The “A disk read error has occurred” error is an extremely dreadful error message that appears as soon as a computer boots up and does not allow an affected computer to boot into its Operating System, essentially locking the user out of the computer. In its fullest form, this error message reads “A desk read error has occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart.” Affected users are met with the “A desk read error has occurred” error no matter how many times they reboot their computer as this is not an issue that can be fixed by a simple restart.
The “A disk read error has occurred” error message points towards a problem with a computer’s hard drive or issues during the process of reading said hard drive. However, the actual cause of this issue varies from one affected computer to the other and can be anything from a hardware issue to a software issue. This is why there is no set resolution or fix for this issue. However, there are quite a few different solutions that you can try out in order to try and fix the issue on your own, and the following are some of the most effective ones:
How to BOOT into BIOS to change Boot Order
You must know how to boot and change boot order since this will be needed to perform the solutions below. Restart your computer. Enter your computer’s BIOS (or UEFI) settings as soon as it starts up. The key that you need to press to enter these settings depends on the manufacturer of your computer’s motherboard and can be anything from Esc, Delete or F2 to F8, F10 or F12, usually F2. This is displayed on the post screen, and the manual that was supplied with your system. A quick google search asking “how to enter bios” followed by model number will also list results. Navigate to the Boot.
Solution 1: Check to see if your hard disk has failed or is failing
A failed or failing hard disk can also be the root of this issue. To check to see if you hard disk drive is failing or has failed, you need to: Go here and download an ISO file for Easy Recovery Essentials. Burn the ISO file to a CD/DVD or a USB using MagicISO or other free burning software. Insert the media into the affected computer, restart it and then boot from the media. Click on Automated Repair. Click on Continue.
Solution 2: Test your RAM
As odd as it may sound, the cause of the “A disk read error has occurred” problem in your case might not even be remotely related to your hard disk and may be a faulty RAM stick or RAM slot instead. Since that is the case, it would be best if the first solution you try out is to perform a completely non-destructive and exclusively informative test on your computer’s RAM. To do so, you need to:
Go here and download an ISO file for the version of MemTest86+ that is appropriate for your version of the Windows Operating System.
Burn the ISO file to a CD/DVD or USB.
Insert the bootable media into the affected computer, restart it and then boot from the media.
Run a diagnostic test on your computer’s RAM.
If MemTest86+ finds any errors during the test, your computer’s RAM or RAM slot(s) may be faulty. Since that is the case, try substituting RAM sticks and inserting your current RAM sticks into different RAM slots to determine where the problem lies. Once you have determined whether the problem is a RAM stick or a RAM slot, fix the problem, and the “A disk read error has occurred” error should be resolved.
Solution 2: Check on your hard drive’s IDE cable
The IDE cable is the wide piece of wiring that connects your computer’s hard drive to your computer’s motherboard under its hood. A loose or defective IDE cable, as rare as it is, can also cause the “A disk read error has occurred” error to occur. To rule this out as a possibility, simply open up your computer’s hood and check to make sure that the IDE cable is securely fastened on both ends. You can also replace the IDE cable entirely in case you think that your current one may be faulty.
Solution 3: Connect your hard drive to a different computer and check it
The “A disk read error has occurred” error can also be born when your computer’s hard drive actually is faulty, which makes it impossible for your computer to read it. Determining whether or not your hard drive actually is the problem is pretty simple – all you need to do is remove the affected’ computer’s hard drive, connect it to a working computer and boot it up. If the computer boots up into the Operating System successfully and does not display the “A disk read error has occurred” error message, the problem lies within your computer. If the error message persists, the hard drive is faulty and will need to be replaced.
Solution 4: Defrag your hard drive
Although the chances of this solution actually fixing the “A disk read error has occurred” error are meek, it is still worth giving a shot. To defrag your hard drive, connect it to a working computer externally and then use the built-in defragmentation utility that comes with Windows, or create and use one of the many available utility boot CDs to defrag your hard drive. Once the hard drive has been defragged, try to boot from it and see if the problem still persists. If the problem still exists, move on to the next solution.
DO NOT try this solution if you have valuable data on the hard drive that you haven’t backed up as defragging a hard drive can result in loss of data.
Solution 5: Repair your boot sector and master boot record
Another cause of the “A disk read error has occurred” error is a corrupt boot sector and/or corrupt master boot record. If one or both of these elements being corrupted is what are causing the issue in your case, simply repairing them will do the trick and resolve the problem.
Insert a Windows installation disc into the affected computer, restart it and then boot from the disc.
Once you have booted from the disc, and are on the Windows Options menu press R to enter the Recovery Console.
Enter the Administrator password for the computer.
Type chkdsk /r into the Command Prompt and only continue with this process if the command detects any errors or issues.
Now, type the following commands into the Recovery Console Command Prompt, pressing Enter after typing in each one:
Remove the installation disc, restart the computer and see if the problem still persists.
Note: If you are trying to fix this issue using this solution of Windows 7 or Vista, in the Recovery Console Command Prompt, use the following commands instead of fixboot and fixmbr:
Solution 6: Reset your BIOS
In extremely rare cases, resetting their computer’s BIOS managed to fix the “A disk read error has occurred” error for people who have been affected by it in the past. To access your computer’s BIOS, simply restart the computer and press a specific key (depending on your motherboard’s manufacturer) on the first screen that you see when the computer boots up. Look for an option that resets the entire BIOS to its factory default, and then use that option to reset your BIOS. You can also remove the circular CMOS battery housed in your computer’s motherboard for 5 minutes to achieve the same effect.