In an old thread, someone posted advice to try mounting a disk with a bad $mft onto a different computer. (See This worked for me. (That is, on one computer a particular removable USB Sata drive wasn't readable, even after reboot. On a second computer, the same drive is perfectly readable.) What would cause a disk's $mft to be good as far as one computer was concerned, but bad on another computer? Also (more importantly) can I rely on this removable disk being good on most computers in the future? That is, is the "bad $mft" problem on one computer a fluke or is it likely to haunt me when I plug the disk into a random computer?

Drive access is easily influenced (one way or the other) by the system's bios support. If the bios settings DO NOT match the drive you're not going to be able to read the drive. Bios support(settings) on different boards may or may not be automatic.

This drive was readable on my netbook until a particular program causes a "delayed write failed" on the drive. So I figure, the "delayed write failed" messed up the mft for the netbook, but not for the desktop (which can still read the drive). Is there a way to tweak the mft so that it's compatible with more bios settings? In particular, is it possible to repair the mft so that the netbook can read that drive again?

The error "delayed write failed" could very well mean that the drive is failing. If that's so the best thing to do is get the files off of the drive and forget it. The $mft works similar to the FAT in earlier DOS OS systems. The FAT like the $mft (file) has two copies one is used if one fails due data corruption. Some drive utilities have the ability to repair both copies so that they'll match. The error is drive specific and has little to do with the system board in either machine. Latter day drives have a onboard buffer to hold data just prior to being wrtten to the drive's platter. It would seem that the buffer is failing, hence I wouldn't use it for anything that isn't easily replaceable. You might get your files off and try a format but watch carefully for "bad sector reports" that would confirm a failing drive.