Invalid System Disk

Category: Quickies


What does Invalid System Disk mean? I keep getting that message after I turn my Gateway notebook computer on. When I first bought it I tried to install Windows 95 on it and could not get past the second floppy disk. Could the disks be bad since they have been sitting in the garage for the last 9 or 10 years? Do I need to install DOS first?


That message means that the system cannot find an operating system on the boot disk. And yes, floppy disks that sit for many years can become unreadable. I'd advise you to NOT bother with Windows 95 since it's way outdated and unsupported. If you plan to go online with this computer, you will be taking a big risk, because Microsoft no longers offer security patches for Windows 95.

If you notebook has a minumum of 256MB of RAM, I recommend you install Windows XP (you might find it for a good price on eBay). If it's an older model with less than 256MB of RAM, go with Windows 98, but make sure you get all the Windows Updates applied.

This article was posted by on 14 Oct 2005

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Most recent comments on "Invalid System Disk"

Posted by:

mike matthews
21 Oct 2006

Tried formatting my c drive on my dads computer after trying to install some mcfree software, my dads computer know just reads "invalid system disk Replace disk, and place any key. All I wish to do is install windows and start the wndows again, bill gates has a lot to answer for?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like you formatted the disk and then tried to boot up from the empty drive. Did you insert the Windows install CD when booting?

Posted by:

15 Dec 2006

I formatted drive c and was going to install Windows xp pro (64-bit) but my computer keeps coming up with the message Invalid System Disk. What do I do now?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like the computer is trying to boot from the freshly formatted hard drive, which has no operating system to boot. You may have to change your BIOS settings to boot from CDROM.

Posted by:

10 Nov 2007

ok i have the same problem here. I have a formatted hard drive that i did through this low level format cd that i got ahold of and i did a complete format so everything is off of it and then i have a copy of symantec ghost 8.2 that i made sure the hard drive has only one partition and when i put in my xp pro cd to put it on i boot from the cd but everytime i do it says invalid system disk and thats all i can get. And i know the cdrom works cause i used the other disks

EDITOR'S NOTE: The "invalid system disk" may be referring to the (empty) hard drive. Check your BIOS to see if you are really booting from the CD crive.

Posted by:

12 Dec 2007

My computer was working fine last night. I woke up this morning and it said invalid system disk. I haven't tried to enter any disk in the computer. Please advise.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If there is no CD or other disk in any drive, then this means you have a problem with your hard drive. It's not finding the boot sector, and cannot start. This may help:

Posted by:

Ken Robinson
26 Feb 2008

I finally filled up my 20 gb EIDE drive. I bought a new EIDE 360 gb drive and completed the formatting and partiationing. I loaded it as the boot drive and all looks well. Problem: How can I make the new drive the C: drive.The new drive has all the data but is the L drive.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Did you install Windows on the new drive? If so, you can switch the jumpers on the drives to make the new drive the Master and the old one the Slave. Reboot, and it will be the C: drive.

Posted by:

14 Apr 2008

What can I do if I suspect if the BIOS settings are incorrect and the hard drive isn't being recognize.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Most BIOS have an auto-detect for the HD settings. I'd try that before attempting to guess the right settings.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Invalid System Disk (Posted: 14 Oct 2005)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved