Unmountable_Boot_Volume, fixed - bad sector/hd? --- now what?

I have lots of threads/discussion on Unmountable Boot Volume and have gon through the resolution steps. I am now in the 'what next' stage - please have a look and advise.

I got an ‘Unmountable Boot Volume’ blue screen error on my Gateway 700s, running Windows XP Home. I followed the instructions to run “chkdsk /p’ in Recovery mode and as well, ran ‘fixboot’. This worked for a few hours, then same failure. I then ran “chkdsk /r” and the fixboot again. Machine then said the boot sector was corrupted but that a new boot.ini was created. I tried to start up and (still in dos) was told I had a bad hard drive and to consult my ‘troubleshooting guide” – HA.

I selected start from ‘Last known good configuration’ and the machine is up and running…

Here is my question: do I now assume that everything is ‘OK’ or do I (while it is up & running): 1) save all data, do a clean install on the HD and put all the data back? OR 2) get a new HD and install it & move all data off the old one as it is going to implode again any day now, or 3) run some other repair software/command and try to segregate away the bad sector that is causing my problems.

I am afraid to assume this is fixed and can’t find any advice/solutions that go beyond the ‘chkdsk /p(r)’ and ‘fixboot commands, and am worried my problem is deeper than that simple fix.

Please help - - thnx in advance!
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More about unmountable_boot_volume fixed sector what
  1. How old is the drive? if it isn't all that old, you should check the S.M.A.R.T. health status of the drive. The easiest utility I know of that can check this is SpeedFan. If everything checks out, you could try to do a reformat and clean install.

    You haven't been doing anything strange like reformatting under Linux, and then go back to Windows? That's the only time I've seen odd boot sector problems that were not due to a dying or damaged drive.
  2. We bought the computer in 2001 and the hdrive was replaced 13 months later...I guess that makes it about 7 years old, give or take. Is that considered old?

    I have not been doing anything weird like reformatting under Linux and going back - that is WAY over my head! My kids were away for a month and the computer was powered down until just the other day when they returned home....and viola, the blue screen.

    I'll find the SpeedFan utility online and download for use, so thank you for that tip. A couple of questions:
    -Do you know if there is a link to instructions on a clean install I can reference?
    -will the clean install wipe the drive and lose my data? IF so, I spose I;ll need to back up & then move it back over...

    Based upon the hard drive age, is it likely that I have a deeper problem with the hard drive...or should I just roll the dice and let it go?

  3. 7 years can be pretty old, though it really depends on how much of its lifetime it has spent on and in use, how full it has been, and even how often it was defragged over the years (It is possible to defrag too much, but you would probably need to have severe OCD to do it). The Speedfan free utility has a nifty little reporting feature that will be able to compare your HD model's metrics with identical ones in service and give you an idea for the relative age of your drive.

    As for a clean install reference, not too difficult, but I don't know of any detailed walkthroughs to assist you. If you can't find one through Tom's Hardware, I'd try searching blogs like maximumpc.com or lifehacker.com Might have to do some digging there, but both those sites write "How-to's" very well.

    You will need to do a data backup with a clean install. You are pretty well covered as long as you copy the contents of every Users' profile on the system. Depending on how much music, pictures, games, files, etc everyone has, this can take up quite a lot of space so plan accordingly. Programs like Microsoft Office, Firefox, etc. will all need to be re-installed, so if you use any licensed software on your computer, make sure you have all the product keys for them.

    Bottom line is if this drive even gives the slightest hint of trouble during the analysis, replace it. Not sure how large of a drive you have, but given what you've said about it, you could find a replacement drive online that is 5x the capacity well under $100. If you don't need that much storage, just figure out which drive has the best price/GB ratio and go with that, though it'll probably be close to 1TB.
  4. Do the usual memory and cpu stability tests.
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