A disk read error occurred Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart – not what I wanted to see tonight.

Once again the external USB drive strikes again!  I tell you, they are a blessing and a curse.

Ran Microsoft Updates on a customer SBS 2003 SP1 Server via RDP session.  On restart it decided to not run IIS or TS services, something that seems to be occurring a lot lately on different boxes after updates.  So I fired up a PPTP VPN to the server logging in as the admin of the customer’s domain.  Successfully establishing the VPN connection I then started a command session in Vista on my Tablet PC running as administrator.  From there I launched a shutdown – i command and brought up the shutdown GUI interface.  Using the NetBIOS name of the server I was able to do a remote restart of the SBS box.  This has been a trick I have been using since my company’s own SBS box decided not to launch TS when I was applying updates while sitting in a classroom in Las Colinas, Texas with the PSS team this last summer.

This was the second machine of the night last night to have behaved this way after updates.  Problem was that unlike the other server last night that came back online after the remote restart through the VPN connection, this server went down and then stayed down.  Not what I was wanting to see.

I fired off the flares to the business owners of the now offline server to power-cycle it in the morning when they arrived in the office to bring it back on its feet.  Unfortunately for all of us, they tried it and it didn’t help.  The Small Business Server was down for the count.

I came into the customer’s office, attached a monitor to the normally headless SBS box to find the following:

A disk read error occurred

Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart

This was not what I wanted to be reading.  Okay, time for a call to Server Down Support at Microsoft.

With PSS tech Uday Godbole on the line, I tossed in the Windows Small Business Server 2003 Disc 1 and headed for the recovery console.  What I found there was that the Windows directory was now D:\Windows instead of C:\Windows!  Not cool.  Changed the drive to C: to find its name as IOMEGA_HDD.  Now we had something to work with.

Pulled both external USB drives that were attached to the back of the HP ML150 and exited the recovery console.  On restart the server fired right up into Windows.

On a side note, Microsoft’s Uday did a great job on the call.  He was referring to past cases as to possible causes and thought of the recovery console which I hadn’t gone to yet.  I was thinking of running chkdsk from a Windows PE 2.0 boot disc first.  The recovery console showing D:\Windows as the installed directory was a quick indicator of the problem and led me to attempt to change over to the C:\ drive to see what may be there.  Without that fortunate turn I may have been here a lot longer on the wrong track.

So now that I have a working server again, I have gone into the HP BIOS to see what the boot order is.  As I thought, USB HDD is higher in the list than the SCSI controller.  Well it “was” higher in the boot order.  Now it is back where it belongs below the floppy drive, CD and RAID controller.

Thanks again Uday for the help on the phone!


3 thoughts on “A disk read error occurred Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart – not what I wanted to see tonight.

  1. cant understand the explanation.pls im just new.encountering same problem bout disk error accured what should i do?2nd time i change harddisk but the proble, is still desame.after running os disk.

  2. I don’t know if this helps, but change the boot order in the BIOS to put USB drive boot low man on the totem Pole. Unless you want it to boot first.  When I finally figured this one out, it was a real brain teaser.

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