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Laptop won't recognize hard drive.

Dell Latitude C840
November 18, 2006 at 18:28:35
Specs: Windows XP, 1.6 ghz

So my dell latitutde c840 laptop suddenly started giving me this error:

"Primary hard disk drive not found
Fixed optical drive not found

No bootable devices--strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility"

I bought one of those $2 converters on ebay so I could plug the 20GB IBM drive into my desktop to test it, but my desktop wouldn't recognize it.

Laptop + 20GB = Bad
Desktop + Converter + 20GB = Bad

Convinced that the hard drive was dead I took an old 2GB Toshiba drive from an old laptop and tested that on the converter in my desktop. That worked fine

so I put it in the laptop which also worked fine. I booted it with a windows xp install disc, installed windows and used it with the 2GB hard drive for

about a month.

Laptop + 2GB = Good
Desktop + Converter + 2GB = Good

I bought a new 60GB Toshiba drive and put that in the laptop and now it's giving me the same error message along with a clicking noise. I put the new drive

in my desktop and it works fine. I put the old laptop drive back into the dell laptop and THAT worked fine. It's just that specific combination that won't

work.

Laptop + 60GB = Bad
Desktop + Converter + 60GB = Good

I feel like maybe the hard disk controller on the laptop is going and will only accept older hard drives. The old hard drive is almost twice as thick as the

newer ones so it seems like they must've been made differently.

I've been trying to boot with a windows xp install disc and even when I go into the bios and disable all bootable devices except the cd drive it still gives

me the same message. If I disable all bootable devices except the hard drive, I again still get the same message.

It seems like if it works with the 2GB drive it should also work with the 60GB drive.
Does anyone have any suggestions for other things I can try?


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#1
November 18, 2006 at 18:51:09

Recheck the jumper on the 60 gig and make sure it is configured right.
Also check the bios setting for LBA Enabled on the hdd.

In The Matters Of Style,
swim with the current;
in matters of principle,
Stand Like A Rock


"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the
freedom of thought which they avoid."


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#2
November 19, 2006 at 09:50:10

The jumper is set correctly (which for a laptop hard drive is all pins open).

I upgraded the bios version from A12 to A13, both of which support LBA. Their is no option in the bios settings to enable or disable LBA.

Shouldn't it boot to disc if the hard drive won't boot? It seems to refuse to boot from either the cd drive or the hard drive.


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#3
November 19, 2006 at 22:14:51

Check to see if there is a legacy controller option enabled in the bios. disable it and then try booting up.

In The Matters Of Style,
swim with the current;
in matters of principle,
Stand Like A Rock


"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the
freedom of thought which they avoid."


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Related Solutions

#4
November 20, 2006 at 06:07:05

I disabled the option for "USB Legacy". No difference, still won't detect the drive.

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#5
November 20, 2006 at 22:07:58

Three options are left that i can think of.

1) Boot sequence is performed through a ROM memory module...as such there may be an issue with the memory not releasing and locking up the system...remove all power systems and batteries to reset the bios and ROM memory modules.
2)You could have a faulty power supply and is keeping it from booting properly
3) Faulty mobo

both 2 and 3 are possible even if it does accept a bios update.

In The Matters Of Style,
swim with the current;
in matters of principle,
Stand Like A Rock


"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the
freedom of thought which they avoid."


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#6
November 21, 2006 at 13:53:43

I removed the batteries, unplugged the power cord and let it sit overnight. I then tried booting with just one battery, then the other, then just the power cord. All gave the same error message.

So it seems like it must be a faulty motherboard right? But it can't be too faulty, as the smaller drive works fine. There must be some way to fix the motherboard.


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#7
November 22, 2006 at 07:55:04

It could be that there is a bios check concerning the harddrives installed by dell to not accept any harddrives over a certain size....or some other checking requirement.
Or maybe just a jumper on the mobo has to be switched.

I would go read everything there was that I could find on that computer. I know that there are some manufactures that require a special partition to be installed prior to allowing a replacement drive to be installed...I disregard that as it accepted the 2 gig drive without

In The Matters Of Style,
swim with the current;
in matters of principle,
Stand Like A Rock


"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the
freedom of thought which they avoid."


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#8
November 22, 2006 at 17:21:48

According to the user's guide, to install a new hard drive all you have to do is take the old one out and put the new one in. Nothing about partitions or drive sizes.

I get the same exact error from the original 40GB disk as I get with the new 60GB disk. So, I don't think the problem is anything to do with disk size, bios check, or jumpers.


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#9
November 22, 2006 at 22:19:43

I thought that it originally came with a 20 gig drive.

Yes but you stated that it is not booting to anything no matter what order you are using in the boot sequence...That is controlled by the bios and rom memory...and in which case there is not much one can do to examine that particular area without having it on the bench. By having you remove the power I was hoping that it would reset the rom memory so that it would boot to a disc...and again the bios may have taken an update and still be bad.

This could be a bad solder connection on the board or even a faulty capacitor causing this. I think it is time to take it to the shop so someone can get it on a bench to check the mobo/bios/rom.

In The Matters Of Style,
swim with the current;
in matters of principle,
Stand Like A Rock


"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the
freedom of thought which they avoid."


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#10
November 26, 2006 at 13:47:04

Yes, I meant 20GB. Sorry.

I said it is not booting to anything BUT the 2GB drive and the floppy drive.

I'll take it apart again and look for any internal damage.

Thanks for your help.

"It's people like you that make this country great."



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