A disk read error has occurred

In November of last year I tried installing Vista to a second drive on my XP box. Bear in mind, I was careful to add a drive such that it came before the Windows XP drive in terms of the BIOS enumeration of disks, so that the Vista release candidate wouldn’t have any reason to touch that drive whatsoever…

Of course, Vista detected the XP install and offered it to me as a dual boot option. Very nice.

However, despite my care in trying to ensure the drive was safe from Vista, when I unplugged the Vista disk and tried to boot XP, the drive wouldn’t boot. The error I get: “A disk read error has occurred. Press ctrl+alt+del to reboot”.

I’ve tried booting my XP SP2 disk and running fixboot c: and fixmbr c:, I still get the same error. I’ve tried copying the ntldr, etc, from a working XP drive to see if that would fix it, still no dice. In order to boot from the XP install, I have to keep my old PATA drive, that I used to have Vista on. That brings up the Vista boot selector and then XP boots off the SATA drive.

I’ll try a Linux recovery disk and see what fdisk says about the partitions: maybe Microsoft’s “active” isn’t the same as “bootable”?


Well, I had a second partition on the drive that had some old games on it. I moved them to the windows partition, cleared the blank space and installed Fedora Core 8 (an excuse to install GRUB), thinking maybe the drive’s bootloader is the problem.



Put the vista drive back in where it was when you installed vista and try again

Did you remember to re-change the BIOS back to your original drive order?

You obviously forgot to sacrifice a goat to the Vista gods.
The sacrifice process is documented under “Driver Updates” in the Vista manual, sharp knife not included.

All glory to the Vista Gods, for whom without we are nothing!
*shifty eyes*

I, for one, welcome our new…

…Vista overlord masters.

– Vista drive IS back where it was, I want to remove it tho (I need the bay)
– Drive orders have never changed. They were always in the “right” order.

The XP drive (boot sector, etc) now appear to be EXACTLY as they were prior to the Vista install.

Which leads to the conclusion that the Vista RC install did MORE than just write to the drive it was installed on, it actually modified something in the Windows folder on a /secondary/ drive with an older Windows installation on that it wasn’t installing to and wasn’t supposed to write to in ANY fashion whatsoever :(

Shoulda done as a silly old man did and unplug the xp drive before installing vista ;)

When in doubt, don’t trust MS to get it right.

Still can boot to either and swap files from one dive to the other but have to use the F2 boot menu at startup to switch to the 2nd OS drive.


I did exactly the same with XP. Bought a new drive for a fresh install on a new machine. Installed it on the new clean drive, go to boot up and no disk.

Had to put my OLD disk in so it can read the boot record and then give me the option to boot from the copy of XP on my new drive.

Asked on the forums but no one really had a clue how to fix it easily. I don’t want to risk losing the boot record for the copy of XP that I have been using for about 8 months now so have just left it and backed up all my data.

Lesson to be learnt – Windows can be a real pain in the *** and make life much harder than it should be. The world of macs is much nicer for this sort of thing but now I know next time remove all disks and don’t hook them up until your finished.

** By the way if you find a nice GUI utilty that can move and modify the boot loader let me know. I found one or two but they are horrible looking and feeling DOS style.

Sorry If I am doing something with implications like this I want a nice simple program with blue icons and help bubbles with the cursor :)

i have the same problem when i try to boot from the vista install cd it say insert restore plus

I have a lab top with VISTA on it, and it was messing up real bad. Kept freezing, crashing, and all that good stuff. Well last night it froze again and I held the power button down to turn it off, and when it came back, it said it needed to do a check disk scan, or something like that. It took it about 9-10 hours, and when it finished it said “A disk read error has occurred. Press ctrl+alt+del to reboot”. What do I do?

Scott: Boot from your Vista install disk and try the Repair option. It sounds like your freezing error may have been disk related leading to a corrupted boot sector. Hopefully running repair will fix it and you’ll be able to resume using the drive.

helpful stuff, thank you. myself I have just found this cool CD for booting Windows at at windowsbootcd.com, testing it right now.

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