Software & Apps Windows How to Fix It When A Disk Read Error Occurs Windows error recovery troubleshooting by Tricia Goss Writer Tricia Goss has been a writer and editor for 10+ years. She's written tips and tutorials for Microsoft Office applications and other sites. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tricia Goss Updated on May 26, 2020 Windows The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Tweet Share Email When there is a hard drive or partition issue in Windows, a warning stating, "a disk read error occurred" may appear. This message is likely followed with instructions to press Ctrl + Alt + Del to restart, which you should do to see if the problem is resolved. However, if the computer reboots only to display the same error message again and again, troubleshooting the issue is required. These instructions apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7. Causes of Disk Read Errors Although the origin of this error can vary from one computer to the next, there are some common causes, including the following. Insufficient RAM.Loose or faulty connections.A damaged hard drive.A damaged boot configuration data store (boot sector). Viktor Hanacek / Pexels How to Fix It When A Disk Read Error Occurs While it may seem like looking at the hard drive first would be the best solution, there are several other potential fixes for disk read errors. Walking through potential fixes for frequent reasons for this error could pinpoint and resolve the issue. Run a desktop clean up utility to remove any files that could cause a memory error. Although, the errant file could just be a symptom of more serious issues but cleaning up your desktop is good for maintenance. Defrag the computer. In certain circumstances, this could fix the issue. You may have to connect the HDD to another machine to perform the defragmentation and then try to boot from it. Test the RAM. A problem when booting could be the result of problems with the computer's memory. You can use Windows Memory Diagnostic by entering mdsched into Windows Search (or Start Search) box and pressing Enter. The tool will run automatically when you restart the computer. Alternatively, there are several other free memory test programs you could try. Check cables. Loose connections or faulty cables can cause issues with booting as well as hard drive errors. Look for disconnected cables. If possible, swap out cables with spares. At the very least, disconnect them, inspect the cables for any damage and then reseat them securely. Test the hard drive. This could mean removing the hard drive from your current machine and plugging it into a working computer, where you can scan for bad sectors. This could help you determine whether the issue is repairable or if you need a new hard disk drive (HDD) and a fresh install of Windows. Reset the BIOS. Reverting the BIOS to defaults could resolve the issue. Access the BIOS at startup and look for an option to load BIOS setup defaults, which could be one of the following or similar: Load BIOS DefaultsLoad Default SettingsLoad Fail-Safe Defaults Alternatively, you could update the BIOS version to the latest available. Reseat your computer's RAM. Due to heat, the RAM can wiggle its way partially out of the slot, triggering a memory error. Replace the RAM or if your system has two RAM modules in the system, try interchanging their slots. Rebuild the boot sector. When you are unable to start your computer and see a disk read error, the boot configuration data store (BCD) could be corrupt, missing, or incorrectly configured. In addition, you can use the Bootrec.exe tool to troubleshoot other startup issues. For instance, the fixmbr command allows the repair of a corrupted or damaged Master Boot Record and the fixboot command writes a new partition boot sector. Rescue data. In some cases, a severely corrupted or failing hard drive might need to be replaced. If this is the case, there might still be hope. It is possible that you could recover files, even if the computer will not start. Although it might take some effort, using a data recovery program could at least save important files that you would hate to lose.