I arrived home from work a week or so ago and discovered the oh-so-friendly and wondrous Blue Screen of Death on my Windows XP x64 Dell Precision 470, which bore the foreboding phrase: STOP 0x000000ED UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME.

Photo © Sean Galbraith

A reboot eventually returned the same error, but not before the (non)operating system at least pretended to start up and display the Windows OS logo. That made me somewhat hopeful since it was a sign that the hard drive wasn’t completely hosed. It was at least partially functioning, unlike the marquee at Toronto’s The Bay department store.

Dell has an extensive diagnostic utility included on a separate partition on the hard drive. If you are lucky enough to be able to access the partition, you can get a good sense as to what the problem is. I was lucky. The suite of tests (that ran through the night and well into the next day) only came up with two bad sector errors on my main C partition. One full day gone.

I determined that I needed to run chkdsk /r at a shell prompt to hopefully fix the problem. How lovely that the Windows operating system doesn’t natively self-diagnose problems when it boots up like every other major operating system does. A ding against Dell or Microsoft (whichever you choose), the OEM version of WinXP does not include the repair utility from the “advanced” startup menu. Worse, the PC also didn’t come with the OS install disks (Dell’s fault this time), so I lost another potential gaming night because I had to go to work to burn a bootable ISO from the MSDN.

Popped the disk in, reconfigured my BIOS to boot from the CD drive, rebooted, got my shell prompt, ran chkdsk /r, rebooted again, and everything worked just fine.

Oh, by the way, I bought a new Mac Mini the other day. A noob, I screwed up something, and the Mac rebooted and fixed itself. Nice!

12 Responses to “Fixing UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME Error”

  1. Brian Booth

    Wow. that totally worked for my situation. Thanks for the blog. – Brian

  2. Eddie Brown

    Amazing, from the blue screen of death to working in less than 1 day. My machine was a Dell and it had at least 2 bad sectors that were recovered enough to get my Dell back from the BSOD. I tried the Dell diagnostic disk but pressing the ESC key to abort the test does NOT work. Had to power down the machine to stop the 2 day test regiment. Thanks

  3. Kenneth

    Hi. I got the exact problem. May I ask where did u get the bootable ISO and how to i get it done.


  4. camie

    Thank you for writing this! I used my Windows XP setup CD and booted from CD like you did, and the Windows Recovery Suite. Worked great, and my computer’s back from the dead. Thaaaank yooouu.

  5. JOSSY

    Well i have the same problem and no money to pay a tech, so I try my best, and when I used the Cd, it’has a botton to go back and say if you continou you going to lost all your date, if you click in the center you have scare to lost all, if you click en next say the same thing that back what to do?? if I have a book that I wrote ( I have the copy but I make some change before the blue screen)and a lotof pic of my daugther me plz.!!

  6. bonno5id

    I get the BLUE SCREEN and I am unable toget anything else. Unable to run in any safe mode,no command prompt.I have the operating disc but can’t get past the BLUE SCREEN !!! Help Thanks,Jim

  7. richard

    You may have missed the

    popped the disk in, reconfigured my BIOS to boot from the CD drive, rebooted

    steps in the instructions. Try those.

  8. bonno5id

    Just popping in the disc does nothing, how do i reconfigure my BIOS?, every option from F2 gives me THE BLUE SCREEN. I do get F12 to come up fine, is that where I reconfigure??Thanks, Jim

  9. richard

    The instructions are slightly different depending on the model and the BIOS version. I suggest going to the Dell search page. In the upper righthand corner of the page, change the select option from “Products” to “Technical Support”, and fill in “bios boot cd” plus the model of your Dell into the search box (i.e. “bios boot cd precision” (omitting the quotes)). That should get you started.

  10. Garth

    I recently had the same issue with a workstation and a server and after almost 6 hours of watching the chkdsk /r screen and I dont know how many hours going through web sites I am still trying to recover. Come to find out that the initial cause was Symantec not MS.

    Have to agree that MS just does not cut it anymore and I am moving to a MAC as well.


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