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Invalid Boot Diskette


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#1 Mags B

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 02:55 PM

I've searched the Forum looking for this problem and haven't come across anything yet.

I started having this problem about 2 months ago. After a "Update Download" - which could have been Norton or Windows - the computer would reboot , pause on the Dell.com screen forever and then go to black with:
INVALID BOOT DISKETTE
INSERT BOOT DISKETTE in A:

After downloading a ton of support topics from Microsoft and trying all of them - what finally worked was just inserting the XP installation disk. The next time it happened it took a little bit longer for it to respond, but I believe it finally did with either the XP installation disk or the Dell Dimension Resource Disk.
It might have happened one more time, but one of the 2 above mentioned actions took care of it.

Then this past week I caught a virus trying to sneak in. Norton found and fixed, but the next day the computer was VERY SLOW to respond. But yesterday it was fine. I did tons of photoediting with not one problem.

The affected computer runs 24/7. It is connected to a Battery Backup/Surge Protector System. Last night the wind was blowing like crazy and the Electricity must have flickered at some point in the middle of the night. When the lights came back on both battery backups wouldn't stop beeping without shutting them off. The CO2 monitor was beeping and the lights in the bathrooms flickered and pulsed. Hubby thinks it might have been a "Brown Out". This morning all electrical devices seem to be working correctly. And this computer -which was off and on another Battery Backup/Surge Protector System -is fine. However, the multi-function printer/copier/scanner that was on "standby", AND plugged into the surge protector part, is not. It needs a service repair man.

WHERE DID MY HARD DRIVE GO?
When I went to start up the affected computer this morning got the same old issue. EXCEPT now it is worse! Every tool I use tells me that there is NO HARD DRIVE installed on the computer. Plus it seems to be confused about all the Drive Letters.
1. put in Dell Diagnostic CD - "Windows 98 has detected that Drive C does not contain a valid FAT partition"
2. put in Win XP installation disk - "Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed on your computer. blah blah blah. Setup cannot continue"
3. Ran Windows Recovery Console & tried to run chkdsk /R and it tells me to run SCANDISK. I do that and - "Some data is stored in a damaged area. Cluster 2 of Drive A cannot be written to....currently being used by \COMMAND.COM file." Then run FIX IT - "physical damage that on Drive A that it cannot correct SCANDISK cannot repair damaged Cluster 2 because other damage to drive A prevents it."

Earlier today I hit the DELETE key while the Dell.COM screen was on and was able to get into some sort of system thing. There were no Hard Drives installed in master or slave, but I couldn't find any way to repair.

There is no clicking, some humming, when the computer is accesses files. Could the reduced watts and the increasing amps get through the surge protector and burn up the HD? Is it a virus or worm? Most of my inportant info is probably recoverable from file backups, so I'm not entirely melting down - YET!
IS IT A LOST CAUSE - AND WHY?!?!?!?

Computer Specs:
Dell Dimension 4100
Windows XP Home
CD Drive, Floppy Drive, USB drive
Plenty of RAM and Memory
What else will help?

I'm going now to open up the back and see if I can see anything in there.
Thanks,
Mags Bonham

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#2 Enthusiast

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 03:14 PM

If you can boot to safe mode try "Last Known Good Config"

It sounds like you may have a damaged hard drive.
UPSs and surge protectors are not invinceable (although many come with a guarantee to cover damaged computer equipment if they fail).

If you have a second computer, an easy way to tell if the hard drive is non-functional is to remove it from the first computer, set it's jumper to slave, and install it as a slave drive in the second computer.

Boot the computer and see if you can access the drive (good time to back-up data as well).

Let us know.

#3 rubiconeye

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 04:42 PM

"Earlier today I hit the DELETE key while the Dell.COM screen was on and was able to get into some sort of system thing. There were no Hard Drives installed in master or slave..."

sounds like u were in bios setup here. if bios wont detect your harddrive it is probably fried. your original probs were perhaps signs it was on it's way out.
as enthusiast says, slave it to another computer and if it is recognized there, download and run a diagnostic from the manufacturers website to see how bad it is. (transfer any data you want to save first of all!)

good luck

#4 Mags B

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 10:37 AM

Thanks for the info.
1. I could never get the computer to boot up in any mode - let alone SAFE MODE.
2. So, we did take the HD out of the computer and put it in as a slave to an older cpu. However, we couldn't get that computer to boot up. And by that time we we both pretty sick of dealing with it.

So our thinking is that the next step would be to take both Hard Drives out of the older CPU ( we had added that several years ago when the original HD was on it's last legs). But the Fried? HD in as the slave and the other HD in as the master and see if we can get it to work that way.

Since it is seeming to be that it is in fact FRIED - IF I did need to try and recover some of the info off of that HD, is there a way?

I can't give up yet - I've NEVER lost a whole HD of data EVER. And that's with 5 different computers in 12 years. I'm willing to try anything.

Thanks again,
Mags :thumbsup:

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 10:45 AM

There are professional services that can recover data from a dead hdd but they are expensive!

The idea of what I recommended before is that you install it as a slave in a working computer that will boot.

Until you do that, or have someone do it for you, you don't really know if it's dead or not.

#6 Mags B

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:46 AM

I'm getting no where really fast with this.

1. We took the 'Fried?Hard Drive' and put it in an OLD CPU as the Slave. The Master was a Matrox that we bought when that CPU was fritzing out. Had trouble getting it to boot up. When it did, the 'Old Hard Drive' was running windows98 and I long ago lost that CD. The 'Fried?Hard Drive' was not showing up anywhere and the CPU was so SLOW I couldn't take it very anymore.

2. Last night I had Hubby take both Hard Drives out of the old CPU and put them into the current CPU with the 'Old Hard Drive' as the Master and the 'Fried?Hard Drive' as the slave. When I went to experiment today I had even more trouble. I dicked around with it for a few hours, trying all the tricks I could remember, but nothing worked and I was still getting "Invalid Boot Diskette" errors - plus others. Couldn't even get into the BIOS. Tried booting from the WinME installation disk and couldn't get anywhere with that either.

3. Then I took out the 'Fried?Hard Drive' and tried again. . Even though it was now recognizing the 'Old Hard Drive' , it wanted to load drivers from Win98. I tried to load on Windows ME, still no go. It said it couldn't load because the Hard Drive needed to be formatted. When I started that it came back with 'error on disk' and wouldn't continue setup. When I hit ESC to quit setup it reverted to a black screen with an NEW incarnation:
D:\WIN9X

Is it possibly a combination of problems? Could the Brown Out have fried the cables? Is the 'Old Hard Drive' just too old. Any suggestions for the next step - besides chucking it in the woods?

Thanks for the help so far. I hope there is more to come,
Mags :thumbsup:

#7 rubiconeye

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 03:27 PM

hi, mags b,

i think the less u use the harddrive (both drives!), the more likely you are to have any chance of retrieving any data. i would either wait till you had a good working computer to slave to, or take to a local shop. i dont think the brown out caused this, but perhaps aided a failing drive on it's way.

there are ways you could try yourself if you want to chance them, try some of the remedies here:

http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-1035-1034623.html#

you will have to start a free account to enable you to download the article.

anyway, good luck.

#8 Mags B

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:18 PM

Well folks, Miracles do happen. Hubby was playing around with it this morning and took out the 'Old Hard Drive' and plugged in the 'Fried?Hard Drive' and up came Win XP!!!!!! It was crackling and whirring and horrible slow. But it lasted long enough for me to back up all my files to CDs. We plan on getting a new hard drive to stick in and being able to escape a permanent shut down.
Thanks for the encouragement and the advice. You guys are great. I'm off to make my donation now. And this is the 1st place I'll come the next time something bad happens.
Mags Bonham

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:36 PM

We're glad you were successful and appreciate that you came back and informed us.

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