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Intermittent "Disk Boot Failure" Error on Vista 64


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#1
whitesaille

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I have a custom built computer running Vista Home Premium 64-bit. The build is just shy of three years old. There is only one HDD, a Seagate 500 GB 7200-rpm model (ST3500630AS). A few months ago, I began receiving frequent "Disk Boot Error" messages when attempting to start up -- just after running a complete System Mechanic defrag/compact/etc. sequence on my machine. I ran a windows-based version of Memtest, since I occasionally have gotten BSOD errors that seem to point to memory. I stopped the test at the 20% mark after receiving about 20 errors (I have 2GB of RAM, so that's roughly one error per 20mb). Clearly at least one stick of RAM is bad, so 4GB of new RAM is on the way (the old RAM is high-end Corsair and will be RMA'd once I diagnose the bad stick).

Anyway, after receiving all these errors and realizing the RAM may have messed up system files during my System Mechanic tinkering (it definitely damaged DirectX 10, corrupted a couple .dlls) I ran the DOS version of Seatools on my drive. It passed the short test, but failed the long test -- however, Seatools was able to repair the damage and the computer gave me no trouble for a month or so. But the "Disk Boot Failure" error gradually returned, and now I see that error about 25% of the time when booting up my machine (it almost always boots up on the next try).

So my question is, what program can I run besides Seatools that will reliably tell me whether this drive is failing?

Will anything be able to tell me with certainty if the drive is failing before the new RAM gets here? Is there some other setting (one person suggested disabling SMART) that I can change that might reduce this error if the drive is not failing? I've already backed up my most important data, but I'd rather replace the drive before it fails outright to give me a chance to copy everything over.

I can post my WinAudit log if that would be helpful... it wouldn't let me attach the text file and figured copy/pasting would make for a very long post.
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#2
rshaffer61

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So my question is, what program can I run besides Seatools that will reliably tell me whether this drive is failing?

Manufacturer HD diagnostics is always the most reliable to use.

(one person suggested disabling SMART) that I can change that might reduce this error if the drive is not failing?

Never a good ideal as it is there to warn you of imminent failure.

I've already backed up my most important data, but I'd rather replace the drive before it fails outright to give me a chance to copy everything over.


Since you have done all this then I suggest purchasing a new drive. They a inexpensive now and you can probably purchase a larger capacity then what you have now.
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#3
whitesaille

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Thank you for the advice. Do you think it's possible that the RAM is causing the "Disk Boot Failure" error, rather than anything wrong with the drive? I am planning on buying a new drive anyway as I need more room, but I would like to know if this one is failing or not. If it's still good, I'd probably buy a storage drive (considering 2TB WD Green), but if I'm replacing this drive, I'll buy something a little faster.
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#4
rshaffer61

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You can slave the drive in a known working system and run the diagnostic on it then. If it shows errors there then you know for sure it is the drive.
As far as the memory causing the problem I doubt it.
If the bios battery or CMOS BATTERY as it is commonly called is failing then it may lose the settings in the bios which could cause a error like this.
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#5
whitesaille

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Thank you, that's good to know. Maybe I'll try replacing my CMOS battery and see if that fixes the issue before deciding on a new drive.
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#6
rshaffer61

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The one flashing results you have is that the diagnostics found the HD and was able to run the tests. Which it failed as you stated.
You can replace the battery but make sure you enter the bios and set the time and date up again as it will be reset by the removal of the battery.
I myself don't believe this to be your issue. :D
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#7
whitesaille

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Well, it only failed the first time I ran Seatools, several months ago. After the repairs done by Seatools, it has passed two subsequent long tests (one of which I ran yesterday). That's why I was still trying to hope that the HDD might be all right.

When I buy my new drive, do you have an opinion on one drive brand or model vs. another as to reliability? None of my other PCs have ever had a drive failure, so I'm wondering if I should buy something besides Seagate next time.
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#8
rshaffer61

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I myself use Western Digital but if the drive is indeed good then that would say something about their drives and the capability of the Sea Tools disk to repair a issue. I would place them right after WD drives myself.
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