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Laptop not booting from disk / "A disk read error occurred"


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#1 Ant S

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:55 AM

My laptop will no longer start up from a certain hard disk. It gives me the message: "A disk read error occurred / Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart".

The problem

When I start up the laptop with this disk, it displays the proprietary screen (as normal) then goes straight to the error message. When taken out of the laptop and placed into a caddy, the disk is fine. All files and folders appear to be accessible and intact.

The error occurred immediately after I'd converted the cluster size from 2kB to 8kB. (I've converted between other cluster sizes recently with no problem.) Unfortunately, I didn't see if there were any error messages when the process came to an end, but the conversion to 8kB appears to have been successful.

What I've tried

I've checked the entry for the partition in the Master Boot Record and (although I'm no expert) it seems fine. I've also defragmented the disk, resized the partition and created another partition on the disk, which I've read can resolve this problem. I've also run Windows’s error checking tool against the disk.

Some background

The disk in fact is the one that I'm about to upgrade to, not my current disk. (I was performing a dummy run of the upgrade.) Once the disk is up and running, I'll need to change the cluster size. The problem occurred when I was 'break-testing' the conversion tool I intend to use. (It looks like I succeeded.)

Other info

The disk is 160GB and contained only one partition of 25GB when the error occurred. The operating system on it is Windows XP Service Pack 3. I was using Partition Magic 8.02 to change the cluster size. I’m accessing the disk via caddy from XP SP3. The disk is a Samsung HM160HC.

 

 

If there's anyone here with experience of this error in this kind of situation, help would be much appreciated.
 

 



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#2 hamluis

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 12:51 PM

FWIW:  The Powerquest product, PM 8, hasn't been developed/updated for years now.  I used to rely on it until Powerquest was killed/acquired by Symantec and the Drive Image/Partition Magic products ceased to be...that was 2003, ten years ago.  Symantec killed off PM/DI by ostensibly merging those technolgies with its Ghost product.

 

Partition Magic is not the product I would use on any system today...ten years is a long time in the world of computers, lots of changed technology that PM was never able to anticpate.

 

My guess...strictly that...would be that your partition table is now damaged.

 

There are a ton of alternative programs for doing what PM was once the standard for...a small use of Google will bring some candidates into focus.

 

I used to fool around with changing cluster sizes with PM...in the end, I found that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference, now that hard drives are much larger and NTFS is the preferred file  system by Windows.

 

Since this drive was just an experiment...I would just delete the trial run and move on.

 

Louis



#3 Ant S

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:44 AM

Thanks very much for posting, Louis. Sorry for the delay between posts.

The disk is up and running again. It seems that the problem was faulty data in the system (C:) partition's boot sector and possibly also a faulty Master Boot Record. (With the latter, I'm tempted to think that it was the boot code but I could be wrong.) It was fixed by running Recovery Console's fixmbr and fixboot commands (from a boot disk).

It does seem likely that it was Partition Magic, or at least the conversion process, that caused the problem. It was your suggestion that led me to look into the boot process and tools for repairing faulty boot data, so thank you. :)

 

As my operating system is OEM, when I upgrade proper to the new disk I'll be using a product recovery disk, which sets the cluster size to 512kB. That means I need a tool that can convert the cluster size on a working drive. I did a lot of Googling for free or low-cost tools but PM was all I could find. (As my laptop is older even than PM 8.02, I didn't think suitability would be an issue.)

Can you recommend something inexpensive and reliable that can convert the cluster size with data ‘in situ’?

Thanks for the advice about the relative effectiveness of different cluster sizes, which is partly what I was trying to establish. The informal bench-testing I've done echoes your view, with perhaps a shallow performance peak (on my system anyway) at 2kB, though it was competing with trial to trial performance 'noise'.

Yes, I could have wiped the disk, but the reason for doing the dummy run was to highlight issues like this and hopefully resolve them sooner rather than later.

 

Ant
 


Edited by Ant S, 05 August 2013 - 08:46 AM.


#4 hamluis

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 02:28 PM

Good news is always appreciated, glad that you ovecame the problems :).

 

Happy computing :).

 

Louis



#5 Ant S

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 01:40 PM

Thanks for the post, Louis.

 

Can you--or anyone else--recommend a reliable free or low-cost tool I can use to convert the cluster size with data ‘in situ’? As I mentioned, I did do a lot of Googling but all I could find was Partition Magic.



#6 hamluis

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 11:27 AM

I can't...during the period when I played with changing the cluster size...I wasn't aware of any significant differences in system functioning and I ceased to bother with it.  That was about 10 years ago, when I still used Partition Magic.

 

Louis



#7 rotor123

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:08 PM

Hi, Personal opinion don't mess with converting cluster size.

As you have already found out there can be problems. As I see it the problem could have been worse.

If You want drive speed convert from a regular Hard Drive to a SSD.

 

I know of at least two moderators here that use them. A SSD boosts anything that use the drive.

Boot time decrease nicely, Program load times are much faster. Malware Scans are much faster, Any access to Virtual memory are much faster.

 

Plus with a SSD There is no speed change depending on where on the platter the data is. No Platters. They do not need no recommend De-fragmentation be done.

 

Good Luck

Roger


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#8 Ant S

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 09:11 AM

Thanks for the posts, guys.

I think I'll set the cluster size at 2kB then leave it at that. As it's on a freshly installed system, there's no risk of data loss--unless the process can do physical damage to the disk. For what it’s worth, in the thread below it’s claimed that even Symantec have advised against using Partition Magic to change the cluster size on a system drive.

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/201444-32-ntfs-byte-cluster-size-resize

For anyone that was wondering, the most inexpensive up-to-date option I found for changing the cluster size with data in situ was the MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Edition at $29. (The relevant feature is deactivated in the trial version.) I've no idea how safe it is, though.

Yes, solid state does sound like the Holy Grail of system drive technology. I looked into SSD's when choosing an upgrade disk but was put off by the cost (for respectable laptop capacities) and reliability, in particular degradation over time. Perhaps sometime in the near future...



#9 rotor123

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 09:43 AM

I was put off by the price until I used the first one. Now one laptop has 160Gb Intel and the Other laptop has 120Gb Intel SSD drives. My Desktop has a 300Gb Intel SSD and the I7 computer I built my Brother has a 160Gb Intel SSD.

 

I have found that the laptop drives are large enough when used in conjunction with a 1Tb Portable hard drive or a 6Gb Flash drive.

That is probably due to having Desktop computers to hold large amounts of data.

 

My Older Vista era laptop boots Windows 7 in approx 20+ seconds from the SSD. I can turn them on and off all the time to serve wear and tear and not lose a lot of time.

 

Cheers

Roger


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#10 Ant S

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 11:16 AM

Thanks for the info, Roger! I'll bear it in mind for the future. :)



#11 rotor123

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 02:00 PM

Good Luck in the Future

 

When I bought my SSDs I went for reliable not Performance. I suspect that keeping Backups is important as I understand data recovery is tougher if at all. As I understand it the Intel Series SSDs I use encrypt all data as it is written. Using a different key each time the drive is secure erased. That would seem to make data recovery harder to me.

 

Also I have heard that a worn out SSD just goes Read Only. Having never worn one out I can't say. On Mine the Intel SSD toolbox shows drive health and drive life at 100% so far.

 

The One Non Intel or Samsung SSD I bought was also the only one where I had to secure erase twice to get a OS on it in testing.

 

I believe that keeping the swap file (paging) on the SSD also speeds up the computers operation.

 

Roger


Fortune Cookie says: Fortune not Found: Abort, Retry, Ignore?

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