8 Solutions to Troubleshoot A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart Error

When you have a problem while using your computer and you receive an error message during a crash, you’re hoping the message will point toward the cause and then it can be appropriately rectified. This doesn’t always happen though and the message can be rather generic and the fix isn’t exactly a straightforward affair with a clear place to start troubleshooting.

Unfortunately, there seems to be many errors you could encounter on your system that sound straightforward but lead to the same problem, the error message isn’t accurate enough for you to make a clear decision about what to do next. A while back I had a problem with my computer, and after some odd things happening such as a CD-R failing a burn and the computer starting to respond very slow, I decided to shut it down and leave it for a while. When I booted it up the next day, I got the error message:

A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart.

However, the BIOS detected the hard drive just fine. After an exhaustive search around the Internet and forums, no one had the exact fix for this problem and there doesn’t seem to be one fix to try in preference to any others.

A disk read error occurred

What makes this even worse is there are so many different ways to attempt to fix this error, it could take days to get through them all. And to make matters worse, a disk read error might not actually mean there’s a problem with the hard drive itself! Also there seems to be just as many software causes as hardware causes.

Listed below are some of the possible solutions we came across to fix the “A disk read error occurred. Press ctrl+alt+delete to restart” problem.

1. Test the Memory

This isn’t actually mentioned that much around the web as a solution to the disk read error problem, but believe it or not, this was my problem. I used a tool called Memtest86+ and ran tests on my RAM, and indeed there were problems. After experimenting between different sticks and RAM slots I eventually deduced my RAM slot 2 was damaged because the sticks worked fine in the other slots.


As this is a simple and non destructive test meaning you’re not touching the hard drive risking further damage, it is recommended you try this first. It may sound odd but in fact memory problems can be responsible for a vast array of different errors on a system where testing your RAM might be the last thing you think of.

2. Try the Drive on Another Machine

As we’ve said, although this problem sounds like a simple hard drive issue, people around the web have reported that they have traced the problem to faulty video cards, modems, motherboards and even power supplies. The easiest way to rule out any of these is to take the hard drive out and connect it up to another machine or connect it to the same machine via external USB. If you can boot it up past the error or can access all your files without a problem, then the issue will likely be related to other hardware in your machine.

Unfortunately in this case it could be down to trial and error in finding the offending piece of hardware by removing or replacing what you can, although the next possible fix is quite easy.

While the drive is connected by another method, it’s recommended to run a scan with something like HD Tune to test for any bad sectors. Whether HD Tune finds any issues or not, you should also run a “chkdsk drivename: /r” from a command prompt while you’re able to or use a portable tool to do it for you.

It’s also wise to make a backup of your files or the whole drive while the drive is accessible.

3. Check / Replace Cables

Although I haven’t seen SATA cables fail (but obviously they can), faulty IDE cables can sometimes cause issues such as read or write errors on hard drives as well as optical burners. If you have spare cables, you can replace them, or unplug the current cables, inspect for damage, and then reconnect them if OK. Also try different SATA or IDE ports if you can as there is a possibility of a damaged port.

If you get the disk read error after installing a new drive, make sure the hard drive is on the master connector (end of the cable) and if you can, set the hard drive jumper to master instead of cable select. Also try without a secondary (slave) device attached to the same cable if there is one.

4. Resetting / Updating the BIOS

In rare circumstances setting the BIOS back to defaults can fix the issue. You can usually get to the BIOS by pressing Del or F2 etc during boot. There should be an option to reset to defaults, look for an option similar to the one in the picture below. Failing that, you can remove the BIOS battery for a few minutes to reset. If you’re unable to access CMOS because it is password protected, you can easily reset it from Windows by using CMOS De-Animator.

load fail safe defaults

Updating to a newer BIOS has also been reported to work, especially on laptops.

We have several more possible solutions to the disk read error problem on page 2.

102 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Salan 1 week ago
  2. ProWolf 4 weeks ago
  3. Augustin 2 months ago
    • HAL9000 2 months ago
  4. Linda 3 months ago
    • HAL9000 3 months ago
  5. Gana 3 months ago
    • spyros 3 months ago
      • Emily 3 months ago
  6. Rahema 4 months ago
  7. Dan Folkes 4 months ago
  8. Aylin Avci 5 months ago
  9. Vircoph 5 months ago
  10. John Mark 6 months ago
  11. Muhammad Nur Akbar Mohd Rozi 6 months ago
  12. Kyle E. Dacumos 7 months ago
  13. Alexandre 7 months ago
  14. yuab 7 months ago
  15. Christena M. 7 months ago
  16. Marco 7 months ago
  17. Danish Shakeel 8 months ago
  18. Tabrez Tamboli 8 months ago
  19. Stephan 8 months ago
  20. lappari 8 months ago
  21. Manuela 8 months ago
  22. Mohammed Iqbal 9 months ago
  23. Amar 9 months ago
  24. Vinoth 9 months ago
  25. Emi 11 months ago
  26. Jun 11 months ago
  27. jenneSie218 11 months ago
  28. Trueflowgr8 11 months ago
  29. Amol 12 months ago
  30. mzwandile 12 months ago
  31. Octavian 12 months ago
    • kLimadzU 12 months ago
  32. vinay 12 months ago
  33. Jason 1 year ago
  34. Aniket Sarode 1 year ago
  35. zulfiqar 1 year ago
  36. Travis 1 year ago
  37. Grumble 1 year ago
  38. George 1 year ago
  39. Kes 1 year ago
    • HAL9000 1 year ago
  40. Yoel Sarmiento 1 year ago
  41. Marky Marcos Lista 1 year ago
  42. Mario 1 year ago
    • George 1 year ago
  43. Akhilsonu 1 year ago
  44. ZetsuNin 1 year ago
  45. RFurley 1 year ago
  46. Harry Johal 1 year ago
  47. Angus Og 1 year ago
  48. Miguel 1 year ago
  49. Rajib 1 year ago
  50. Paweł 2 years ago
  51. kami 2 years ago
  52. Sachin beniwal 2 years ago
  53. andy M 2 years ago
  54. sunny 2 years ago
    • HAL9000 2 years ago
      • amzl 1 year ago
  55. Elhanan madmon 2 years ago
    • ian 2 years ago
      • HAL9000 2 years ago
  56. Mahshid 2 years ago
  57. Aditya Saxena 2 years ago
  58. Anon 2 years ago
  59. iwan 2 years ago
  60. habib 2 years ago
  61. Gerry 2 years ago
  62. Dave Wood 2 years ago
  63. naveen 2 years ago
  64. spvarma 2 years ago
    • Naina 2 years ago
  65. Pzark 2 years ago
  66. Jon 2 years ago
  67. Gabriel 2 years ago
    • Manoj Khapare 2 years ago
  68. thaneshwar 2 years ago
  69. tseko 2 years ago
  70. PC Addict 2 years ago
  71. Supian 2 years ago
  72. sandeep 2 years ago
  73. meghana 2 years ago
    • Kai 2 years ago
  74. Armando 2 years ago
  75. meghana 2 years ago
  76. Luis Bonilla 2 years ago
  77. M 2 years ago
  78. Kaleab 2 years ago
  79. Philipp 3 years ago
  80. Dmitrii 3 years ago
  81. Johnny 3 years ago
  82. Scott 3 years ago
  83. wojciech 3 years ago
  84. suki 3 years ago
  85. ISK 3 years ago
  86. Bart 3 years ago
  87. Tony 3 years ago
    • Bilge Karabay 3 years ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Note: Your comment is subject to approval. Read our Terms of Use. If you are seeking additional information on this article, please ask in our forum or contact us directly.