Solved: Disk Read Error

One of our subscribers recently sent us a mail regarding an error that was related to disk read. His system was not able to read the disk and thus preventing the system from booting the Windows. He told us that when he pressed the power button to turn on his laptop - instead of seeing Windows loading screen, a pitch black screen as shown below was displaying 

“A disk read error occurred

Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart”

He was more worried about the data stored on the drive and was scared if the disk had failed. We were eventually able to help him out by providing him with relevant solutions that worked for him and he got his data back.

The problem was with the boot sector of his system and he had to fix the boot and MBR (Master Boot record) file. However, it’s not the case with everyone. Below we have explained the troubleshooting techniques, which will fix the probable causes of this issue. However, if none of the following works for you, we will help you recover your data from a corrupt, inaccessible, or damaged disk too.

Unplug any USB or DVD drive

Remove all storage devices connected to your system including DVD drive, USB stick, or an external hard disk. It’s possible that your system is trying to boot from one of the connected devices due to modification in boot priority. Alternatively, you can enter BIOS and change boot priority order and set it to internal hard drive.

Reset/Update Your BIOS

Resetting BIOS can help fix the disk read error by restoring your system’s default settings. This also fixes any other issue related to hardware.

To reset BIOS, follow these steps:

  • Restart the system and keep tapping the setup key (try F2 or Delete key; refer user manual to know the exact key) to enter BIOS. 
  • Choose Load Setup Defaults or similar option that says apply defaults or load default settings, factory settings, etc. 
  • Hit Enter to reset BIOS. Choose YES when prompted to confirm BIOS reset. 

Alternatively, you can also try to update your BIOS to fix disk read error. You should always keep an eye on your BIOS updates and keep your BIOS updated to the latest version.

Fix MBR and Fix Boot

This solution did work for our subscriber and so you can also try to see if it works for you too. This works when your system’s boot sector or MBR (Master Boot Record) gets corrupt or damaged. For this, you need a Windows installation or repair disc. You can also create one using Windows ISO and a tool like Win32DiskImager.

Use it to boot the system and then,

  • Select the language 
  • Click ‘Repair your computer’ link at the bottom-right corner of the window 
  • Choose the OS (Windows OS version) you want to repair, and then click ‘Next’ 
  • From the System Recovery Options window, choose ‘Command Prompt’ 
  • Run CHKDSK utility by typing chkdsk X: /r where X is the drive letter (This will check the disk for errors and will fix them) 
  • After Chkdsk finishes, type Bootrec /fixboot to repair the Boot Sector 
  • Then type Bootrec /fixmbr to fix the Master Boot record file 
  • Type Exit and then click Restart 

Check your hard drives’ cables

Don’t forget to check your hard drive’s SATA and power cables (IDE) in case of a disk read error. Check if they are loose or defective by testing the cable’s using a Multimeter device. This Multimeter device is available at any electronic repair shop. Replace the cables with new ones if they fail the continuity test.

Test RAM memory

It’s rare but sometimes RAM (Random Access Memory) issues bring various problems such as application crashes, blue screen of death (BSOD), data corruption, and disk read error. That’s why you should run a memory test quarterly or monthly to detect any issue with the RAM. The test is easy; doesn’t harm your RAM and helps you fix the disk read error.

Step 1: Download Memtest86, a free standalone memory testing utility that allows you to check your system memory for issues at hardware-level. You can run various tests after booting your system using a Memtest86 bootable USB drive.

Step 2: If you have recently added a new RAM, remove it and restart your system to check if the error still exists. You can also swap (change) RAM slot and check if the issue is fixed by rebooting the system.

Try the Drive on another Machine

If you have tried all the solutions and none of them worked, take out your hard drive and connect it to a different PC or laptop. You can also try connecting it to the same PC via USB port and use BIOS to select the drive as a bootable drive in the boot priority order.

This will help you find out if your hard disk is corrupt and damaged or if there is a major hardware problem with your PC like many people reported who traced the issue to a faulty video card, motherboard, and even power supply.

If the disk is detected on another or same PC via USB connection, run CHKDSK utility to scan and repair bad sectors and other issues with the hard disk.

In case this solution also doesn’t help, it’s confirmed that your hard disk is corrupted due to internal errors caused by bad sectors or the drive has failed. If the hard drive is still under warranty, you can reach your hard drive manufacturer and ask for a replacement or RA (Return Authorization).

Please note that you will lose all your important data stored on the hard drive as manufacturer won’t offer any guarantee of data safety and recovery of data from the corrupted hard disk. Therefore, you need a professional data recovery tool like the
Stellar Windows Data Recovery – Home that can help you recover your data from an inaccessible, severely corrupt, and formatted hard drive with ease. Any logically damaged hard drive’s data can be recovered using this tool’s ‘Deep Scan’ feature.


You may have probably fixed your system’s Disk Read error by following the above given solutions. In some rare cases, when a hard drive fails or gets severely corrupt, you need to replace the hard drive. That’s where you can take the help of Stellar’s Data Recovery tool that we mentioned. With its powerful data recovery algorithms, this tool helps you recover almost any type of file like pictures, videos, audios, important Office documents, compressed files, or RAW data.

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Mansi Verma linkdin Icon

Technology writer with over 5 years of experience

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