[Complete Tutorial] How to Fix a Disk Read Error Occurred

By Andy Samuel to Partition Manager | 2023-08-10

Just experienced the dreaded disk read error? There’s a way out. We outline 9 effective solutions to the common drive errors faced by Windows PC users.

The dreaded disk read error is a stubborn problem Windows users may experience as they try to boot up their PC. Typically, this drive error occurs when Windows detects a problem with your hard disk which renders it unreadable.

The result is that your computer never boots to the Windows login screen and you are effectively locked out from using your machine.

If you’re still reading, chances are you have seen this image on your screen before!

disk read error occurred

You are advised to “Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart”. Unfortunately, as you probably have experienced yourself, doing that doesn’t help much. More often than not, you’ll be greeted by the same message on restart.

But don't worry. There's a way out. There are several possible solutions to adisk read error occurred. However, now is the best time to knowwhy does disk errors occur.

Part 1. What Causes a “Disk Read Error Occurred”?

There are a good number of potential causes for adisk read error occurring in Windows 10. Ranging from issues with the hardware to software compatibility problems. Here are the most common causes of thedisk read error.

Causes Explanations
Hard Drive Failure A failing hard drive is one of the leading causes of a disk error in Windows. When the hard disc has bad sectors or becomes corrupted, Windows cannot read the data it needs to boot itself.
Damaged Hard Drive CablesThe cables that connect your hard drive to the PC's motherboard may fail due to natural wear and tear or external pressures or factors.
BIOS Configuration IssuesIn some cases, problems in the BIOS settings or updated BIOS can throw a disk read error occurred in Windows.
Corrupted MBRCorrupt or Invalid Master Boot Record (MBR) Is a common reason for the disk read error because the MBR can easily be affected by virus attacks, power outages, bad sectors, etc.
Abrupt Power Failure Every time your system goes off because of a power outage, or being forced to shut down the system due to an unresponsive program, you run the risk of corrupting important systems files. This can result in issues that prevent Windows from booting up.
Windows OS IssuesImportant Windows files can become missing or corrupted due to improper installation of the OS. Also, a damaged registry entry can prevent Windows from booting up
No Bootable Hard DriveThe disk error can occur simply because the hard disk is not bootable or no Windows OS was installed on it. If the hard disk was not properly configured to boot Windows, your system won't be able to boot normally.

Part 2. The Perfect Solution to Fix “A Disk Read Error Occurred” In Widows 10/8/7

After a disk read error occurred, the biggest worry most users would have is the status of the data contained in the drive. That is why we recommend safeguarding the content of the troubled hard drive before anything else.

Powerful data cloning software PassFab 4EasyPartition helps you migrate data between discs or partitions effectively and safely. With PassFab, the cloning time is reduced drastically while lowering the risk of data loss or disk read errors.

Apart from data migration, PassFab 4EasyPartition is user-friendly, feature-packed, and highly performant, providing a convenient and safe way for the average PC user to carry out necessary disc operations.

  • Clone an entire disk or a partition to back up data or upgrade to a new disk
  • Migrate Windows OS to SSD with a single click
  • Perform partition operations such as resize, split, create, delete, and format to manage disc space.
  • Effectively transfer installed programs, system updates, device drivers, and user settings from one PC to another.

How to Fix Disk Error Occurred In Windows with PassFab 4EasyPartition

  • Download and install PassFab 4EasyPartition on your system, connect the external hard disk, and click the operation "Clone Disk" from the dashboard. clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition
  • Select the target disk to receive the clone data. The default target disk is the newly connected external hard drive. clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition
  • Ensure you have selected the correct target disk because the cloning operation will overwrite all data on the disk. Click the Sure button to proceed. clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition
  • You’ll be shown a preview of the clone disk’s expected result, please review before continuing with the process. If everything checks out, click on the “Start” button to begin the disk cloning operation. clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition
  • Please wait patiently and do not interrupt the operation before completion. Disk cloning time depends on the size of the data contained in the source disk. clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition clone disk with PassFab 4EasyPartition

Part 3. 9 Solutions to Fix a Disk Read Error Occurred in Windows 10/8/7

Because there are many potential causes or sources, we cannot pinpoint one solution to fix a disk rear error occurred. Instead, we need to take a systematic approach to identify the cause, and then apply a solution. We’ll go through 9 different solutions on how to fix a disk read error occurred, progressively moving from basic to more complex operations.

1.Basic Operations to Fix Disk Read Error

Solution 1:Turn the Computer Off for a While

An overheating computer is unpredictable. The computer is made up of thousands of discrete components (hardware) that one misbehaving can prompt the disk read error.

step1:As a first resort, simply turn off your PC and allow it to “cool down” for some hours. Then, turn it back on and see if the disk error message disappears.

step2: Should that solve your problem, make a backup of your drive and determine what’s causing your computer to overheat.

Solution 2: Remove External Devices

Remove all external devices plugged unto the computer. That includes USB sticks, DVD drives, or an external hard disk. It may be that your PC is trying to boot from one of the external devices due to a modification in the BIOS boot priority. Check your BIOS settings again to make sure this isn't the case.

Solution 3: Clean up Your PC

Dust and dirt build up around sensitive surfaces such as the RAM sticks and RAM slots, or hard drive head and IDE cables may affect the connection between those components and the motherboard. Thus, throwing up the common disk read error message. You can eliminate those concerns by carefully taking out those components and wiping them with a clean dry cloth. Use an air blower to dust off hard-to-reach areas.

Solution 4: Check Port Connections – Hard Disk IDE/SATA Cables

Poor port connections with faulty/broken cables are one main culprit of the disk read error problem.

step1: Try to identify and solve connection issues by elimination: swap out one IDE/SATA cable for a known good one you have. Also, try a different port for those cables if your motherboard has more than one. Disconnect any other internal hard drive from the system except the one running the Windows OS.

step2:Try moving the affected hard disk to a working computer. If it boots into Windows, suspect your connection cables, as well as the hard drive's health status. If the other computer was able to boot into Windows without throwing “A disk read error occurred Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart”, your computer itself carries the problem. BIOS perhaps? We’ll see!

There’s a very good chance the disk error message you’re receiving is coming from poor connections with your hard drive, so make sure you apply this solution diligently.

Solution 5: Check RAM Memory

Sometimes, a disk read error can be related to faulty RAM. If you recently installed a new RAM or swapped RAM slots, that may be what's causing the hard disk error. Do the following to ascertain whether or not RAM is responsible:

  1. Remove all new RAM modules installed recently.
  2. If possible, restart your computer with only a single RAM stick. Also, swap the RAM slots used when applicable.
  3. Test your RAM modules on another system if possible. If it works normally, the disk error fault is likely not RAM related.

You can also download a tool like MemTest86 to run diagnostics on your RAM.

2. Complex Operations to Fix Disk Read Error

Still haven't fixed your disk read error issues? No worries yet because there's still more we can do. The following group of potential solutions are a little more technical and software-related, but proven. Let's take a look:

Solution 1: Check the Boot Sequence – Boot from Hard Drive

When you can't boot up Windows, the first thing to check is whether the Boot sequence is correct in the BIOS settings. Your computer may be trying to boot from another connected storage source that may not have Windows installed. Hence, make sure the boot sequence is correct in the BIOS settings. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Restart your computer. Enter the BIOS by repeatedly striking the BIOS or boot menu key before the manufacturer's logo appears on the screen. The exact key to enter the BIOS menu depends on your PC brand. However, it's often one of the following keys: DEL, F1, F2, F10, or F12.

Step 2: Navigate to the Boot section, and then Boot Device Priority.

Step 3: Ensure the Hard drive is the first device listed. Use the arrow up and down keys to move devices around.

Solution 2: Reset BIOS Settings / Update BIOS

Tempering with BIOS settings can make your computer throw up disk read errors too. That's why it's advisable to restore your BIOS settings to factory default to see if that solves the problem. Here's how to restore BIOS default settings.

Step 1: Restart your system and press the BIOS key repeatedly until the BIOS menu shows up. (F2, F10, DEL, etc)

Step 2: Navigate to the “Exit Tab” with the arrow keys. Look for an option like “Load Default Settings” or “Load BIOS Default”.

reset bios settings disk read error occurred

Step 3: Confirm and apply your selection and remember to save them before exiting.

Changes to Windows behavior via updates or third-party programs may prevent your system from booting up normally. That's why you should regularly update your BIOS anytime there's a new upgrade available. Visit your PC manufacturer's download center and get a recent BIOS set-up file.

Solution 3: Restore MBR (Run Bootrec)

The Master Boot Record carries the information required for your computer to locate and load the Windows OS. The MBR, which is located in the first sector of your head disk can become corrupted or damaged. Your computer won’t boot and may throw up the disk read error as a result.

To rebuild the MBR of your problem drive, you'll need a working computer or a bootable USB what we need is the command prompt to run some commands to complete the following processes.

Boot from a USB flash and complete these steps to access the Windows Recovery Environment (WRE)

Step 1: boot from the USB drive and Choose your preferred language.

Step 2: Select “Repair My Computer” on the first screen.

Step 3: Select Troubleshooting or Advanced Options menu and click on Command Prompt

Step 4: Type bootrec /fixmbr and hit Enter.

disk read error occurred restore mbr

Step 5: Then type bootrec /fixboot and hit enter.

 disk read error occurred restore mbr

Step 6: Then type bootrec /scanos and hit enter

disk read error occurred restore mbr案

Step 7: Finally, type bootrec /rebuildbcd and press enter.

 disk read error occurred restore mbr

Step 8: Reboot your computer from the troubled hard drive and see if anything changes.

Solution 4: Run Check Disk (CHKDSK)

CHKDSK is a Command Prompt tool that checks your drive for physical and logical errors. You can use the tool to scan and fix these errors or simply to check if there's a problem with the hard drive.

You’ll need a bootable USB flash or a working computer to access the Command Prompt.

Step 1: Boot from the USB flash drive, select your language option and click next.

Step 2: Choose the "Repair your Computer” option on the first screen.

Step 3: Click “Troubleshoot” or Advanced Options

Step 4: Select Command Prompt

Step 5: Type CHKDSK C: /r and press enter. Where “C” is the letter assigned to your troubled drive by your computer.

disk read error occurred

Step 6: Restart and boot from the hard drive once the process finishes.

Solution 5: Perform Virus Removal and Defragmentation

Remove the hard drive and connect it to a working computer. If the disk appears, perform a virus removal scan on the drive.

You can scan for viruses using Windows Defender.

Step 1: Open File Explorer

Step2: Right click on the affected drive and select scan with Microsoft Defender or Windows Security.

After the virus scan completes, perform the following steps to defragment the hard disk. Ignore this part if using an SSD.

Step 1: Right click the start button and select Disk Management

Step 2: Right click the volume of the affected drive and select Properties

Step 3: Select Tools, then Click on Optimize.

a disk read error occurred

Solution 6: Rescue Data

In some cases, the hard drive may be severely corrupted or failing not much else can be done but look for a way to salvage the data contained in the drive.

To recover your files, all you need is a working PC and a capable data recovery program. And of course, a new hard drive to transfer any salvageable files into.

Part 4: Bonus Tips to Prevent Recurring Disk Read Error

By following the 9 solutions listed above, there’s a high chance you’d be able to boot your device to Windows again. However, you don’t want to go through this ordeal again. So, take this advice to prevent the recurrence of the disk read error.

1.Check the Hard drive Health

Regularly checking the health condition of your hard disk should prepare you for the worst consequences if the disk read error shows up again. Use the command line tool CHKDSK or third-party apps to keep track of your hard disk health status.

2.Remove Unwanted Apps

Unknown apps sometimes carry Trojans and other viruses that can affect the normal workings of your computer components, including the hard disk. You should uninstall unwanted programs and also, steer clear of pirated software.

3.Regularly Apply Windows Update

Windows Update typically comes with security patches that have been defined to identify modern security threats. Always make a habit of installing all updates as they become available. Also, stick to authentic versions of Windows.

4.Leverage Partitions Like a Pro

We see people saving everything on a single partition – A bad idea. Instead, make a dedicated C drive to contain everything Windows or OS related. Every other file should be stored in separate partitions so you don't risk losing them due to corrupted Windows.

5.Use an Antivirus Protection

Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender) should be enabled. You can also use your preferred antivirus in place of Windows Security.

Avoid plugging in USB devices you don't trust.

Part 5: A Disk Read Error Occurred in Windows 10/8/7 FAQs

We have gone through a deep dive into Windows Disk Read Error together with 9 solutions to fix it. Here, we answer some further questions you may have.

Q1. What Does a Disk Read Error Occurred Mean?

A disk read error is a common problem you can experience and it means Windows detects a problem that is preventing it from reading from the hard disk. Pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del does not solve the issue, in most cases.

Q2. How do I Fix a Disk Read Error

Here are our recommended solutions to fixing the disk read error.

Basic Operations to Fix Disk Read Error

  • Solution 1:Turn the Computer Off after a while
  • Solution 2:Remove external devices
  • Solution 3: Clean Up Your PC
  • Solution 4: Check Port Connections – Hard Disk IDE/SATA Cables
  • Solution 5:Check RAM Memory

If nothing above solves the problem, here are proven software remedies that can get solve disk read error:

  • Solution 1:Check the Boot Sequence--Boot OS from Hard Drive
  • Solution 2:Reset BIOS Settings or Update BIOS
  • Solution 3: Restore MBR (Run Bootrec)
  • Solution 4:Run Check Disk
  • Solution 5:Perform Virus Removal and Defragmentation
  • Solution 6:Rescue data

Q3. How to Fix Disk Read Error in BIOS

Here are the steps to fix A Disk Read Error Occurred that Press Ctrl + Alt + DEL to Restart in BIOS.

Step 1: Restart the computer and press the F2 or F12 button to enter the system BIOS.

Step 2: Navigate to “Advanced” or “Storage Menu”

Step 3: Perform a disc scan using a disc diagnostics tool.

Step 4: get a disc replacement if faults are discovered.

Step 5: Save changes and Exit BIOS.

Final Words on Disk Read Error Occurred in Windows 10/8/7

We have successfully gone through 9 proven solutions to Fix Windows disk read error. Following them up in the order we have listed them gives you a great chance to identify the problem and solve your Windows PC failing to boot. Finally, to safeguard your hard drive from the worst that could happen – which is data loss – form the habit of regularly backing up your hard disk data.