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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One day my computer was working fine. The next time I turned it on, a black screen appeared with the error message "system disk error. press ctrl+alt+del to restart." no matter how many times I restart, the same error message appears. I took the next obvious steps. Fisrt I tried booting into safe mode by pressing the F8 key when starting up. The F8 key won't work. Next, I tried booting from my windows xp cd in order to do a repair/restore. That didn't work, so I went into the BIOS to change the boot order. After restarting, it seemed the system was trying to read the CD, but failed. A message came up, "error reading from CD drive, press Ctrl+alt+del to restart." I have no idea what's happening. Is this fixable, or is my hard drive totally crashed? I ran out of ideas. I just wanna be able to at least boot into safe mode so that I can do a system restore. Any ideas? Lots of thanks in advance.
 

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Is your XP CD scratched or damaged or anything? Maybe try booting from someone else's XP CD in case that's the problem.

Either that or try www.bootdisk.com and make a floppy boot disk to see if you can at least get a command prompt.
 

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The fact that the error message was the same when trying to boot from the CD makes me suspect the HDD may be OK, but the failure is much deeper, perhaps on the IDE ports on the motherboard itself?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I tried a few Windows XP CDs. same problem with all of them. However, I tried another disc that was included with my Dell laptop. It's a Windows XP Re-installation CD. "For reinstallation of Windows XP drivers, and utilities only. For use with Dell computers." I decided to give it a shot anyway, and popped it into my Compaq (the comp giving me trouble), and that's the ONLY CD that my computer will seem to read. It boots up, loads all the drivers and utilities, then asks if I want to do a repair. I click YES, and then choose the partition. Then it tells me that I MUST format this partition. :eek: I don't really want to do that, but if it's my only option to get my computer running again, then so be it. I'll try to make a boot disc this weekend and see how that goes. Hopefully it will!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alrite, boot disk didn't work. It says "configuration error - cannot load from floppy drive a:" then back to original error message where it says to restart. Any ideas??
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Alright, I made a floppy with that link and popped it in. This disk actually started to work. It led me to the screen where I can choose to start up from various safe modes, or to just start windows normally. I tried all the options...and they all led to the same original error screen where I'm forced to restart my comp once again. I thought this floppy would actually work since it did load to the safe mode screen, but it still won't load windows. Anything else I can try? Or is my HDD totally ruined?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks! I'll try the floppy and see what comes up. I'm at work now, so I can't try anything until I get home. But last time I tried booting from an XP CD, it just gave me an "error reading from Drive D: message". I tried changing the boot order and that didn't work either.
 

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OK. Good luck. Make sure that CD is clean and has no scratches. If it is damaged, you could borrow an XP CD and try that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Should I keep the boot disk in the comp at the same time that I try to boot from the XP CD? Cuz that last floppy managed to at least get me to the safe mode screen, so maybe that will help?
 

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Wouldn't hurt to try it all, but you should be able to boot from CD without anything additional.

You may want to arm yourself with a partition repair program, too, just so you are ready for everything.

http://users.adelphia.net/~abraxas/dl/APR.exe
http://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk.html
http://users.adelphia.net/~abraxas/dl/partfix.exe

And download the boot.ini editor, too.

An ISO image that will create a bootable CD containing the Recovery Console is available here:

If interested, the MD5 hash of this file is here:
 
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