Bad sector read error

7 Solutions to a Disk Read Error Occurred in Windows 10/7/8 [Partition Magic]

Windows has a built-in test tool which often warns you of errors regarding your hard drive or partition. Among the many kinds of warnings, an extremely dreadful one is «A disk read error occurred». If this error happened to you, you have come to the right place — we have 7 useful solutions for you to fix this problem.

Help, a Disk Read Error Occurred Windows 10/8/7/XP!

A disk read error is very common; it usually occurs as soon as your computer boots up from SSD, HDD or another hard drive and has affected a large number of users of Windows 10/8/7/XP.

This error has the message «A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart» on the screen like the picture below:

This message indicates that your hard drive has a problem when the operating system attempts to read the disk. That is, the disk is preventing the computer from entering into its operating systems.

Simply put, a disk error could be caused by several reasons such as incorrect boot order, BIOS issue, IDE cables failure, incorrect MBR configuration, faulty hard drive, etc.

When meeting such an issue, no matter how many times you restart your computer by pressing “Ctrl+Alt+Del” keys, this error still exists.

In the presence of this issue, it will still exist regardless of how many times you restart your computer by pressing “Ctrl+Alt+Del”. In fact, a disk read error is not a problem that can be solved by a simple restart. But don’t worry, this post will tell you top seven useful solutions to a disk read error occurred SSD.

How to Fix Disk Read Error Windows XP/7/8/10

Solution 1: Boot OS from Hard Drive

If a disk error occurred, the first thing to do is to check whether the boot order is correct in BIOS.

There are different ways to get into BIOS in different computer models and operating systems. When turning on the computer, the first boot screen will usually show you what key to press to go into the BIOS.

You can refer to this guidance How to Enter The BIOS On Your Computer. Once you are in BIOS, find the boot order section. In the boot order section, check to make sure the correct hard drive is placed as the first boot priority before any others in the listing.

Changing this setting might be enough to help your computer boot normally. If it is still unbootable, try the next solution to fix disk error occurred.

Solution 2: Reset or Upgrade BIOS

Resetting your computer BIOS to default or upgrading to the latest version might be able to solve «A disk read error occurred» in Windows XP/7/8/10.

Here is the step-by-step guide to reset BIOS:

  1. Press a specific key (F2, F8, F12, Esc or Del) according to your computer model and OS to enter into BIOS.
  2. Find the option to reset BIOS to default.

If the disk read error on boot up persists, try the following solution.

Solution 3: Repair Master Boot Record and Boot Sector

A corrupted or damaged Master Boot Record or boot sector could cause disk errors. Therefore, repairing the MBR or boot sector might be able to fix the issue»A disk read error occurred» with USB boot.

You can use a professional and reliable partition and disk management tool — MiniTool Partition Wizard — to repair your MBR in Windows XP/7/8/10.

As a dedicated partition manager, MiniTool Partition Wizard could be used for many operations such as resize/move/extend/copy/wipe partition, rebuild MBR, migrate OS to SSD/HD, copy disk, recover lost partition, perform data recovery, and so on.

Here we strongly recommend MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Ultimate Edition. This edition has a feature called «Bootable Media» based on Win-PE; it is designed to manage disks and partitions when the operating system fails to boot or when there is no operating system.

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Follow the steps in these two articles to create bootable media using MiniTool software:

Step 1: After booting your computer from a MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Disc, you will enter the MiniTool PE Loader interface. Click «MiniTool Partition Wizard» to continue.

Step 2: In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, select the target hard drive with the operating system and click «Rebuild MBR» from the «Check Disk» menu. Or, choose this feature from the context menu.

Step 3: Then click «Apply» to execute this change.

Solution 4: Test Your Hard Drive

If your hard drive has a bad sector, it could cause the issue “a disk read error occurred” during the process of computer startup as well.

This issue appears quite frequently in Windows XP/7/8/10, so you should check the disk surface to see if there are any bad sectors.

To do this, purchase MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro Ultimate Edition and use «Bootable Media» to create a bootable USB flash drive or CD/DVD. After that, restart the computer from the bootable device you just created.

Step 1: Right-click the target hard drive (SSD or HDD) that contains the Windows XP, 7, 8 or 10 operating system and then click «Surface Test«. This feature is designed to scan and test each sector of the hard disk.

Step 2: Click «Start Now» to start scanning all sectors of your disk. Refer to the following screenshot: MiniTool Partition Wizard will mark «disk block without read error» in green , and mark «read error in this block» in red .

All sectors of your disk should be tested completely within a few minutes.

A: Shield Bad Blocks

After finishing the disk test, if there are some bad sectors, you should take a measure to shield them. Unfortunately, MiniTool Partition Wizard doesn’t have this feature. Instead, we find What to Do If I Find Bad Sectors on Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7?.

B: Back up Important Files

When there are bad sectors on your hard drive, due to data security reasons, you should back up your important files after shielding them. Otherwise, the data could be lost.

How to make a backup while the system is unbootable with «A disk read error occurred» message? Don’t worry, you can also ask MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD for help.

Step 1: In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, right-click the disk and select «Copy Disk» from the context menu.

Step 2: Select a destination disk to copy all data on the source disk to.

Step 3: Choose a copy option between «Fit partitions to entire disk» and «Copy partition without resizing«.


  1. You can check the «Align partitions to 1MB» option to improve the performance for advanced format disk & SSD.
  2. To change the target disk to GPT, check «Use GUID Partition Table for the target disk«.

Step 4: MiniTool Partition Wizard will advise you to modify BIOS boot order. Feel free to ignore it since it is unnecessary for a backup in this case.

Step 5: Finally click «Apply» to finish all changes.

With the help of MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Edition, you can easily fix the disk read error. To boot your computer, get the Professional Ultimate Edition and use “Bootable Media” to create a bootable disc now.

Solution 5: Check Your Hard Disk IDE Cables

A disk read error can be caused by bad or incorrect IDE cables that are loose or defective.

To rule out this possibility, you can open the computer’s hood and check whether each IDE cable is fastened completely on both ends. If there is something wrong, the faulty cables will need to be replaced to fix «A disk read error occurred».

Solution 6: Test RAM

Sometimes, read disk error is related to a faulty RAM stick or RAM slot. In this case, it is necessary to make a completely non-destructive and exclusively informative test on your computer’s RAM.

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You can download an appropriate version of Memtest86+ to check the RAM. Follow the guidance here: How to Test PC Ram with MemTest86.

If this tool finds errors, try inserting your current RAM sticks into different RAM slots to confirm whether that the problem exists in the RAM stick or a RAM slot. Then you can take corresponding measures to fix it.

Solution 7: Rescue Data

If you have tried all the above solutions but still receive disk read error on boot up, you can consider recovering data from your hard drive. Your partition can get lost, so try MiniTool Partition Wizard with its «Partition Recovery» feature in the toolbar to retrieve the lost partition as well as data.

If your partition isn’t lost but fails to boot your computer while showing an error message, your disk might be damaged. In this case, please try «Data Recovery» in at least a MiniTool Partition Wizard Ultimate Edition. With this feature, you can retrieve data from the damaged partition in Windows XP/7/8/10.

Another data recovery software, MiniTool Power Data Recovery, is also helpful for retrieving data from a corrupted hard drive.

After recovering data, then reinstalling operating system is a good choice. Please prepare a Windows installation disc and then insert it into your computer. Next start to install a new OS according to the wizards.

Bottom Line

Has «A disk read error occurred» message taken over the screen of your Windows XP/7/8/10 on desktop/laptop upon boot up? Take it easy now! Try these solutions above to fix the disk read error.

If you have any suggestion or advice, welcome to email us via [email protected] or leave a comment below.


Bad Sectors Explained: Why Hard Drives Get Bad Sectors and What You Can Do About It

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

A bad sector on a hard drive is simply a tiny cluster of storage space — a sector — of the hard drive that appears to be defective. The sector won’t respond to read or write requests.

Bad sectors can occur on both traditional magnetic hard drives and modern solid-state drives. There are two types of bad sectors — one resulting from physical damage that can’t be repaired, and one resulting from software errors that can be fixed.

Types of Bad Sectors

There are two types of bad sectors — often divided into “physical” and “logical” bad sectors or “hard” and “soft” bad sectors.

A physical — or hard — bad sector is a cluster of storage on the hard drive that’s physically damaged. The hard drive’s head may have touched that part of the hard drive and damaged it, some dust may have settled on that sector and ruined it, a solid-state drive’s flash memory cell may have worn out, or the hard drive may have had other defects or wear issues that caused the sector to become physically damaged. This type of sector cannot be repaired.

A logical — or soft — bad sector is a cluster of storage on the hard drive that appears to not be working properly. The operating system may have tried to read data on the hard drive from this sector and found that the error-correcting code (ECC) didn’t match the contents of the sector, which suggests that something is wrong. These may be marked as bad sectors, but can be repaired by overwriting the drive with zeros — or, in the old days, performing a low-level format. Windows’ Disk Check tool can also repair such bad sectors.

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Causes of Hard Bad Sectors

Your hard drive may have shipped from the factory with bad sectors. Modern manufacturing techniques aren’t perfect, and there’s a margin or error in everything. That’s why solid-state drives often ship with some defective blocks. These are marked as defective and are remapped to some of the solid-state drive’s extra memory cells.

On a solid-state drive, natural wear will eventually result in sectors becoming bad as they’re written to many times, and they’ll be remapped to the solid-state drive’s extra — or “overprovisioned” — memory. When the solid-state drive’s extra memory runs out, the drive’s capacity will start to drop as sectors become unreadable.

On a traditional magnetic hard drive, bad sectors can be caused by physical damage. The hard drive may have had a manufacturing error, natural wear may have worn part of the hard drive down, the drive may have been dropped, causing the hard drive’s head to touch the platter and damage some of the sectors, some air may have entered the sealed area of the hard drive and the dust may have damaged the drive — there are many possible causes.

Causes of Soft Bad Sectors

Soft bad sectors are caused by software issues. For example, if your computer suddenly shuts off due to a power outage or a pulled power cable, it’s possible that the hard drive may have shut off in the middle of writing to a sector. In some cases, it’s possible for sectors on the hard drive to contain data that doesn’t match their error-correction code — this would be marked as a bad sector. Viruses and other malware that messes with your computer could also cause such system issues and cause soft bad sectors to develop.

Data Loss and Hard Drive Failure

The reality of bad sectors brings home a chilling fact — even if your hard drive is otherwise working properly, it’s possible for a bad sector to develop and corrupt some of your data. This is another reason why you should always back up your data — multiple copies are the only thing that will prevent bad sectors and other issues from ruining your hard drive’s data.

When your computer notices a bad sector, it marks that sector as bad and ignores it in the future. The sector will be reallocated, so reads and writes to that sector will go elsewhere. This will show up as “Reallocated Sectors” in hard drive S.M.A.R.T. analysis tools like CrystalDiskInfo. If you had important data in that sector, however, it may be lost — possibly corrupting one or more files.

A few bad sectors don’t indicate that a hard drive is about to fail — they can just happen. However, if your hard drive is rapidly developing bad sectors, it may be a sign that your hard drive is failing.

How to Check for and Repair Bad Sectors

Windows has a built-in Disk Check tool — also known as chkdsk — that can scan your hard drives for bad sectors, marking hard ones as bad and repairing soft ones to make them usable again. If Windows thinks that there’s a problem on your hard disk — because the hard drive’s “dirty bit” is set — it will automatically run this tool when your computer starts up. But you’re also free to run this tool manually at any point.

Other operating systems, including Linux and OS X, also have their own built-in disk utilities for detecting bad sectors.

Bad sectors are just a reality of hard disks, and there’s generally no reason to panic when you encounter one. However, you should always have backups of your important files just in case a freak bad sector strikes — and rapidly developing bad sectors can certainly suggest oncoming hard drive failure.


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