"Disk boot failure"

  biobird 18:29 11 Nov 2004

My computer won’t boot. Windows 98SE, two and a half year old self-build (by daughter not me).

I was on the Internet and it froze. CTRL+ALT+DEL didn’t work, so I reset.

It gets as far as “Verifying DMI Pool” on the white on black screen, and stops with the message: “Boot from ATAPI CD-ROM : Boot from ATAPI CD-ROM : Disk Boot Failure, Insert system disk and press Enter”

Starting again with the original Windows 98SE disk didn’t help.

My emergency startup boot disks (made for another computer but still Win 98) got a bit further, to “Start computer with CD-ROM support” or “Start computer without CD-ROM support”.

Both options got to the same place. It seemed to have made a temporary C: RAMdisk with 15 files. It then said “Windows 98 has detected that Drive C does not contain a valid FAT or FAT32 partition.” It gave three possible causes. 1.The drive may need to be partitioned. 2. You may be using third party partitioning software. 3 Virus. It went on “The diagnostic tools are successfully loaded on to Drive C.”

Then it went to the A: prompt. I changed to the C: drive and then D: and E: and tried to load Windows, but couldn’t remember the syntax. I just got AbortFailRetry.

The Help file, which wouldn’t print, gave some advice, such as getting into Safe Mode by holding down CTRL, but that didn’t work.

I then got into the Dual BIOS Utility by pressing F1. I tried toggling from “Boot from Main” to “Boot from Backup”, but this made no difference. There were four choices from function keys F3, F5, F7 or F9. The Start BIOS Recovery (F5) flashed the BIOS and announced it had been updated, but no joy.

I got into Setup with DEL, but didn’t know what to do there.

I’d be grateful for any DIY advice, even if only to recover emails, addresses, and Word files, without making things worse, or is this a job for a professional? I'm out of my depth if it involves repartitioning, reformatting or reinstalling Windows.

I regularly update AVG AntiVirus and Sygate Firewall, and run Spywareblaster, Ad-AwareSE, and Spybot almost every day.

  Rayuk 18:36 11 Nov 2004

If you know the make of your hard drive you can download there diagnostic software and run it from a floppy,could be your hard drive has failed[not saying this is 100% true,just an option]

  gold 47 18:49 11 Nov 2004

I think i would just format the drive and reinstall W98 it's the easy way out i hope your on BB as the W98 updates are quite large files.
Don't forget to back up anything you want to keep
as all data will be lost.

  twin 18:49 11 Nov 2004

This has happened to me. what i did to fix it was restart with the floppy boot disk. run scandisk for drive c:/ thats from the A:/ type c: enter, Then type c:/scandisk/all. Then restart

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 18:50 11 Nov 2004

Your PC has failed to find the Hard disk or the operating system on the hard disk.

Reboot and watch the fist screen it should show the hardisk and CD Rom drives just before it looks for the Operating system.

If HDD shown then your HDD boot sector is damaged and win 98 is not being found. "Windows 98 has detected that Drive C does not contain a valid FAT or FAT32 partition.”

Not sure if there is an option of FIX MBR (fix master boot record on the win 98 startup disk s other members of the forum who use win 98 will be able to tell you.

  biobird 18:56 11 Nov 2004

Thank you, Rayuk, I'll find this out.

  biobird 19:47 11 Nov 2004

Thank you, Gold 47, Twin and Fruit Bat for your suggestions.

Formatting and resinstalling may be the best and only way, unless the disk itself has failed. I'll try it as a last resort.

It pretended to scandisk, but, because the blue screen to say it had finished came up instantly, in a second, without any disk noise, I assume the disk isn't working properly.

There seemed to be something about the hard disk on the first screen, but I don't know what it means. The FAT message is worrying. I'm hoping for advice on a repair fix.

  wobblymike 20:03 11 Nov 2004


A bit of repetition but necessary to do it methodically.

Boot your PC and press delete or whatever you need to get into BIOS

Go into Standard CMOS setup snf verify your drives are set to Auto detect if not change them to Auto - press escape

Select Advanced set up and check the boot order of your devices set them to Floppy first CD second IDE 0 third

press escape and then save changes and exit BIOS

Watch the screen on reboot and see if your Primary master is recognised in BIOS. If not then your hard Drive is faulty (assuming you haven't pulled the IDE cable out).

If its recognised then see if it will boot to a WIN 98 floppy if so the message your getting in your question you can expect if the drive is formatted in NTFS.

Check this far and post back with result.


  biobird 20:24 11 Nov 2004

Many thanks for your trouble. I'll post back, but it may be some time while I check a couple of things I don't quite understand, like NTFS, and also find and check the IDE cable.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 21:36 11 Nov 2004

The IDE cable is the ribbon cable (with the red stripe) that connects the HDD to the motherboard. If loose at either end the PC will not see your HDD and it will not be shown on the Boot screen with the CD Roms.

You will have to take off the cover to see this.

However because of the message “Windows 98 has detected that Drive C does not contain a valid FAT or FAT32 partition.” I suspect that the cable is ok and The HDD is seen by the PC and you have a software problem with the disk.

You are running Win 98 so your HDD will have the FAT system as NTFS is only used by XP.

The boot sector of your HDD appears to be damaged and therefore unrecognisable by win98 could be a virus as you were on the net at the time of the crash, but more like a HDD crash.

boot from floppy and check out the help file

At the a:\ prompt Type Scandisk /all

rather than scandisk c: as c appears to be the ram disk where the tools are loaded thats why it made no noise and finished quick.

  Buchan 35 22:28 11 Nov 2004

I had a similar failure two months ago, and a good mate told me to press Del to get into Bios
go to Advanced and change the order of 1st and 3rd items in bott up. If Floppy is 1st change it to CD and then change the 3rd item to Floppy. leave No.2 well alone, his words ,not mine,then close down. Re boot and pay close attention to your screen because across the bottom of it somewhere will come up the instruction to press any key to reboot from CD.Your CD should be inserted before now. It worked for me, but having read all of the replies you got tonight I can only wish you luck

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