Solved Always Boots to Checking Media

boweasel

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
32
A Dell Inspiron 15 that suddenly failed to boot. I get the Dell logo which only displays for maybe 1 second before I get the phrase in the upper right corner of the laptop that reads Checking Media. After another 4 seconds the word [Fail] comes up next to Checking Media. while another Checking Media is displayed under the first. After a few seconds the screen goes dark with a new phrase No Boot Device Found. Press any key to reboot the machine.

I took out the HDD, put it in a USB caddie and ran a chkdsk /r /f on the drive. It found no problems. I then ran the command SFC /scannow which also completed successfully. I also ran a Windows Defender scan of the drive. No errors, of course.

Then I put the drive back into the laptop, powered on while tapping F12, where I was presented a chance to run Diagnostics. What they call the Pre-boot System Assessment ran for about a half hour before giving me the msg box No problems have been found with system so far. It suggested running an advanced test that would take another half hour, so I ran that as well. That second, advanced test got to 96% and then stopped. Everything from Cables through Memory has a green check mark next to it, except for Hard Drive 0. That still has the fuzzy blue circle next to it, telling me that it hasn't completed the test of that component. It completed successfully for the first run-thru of the Diagnostics.

I'll let it sit overnight, but I'm pretty confident it won't complete that last 4%, before I check it in 8 hours.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 home premium
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3521

boweasel

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
32
Well I was wrong. Dell's Pre-boot System Assessment did complete to 100%. There is now a green check mark next to Hard Drive 0, and the msg box has a heading of Success, and inside the box it says All tests passed. I can't show the results, since the laptop still won't boot.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 home premium
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3521

Slavic

Member
Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
95
First, could you please explain your note more clearly:
"I took out the HDD, put it in a USB caddie and ran a chkdsk /r /f on the drive."
Have you tested the HDD on another PC or used USB connection to check HDD on the same Dell Inspiron?

Second, have you tried to boot OS from USB flash drive, like a bootable ISO with Windows 8.1 installation? Besides the installation, it allows to perform some checks and fixes, run System restore or fix a boot or MBR sectors using command line if they were damaged (it may be not a reason of your problem, but anyway).
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    i7-6700 (Skylake)
    Motherboard
    Asus Maximus VIII Gene
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Asus GeForce 1050 Ti, 4 GB
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Philips 235PQ
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 (FHD)
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 950 Pro, 512 GB

boweasel

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
32
First, could you please explain your note more clearly:
"I took out the HDD, put it in a USB caddie and ran a chkdsk /r /f on the drive."
Have you tested the HDD on another PC or used USB connection to check HDD on the same Dell Inspiron?
I opened up the bottom of the laptop, removed the HDD access panel, disconnected the drive from the laptop and put the drive in a piece of equipment I've always called a USB caddie. The connectors in this device mimic the connectors for the hard drive in the laptop and it has a USB cable to connect to another PC. I then power the device on and connect the USB cable to another computer. where that drive will show up as an external drive. For me it showed up as the E: drive. I then typed cmd into the search box, right-clicked on the result and selected 'run as administrator'. When the DOS screen displayed I typed E: and pressed <Enter>. Once I was on the command line for the E: drive I performed the check disk for that drive.
Second, have you tried to boot OS from USB flash drive, like a bootable ISO with Windows 8.1 installation? Besides the installation, it allows to perform some checks and fixes, run System restore or fix a boot or MBR sectors using command line if they were damaged (it may be not a reason of your problem, but anyway).
Well, this is apparently Windows 8, not 8.1. I don't even know if it's 32 or 64 bit, but spurred on by your question, I dug out this Windows 8.0 32 bit CD, changed the boot option to Legacy and booted from the disk. I see that it did boot up and I hit Repair. I forget what the commands are. Was it bootrec /fixboot and bootrec /fixmbr?

I'll try it tomorrow after I check if those are the commands.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 home premium
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3521

Slavic

Member
Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
95
Very well. First, I'd like suggest you to make a full HDD backup in its current condition, even if it is (supposedly) with damaged booting, because this will allow to return to previous state if something during the repair will go wrong. If you count this excessive, then at least make a backup or simply copy to another media the most important user files.

You have to know exactly which OS version is installed on your laptop, otherwise attempts to repair may damage OS instead. Fortunately, it 's quite easy. If you have two root directories
Code:
C:\Program Files
C:\Program Files (x86)
then your OS is 64-bit. If only the first directory, then 32-bit. To determine the OS version, look at the properties of explorer.exe in C:\Windows or at any other system file like winver.exe: Windows 8 is shown as 6.2 and 8.1 as 6.3. For example, the last version of Explorer in Windows 8.1 is 6.3.9600.18231.

Commands bootrec /fixmbr and bootrec /fixboot should be input in the Administrator console, usually if you boot from external media like USB drive or DVD. They are quite harmless, of course if the sectors on your HDD aren't physically damaged. Consider to use the System Restore as another option if fixing boot will not help. Repairing (refreshing) the OS is more serious action and you need to have appropriate installation media first.

P.S. Of course, the drive letter will be different if you connect HDD as an external drive, like E:\ as you mentioned.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    i7-6700 (Skylake)
    Motherboard
    Asus Maximus VIII Gene
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Asus GeForce 1050 Ti, 4 GB
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Philips 235PQ
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080 (FHD)
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 950 Pro, 512 GB

boweasel

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
32
Thank you for your help. I did enter the bootrec /fixmbr from the DOS prompt after booting from the 32 bit 8.0 DVD. I really didn't think that the disk would work if there was a mismatch on bitrate or OS version, but everything is now working perfectly.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 home premium
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3521

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