktop machine I use for testing... on her drive it boots to XP and does the whole Sysprep install, and scandisk reports NO errors on the drive... so the drive hardware is fine. Ok, maybe the sysprep image doesn't like her laptop... so I ghost her original windows 2000 image back to her drive... same message... A Read Error Occured... Ok... so it isn't my image, because her original image doesn't even work.

Now I am confused and decided to web search it and came upon this thread. I have tried EVERYTHING in this thread with the exception of changing the LBR setting in the laptop BIOS, because there is no such setting in this Compaq EVO Laptop's BIOS. This couldn't be the issue anyway, since her original image has not changed, and the LBR settings could not have changed from the image being uploaded, and redownloaded with no modification.. No matter what I did... always the same Disk Read Error. Also, this being a laptop, there are no cables to swap out.

So most would say "The motherboard, RAM, CPU, other hardware may be bad"... well, here's another monkey wrench in that theory... I can install Windows XP from scratch and it works like a champ. Doing a Scandisk, and even drive performance tests that write random data to the drive pass with flying colours.

I dare you to come up with a solution for this one ;)

Peter Wilson Mar 15, 2006, 11:44am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I experienced this problem last year and responded to this forum. And since then I have followed this forum for any clues as to why it occurred. I was fortunate that my system was backed up via Norton Ghost. I was able to restore my system to a new drive. In the process of the restore the non-functioning drive came back to live and my drive letters got screwed up. I was able to fix this problem and everything has been fine ever since.

However, the original culprit I believe lies in the SATA drive and SATA controller card that I installed. I have an older system which came with IDE drives. I had upgraded to a new SATA drive as my "C" drive which required installing an SATA controller card.

After the CTRL ALT DEL problem I put my "C" drive back onto a new IDE drive and let the SATA drive be another letter through the SATA controller card. Problems have not returned. So my theory is that in an older system eventually Windows XP does not like having a SATA drive be the "C" drive.

Right now I am running 4 hard drives. 2 IDE drives through an IDE Controller on the mother board (the other IDE controller is for the CD and DVD drives) and 1 IDE and 1 SATA through the SATA controller card.

But the "C" drive is an IDE drive and its size is 160 MB. The 2nd IDE drive is 80MB (the very original "C" drive that came with the system) The SATA and IDE drive on the SATA controller card are both 250MB each.

Again, I think it's because I have an older system (never upgraded the BIOS) that 160MB is the safest sized drive to use through the IDE on-board controller port and as a "C" drive. Leaving the SATA and IDE 250 MB sized drives for the SATA controller card (has IDE ports as well) and higher drive letters keeps Windows XP and Bill Gates happy.

Jon Abbott Mar 16, 2006, 10:11am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Had this problem this week on a maxtor HD following resizing an NTFS partition using the Knoppix CD.
Windows loaded fine after the first reboot but then I had this error.
I ran chkdsk /r, fixboot, fixMBR but was still unable to reboot into the OS.
I wasn't worried about losing data so reinstalled XP on NTFS but got the same error.
reinstalled XP on a fat32 partition and it now worked fine.
After playing around for a bit and scratching my head as to why it wouldn't load in NTFS i ran AVG antivirus and found a suspected virus called msiden32.exe (.MPH)
cofirmed this with AVAST.
I removed this (suspected)virus and thought what the hell I'll reinstall XP on NTFS.
worked fine.
My question is has anyone heard of msiden32.exe and if it would cause the A Disk Read Error Occured message?

Greg Lankenau Mar 25, 2006, 12:56am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I almost can't believe I'm posting this, but I had SUCCESS fixing this problem on my hard drive! Let me recap:

Windows XP (SP 2)
Hitachi 250GB HD
FIC AD11 Motherboard
The common threads between many people seem to be Windows XP and a large HD (over 137GB). If this applies to you, read on.

Upon booting, after displaying "Verifying DMI Pool Data" the system displays "A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart" and hangs. Restarting does not fix the problem. Hitachi's Disk Fitness Test reveals no errors on the drive. The drive will not boot, but if I boot from another XP installation on another drive (with the problem drive attached as a slave), I can see all the files on the problem drive just fine.

I've only had the 250GB HD for about 6 weeks, and this is actually the second time I've had this problem. It worked fine for a month, but the first time this happened, the system suddenly starting hanging on bootup just after "Verifying DMI Pool Data." Minus the error message about the disk read error, all the symptoms were the same. Other internet boards suggested that the MBR was at fault, so I ran fixboot and fixmbr. This didn't fix the problem, but instead made it so I could no longer read the files from the disk when booting XP from another drive. D'oh. So I formatted (yes, NTFS) the problem drive and reinstalled XP. It worked fine for about 2 weeks, then the problem arose again.

I read through all 11+ pages of messages here, and tried almost everything suggested. I avoided fixboot and fixmbr since they made my problem worse the first time around.
Other fixes that did NOT work for me:
-Switching jumpers on HD
-Changing IDE cables
-Removing/changing RAM, video card, network card, CD/DVD drives, floppy drive
-Changing BIOS settings (including fail-safe defaults, DMA modes, auto detect, etc)
-Using the Windows XP Recovery Console to run chkdsk (errors were found and corrected, but this just made my computer hang after "Verifying DMI Pool Data" without the "Disk Read Error" message)

Finally, I decided to update my BIOS. Lo and behold, on the FIC site, there was a BIOS update for hard drives larger than 137GB. I followed their instructions, updated my BIOS, and the problem drive booted just fine! I even shut the computer down and started it up again. Amazingly, it worked again.

As I stated before, the common thread between many people who've had this problem is Windows XP and a large HD. NTFS is also common, though this may just be correlated with large HD's and not necessarily the problem. The problem appears to be related to how XP communicates with your hardware, specifically with other BIOS versions that aren't 100% compatible with large HD's. There might be other causes, but at least this was the case for me. The weird thing was that my computer worked fine for so long -- I wonder why this happens all of a sudden.

I hope this helps. This stuff is amazingly frustrating.


Andrew Tompkins Mar 31, 2006, 09:56am EST Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I have this same problem with my Dimension Dell 8250. I got a new 250GB Seagate HD and formatted it in NTFS and installed Windows on it. I was using it as my startup drive for a few weeks until I got "A Disk Read Error Occurred. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart".

I have never upgraded a bios before. Will upgrading the bios work for all systems? I went to the Dell website to look at the upgrades but they didn't say anything about supporting larger drives. I need to get this drive working again, but I'm not an expert at this stuff. Messing with the bios sounds risky. Any help would be great.


Marc Beumer Apr 07, 2006, 12:49pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
I have had this error several times in the past.

Mainboard intel D850MV disk 200 GB Western Digital.
Tried everything, nothing worked.

Today I read about the BIOS upgrade, bearing in mind that it would be this or reinstall I donwloaded the lastest bios from the Intel site. Followed their little procedure, just 5 minutes work.

To my great suprise the machine booted as if nothing ever happened, all programs and connections still working.

Thanks you very very much, you saved my weekend.


R Donoghue Apr 13, 2006, 10:29am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart

Same symptom - different problem. The error only comes up for me when there is a slave present on the primary IDE channel. It doesn't matter is HDD, CD, DVD etc. When Fujitsu is the only primary IDE device there is no problem.

Original config:
IDE0: Fujitsu MPD3084AT 8.4Gb (UDMA 4 capable)
IDE1: Empty
IDE3: CDrw
all on Asus P4P800vm with CT479 convertor and Dothan (2mb cache, 533fsb, 1.86GHz)

Am currently using (config as above) +
IDE1: IBM Travelstar IC25n020ATCS04 20Gb 2.5" (using adapter) (UDMA 5 capable).

It appears that the UDMA capabilities of the Fujitsu hard drive is intolerant of having a second device on the IDE header. This seems to be solved (as a workaround) by reducing the UDMA mode of the Fujitsu hard drives to UDMA 3. Obviously this reduces the transfer speed to/from the hard drive - but it boots and I have the extra IDE device - so not that critical.

Hope that helps somebody.

Al James Apr 19, 2006, 02:00pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
My Dell Insiron 8600 just gave me the error message A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart"

Now I've read all this thread but when I do CHKDSK /R it stays on 0% completed for ages? Is it meant to take that long to progress? Also, if I were to perform FIXMBR C: or FIXBOOT C: does this mean I will lose all the data on the hard drive? If so, is there any way I can get the data from this laptop hard drive onto my desktop?

Hoping someone can help


dave ---- Apr 20, 2006, 05:14pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
Ok. this message just happened to me too. I just recently got a 200gb hard drive maxtor. SO like everyone else i shut it down one day then the next(yesterday) it said a read disk error occured press CTRL ALT DEL to restart. That didnt dork. Then i tried the reinstalation cd...(winxp) pretty sure thats it].. once i put that in....nothing happened.. So not im thinking about doing what the other guy said and updating the BIOS....however a my father told me its a 50/50 chance of working....if it does great...if not im screwed and i lose everything and permanently damage my computer. I dont want to risk that....all i need it to get the info off my computer then ill wipe it and start over....but i dont want to do that with out my pictures, document, and all that important stuff... someone help.... as much as i want to try this(updating the BIOS) i dont... because i dont want to lose my info or hurt my computer. what should i do?????

Apr 25, 2006, 01:53am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: A Disk Read Error Occured. Press CTRL ALT DEL to restart
The best solution is the the simblest.
Remove the battery and then place it back again after 10 minutes.
Problem solved

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