SSD Failure After Game Crash: Causes, Diagnosis, and Solutions

Question:

How can I fix a boot failure caused by a game freezing on high settings?

I was running Ratchet and Clank on a 3070 RTX at 1440p, but the game kept freezing and dropping FPS. After a long freeze, I rebooted my PC, but it failed to load Windows. I got a “PXE-E61: Media Test Failure, Check Cable” error, which means the BIOS could not detect my 1TB SSD. The Boot Option Priorities and the Chipset SATA Ports were empty. Did the game damage my SSD? Do I need to replace it?

Answer:

If you are a PC gamer, you may have encountered a situation where your computer fails to boot after playing a demanding game on high settings. This can be a frustrating and alarming experience, especially if you have important data stored on your hard drive. In this article, we will explain what causes this problem, how to diagnose it, and how to fix it.

What causes a boot failure after a game freeze?

The most likely cause of a boot failure after a game freeze is a corrupted or damaged SSD. An SSD, or solid state drive, is a type of storage device that uses flash memory to store data. Unlike a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), an SSD has no moving parts and is much faster and quieter.

However, an SSD also has some drawbacks. One of them is that it has a limited number of write cycles, which means that it can only be written to a certain number of times before it wears out. Another drawback is that it is more susceptible to data corruption due to power loss, overheating, or physical shock.

When you play a game on high settings, you are putting a lot of stress on your system. The game may require a lot of resources, such as CPU, GPU, RAM, and SSD, to run smoothly. If the game freezes, it may be because your system is unable to handle the load, or because the game itself has a bug or glitch. In either case, the game may not exit properly, and may leave some data in an inconsistent state on your SSD.

If you reboot your PC after a game freeze, you may encounter a boot failure. This is because the BIOS, or basic input/output system, which is the firmware that controls the startup process of your PC, cannot find a valid boot device. The BIOS will try to scan all the available storage devices, such as your SSD, HDD, USB drive, or network drive, to look for a bootable partition that contains the operating system, such as Windows.

If your SSD is corrupted or damaged, the BIOS will not be able to read it, and will display an error message, such as “PXE-E61: Media Test Failure, Check Cable”. This error means that the BIOS tried to boot from a network device, but failed to find a valid network connection. This is usually the last option that the BIOS tries, after exhausting all the other possible boot devices.

How to diagnose a corrupted or damaged SSD?

To diagnose a corrupted or damaged SSD, you will need to access the BIOS settings of your PC. To do this, you will need to press a specific key, such as F2, F10, F12, or Del, when you turn on your PC. The exact key may vary depending on your PC model and manufacturer, so you may need to consult your user manual or online support.

Once you enter the BIOS settings, you will need to look for a section that shows the information about your storage devices, such as the Boot Option Priorities or the Chipset SATA Ports. If your SSD is detected by the BIOS, it should show up in one of these sections, along with its model name, size, and serial number. If your SSD is not detected by the BIOS, it means that it is either corrupted or damaged beyond repair.

Another way to diagnose a corrupted or damaged SSD is to use a bootable USB drive that contains a diagnostic tool, such as CrystalDiskInfo or SSD Life. These tools can scan your SSD and report its health status, such as the temperature, the wear level, the bad sectors, and the SMART attributes. SMART, or self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology, is a feature that monitors the performance and reliability of your SSD.

To use a bootable USB drive, you will need to create one using another PC that has a working SSD or HDD. You can use a free software, such as Rufus or UNetbootin, to create a bootable USB drive that contains the diagnostic tool of your choice. You will also need a USB flash drive that has at least 4 GB of storage space.

Once you have created the bootable USB drive, you will need to insert it into your PC that has the boot failure problem. You will also need to change the boot order in the BIOS settings, so that the USB drive is the first option. Then, you will need to restart your PC and follow the instructions on the screen to run the diagnostic tool. The tool will scan your SSD and display its health status and any errors or warnings.

How to fix a corrupted or damaged SSD?

If your SSD is corrupted or damaged, there are a few possible solutions that you can try. However, before you attempt any of these solutions, you should back up your data if possible. You can use a data recovery software, such as Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, to try to recover your data from your SSD. You will need to connect your SSD to another PC that has a working SSD or HDD, and run the data recovery software. The software will scan your SSD and try to recover any files that are still readable.

The first solution that you can try is to repair your SSD using a disk repair tool, such as CHKDSK or DiskPart. These tools are built-in commands in Windows that can check and fix errors on your SSD. To use these tools, you will need to boot your PC from a Windows installation media, such as a DVD or a USB drive that contains the Windows setup files. You can create a Windows installation media using another PC that has a working SSD or HDD, and a free software, such as Windows Media Creation Tool or Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.

Once you have created the Windows installation media, you will need to insert it into your PC that has the boot failure problem. You will also need to change the boot order in the BIOS settings, so that the Windows installation media is the first option. Then, you will need to restart your PC and follow the instructions on the screen to enter the Windows Recovery Environment. From there, you will need to select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Command Prompt. This will open a command-line interface where you can type and execute the disk repair commands.

To use CHKDSK, you will need to type the following command and press Enter:

`chkdsk /f /r X:`

where X is the letter of your SSD drive. This command will check and fix any errors on your SSD, and also recover any bad sectors. This may take some time, depending on the size and condition of your SSD.

To use DiskPart, you will need to type the following commands and press Enter after each one:

`diskpart` `list disk` `select disk X` `clean` `create partition primary` `format fs=ntfs quick` `active` `exit`

where X is the number of your SSD drive. These commands will erase all the data on your SSD, create a new partition, format it with the NTFS file system, and mark it as active. This may also take some time, depending on the size and condition of your SSD.

After you have used either CHKDSK or DiskPart, you will need to restart your PC and see if it can boot normally. If it can, you have successfully repaired your SSD. If it cannot, you may need to try the second solution.

The second solution that you can try is to replace your SSD with a new one. This is the most effective and reliable solution, but also the most expensive and time-consuming one. You will need to buy a new SSD that is compatible with your PC, and install it in your PC. You will also need to reinstall Windows and all your programs and files on the new SSD. You can use the Windows installation media that you created earlier to reinstall Windows on the new SSD. You can also use the data recovery software that you used earlier to restore your files from the old SSD, if possible.

To replace your SSD, you will need to open your PC case and locate your SSD. You will need to disconnect the power and data cables from your SSD, and remove it from its slot or bay. You will then need to insert the new SSD in the same slot or bay, and connect the power and data cables to it. You will then need to close your PC case and restart your PC. You will need to enter the BIOS settings and make sure that the new SSD is detected and set as the first boot option. Then, you will need to boot from the Windows installation media and follow the instructions on the screen to reinstall Windows on the new SSD.

Conclusion

A boot failure after a game freeze can be a scary and frustrating problem, but it is not impossible to fix. The most likely cause of this problem is a corrupted or damaged SSD, which can be diagnosed and fixed using various tools and methods. However, the best way to prevent this problem from happening again is to avoid playing games on high settings that may stress your system and your SSD. You should also monitor the temperature and performance of your system and your SSD using tools such as HWMonitor or CrystalDiskInfo, and shut down your PC properly after playing games. By following these tips, you can enjoy your games without worrying about your SSD and your PC.

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