Disk Boot Failure Insert System Disk and I Forgot my Password

The gremlins ate our CMOS and also the boot hard disk of Connie’s computer this morning and now we get the dreaded “DISK BOOT FAILURE: INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER”:http://www.pcguide.com/ts/x/sys/booterrGBER13-c.html. It is an incredibly obscure error which no site seems to document properly. In my case, what happened was that I had put a 750GB dynamic drive as the first drive in the system and CMOS defaulted to looking at that drive as the first one since it forgot everything. Then when it tried to boot, there wasn’t anything there. So the fix is to always make sure with Windows machines that the boot drive is the default first drive in the BIOS!!!!

The same thing is true is you make the default first drive in the BIOS a dynamic partition, then Windows XP CD won’t install, it needs a readable (that is primary partition) in the first slot. I have another machine where that isn’t the case, so the order you put the drives in makes a difference and it is very hard to figure out

On the other hard, I learned a good lesson in how to try to recover that I’ll blog in case you ever have a real hard drive problem:

What this means is that the system attempted to find a drive to boot the operating system but couldn’t find anything to load. There is something wrong with the partition map that doesn’t mark it as bootable. While hardware “disk failure”:http://www.pcguide.com/ts/x/comp/hdd/fail_Failure.htm is one case, the one above is another that I would be is more common than you would think because the error message is so obscure.

h2. Making recovery backups

I swear I did nothing to it. Nonetheless, this is a great lesson in not having the various boot recovery disks that you should have taped to every computer and also to the fact that all my machines lack a real floppy which most of these things need to boot. Here is what I did. Note to the wise:

* The message is the dreaded, “Disk Boot Failure Insert System Disk” which from google reveals that it is most like a Master Boot Record failure. This is a vital piece of information at the start that tells Windows where it needs to go to start
* First off, try to run the a Windows CD. If you have just this configuration problem, then when you get to the setup, you have to select “R” for Recovery console. This is a low level environment where you can fix things.

h2. Saving and recovering your Administrator Account password.

Now, you need to know the password for the Administrator account. In Windows XP, you can’t and shouldn’t ever login, so goodness knows what the password is. Some more groveling with Google reveals, an amazing page by “Daniel Petri”:http://www.petri.co.il/forgot_administrator_password.htm. I want to marry the guy, it is so amazing a resource. Basically, it gives you fifty ways to crack the Administrator account password.

The one I used is the amazing, “Petter Nordahl-Hagen Offline NT Password & Registry Editor”:http://home.eunet.no/~pnordahl/ntpasswd which is a CD or floppy image that you can boot to get directly edit the SAM or the Security Access Module and delete passwords. This is way better than starting all over.

As an aside, to prevent this annoying password, check, you have to make sure all your PCs are set to “automatically”:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/312149/ allow the Recovery Console to login and make sure you store the Administrator password somewhere safe at Control Panel/Switch to Classic View/Administrative Tools/Local Security Policy/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options/Recovery Console: Allow automatic administrative logon/Enable. Got that???!

A utility I didn’t try, but I think belongs in everyone’s kit bag is the “EBCD – Emergency Boot CD”:http://ebcd.pcministry.com that is a small CD

Anyway, once I reset the Administrator password to blank, I could access the Windows Recovery “Console”:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314058/. This is a system within a system that lets you do all sorts of amazing (and dangerous things).

h2. Windows Recovery Console

Here is a quick script for seeing what’s wrong and hopefully fixing some files from “Bleepingcomputer”:http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial117.html and “Charles White”:http://webcast.broadcastnewsroom.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=8658

# chkdsk. Always useful to see what’s corrupted since crashes usually cause problems in the filesystem.
# diskpart. Use this to make sure that your hard disk configuration looks right.
# fixboot. A fixboot c: will rewrite the boot sector, many times this is what is broken.
# bootcfg /list. This lists the boot configuration. You should see some configuration files. If you you can use bootcfg /scan to find Windows installations on your boot hard drive and bootcfg/rebuild to add them. If you don’t have a boot.ini file, which is what bootcfg is editing, then this is the place to fix it.
# map. This shows the mapping of drive name, you by the way need to run a virus checker (there are some DOS versions out there, but you need one that will read and write NTFS partitions)
# fixmbr \device\harddisk2. Or whatever the name of the disk is.
# exit. This will exit out and you remove the

h2. Beware Norton Partition Magic 8.0 DOS utility

I actually tried to load this and it reported an Error #110 on the boot partition where the sizes weren’t quite right. I don’t think this was a real error, but scared me to death. By the way “Computergripes.com”:http://www.computergripes.com/PartitionMagic.html has a great list of things Partition Magic doesn’t do right.

Athlon X2 Overclocking

AnandTech: Investigations into Athlon X2 Overclocking. This is a wonderful overclocking guide particularly since it uses essentially the same board and cpu that I have.

The net result is that it has a nice chart showing where your voltage should be:
CPU Clock CPU Voltage CPU Temp Chipse Voltage Chipset Temp System Power Draw
2000 1.300 34.00 1.50 38 248
2100 1.350 36.00 1.50 38 260
2200 1.350 36.00 1.50 38 262
2300 1.350 39.00 1.50 38 266
2400 1.400 44.00 1.60 39 275
2500 1.475 47.00 1.60 39 290
2600 1.500 48.00 1.60 41 298
2700 1.700 72.00 1.70 47 369

Net, net, at 2500MHz, you should be at roughtly 1.475V and the Chipset voltage should be 1.6V, so slightly up from stock.

It also shows that at about 2.5-2.6GHz, that’s your sweet spot. Most chips can’t get to 2.7GHz. And also from the data, it isn’t clear how really stable this was.

OCZ PC 4000 VX Tuning

Well, I ordered the OCZ PC4000 Gold 2GB Kit, but in the mean time, I thought I’d just tweak up the single stick of OCZ PC 4000. Interesting to see how to get the settings right. Basically, I got the thing with memtest to be stable at 238MHz FSB 1:1 with very tight 1T 2-2-2-6 timings running at a modest 3.2V rather than a barn burning 3.4V. Windows also booted, but Prime95 failed on one core after a few minutes. In general, I’m finding that having two cores both going full bore, is much more stress and you have to really turn down the clock rates on the processor. Hopefully 235MHz will be stable.

Continue reading “OCZ PC 4000 VX Tuning”

OCZ VX Bad Ram

DFI Forums – NF4 Ultra-D – 1 LED hang on 702-2. After hours of debugging, it turns out all these problems seem to be from a failing “OCZ PC4000 VX”:http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/memory/ocz_el_ddr_pc_4000_dual_channel_gold_vx memory stick. Finally did a swap for some OCZ 3700 Gold Rev 3 and it booted fine and found there was one good one and one bad.

So the lesson is that if you suddenly get blue screens and funny failures, sometimes it is really a hardware failure. For the record, I’ve had over the last six years, three hard disks fail, now two sticks of memory. Now I am overclocking and the like, so I’d expect to get more, but it means that if you suddenly start to get strange things happening, you have to go back to the beginning as a do-it-yourselfer and debug with just a graphics card, CPU and a single stick of memory.

So on to getting more Ram, maybe the 2GB sticks are right. By the way, “OCZ”: has a great forum on settings. Also other things I’ve learned in tromping through DFI-Street.com a few things you need to know:

* DFI LanParty likes TCCD and not CH-5 apparently, so looking for that makes sense for something else.
* DFI is made to overvolt the Ram, in fact, it can go up to 3.5V, but the tradeoff is that some folks think that really blows the Ram after a while. I’m a poster child there. The TCCD memory apparently doesn’t need such overvolting.
* The BIOS is versions are complicated, but basically, the latest version is 704-1 for generic Ram, 704-2 for CH-5/UTT ram that you put into the yellow slots and 704-3 for TCCD that you put into the Orange ones.

Final lessons are the various keys you hold down when you boot the system:

* TAB. This gets rid of the splash screen so you can see the POST
* INS. Hold the insert key down and you boot with “safe” memory timings

BIOS Beep Codes

Well, I really torqued the DFI last night. Got it all working again and even played a game for a while. Got it back to the 81.98 BIOS and disabled the dual cpu enhancement, but I went a bridge too far. I also updated the bios I thought to 702-2 but now it hangs on the video detection, so I’m assuming that it was a bad idea to flash.

But now what to do. First, BiosCentral – Award BIOS Beep Codes are valuable to understand. When Award (the main maker of BIOS) has a problem it tells you on the PC speaker what the issue is. This happens before POST. Here are the codes:

| Beep Code | Meaning |
| 1 long, 2 short | Video adapter error so look there for bad video card or seating etc. |
| Repeating beeps. | Memory error |
| 1 long, 3 short | No video card or bad video RAM |
| High frequency beeping while running | Overheated CPU |
| Repeating high and then low beeps | No CPU |
| 1 short beep | Found everything and I’m starting to POST |

FWIW, I get one short beep, so it is something else behind the nice flash DFI splash screen. Sigh.

BIOS 702-2 for DFI with OCZ VX and Athlon X2

DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI/ULTRA Bios. This table is hard as heck to read, but what it says that if you are willing to try a non-official BIOS (that is a BIOS which is not 623-3), then for a DFI LanParty UT nf4 Ultra D with OCZ VX PC4000 memory and an Athlon X2 you will need to:

# Load the 702-2 BIOS. This is an alpha bios for Revision E CPUs only. Revision E are all dual cores and “Venice” single cores released after about May 2005.
# Move your OCZ VX memory to the yellow slots. These actually have different memory configuration tables for different types of RAM. So that -2 BIOS are for Winbond BH5 and UTT (a.k.a CH-5) chips and yo should put these in yellow. The Samsung TCCD based Ram modules go into the orange slots and use the -3 BIOS. You can figure out which underlying chips you are using by google or searching “Anandtech”:http://anandtech.com whose memory reviews typically tell you what memory chips are in what modules.

DFI LanParty Cold Boot Problem Temporarily after BSOD

How to use the Zippy and 850SSI on DFI nF4 – 56K caution – XtremeSystems Forums. _This is reminder for me, that using the 5V and high voltage OCZ VX on the DFI LanParty is a little hazardous._

The long and short version is that you have to have the 618 or higher BIOS, this fixes a problem where on a cold boot, the BIOS doesn’t applied the amped up voltage to to memory but does apply the overclock, so the memory doesn’t respond and you get 3 LEDS and you are dead. _I have this fix, so that’s not the current problem._

The longer version is that some power supplies don’t have enough 5VSB to actually start in cold boot at 5V Vdimm mode, so you either have to have a burly power supply or you have to wiggle a little with the jumpers as described. _I have the burly Enermax 600, so that isn’t the issue._

The new problem for me is that I get a blue screen and then the thing won’t cold boot. If you wait 30 minutes, something resets and you can boot normally. I wasn’t getting the cold boot problems before and some folks think that running the OCZ VX at high voltage eventually causes catastrophic failure of the DFI board, so you should really only run at 3.2V and below or use the less memory hunger TCCB based memory rather than the CH-5 UTT that is in the OCZ VX. I’m also tempted to try the UTT tuned BIOS, but that risks destroying the BIOS. Yuck. The google searching goes on.

The BSOD is due to a video driver problem. I now suspect that the Nostaligic screensaver is making a bad call set and somehow crashing the driver in a way that I get the cold boot problem after the blue screen. Something interesting happens after a blue screen on this machine for some reason. It cold boots fine otherwise and warm boots fine.

Update on Seasonic problems

Tong Family Blog: DFI LanParty nF4 Ultra D problems. An update on my DFI LanParty problems. I got an Enermax 600W power supply and these boot problems disappeared. Now it appears that there is a fix for the Seasonic power supplies and their 5VSB issues, so you have to contact Seasonic to get a new power supply.

Even the fancy new S12-600 had it and you have to make sure you have Revision A3 so you can boot off of DFI LanParty.

I’ll have to see about whether that applies to my older Seasonic SuperTornedo 400

No nVidia GART in PCIe systems and never nVidia IDE

DFI Forums – NF4 SLI-D – tweaking windows (video for NF4 LanParty) *mirror added*. _OK, this clears up the myths about what to do about when you need the various nVidia drivers, it is confusing because in fact, on modern systems, you don’t want any of it but the video drivers…._

In a PCI-Express system, there is no need for a GART driver since it ONLY affect AGP bus (and there’s no AGP bus in a PCI-E system…)

As for nVidia IDE driver. I’ve not found it necessary at all unless running RAID (and really only RAID-1 for rebuilding an array as RAID-0…if it gets hosed…you’ve lost everything).

The IDE driver also can cause many conflicts, bsod’s, freezes, as well as stop your cd/dvd writer from performing properly.

Oscar Wu BIOS

DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI/ULTRA Bios. For those of you who like living dangeriously, in addition to the stock BIOS that comes from DFI, you can also have a special set of BIOS that Oscar Wu, one of the geniuses on the web, he has actually tuned them for different memory and different CPUs.

For instance, the 7.02-1 only works with Revision E CPUs, but there are two variants, 7.02-2 which only works with BH-5 and UTT Ram and 7.02-3 that only works with TCCD. The TCCD you put in the Orange slots and the BH-5 and UTT you put into Yellow.

I have OCX VX PC 4000 (now discontinued) actually uses the Winbond CH5 die and not the BH-5, so I probably should just use the generic variant. Interesting the note on putting the BH-5s into the yellow slots though. I think mine are currently in the orange pair.