View Full Version : Odd laptop and HDD

09-08-2010, 08:09 PM
I'm working on a Dell Vostro laptop running XP pro.

Very early on in the boot process it blanks for about 4 mins eventually coming up with missing hal.dll error. This is likely to be a dodgy boot.ini, a missing hal.dll or some disk problem in my experience. So i test the disk with WD's testing software (it's a WD disk) and it passes the short test at least. So I tried to run the DART CD so I can do an offline SFC and mess with the boot.ini but it won't find a Windows installation and when I have it boot unattached to an installation it doesn't find the HDD at all.

So i think maybe the DART CD relies on boot.ini to find installations or something so try the XP disk with a view to using bootcfg in recovery console so see what is happening there but it fails to complete loading with a 7B error.

I've had similar problems caused by a bad HDC so fire up UBCD4WIN. This won't load either. Now I know that disk problems can cause all Windows-based boot disks to fail so put in a the linux based Parted Magic in. This also will not complete loading.

I try loading up a file explorer from UBCD and it cannot find the disk drive at all. Just sees the RAMdrive and CD. I check the BIOS again and the disk is still there.

I take the disk out and into sata toaster. Windows finds the disk fine, allows me to assing letters, browse files and chkdsk with no switches doesn't even find any errors!

So all disk testing apps a la Seatools etc find the disk and say it's OK. No Windows disks will ever load and linux ones are sporadic. Slaved to windows it acts as normal.

What gives? I reckon the disk is shot somehow but can't pin it down right now. Maybe just a lot of bad sectors in bad places?

09-08-2010, 08:16 PM
I would make a backup copy of that drive, then try a low level format. I think the hdd itself is shot.

09-09-2010, 12:57 PM
I solved this now. The disk is on it's way out. The problem was just a lot of very slow sectors and bad sectors. Chkdsk /f and /r would not complete.

HDD Regen came the rescue. It took an hour to get past 2% but eventually found and repaired (whatever this actually means) c.150 bad sectors in clumps on the drive. This enabled me to clone the drive with only one uncopiable sector, run chkdsk /f on the new drive and Bob's yer uncle it boots and runs fine as dandy.

Prior to that it would clone but with so many bad sectors that the result was unbootable.