Last week, my father-in-law asked me to take a look at his Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows 10. He said he had left it powered on but not actively used it for a while, and when he picked it up to try to do something, it didn’t boot up normally, but instead entered Windows Recovery.
In hopes of an easy fix, I began my troubleshooting by simply choosing the Continue option to exit and continue to Windows 10, but the laptop after a long delay ended up back in Windows Recovery again. That time around, I selected the Troubleshoot option. Selecting System Restore revealed no restoration points, so I next tried selecting System Repair, but was shortly informed that the system could not be repaired without any particular reason being given.
At that point, my hopes of a speedy resolution were evaporating pretty quickly, but I still wanted to try to determine what was wrong. I selected the Command Prompt option so I could try taking a look at the file system; then, in the command prompt window that opened, I entered c:. After another long pause, the following message was displayed:
The volume does not contain a recognized file system.
Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.
Well, that didn’t sound good! No recognized file system detected? My gut feeling was that the hard drive was dying, but since my father-in-law said he didn’t have any files of notes on the computer, attempting to reinstall Windows seemed worthwhile.
I entered exit to get out of the command prompt, then inserted a Windows 10 installation disc into the laptop’s optical drive, selected the Use a device option, and chose EFI DVD/CDROM from the list of devices. After the laptop rebooted, when I was prompted to press any key to boot from CD or DVD, I pressed Enter, and after a period of time, Windows Setup loaded.
With the appropriate language, time and currency format, and keyboard or input method selected, I clicked the Next button, then clicked Install now. I accepted the license terms and clicked Next, selected Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) option, and then selected the 452 GB partition that was listed as Primary partition type (rather than System, Recovery, etc.).
When I selected that partition, Windows Setup displayed a message indicating Windows couldn’t be installed on the partition, so I clicked for details, at which point Windows Setup reported the following:
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The disk may fail soon. If other hard disks are available, install Windows to another location.
That certainly eliminated any lingering doubts that I may have had about the hard drive being the problem: Windows Setup wouldn’t even attempt to install Windows 10 to the existing hard drive!
The laptop’s existing hard drive is not especially old, but it is a super-slow 500 GB Toshiba 5400 RPM drive. I’ve ordered a 240 GB Seagate BarraCuda SSD to replace it; although it’s only half the size of the original drive, it should run rings around the original, and for what my father-in-law uses the computer for—web browsing and email—it will be more than adequate.