Disk read error has occurred...press ctrl al

Hugh - Nov 20, 2008 at 05:15 AM
 Alan - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Is there any one out there could help me with "disk read error has occurred...press ctrl alt del to restart" after I tried to merge two partitions on Dell Inspiron 6000. Please tell me what do I need to do solve this problem when the computer boots up. I

11 responses

This is one of the most frustrating error messages you can ever deal with. Sometimes the fix is simple, sometimes it's a complete pain. Having recently dealt with this again, I thought I'd post my thoughts in the hopes that it helps someone else out there.

So you receive the dreaded "a disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart". Multiple restarts result in the same error message.

If you put your drive into another computer, or connecting it as a slave on your own computer, it will typically work fine, and no data is missing.

Because this error is not usually associated with data loss, DO NOT RE-PARTITION THE DRIVE. Your data is likely safe and sound.

Here's how we'll recover your data. Try each step below, in order, and see if your drive becomes accessible after each step. In my experience, you won't start seeing results until step 5 or so.
  • 1. Run
    CHKDSK /R /P
    from the recovery console (it will typically find no error)
  • 2. run
    from recovery console (typically has no result)
  • 3. run
    from recovery console (typically has no result)
  • 4. Run the manufacturer's diagnostic utility, downloaded from their website (it will typically find no error)
  • 5. Changing the drives from cable select to Master/Slave may fix it.
  • 6. Replacing the data cable may fix it, but usually not.
  • 7. Setting the BIOS to use defaults may fix it, but usually not.
  • 8. Changing the BIOS drive settings from auto to user-specified, ensuring that LBA is selected may fix it.
  • 9. Pulling the CMOS battery to let the BIOS lose it settings may work.

At this point, you may be feeling some frustration. :-)

If all that fails, here's what will usually work:

Ghost your data to a new drive, and use the original one as a slave. It will work. And all of your data will still be accessible. Your computer should boot normally. If it doesn't, or it there are errors, run the Repair Installation option from your Windows boot CD.

But why does this happen? Nobody seems to know why. The problem typically evades all forms of detection.

Here's what I've learned: this error message likely has more to do with a hardware interaction between the drive and your system than any actual issues with the drive. To put it one way, your motherboard and drive are no longer on speaking terms.

I don't know why the original disk has no problems being a slave. Perhaps it got tired of running the show. Perhaps it's preparing for retirement.

I hope this helps!

Very thorough explanation, thanks! Everything you describe matches exactly what I went through and I do believe that it was the drive and the motherboard suddenly deciding to spat. As posted above, I did get it solved without needing to reformat/reinstall the OS by shrinking the size of the primary partition.
Thanks for your help Peter. The Defender virus is what caused my drive to become inaccessible (that thing is getting viscous). I've done all of the steps you've listed, except the ghosting (Can't get anything of value to read the drive).

I ended up pulling a drive from another computer, installing the same flavor of XP. The new install sees the original drive, but thinks it's empty (file system RAW). Recovery software can't recover most of the info (I believe the software is simply looking for deleted items).

When I scan the original drive with something like Malwarebytes, it steps through the hierarchy of each and every file and folder listing their path as it reads. So I'm fairly confident the data is still there. So my questions are:

How the heck do I get to the data?
Can a Linux OS read a windows drive? (i'm not opposed to trying it.)
Is there some way of kicking XP (x-tra problems) in the rear so it can read the drive correctly?