Dell laptop BIOS unable to detect hard drive.

January 19, 2010 at 12:16:29
Specs: Windows XP
Hardware: Dell laptop, Intel Pentium 4 CPU 3.00Ghz ; 1024 Mb RAM. Not sure of the hard drive, but its about 80Gb (same size as previous one).

Ok, here it is. Its my Dads laptop, and basically the old hard drive died, so my Uncle replaced it with a new one. He didn't have time to install windows (XP), so he told me to do it. Problem is, when I load the CD it tells me 'Setup cannot detect any hard drives' attached to the computer. I've been into the BIOS, and it can't detect the primary IDE master. (It detects the secondary master, ATAPI CDROM.) I tried loading failsafe defaults and it doesn't seem to change anything.

I've had a look at some other threads on here and elsewhere to do with a similar problem, but other than taking it to bits and looking at IDE cables I'm not sure what to do. If that is necessary, I'd like to know a bit more about how to do it - I've never really poked about the inside of a computer before - at least not one that I wanted to work...
All help would be very much appreciated. Thanks.


See More: Dell laptop BIOS unable to detect hard drive.

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#1
January 19, 2010 at 12:40:48
Laptops are different than desktops.

What type of CD are you booting to? The Dell restore CD or a full version WinXP CD?


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#2
January 19, 2010 at 13:14:24
Dells reinstallation CD. But I think the CD's fine, its just that the BIOS isn't detecting the hard drive. I need it to recognise the HD before I can install windows again.

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#3
January 19, 2010 at 13:30:00
So then when you boot to the WinXP restore CD it starts and searches for hardware? I am asking if you see a screen indicating the CD has been read.

If so then the controller is good. Do you know if the hard drive is a SATA type? If so, the old drive was probably SATA I type and the new one MAY be SATA II type. Most controllers will make adjustments for this but laptops may not. There may be a jumper on the hard drive to see the drive to run at SATA I speeds.

Also, in the BIOS screens there may be a screen that will allow you to configure the new drive. If the drive is larger than the old one then the BIOS may have a problem with that.


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Related Solutions

#4
January 19, 2010 at 13:44:44
Depending on how old the laptop model is, you may have an IDE or SATA hard drive and optical drive. Entries in the bios Setup can be confusing - you may have IDE entries when you actually have SATA drives, and, also, the SATA drive controller(s) can be in IDE compatible mode, or similar.
To confirm what you have....
Tell us the model of your brand name system. The specific model of a brand name system is shown on a label on the outside of the case somewhere, or it can often be determined by going to the brand name's web site.

When you install or remove a hard drive (or ram, or are going to be opening up the laptop's case) , you must remove the AC adapter's connection AND the main battery - otherwise it's possible the hard drive or the circuits connected to it can be damaged, because the ATX mboard always has power in some places otherwise.
Did your Uncle disconnect those?
If you fiddle with the drive, you must disconnect those.

If circuits and hard drive are not damaged, the most likely thing is the adapter that connects the drive's data/power header to the laptop does not have a good enough connection.Remove the cover where the hard drive is and make sure that's seated properly. Once you tell us what your model iswe can probably find a manual for the model that shows what you need to check, where the cover is, if you need that.

If the drives are SATA, the SATA drive controller(s) in the bios Setup can be set to IDE compatible (or similar) or SATA mode.
XP's Setup run from a regular CD has no built in support to recognize SATA controllers in SATA mode, and in that situation XP's Setup can't see SATA drives.
- the easy way to get around that is to set the bios to IDE compatible mode - XP's Setup then sees SATA drives fine. You can then install Windows and load the SATA controller drivers after Setup has finished (and the other drivers for your mboard components), then set the bios to run the SATA controller(s) in SATA mode.
.....

"Dells reinstallation CD"

If your drivesare SATA, that CD MAY already have the SATA drive controller drivers and the other drivers for your system built into it, in which case XP's Setup will see SATA drives fine when the bios has the SATA controoler(s) in SATA mode, but if it doesn't have the SATA controller drivers built in, the SATA drives will not be seen by XP's Setup - in that case, set the bios so the SATA controller(s) is(are) in IDE compatible mode or similar.
Dell systems may have one or more additional Recovery CDs you must install the contents of after you install Windows, unless it has a single Recovery disk that is a DVD and not a CD (it can't all fit on one CD).


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#5
January 19, 2010 at 14:05:05
Yes, the reload CD loads up - it definitely reads it.
The old one was PATA (parallel ATA).

Edit - just opened it up and the new drive says 'Enhanced IDE Hard drive'. Also, its 250 Gb. Oh dear, my info isn't that great...
OtheHill said: "There may be a jumper on the hard drive to see the drive to run at SATA I speeds."
Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by that. What is a jumper?

"Also, in the BIOS screens there may be a screen that will allow you to configure the new drive."
I've looked around the BIOS and don't see that.
reply to Tubesandwires post coming in a sec while I look for the model..


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#6
January 19, 2010 at 14:45:58
If the old hard drive was an IDE then that is what the new one must be. Laptops would not have multiple connections.

A jumper is a tiny piece of hardware that connects two or more pins together. Look at the link below for typical jumper settings on a 2.5" IDE hard drive. If you have the old hard drive then look at the jumper settings and duplicate them. Could be master of could be no jumper. The brand you have may or may not have master slave or CS settings. I don't have much experience with 2.5" drives.

http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc...


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#7
January 19, 2010 at 14:51:20
Yeah, I just looked at the hard drive and it is IDE. By CS do you mean cable select? Anyhow, the drive has cable select written on it as well.
- Btw thanks guys for your help so far.

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#8
January 19, 2010 at 14:57:00
You need to set it the same way the old hard drive was set. I am guessing Master but could be CS too. Depends on how and if the CD drive is jumpered.

Do you find pins to select the mode?

What is the exact modle of the drive?


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#9
January 19, 2010 at 15:06:09
-- Do you find pins to select the mode?

On the hard drive there is a diagram showing the way to set up the drive as master, slave or cable select. (3 pics with different pins highlighted anyway.) But how would I select those pins?

-- What is the exact modle of the drive?

It is manufactured by Magnetic Data Technologies. 5400 RPM, ATA 100, 8MB BUF.
Model no. is MD02500-AVEW-RO.


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#10
January 19, 2010 at 15:14:48
The diagram shows which two pins to connect with the jumper. Is there currently a jumper on any of the pins?

Did you look at th link in #6? That is typical of all IDe hard drives.

Try Master first. If that doesn't get the drie recognized then try CS.


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#11
January 19, 2010 at 15:31:19
Uhh... lol. Had a look at it, and it seems nothing is connected to the 4 pins. No jumper. Also, the HD is in a case, and I think I might need to get the case off to have a good look at them. Gonna try that. Btw, the link on #6 goes to this thread.

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#12
January 19, 2010 at 15:54:33
Ok, took the HD out of the case. The 4 pins are definitely not connected to anything, which seems to be the problem. So I need to get a jumper? However, I'd just like to ask about where to put the jumper. In the pics, it seems obvious for cable select and slave as 2 of the pins are connected by a black background. However for master, it just has letters on the pins. A for top right hand pin, B for bottom right, D for bottom left and C for top left.
So.. do you know what this means? Again many thanks for your help so far.

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#13
January 19, 2010 at 17:58:47
I think magnetic data technologies rebuilds drives and then sticks their label on them. I couldn't find any info on that drive, other than someone had one and it had a western digital circuit board.

It's possible that laptop isn't 48-bit LBA compliant and can't properly see a drive larger than about 128 gig. What's the service tag number on the laptop?

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#14
January 20, 2010 at 07:48:16
If by service number you mean serial number, it says:

969 Serial Number 000215480/002.

However from the info OtheHill posted, it seems its just missing the jumper. So I gotta get one, I guess.


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#15
January 20, 2010 at 11:14:52
The connection adapter that plugs into the harddrive leaves 4 pins on the drive without a connection.
Unlike what is often the case for a desktop hard drive, you DO NOT normally need to install a jumper on a pair of those pins on a laptop drive when it's in a laptop, unless two hard drives can be installed on your model. The hard drive should be detected fine without needing one if only one hard drive can be installed, which is usually the case.
Clue - if the old laptop drive has a jumper, you need a jumper, and you can probably use the one off of that. .

Normally the only time you need a jumper on a pair of those pins, if you can connect only one hard drive to your laptop internally, is, possibly, when you need to connect it to a desktop computer internally and also use a laptop to desktop IDE /power adapter.

If the laptop is an older one, it's bios may not have 48 bit LBA support, however, the drive should still be detected as ~ 128 gb in that case, unless the bios is so old it has bugs in it and can't even do that.

Knowing your model will help us determine whether two hard drives can be installed on it, and how old it is, and whether it's likely to have bios limitations.

The model is often displayed on the Dell logo (graphical screen) early in the boot.

The Dell service tag number
- is usually on an obvious label at the back of the case.
- is usually shown in the mboard's bios Setup
- can be found automatically by you installing a program, from here
http://support.dell.com/support/top...


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#16
January 20, 2010 at 11:51:27
So the pins you are referring to form a square pattern? They are not in a line?

Did you remove any carrier and adapter from the old hard drive and reuse it?


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#17
January 20, 2010 at 12:52:13
"So the pins you are referring to form a square pattern? They are not in a line?"

If this is as he says a laptop computer and laptop drive he's referring to, they're in a square pattern.


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#18
January 20, 2010 at 13:20:46
Yes, in a square pattern. By carrier and adapter, do you mean a metal case for carrier? I think the old adapter was reused, yes.

I'm going to set the HD up as a external and try to format it on this computer, its what my uncle recommended trying.


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#19
January 20, 2010 at 13:28:57
I couldn't find anything definative on that brand but I suspect the drive is a 250GB from the model number. If that is the case your BIOS may never be able to configure it.

What part of the world are you located in? I am wondering why this unknown brand of drive was bought. If it can be returned I would do that.

Post the Dell model number of the laptop.


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#20
January 22, 2010 at 12:52:23
Ok, sorry for not getting back. The new drive is a 250 GB. I live in England.

The laptop model is GREEN900.


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#21
January 22, 2010 at 16:05:08
I don't think that green900 is the model.

Try this, download and run SIW to determine some specs. I think the issue is that your laptop can't configure a hard drive larger than 137GB. Get SIW at the link below.

http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download...


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#22
January 23, 2010 at 14:42:06
Green900 appears to be a uses-less-energy standard .
e.g. a common older one is Energy Star.

The model is often displayed on the Dell logo (graphical screen) early in the boot.

The Dell service tag number
- is usually on an obvious label at the back of the case.
- is usually shown in the mboard's bios Setup
- can be found automatically by you installing a program, from here
http://support.dell.com/support/top...

"I live in England."

You may need to go to the UK Dell website to determine the model.

"The new drive is a 250 GB"

What size is the original hard drive?
Does it have a jumper?

The new drive is a 250 GB


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#23
January 24, 2010 at 13:44:12
The original size was a 80Gb. I've got another 80Gb drive that was set up as an external HD and I've fitted it in and am trying to install XP on that. (currently the lappy is formatting the drive.)

80Gb is loads more than he (my dad) will ever use, so if this works I'll leave it. Maybe set the 250Gb as an external.

Thanks for your help.


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#24
January 24, 2010 at 13:47:30
If you had the second 80GB in an external enclosure and you install the 250GB in that enclosure you may end up with the same 48 bit LBA compliance issues you are now dealing with.

Older external enclosures were not necessarily 48 bit compliant. Not saying it is or isn't. Just saying.


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#25
January 24, 2010 at 14:25:57
Ah, thanks for that. As it is though the disk has now formatted and XP is installing.
Actually you may be right as I've tried to get this 250Gb onto another pc (the one I'm using now) and it isn't showing up in disk management, though it is in Device manager.
Anyway, thanks alot for your help.

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#26
January 24, 2010 at 14:56:37
No problem, glad to help.

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