Non-booting PC – and hard disk errors

A client’s PC would not boot up.  The computer was a custom-built PC and the person who built is was no longer in business.

The PC would look like it was going to start, but it would get stuck.  Initially I suspected a faulty sector on the hard disk, thinking a file that Windows needs to start up was corrupt, so I took the PC back to the office to run some disk maintenance and data recovery software (it takes hours to finish).

Before subjecting the computer to hours of data recovery, I checked some other settings.  I found that there were incorrect BIOS settings.  BIOS is the basic system software that (basically) gets the motherboard and physical hardware ready to the point that it can boot into Windows.  I corrected the settings and the computer then booted up properly.  Job done, some might say.

Since I had the computer in my office, I decided to run the disk maintenance software anyway.  When a computer can’t boot properly, you have little choice but to “pull the plug” to turn it off.  Pulling the plug out is not good for a hard drive and often results in data errors.

Hard disks get 1000’s of errors a day, but the hard disk itself usually makes the corrections on the fly.  The software I use makes the hard disk check its entire surface again, refreshing the data and identifying problems that the hard disk itself didn’t know it had.  In this case, the report highlighted that the hard disk was in a worse state than it thought it was.  The errors were corrected, but I have recommended that I run the disk maintenance software again in a few months.  If the report shows that there are new problems with the data, then it would indicate the disk could be failing and I will recommend replacing it before it fails catastrophically.



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