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What Does "Boot Failure" Mean?

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  A boot failure is a serious problem, because the boot process is an essential part of your computer's startup routine; your PC must first boot in order for it to be usable. A "boot failure" message typically comes from a hard drive problem, although certain settings in the computer's Basic Input Output System can also trigger the error. Boot Process

  • The term "boot" is a shortened form of "bootstrap," so-called because the computer is "pulling itself up by its own bootstraps." At the moment you turn the PC on, its random-access memory is empty; it lacks even the simplest programming instructions. To facilitate startup, a small program in flash memory loads a bigger program from the hard drive, which in turn loads Windows or another operating system. Booting is the act of loading the program from the hard drive. If the computer cannot do this, the flash-based program displays the "boot failure" error message.

BIOS Setting 

  • Your computer may encounter a boot failure if the BIOS is not set correctly. The BIOS stores basic information such as the current time and date, amount of installed RAM and hard drive information. To see the BIOS set-up screen, restart your computer and press the "F8" or other function key according to the on-screen instructions. Using the arrow and "Page Up/Page Down" keys, open the BIOS setup screen that has information on the hard drive. Check the drive information and make any necessary changes. This task is especially important if your computer has more than one hard drive. Note that BIOS settings seldom go bad by themselves; however, mistakes made configuring the BIOS can result in a boot failure message when you subsequently restart the computer.

Hard Drive

  • Hard drive problems are a likely cause of boot failure messages. For example, the cable connecting the hard drive to the computer's motherboard may have worked loose; in this instance, the computer can no longer communicate with the drive. Simply disconnecting and reconnecting the cable may solve the problem. Jumpers -- the tiny plugs that change the hard drive's configuration -- may also cause boot problems if misconnected. If your computer has two drives in a "master/slave" configuration, a jumper problem may result in a PC that won't boot. A hard drive failure will also cause a boot error; in this case, the only option may be to replace the drive.

Other Causes

  • Hard drives have standard "formats" -- frameworks of data set up so the computer can locate information. If the format is bad, such as from virus infection, the hard drive won't boot, even though it's properly connected and running. Other kinds of incompatibilities between the computer and the drive will also lead to boot problems. For example, when installing the 64-bit version of Windows 7 from a DVD to a computer that has the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface mode enabled, and which has a drive with more than four partitions, the computer attempts to start from the DVD but the boot process will fail. Microsoft has a "hotfix"-type software patch that solves this problem.

 

 

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