View Full Version : Error/Invalid system disk/Black screen

14-09-2002, 11:18 AM
Installed an APC battery backup w/software. My 10 mo. Dell Dimension PC seemed to be functioning OK when done. 5 hrs. later saw 1 picture on screensaver, which should change pics every 6 secs. Needs password to get out of s/saver, pressing any key did not get the pop up box to type.
Everything locked up...nothing worked. Thinking the backup was working, killed PC, then later rebooted. A black screen appeared with these two sentences:
Invalid systems disk
Remove and press any key

There were NO disks in any tray/slot! Pressing any key only scrolled words. (printer & scanner also plugged into battery are OK-could detect no power surge in those 5 hrs).

I have Windows ME

Dell said hard drive has crashed and burned. They will replace for free.
PROBLEM? I had been backing my photos on Nero 5.5 that I recently got,
but had not finished. Still son's wedding , 2 graduations plus quite a few others.

APC has sent a new battery (which is different from the one I'd just bought/installed), I sent one I'd installed to them to anaylize if it could have caused problem.

In meantime Dell says if a tech replaces the hard drive they have to take with it them.

Does anyone know 1: If turning PC off cold would have caused it to
crash and lose everything? (Up to that point
there had been no other problems with it).
2. Is there anyway to get something on screen?
(tried other disks), (even the reinstallation, but it
said it would delete all if used)
3. Should I say good-bye to my pictures and let Dell
go ahead and replace???

Some people I've addressed this to, do not believe all is lost, but no answers of how to fix. All data retrieval companies called, turn out to be in the HIGH $$$ for recovery-if possible.

Any words of advice as to what may or may not be done-welcomed!
Thanks, Eclispe

14-09-2002, 11:32 AM
does it find the hardrive when it boots? (some pc's have a splash screen which hides this, look in bios for an optoin to show diagnostic screen)

14-09-2002, 11:51 AM

Are you able to put the current drive into another computer? If so boot from the other computers hard drive and you may be able to get access to files on your hard drive and copy them over.

My other thought was that if it tells you "Invalid system disk" then it must be able to detect and run your hard drive, but the system files required to boot from the drive are missing or damaged, so you *might* be able to reinstall windows over the top (don't use a restore disk to do this however, because it'll most probably wipe your drive. Use a genuine windows install disk - borrow one if you need to) and access your files to back them up before doing a full reinstall and format.

You may also be able to boot from a bootdisk and access your files from there, however you'll probably not be able to copy any large files to CD from there.


Graham L
14-09-2002, 03:20 PM
"Invalid system disk" seems (to me) to indicate that the disk is still OK. Did you make an emergency boot floppy? If not, can you get someone else with a similar machine to make one? If you are very lucky, you might be able to select the "DOS" option when that floppy boots up, and do "fdisk /mbr". It won't make the situation worse. It might make it all work again.

The failure is probably a concidence ...

14-09-2002, 06:34 PM
> "Invalid system disk" seems (to me) to indicate that
> the disk is still OK. Did you make an emergency boot

Exactly what I was trying to say, but in much fewer words - well done Graham L :D However do you think it's an MBR problem, or could it be just a problem like a misplaced/corrupted command.com or similar, which would also produce the "Invalid system disk" message? In other words, could a "sys c:" work from a boot floppy?


14-09-2002, 07:27 PM
assuming the bioscan find the harddrive (ie the hardrive isn't dead) its proberly corrupt system files which you can reload off a boot disk. can't remember how to do it manually as i have a boot disk which does it automaticly.

Chao is back
14-09-2002, 10:12 PM
If it says Invalid Systems Disk try changing the boot sequence by going into BIOS and then Bios Settings and Boot Sequence or something similar to that depending or your BIOS. Change it to boot from C drive or whatever drive your O/S is on.'

Graham L
15-09-2002, 03:09 PM
Mike: agreed, but I suggest "fdisk /mbr" because it literally can't do any damage. My feeling is that"sys c:" relies on having an appropriate boot disk, that is, the same version of Windows. But I soppose that it would not be catastrophic, and it fixes a few more possible reasons for the boot failure.

So, (1) boot from a recovery floppy (this may need using the BIOS setup to arrange the boot order to be A:, C:,...)
(2) choose the DOS option
(3) fdisk /mbr
(4) remove the floppy and restart ....
(5) Smile happily, or
(6) repeat (1), (2) then
(7) sys c:
(5) remove the floppy and restart ...
If you have a "Rescue CD", this might behave in the same way as a recovery floppy. That would require the BIOS boot order to be set to have the CD booting first. It should allow a reinstall which does not remove the files etc.