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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Hard Disk Drives | Booting or Operation Problems ]

The hard disk will not boot, but is accessible after booting from a floppy disk

Explanation: The hard disk drive is refusing to boot when the system is started. After a bootable floppy disk is used, however, the hard disk can be seen and accessed using disk utility software such as FDISK or Partition Magic.

Diagnosis: Usually, if the disk can be detected in the BIOS setup and accessed after booting from the floppy disk, this implies a software problem of some sort. A common one is a boot sector virus. Another common problem is trying to boot up a new hard disk before partitioning and formatting it.


  • Try rebooting the hard disk again. If it doesn't boot up, then try resetting the PC and seeing if it boots now. If it does, then you should continue here.
  • On an existing hard disk, make sure that you scan the disk well with a current virus scanner. Some boot sector viruses can make it impossible to boot the disk. Then, when you boot from the floppy, you end up bypassing the virus and the disk is visible.
  • Make sure that if you are setting up a disk or changing its partitions around using FDISK, that you set the boot partition "active" or bootable. Otherwise the primary partition cannot be booted.
  • If this is a brand new hard disk that you just installed into the PC as the primary master (boot) drive, you will not be able to boot it because there are no disk structures on the disk to allow the operating system to boot. You must boot the operating system from a floppy disk, and then partition and format the disk before using it.
  • It is possible that there is a corrupted boot sector or other major disk structure, if we are talking about an existing drive. Look here for ideas about this.
  • If you are trying to set up a dual-boot configuration, you may need to put the DOS partition as the first partition on the drive. Setting it active may not be sufficient; it may need to reside physically first on the disk to boot properly.

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