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Boot failed after successful recovery

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So, I am trying to setup my old desktop as a server for LAN parties and I figured that it would be best to start clean. So I put in two HDD's (Primary = 400GB Western Digital, Secondary = 10 GB SpinPoint) and tried to install an old copy of Win 2K from the VLK backup disk that came with an old laptop of mine. The installer appeared to run fine, said that Win 2K had been installed and to reboot for the next phase of install - upon reboot, BIOS recognized all drives in the machine, but proclaims "Boot failed".

So, I try the process again with the actual Win XP factory install recovery disks that came with the computer. They say that they are going to re-partition the drive, and then proceed to restore the drive to 'factory' state. The recovery installer displays a confirmation that the restore has been successful. Upon reboot, the same condition occurs.

Knoppix will boot and see the drives; however, it won't mount them at all. fdisk will read the partition table, and I have checked with that that only the first partition of the first drive is marked as bootable. The BIOS has the first drive marked as the boot drive as well.

As a side note - the 400GB drive (the one I am trying to boot from) should have had FreeNAS on it to begin with (the last use of this box) and when I first got the box out and tried to boot it, it also failed to boot then.

I am racking my brain trying to figure out why this install is failing, as I know that this box was working OK the last time I tried to use it a few months ago (with FreeNAS).

I have also tried disconnecting the secondary hard drive and setting the WD to master - single drive, but am still getting the same problem.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

-light

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Sounds like there is a physical problem with the hard drive. Try just using the secondary drive and test to see if it will throw an error with that particular drive. If it does than we can rule out hard drive as being the culprit.

Edited by phasma
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He did say the drive did have FreeNAS working on it before though.

I thought about this, but I just have no idea. My advice here is what my advice usually is, which is to futz with it. Change the parameters, and see what changes. Try different drives, different computers, take extra hardware out, etc. Just try to get a different result, then try to figure out what caused that different result and if it applies to the situation.

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He did say the drive did have FreeNAS working on it before though.

I thought about this, but I just have no idea. My advice here is what my advice usually is, which is to futz with it. Change the parameters, and see what changes. Try different drives, different computers, take extra hardware out, etc. Just try to get a different result, then try to figure out what caused that different result and if it applies to the situation.

He said the last time he used that server with FreeNAS was around 6 months, I was thinking in that time period something could've happened to the hard-drive.

But I would probably stick with just testing out different things until you isolate it down to a few problems or theories and just keep testing until you hit it. So basically what Ohm said :D !

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Just a shot in the dark here, but once some years ago I had to remove linux from a disk and install windows (Yes, I know that's BLASTPHEMY but this was for work) and when I first booted the system it still tried to boot linux but failed. I had screwed up the Master Boot Record and had to do an FDISK /mbr to make it bootable again. Did FDISK report the disk was bootble or just tell you it had an active partition?

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So - it finally all works. I think it was ultimately a combination of C'thulhu's tip, wiping the partition table clean with fdisk (yet again) and finding out that there was a floppy disk in the A drive by trying to insert the DOS boot disk made for running the fdisk /mbr

Removing the disk from the floppy drive actually wasn't the cure to the problem as it left me with another reboot message on a clear screen along the lines of 'REBOOT COMPUTER NOW ... PRESS ANY KEY TO CONTINUE'.

So, after re-re-installing Windows XP, the system is finally up and running.

Thank you all for the help and prompt responses.

-light

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Now that you say that... I had the same exact problem not too long ago :P Or at least one very similar.

The Windows XP installer wouldn't even boot. What do you do there? I took a stab in the dark and wiped the partition table completely with a gparted book disk, and it worked after that.

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