Saturday, March 12, 2005

Unmountable boot volume

My ThinkPad got a little flaky last night — the display was very blurred, I couldn’t see the desktop clearly enough to shut down properly. So I did a hard power-down, which appears to have caused problems. Now when I power up, I get a blue screen error: “Unmountable_boot_volume” it says, then reboots and asks if I want to start in safe mode. (If I say yes, I get the same blue screen. Trying to restart with last known good config produces the same result.)

For those that will jump to their keyboard to type, “Get a Mac!”, let me save you the effort. I would if I could… but that’s not an option right now.

So… I think I simply need to boot to a command prompt and run a chkdsk on the hard drive, but am having a hard time figuring out how to do that. (The PC didn’t include a WinXP CD, it was preinstalled.)

Since readers of this blog have saved me before, I am asking for help (yet again!) — any pointers, tips? I have access to my wife’s computer (WinXP Home SP2), so if I need to download anything, burn to a CD-ROM, etc., I can… I’m hoping I can fix this by tomorrow so I don’t lose any work time on Monday.

Thanks in advance! (Feel free to leave a comment; I’ll check periodically to see if any saviors appear.)

(And the beautiful irony here? Just last week I’d rebuilt my wife’s hard drive, reorganizing and streamlining the disk’s files and creating a regular backup; tomorrow was my day to spend some quality time with my laptop to get it back up to shape, and buy a backup hard drive for both machines. Here’s hoping I’m not too late…)

Update: I’d remembered a post over at Jim McGee’s blog pointing to the Ultimate Boot CD, so I’m downloading that and giving it a try. Will see how it goes…

Update 2: Sigh… without the XP CD, it appears that the Ultimate Boot CD is pretty worthless…


  1. Rick, does your thinkpad have a blue "access IBM" button?

    If so, try pushing that on bootup - in theory it should load into a separate partition with recovery tools (including possibly backups).

    You might also try calling IBM tech support if your laptop is stull under warentee. I have an IBM Thinkpad as well - though my system did come with an XP cd - are you sure you didn't get one with the laptop?

    Another option to look for is whether you can boot to command line mode - not 100% sure if XP still has that but at times the command line mode has saved me in the past (when as you describe it booting even into safe mode blue screens)

    Hope this helps,


  2. Instead of going to safe mode, can you go to system restore? See if you have a restore point from a week ago or so. I've been surprised at the programs that quickly set one when I install them

  3. AustinMayor over at the So Called Austin Mayor blog requested I drop you a hint or 2. Without knowing a lot more about the specific problem. Try going to getting the boot files for XP on a USB drive and boot to that if it's supported by your laptop. Then you should be able to diddle with your harddrive until it's a complete mess. This is what I would do anyway.

  4. I just ran into the same problem, but only after i installed a dvd burner. i really don't know whats up. after searching for help, i found a few other sites plus this blog. the other sites i found pretty much said to try a chkdsk, or put the drive in another computer, do chkdsk, then put it back in your own computer. its worth a shot. good luck

  5. Woo, another ThinkPad's died here. T41p, is that what you're on? This model is supplied with a faulty hard drive and once it dies, it's pretty much unrecoverable. I've heard that IBM are replacing them, and there is a patch/firmware upgrade available to resolve this issue.,39020330,39149436,00.htm

    If you have found an actual fix though, I'd be interested to hear about it. After a sleepless night I'll drop mine off at my local helpdesk.