Solved: Blinking cursor, no boot on Toshiba Tecra M2

Here’s a weird one. Today it was a Tecra M2; I suspect it’d apply to a number of models, and in fact a number of different brands too.

This laptop had stopped booting off its hard drive. All it would do – after running through its boot device priority list including CD/FD/network boot – would sit there doing nothing but blinking a text cursor at me from the top left corner of the screen. No error message, nothing to indicate any kind of progress or failure, it’d just get to the point where it should be booting off the hard drive and did nothing.

We tested the RAM – no faults. We chkdsk /r’d the drive – no faults. We ran a different surface scan tool, no faults. I pulled the drive out and checked it on another machine – every file present and accounted for. There was nothing visibly wrong with the thing.

Google results were mostly unhelpful. Apparently you get this if you flash a Toshiba laptop with the wrong restore image. Plenty of people were directed to change the drive, or reinstall Windows, or a million other things that wouldn’t end up helping.

The actual problem is that certain laptops can’t boot off a partition that’s above a certain size. Older laptops won’t see drives above a certain size – Dell Inspiron 6000s came with a 100gb drive for a good reason – but if you have a boot partition above about 128gb, some Toshibas will silently fail to boot at all.

The clue came from this Tomshardware thread, where a guy with a Dell came in on a Toshiba discussion with the ultimate solution. I resized the partition from 160gb (the size of the drive) to 120gb (a size suitably under the 137gb that guy suggests – I initially tried ~135gb but that made no difference), put the drive back in the laptop, and voila. The XP boot logo never looked so sweet.

Worked for his Inspiron 9300, worked for my Tecra M2. Grab a copy of Partition Magic from somewhere and give it a go, you might be surprised.

3 Responses to “Solved: Blinking cursor, no boot on Toshiba Tecra M2”

  1. Clint says:

    It just stopped booting? Because the partition just stopped being less than 128GB?

  2. tim says:

    That’s how the Dell owner in that thread put it. Obviously the partition didn’t change size, more likely a Windows update (or Windows repair…) knocked out some fix Toshiba put in their XP images so they could put bigger drives in their laptops.

    I can’t explain the cause, but shrinking the partition fixed it for me.

  3. Josh says:

    Dude, I had the same prob and just fixed it. Read a post somewhere else that the hard drive pins may not be contacting properly. I took out the drive and reinserted again it and it works!!!