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Unmountable Unrecoverable

Updated on February 16, 2009

Unmountable Boot Volume error.

This is for those with Windows XP

The first thing depending on your settings is if your computer automatically restarts on a failure is to get it to stop that. For on that Blue Screen are codes and error messages, these are tip offs to diagnosing your problem.

While booting up hold the F8 key before Windows starts booting. Then select from the options menu "disable automatic restart on failure". Good practice anyways as that information on the Blue Screen has leads to solving your problem.

Continue to boot. (now unfortunately it's been a little while since I've had an unmountable volume). Get the error. Since we are dealing with the Unmountable error, something like this should appear.

"STOP 0x000000ED UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME" Error Message When You Restart Your Computer or Upgrade to Windows XP

According to Mircosoft Tech site, here is the perscription for fixing the problem.

1. First and easy. BIOS configured to force a faster UDMA.

  • Enter your BIOS (F2, Del, or what your computer requires at start up)
  • Load the 'Fail-Safe' or default settings. Save and exit.
  • Computer boots.

2. If the above fails, onto the second and more painful solution: Checking the hard drive cable (on recently installed hard drives either 1 or 2 could be a problem)

  • Open your computer up - make sure your grounded - TOUCH or USE a Ground leash to your metal casing.
  • Make sure the cable is a 80 pin wire, good shape (I did have one with a nick - broken wire), and properly seated.
  • After replacing cable if needed close up the computer and reboot.

3. Alright, all else fails, it's your file system is corrupted, or damaged - This is not necessarily indicative of a hard drive failure but could be. Things do happen. If your computer had been running fine and no upgrades done to the hardware recently, and you get the Unmountable error, odds are you can by pass the first two steps. (unless others play with your computer).

  • 1.Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive, and then restart the computer. Click to select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD-ROM drive if you are prompted.  
  • 2.When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the Recovery Console.  
  • 3.If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you must access from the Recovery Console.  
  • 4.When you are prompted, type the Administrator password. If the administrator password is blank, just press ENTER.
  •  5.At the command prompt, type chkdsk /p /r , and then press ENTER.  
  • 6.At the command prompt, type exit , and then press ENTER to restart your computer.

Now we are assuming that Chkdsk did it's job, you should be able to boot.

If not you can try following all the above steps again and use fixboot and hit Enter to repair any damaged boot files. Do this at step 6. When prompt for yes or no type Y.

  • 7. type Exit and restart.

Chkdsk usually resolves most problems. But as my title is, suppose Chkdsk fails. With this error:

"one or more unrecoverable problems."

Ugh. The trouble is now deeper my friend. Now panic wants to sweep over you as you realize your precious data is condemned. Too late for those well intentioned backups.

Part 1 All is not Lost.

So Chkdsk comes back with an error.

First let's not panic yet. And whatever you do don't reinstall, reformat, fdisk, or whatever destroy your data on that hard drive. It can still be recovered.  Let's see what options are available to you. 

Here is where having access to a second computer is good, or having a spare hard drive around with an operating system on it (Windows XP).  Even with a Linux computer/Live CD you can at least check the health of your files on the ill drive.  So with a second Windows XP system: 

  1. Take the ill hard drive and install it with the proper jumper settings set to slave.
  2. Install the second hard drive as a master (check jumpers).
  3. Boot up.
  4. If Windows Xp starts Chkdsk for the ill drive (as it did for me) let it run.
  5. You can then run Chkdsk again as a check. (note my system is Windows XP Pro sp2), so the chkdsk initiated from Windows itself is more powerful than from the recovery mode.
  6. Once chkdsk is run and finished. Shut Windows down properly.
  7. Reinstall the ill hard drive back as primary master.
  8. Boot.

That should solve the problem. Also with a second hard drive as the primary you can check what files are recoverable on the ill hard drive and recover what you want if need be. If you can see them, your problem may be fixable, and if not at least recovery will be easy.

If Chkdsk fails from the second drive, and you can't probe the ill drive. It may be necessary to find some data recovery software (depending on the importance of the data to you).


Part 2 A case point.

Now from what I experienced with a relatively new 500GB drive. It was purchased to replace my older 200GB drive (and their seemed to be issues with it, so replace it before failure) . I encountered both errors after about 5 months on the new drive. So a good set of questions for anyone is:

Do you have a second hard drive? A Linux Live CD around?

In my case both was a yes. But a second hard drive with Windows XP on it or access to a friend's computer is just as good. Having a second hard drive or computer is more important than the Live CD.

Just to check on my computer and the data on the hard drive, I ran the Linux Cd (Ubuntu 8.04 to be exact). And Praise the Lord I could still read my hard drive and all the data on it. Sweet. So at the worse I could recover my personal data, and reinstall. But lose my other software, and have to reinstall it.

I opt to see what I could do with my older 200GB hard drive (semi retired it, as it was having some issues). See if we could at the worse, copy it back on the 500GB, it would be the closest to the way things were.

In poking around on the help and tech forums for "unrecoverable errors" and "unmountable" it was suggested turning your error reading drive into a slave and using another Windows XP hard drive to run Chkdsk and recover it.

So the setup was 200GB primary and 500 GB slave. Booted up just fine and chkdsk wanted to run on a check on my slave (don't stop it, like I did or you have to reboot or set chkdsk manually to run on next boot up). Let it rip. It went through all 5 stages and fixing, and repairing some bad files. Ran chkdsk at least once more on the 500GB.

Let the computer finish booting. Then do a proper Windows shutdown.

Reinstalled the 500GB back as a primary (I do have a 60GB where I keep all my critical data - so my panic for lost data wasn't severe. just the pain of reinstalling everything). It booted up fine without any issues.

Now I do have a separate 500GB USB Free Agent which I use for backups. Plus I do dual boot either into Windows XP or Linux Ubuntu, depending on my mood. So having Linux Live CD's around is handy.

There are various recovery softwares out there if all else fails. Some as freeware. Remember Don't do anything to the ill drive, till you recover what files you want. There is a Live Clonezilla.




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    • eaglegordon profile image

      eaglegordon 7 years ago

      Jo: When you put the error harddrive in as a slave, or secondary, did you run Chkdsk from the other Harddrive?

      In my case Chkdsk failed from both the ill drive, and Recovery disk, But when I installed the ill as a secondary with another primary XP Harddrive, I ran Chkdsk from the good drive. Then chkdsk completed the run, and corrected the errors.

      Now from what I read I don't think you ran chkdsk from the good system but recovery.

      You can try again the chkdsk from the good system, with the bad disk installed.

      When you ran Fix boot? Was that from Recovery Cd? or the other good disk? If the other good disk it may have installed wrongly.

      Right now the data is not lost, just hiding, if you reinstall, or rewrite the Operating system you will lose data.

      Try running chkdsk from the good operating system disk with the bad installed.

      If that fails you will need to get a recovery program like Clonezilla to read the files. Or similar files

      If you have a linux Live Cd, you can see if it can read the faulty disk, and files. Sometimes Windows can't recognize things, and Linux will (far more file types used by linux).

      here is some reading and follow up you can do if Chkdsk fails and a recovery program is in order. I have done some for a friend, but to do it successfully don't, I repeat don't do anything like an install/reinstall on that drive.

      (read the whole article it's good)

    • profile image

      Jo 7 years ago

      I had the same problem, tried the recovery console and it would stop on 31%.

      Ran XP pro off another HDD and put the bad-HDD i wanted to recover as secondary (both are sata).

      In My Computer, although the bad-HDD appeared, i couldn't access it, "unknown file system" encountered.

      Ran recovery console again but no difference. So then ran fixboot.

      That too said fikle system unknown, but got a message that it completed ok.

      Now that bad-HDD won't boot as NTLDR is missing message is displayed.

      When i tried rebooting off the Install cd, it displayed the full HDD size, but said only about 3mb was free.

      Booted to the god HDD running xp-pro, with the bad HDD as secondary, and in My Computer?explorer, the bad-HDD only shows up as around 10mb on the FAT file system!


      I don't expect hardware failure, mnore likey trojans/viruses etc, but am at a loss :S

    • eaglegordon profile image

      eaglegordon 8 years ago


      Be interested in knowing how things went.

      Yes Unrecoverable was bad news for me too. It took some digging, but having a second drive with an operating system on it helped to solve the problem without losing any information.

    • profile image

      tr1k4y4 8 years ago

      So glad I kept Googling past the first couple of pages after searching "unrecoverable...". THANK YOU :)))

      Other forum posters, helpful they were trying to be, just didn't provide the solution you did - it was the sequence involving 'fixboot'. Evidently suffered a corrupt boot sector after installing a logitech 9000 webcam/drivers - tried two reinstalls after successive BSOD. Worked fine for 30mins then after third BSOD, restart reported "error launching operating system". Maybe the driver is affecting the BIOS. I uninstalled the drivers and will check with Logitech. Thanks again, will now carry out immediate file back-up :-P

    • profile image

      eBay person 8 years ago

      Good advice

    • eaglegordon profile image

      eaglegordon 9 years ago

      Katyzzz: In my case I had replaced my older 200GB with a 500GB. In a few months I got that Unmountable error. I didn't think my newer drive should fail so fast. I did recover from the error. Eventually I did wipe the 500GB clean, did a clone from my 200GB and installed a dual boot system (Linux Ubuntu and Windows XP pro). Outside of the correction to the unmountable I have no issues with the 500GB for nearly a year now.

      I do keep it extra cool, and do semi-regular backups.

      Having a nice extrenal drive around, allows for both portablility and backups.

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I got in a computer consultant, although I did not like the bill it really was money well spent. I needed to replace my hard disc but I shall be a bit more careful of what I import in future, without being hamstrung about it.