Dead hard drive (or not) - help with recovery options please

One of our kids' laptops stopped booting a couple of days ago. I have confirmed there is nothing wrong with the laptop itself; it's a hard drive issue.

To narrow this down I have:
  1. Placed the offending hard drive in an external drive enclosure attached to another computer. The other computer can access the entire drive with no issues.
  2. Attempted to use the rescue disc to repair the windows installation. The rescue operation indicated there was something wrong with the startup settings, but couldn't write the changes.
  3. Again with the rescue disc, ran the startup repair sequence. I should mention that the Windows installation could not be detected automatically by the rescue disc. Anyway, the diagnostic & repair details, for the "Disk Failure diagnostics" indicate a Bad Hard Disk
  4. While in the recovery console, I opened up a command prompt and went to D:\ which is the offending disk path. I'm able to run a directory listing on, and navigate around within the drive that is supposed to be "bad".

With these outcomes, I'm completely confused by the fact that the drive appears to be able to be accessed, yet no OS installation is able to be found by the recovery routine. I've checked the recycle bin to see if someone accidentally erased critical files but the recycle bin is empty.

What do you find folks think is going on with this situation?


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
When you say stopped booting, what exactly happened? Any error messages or any specific screen presentations, like a black screen with a blinking cursor on the upper left?

A startup repair may have to be run 3 times to repair some types of problems.

If it isn't booting and you have the small system partition on the drive, it may not be D: but another letter.

Does the drive show in the Bios during boot, or does it take a long time to get past the bios screen?

If it isn't the hard drive, it might be a controller problem, or something has messed with the boot system.

What happened was that she shut it down, and when she went to turn it back on the next day it tried to do a PXE boot because it couldn't boot from the hard disk. The BIOS indicates a non-system drive.

The BIOS does show the drive, and the boot order is correct. The BIOS post doesn't appear any longer than normal.

I did confirm that the controller etc is fine. I put in a different hard drive in this machine and it booted up just fine.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
If it is booting to a Select repair type operation it might mean a driver or some update was installed that is not behaving.

Did she notice anything prior to the event that might have indicated a problem?

Safe Mode doesn't work either? Does she run virus scans once in a while?

If you can get into a command prompt window, there are some commands like Bootrec.exe /fixMBR and /fixboot we could try.

How to use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows

If it would even work, do you show any restore points you might use from the WinRE? Maybe even a Last known good configuration.

Running a Chkdsk might help if the drive had become corrupted.

The drive may be bad, or at least not capable of running the OS. If you looked at the drive in an external enclosure, were you able to get a Disk Management picture of it you might be able to post using the snipping tool and attaching using the paperclip? I would like to make sure the partitions were intact and the system partition was still active. There are third party disk management software you can download and burn to boot to check the drive. Partition Wizard (Home Edition) and G-Parted are two you might use is you so choose.

You could also use Diskpart from a command prompt if you need to work on the drive.

FIXED - Re: Dead hard drive (or not) - help with recovery options please

Well it's fixed! I ran chkdsk /r and that found a bad sector on a font. Then ran chkdsk /F and that came up clean. I then ran the recovery console and it found something goofy with the hard drive startup sequence. I ran that sequence again after a boot/bcd issue cropped up and holy smokes it's all good again!

Not sure why that all happened but I'm happier than a pig in slop that it's fixed - thanks!

Re: FIXED - Re: Dead hard drive (or not) - help with recovery options please

This points to & re-enforces, the fact that oft a good starting point is to run chkdsk /r/f and sfc /scannow. W/ these, native tools the OS can, frequently, fix itself. Been a good reminder...
Cool you're back on track :thumbs_up:


Last edited:


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Re: FIXED - Re: Dead hard drive (or not) - help with recovery options please

Well it's fixed!
It always helps when we can tie a symptom to a solution. Nice Job...

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