Navigating Through Booting Roadblocks: A PhD Student’s Dilemma


I’m encountering persistent booting issues with my PC that prevent me from accessing Windows. I’ve attempted several troubleshooting steps to resolve the problem, but I’ve reached an impasse and would greatly value your expertise.

To provide a comprehensive overview, I’ve detailed my PC’s specifications, the initial incident leading to the problem, and the exhaustive list of troubleshooting steps I’ve undertaken, including CMOS resets, system restores, and various command-line repairs. Despite these efforts, my system still boots directly to BIOS without recognizing the boot manager, and one of my SSDs fails the BIOS self-test.

I’ve also encountered errors such as ‘Access is denied’ when attempting to repair the boot sector and ‘DiskPart failed to clear disk attributes’ when addressing write protection issues. Notably, the drive letters have been reassigned, which I’ve accounted for in my troubleshooting.

As a 4th-year PhD student, I’m concerned about data loss and unnecessary expenditures. I’m hesitant to format the drive without exhausting all possible solutions, yet I’m also considering a fresh Windows install to avoid the cost of a new drive. However, I’m uncertain if the drive is indeed failing or if a fresh install could rectify the issue.

Could you advise on any overlooked steps or provide guidance on how to proceed without risking data loss or incurring unnecessary costs?”

Feel free to adjust this rephrased question to better fit the context in which you’ll be using it.


Dear PhD Student,

Your situation is indeed challenging, but not insurmountable. The symptoms you’ve described suggest a complex issue that may involve both hardware and software malfunctions. Let’s tackle this step by step.

The inability of your system to boot into Windows and the BIOS’s failure to recognize the boot manager typically point to corruption within the boot sector or system files. The fact that one of your SSDs fails the self-test is concerning and could indicate hardware failure, which might be the root cause of the booting issues.

Troubleshooting Steps:


Data Backup:

Before proceeding with any further troubleshooting, it’s crucial to back up your data. Since you’ve managed to access your files via command console, use this method to copy essential data to an external drive or cloud storage.


Hardware Diagnostics:

Run a comprehensive hardware diagnostic outside of Windows. Many PC manufacturers provide diagnostic tools that can be accessed by pressing a function key during startup. This can confirm whether the SSD is indeed failing.


Boot Sector Repair:

Since ‘BootRec /fixboot’ returns an ‘Access is denied’ error, it’s possible that the EFI partition is not assigned correctly, or there are permission issues. You can try the following:

  • Use the ‘diskpart’ tool to ensure the EFI partition is active.
  • Use the ‘bootsect’ command to restore the boot sector on all disks.
  • 4.

Write Protection Issues:

The ‘DiskPart failed to clear disk attributes’ error can be tricky. If possible, connect the SSD to another computer to see if the write protection persists. This can help determine if the issue is with the drive or your PC’s motherboard.


Windows Reinstallation:

If the hardware diagnostics don’t reveal any issues, consider a clean installation of Windows. However, do this only after you’ve backed up all important data.

Cost-Effective Solutions:

As a student, it’s understandable that you want to avoid unnecessary expenses. Here are some cost-effective measures:

  • Use Free Diagnostic Tools:

    Utilize free resources and tools available online for diagnosing hardware and software issues.

  • Seek University IT Support:

    Many universities have IT departments that offer free or discounted services to students.

  • Consider Warranty Options:

    If your SSD or other components are still under warranty, reach out to the manufacturer for a replacement.

  • Final Thoughts:

    It’s a tough call to determine whether the drive is failing without proper diagnostics. If the drive is indeed failing, a fresh install won’t solve the problem, and you’ll need to replace it. However, if the issue is software-related, a fresh install could resolve the booting issues.

    Remember, while troubleshooting, always prioritize data preservation. It’s better to replace a drive than to lose years of research and work.

    I hope this guidance helps you navigate through these technical challenges and find a resolution that preserves both your data and your budget.

    Best regards,

    An IT Expert

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