How To Resolve “Disk Read Error Occurred” In Windows 10?

Have you ever faced “A disk read error occurred” message when you turned on your computer one fine day? For most of us, this error message is quite alarming, and it means a hard disk crash with the loss of our precious data. However, this is not the case always. This error can occur due to insufficient RAM, loose wire connections or a damaged boot sector file. There are many ways to fix this issue and save our files and folders. Read on, to know the best possible steps you can take to bring your PC out of the alarming state.

a disk read error occurred

Simple Steps To Resolve ‘A Disk Read Error Occurred’ In Windows 10

Shut Down Your Computer for At Least 30 Mins

a disk read error occurred shut down computer

If your computer doesn’t boot the normal way, it should and gives you a ‘disk read error occurred’ message, then probably the simplest yet effective troubleshooting step you can perform is to shut it down, and let it cool down for at least 30 mins. (the more rest, the better). But if there is something that you need to do urgently on your computer, then power it off for 15 minutes and check. If the issue persists, then you can follow the next step.

Remove All External Storage Devices

a disk read error occurred remove all external devices

The first step to carry out if you get a ‘disk read error occurred’ message on your computer is to remove all the external storage devices like Flash disks, External Hard drives, and even any disks in your DVD drive. Sometimes, a computer can try to boot from other external sources if there was a modification in boot priority.

Steps Within BIOS Settings To Resolve ‘A Disk Read Error Occurred’ In Windows 10

Change Boot Priority from your BIOS

a disk read error occurred bios boot priority

Boot Priority indicates which device will be considered first for obtaining boot files each time a user turns the computer on. By default, the BIOS settings set the primary hard drive as the first one on the list as it contains the Window’s partition. But if a wrong item is selected, then the user will face a ‘disk read error occurred’ message.

Reset your BIOS

a disk read error occurred bios reset

Resetting your BIOS helps to restore your BIOS’s default settings with which the manufacturers shipped the computer.  This step fixes all hardware related issues and is an important remedial step for disk read error occurred.  To reset the BIOS settings, access the BIOS settings and look for an option that is similar to:

  • Load Default Settings.
  • Load Fail-Safe Defaults.
  • Load BIOS defaults.

If there is an option to update the BIOS settings, then do initiate an update as it can also resolve the issue of disk read error occurred.

Change SATA configuration

A small change in the BIOS settings can get rid of the disk read error in Windows 10.

Step 1. Enter the BIOS settings.

Step 2. Search for a setting labeled as SATA configuration.

Step 3. Locate ‘Configure SATA as’ and set it as AHCI.

Step 4. Press F10 to save any changes done in BIOS mode.

Diagnose the Hard disk

Another way to fix a ’disk read error occurred’ message is to access the boot menu by pressing the F12 key as soon as the computer is turned on. The computer will load into the boot menu options. Locate the diagnostics option which can also be labeled as Boot to Utility Partition option and initiate it. This will check the entire system and report failures if any. If your hard drive report shows any type of failure, then it is recommended that you replace your hard drive and try to recover data from the corrupted one. The more you try to fix it the more damage can occur on the hard disk which can decrease the chances of data recovery.

Hardware Troubleshooting To Resolve ‘A Disk Read Error Occurred’ In Windows 10

Replace the RAM

a disk read error occurred change ram

Random Access Memory is where the OS loads its files when it boots up. If you know where your RAM slots are, then you can try a mix and match of RAMs and slots. Try to pull the RAM out of their slots and clean them with a gentle dry cloth. You can also try to place them in different slots. Sometimes dust accumulation can cause hardware interference and result in a ‘disk read error occurred’ message while booting.

Loose Hard drive cables

a disk read error occurred check for loose cables

The error message ‘disk read error occurred’ can also occur due to faulty or loose cables that connect your hard drive to the motherboard. There is always an extra set of cable, especially in desktop towers. If not, then try to disconnect the cable from the hard drive, clean it and reconnect them. If you know how to change the cable, then you might give this troubleshooting step a try or else take it to a local technician.

Note: Very Important! Do not open the casing of the PC, if it is in warranty as this will void any warranty that exists on your machine

Connect the Hard Disk on another machine

a disk read error occurred use as external hard disk

Another method to resolve a ‘disk read error occurred’ message is to disconnect your hard disk from your system and try to connect it to another system. You must ensure that you change the boot priority so that the second system tries to load the boot files from the faulty hard disk. This way if the Windows operating system loads up, then it can be concluded that there is nothing wrong with the hard disk or the operating system files. The fault lies with the hardware of the first machine and can be an issue of a faulty video card, power supply or motherboard.

Defragmenting the hard disk

a disk read error occurred defragment hard disk

Defragmentation of a hard drive can help users get rid of ‘disk read error occurred’ message.  Connect your faulty hard disk to another working computer, and use the Windows Defragmenter Tool. This tool will arrange the file sectors in the hard disk and improve its efficiency and chances are that it would resolve the issue.

Steps Within Microsoft Windows Recovery Environment To Resolve ‘A Disk Read Error Occurred’ In Windows 10

If the Windows does not boot up, then you need to load the operating system from a working hard disk and attach the faulty one as an external secondary disk. Once done, you can try a few other steps:

If you have a Windows 10 bootable installation disk or recovery disk, then insert it in the DVD drive and reboot the system. Make sure the boot priority is set to load from a DVD drive. You will receive an option to install or repair your windows. Choose repair and you will see a screen as shown below.

a disk read error occurred windows recovery 1

Click on Troubleshoot and you will get another bunch of options.

a disk read error occurred windows recovery 2

Refresh your PC: This will reinstall all system files without affecting your personal files. The issue of implies that the computer is not able to locate the hard drive.

Reset your PC. This option will do a clean format of your hard disk and bring it to a factory state. However, our issue remains with the hard drive not being able to read by the system.

Advanced. This contains other options that can be used to get rid of the ‘disk read error occurred’ message.

a disk read error occurred windows recovery 3

From the advanced options, choose Command Prompt and carry out the following steps:

CHKDSK. This Windows tool helps resolve hard drive issues especially disk read errors. Once you open Command Prompt, which is a black and white screen, type in the following command and hit the Enter key.

CHKDSK C: /f /r /x

This will try and attempt to fix bad sectors if any.

a disk read error occurred chkdsk

Scan Disk. After you run the CHKDSK, run the below-mentioned scan command in command prompt.

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=c:\ /offwindir=c:\windows

These commands have worked many times to fix many random boot issues.

If the above tools don’t work, then you can consider following another step.


Step 1. Open Command Prompt and type “diskpart”. Note that the prompt will change from C:\ to DISKPART.

Step 2. Type the following commands and press enter after each one.

DISKPART> select disk 1

DISKPART> select partition 1

DISKPART> active


a disk read error occurred diskpart

Step 3. Restart your computer.

Microsoft System Utility Tool – Bootrec.exe

Bootrec is a utility tool provided by Microsoft Windows Recovery Environment. It was specially designed for users who face a ‘disk read error occurred’ message. This could happen if boot configuration data on the user’s computer is corrupt, missing or incorrectly configured. The only possible solution is to rebuild the data to fix any start-up issues.

Perform a System Restore

When you boot from the Windows Installation media and choose ‘Repair your computer’, you will get an option of System Restore. This option will restore your system settings to a previous date when your computer was working fine. There will be no loss of files but any program you installed recently would be deleted and any changes in settings would be undone. The computer would look exactly like it was before you got the ‘disk read error occurred’ message.

Note: This option only works if a system restores point was created in your system.

Automatic Repair

Just as the above method, you can choose Automatic Repair and give Windows a chance to figure out the issues, and resolve them by itself. This method does take a lot of time to complete and get rid of the ‘disk read error occurred’ message.

The Final Word

That concludes all the relevant troubleshooting steps you can take when facing the “disk read error occurred “message while booting up your PC.” The frustration of not being able to work and of loss of data is quite understandable, having experienced the same, personally. I wish I had known all that can be done to get my computer back to life. Do let me know if I have missed any steps in the above list in the comments section below. Remember, knowledge is meant to be shared and when you share, that’s when you really care.

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