We have two NT4 SP6 machines that are identical. One of them went down and gives a bsod on boot with 'inaccessible boot device'. We assumed the hard drive went bad. So we attempted to take an image of it with Norton Ghost but it error-ed out way to much. So we ended up taking down the other NT4 machine to image it and re-image another hdd for the first machine. Well now both machines are bsod'ing out on 'inaccessible boot device'. Any clues?

Also this was not after some software install or ide to sata move. Yes we would love to move the computer up to XP or 7 but currently not possible due to the proprietary software that it runs.

Any ideas would be appreciated.


There's a procedure for recovering from this error and virtualizing the machine here


This system should have been virtualized long ago. This could have been due to hardware failure or due to some virus activity. hopefully you have backups, which you should try to restore first. If that doesn't work, the only thing it seen you could do is reinstall NT 4 on one of the systems, restore the image to a second drive in the system, re-install the software and try to copy any data you might have over from the other drive.


Well, being that this operating system is 12 years old, I'm guessing that the hardware is around the same vintage. As such, the fact that the hard drives died is not surprising. I'd recommend booting this machine off of a linux livecd (knoppix, for instance) and running smartmontools against the failed hard drive. That will give you the definitive answer to whether or not the hard drive is viable. It's likely that smartmontools will tell you that the drive had indeed failed, at which point you'll need to either restore from backup or send the hard drive off to Kroll Ontrack (or one of their competitors).


You should check the drive(s) with the vendor's checking tools. Seagate for example has the Sea Tools. Others have similar ones. They show you the status of the drive.

If (and only if) the drive is failure free you have to over-install NT4. This is the only known way to work. Don't forget to apply all Service Packs one-by-one (no skip over) and the following patches. Normally the system will work after this torture again. (Note that the system must be installed on the system or otherwise transferring the hard drive to another system will cause the Inaccessible-boot-device-error again.)

If the hard disk has failures, then get a new one, install the system from scratch and restore your backup. Oh, you probably can't get a new drive because 12 years old hardware is not "new" anymore. And new hardware doesn't work in your system.

P.S.: NT4 is way out of support. It is absolutely unacceptable to run this ancient operating system.

  • The system is not on the network and we would love to update it to a newer os but the software does not run on newer os's. I love your high horse and all but then again try to deal with the prospect of telling the company to spend over 500k on new software. – Unfundednut Sep 17 '11 at 23:44
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    @MrStatic Virtualize the system. This is the only way to keep it running the next 20 years. I will promise you that you can't get the needed hardware after the next 5 years. – mailq Sep 17 '11 at 23:50
  • @MrStatic - mailq is absolutely justified in taking his "high horse" stance. Not only is it a bad idea to be dependent on such an old OS (and old hardware), but it's bordering on blatant irresponsibility. You will be in a much better situation if you virtualize, but you'll still be dependent on an old croaky OS. You need to work with management and start on a plan to upgrade the software so it can run on a modern OS. – EEAA Sep 18 '11 at 23:17

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