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Cannot boot from CD/DVD unless HDD is blank


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Ok, so I've got an unusual issue here. I've figured out a workaround, but I'm still curious to determine why this is happening, so as to prevent it from occurring in the future. Searches online yielded no results, save for what I had already determined myself.

I'm attempting to reinstall XP Pro x64 on my backup computer. When I attempt to boot from the CD, it just skips that step and boots straight to the HDD. I've already made sure CD/DVD is the first boot device, and I've even taken the step of hitting F12 to choose the first boot device on startup. This isn't an issue with the DVD drive or the disc, as I've used 3 different discs on 3 different drives (including an external). I've also tested one of the discs on another laptop (just to make sure it would boot), and it did indeed begin the setup from the CD. So the discs are fine, and the drives are fine. I've tried using my current 36GB Raptor drive, and a test 40GB IDE drive I had laying around, the same situation occurs with both.

However, if I completely wipe the 40GB (haven't tested yet with the Raptor, and don't want to until I'm sure everything else is working fine) - including all partition information - then the CD will boot without incident. I'm currently installing on the 40GB to make sure nothing is wrong with the system, before I proceed to wipe my main drive; but I was curious to find out if anyone else has encountered this issue and/or knows what the cause is and how to rectify it.

It just dawned on me that I haven't tested with another version of Windows, but I doubt that would matter since I've already determined the discs work. Still, any insight would be appreciated.

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What you describe seems like connected with BOOTFIX.BIN.

At least on I386 - but I cannot see why x64 would be different - the CD/DVD bootsector invokes BOOTFIX.BIN before passing control back to the CD booting IF the hard disk(s) is bootable.

The BOOTFIX.BIN is the thingy that displays "press any key to boot from CD".

(if the hard disk is not bootable the BOOTFIX.BIN is NOT invoked, but it should be enough to set NO partition as Active :unsure:)

It is possible that you have some "strange" CD/DVD or that your particular BIOS somehow cannot properly manage the little program.

(maybe the actual optical drive is SATA and this creates the problem?) <. only a shot in the dark :ph34r:

You can try to burn a copy of the CD/DVD but excluding BOOTFIX.BIN. :unsure:


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Both optical drives are IDE, so that shouldn't be an issue (I added the second one later, to test if the first was the problem). I did consider the bootfix.bin as the culprit, but didn't consider removing it from the image. However, given that it works on another PC, I can't imagine that being the case. It's just the standard bootfix for i386/AMD64, nothing has been modified. I've even used the same bin file for standard Windows XP discs (not x64). I appreciate the suggestion, though.

I suppose I should mention a few specs, now that I think about it. The motherboard is a Gigabyte K8N Ultra-9. It has an Athlon X2 4400+ with 4 x 512MB Corsair XMS sticks. I've considered removing some of the memory, but I'm not getting any stability issues, so I doubt that it's related. However, I may test that later when I have a chance.


On consideration, I just realized I could try a SATA DVD drive instead. When I have an opportunity to power down my primary PC, I'll pull the optical drive from it and test again.

Still, if anyone has encountered this issue before, it would be helpful to hear your experiences with it. Even if you never did ultimately resolve the problem.

Edited by Jito463
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IMHO using a SATA CD/DVD drive only adds a layer of complexity to the tests. :ph34r:

Please review this:


it is very possible that by hitting the F12 you alter the boot device priority "temporarily", so when the bootfix.bin tries to inspect the hard disk MBR it cannot "find" anymore the CD/DVD to get back to it.

And is possible that your particular motherboard BIOS behaves strangely, maybe because you have two optical drives? :unsure:

It is not explicitly mentioned there (and I really cannot recall exactly :blushing: ) whether the test on the MBR is performed on having a partition Active as I suggested before of if some other tests are performed.


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I just want to toss in there that some BIOSes are configured like this. I had encountered a Compal notebook and another board (some mini-ITX I forget which one) that wouldn't allow a boot to ODD or Network if an OS was on the HDD. Also, the notebook I am working on now (MSI MS-1761) will NOT allow a boot to anything except the HDD (even it will ignore a boot menu request which is F11) if the OS is in Hibernation. Not to confuse the issue... :whistle:

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