HDD not recognized by the BIOS

Hewlett-packard / Sr2050nx
June 26, 2010 at 18:02:40
Specs: Windows XP
SATA hard disk is not recognized by the BIOS during a cold boot up. To get the system to recognize the hard drive I boot the computer from a diagnostic CD. Sometimes it takes two restarts before the drive shows up in the BIOS. Once it appears in the BIOS I am able to boot the computer successfully. If I turn off the computer, and then restart, the drive goes missing.

I have moved the SATA cable to another port on the motherboard and also replaced the CMOS battery. Diagnostic tests on the hard drive report no errors. Hard drive is Western Digital.

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June 26, 2010 at 19:37:27
How old is the SATA hard drive? Any noises coming from it? Is this a new issue with an existing system or a new hard drive?

One thing that can cause problems is a tight bend in the DATA cable to the drive. Do you have the cable folded up? Another thought is if the drive is a SATA II and your controllers are SATA I. In that case there are jumper pins on the back of the drive to throttle the drive to SATA I speeds.

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June 27, 2010 at 10:50:11
data cable is not folded. This drive was replaced under warranty so I don't know if it is SATA I or SATA II. The computer belongs to a family member and I am trying to help out.

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June 27, 2010 at 13:01:51
So, did this problem start soon after the drive was replaced? Could be the issue was not the drive but the cable or controller.

Download a hard drive fitness test from the drive manufacturer's website. If you can't read the label on the drive then once you get it running you can use SIW to determine the brand and model of the drive. If it is a SATA II drive in a system with SATA I controllers that could explain the behavior. The solution is to install a jumper on two pins on the back of the drive that will throttle the drive to SATA I speeds. That is all you can expect from SATA I controllers anyway.

Get SIW at the link below. Very useful utility to have anyway.


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June 27, 2010 at 16:09:58
When you have an older mboard that has a main chipset that has SATA (150mb/sec burst speed) support but not SATA II (300mb/sec burst speed) support, some main chipsets will recognize the SATA II drive anyway, as a SATA drive; others will not recognize the SATA II drive at all, but in that case if a jumper is NOT installed on the SATA II drive, the bios will NEVER recognize the SATA II drive.
That can't be what your problem is.

"This drive was replaced under warranty so I don't know if it is SATA I or SATA II."

When you get a drive replaced by sending it away after getting an RMA authorization and they send it back after a while, it's usually the exact same drive you get back, as in, the exact same drive you sent, same unique serial number, same model. In that case, if it was recognized fine previously, it should be recognized fine now.

If it's the exact same drive, it may be malfunctioning, again - that has happened to me only once, with a Seagate SATA II 500gb drive, recently. They claimed it was a firmware problem, flashed that to another version, two days after I installed it again it was malfunctioning. The drive initially was producing problems right after I installed Windows on it, on the brand new drive, I used the Seagate diagnostics, the drive failed the tests with more than 100 errors (they quit testing at that point).
By the way, that Seagate SATA II model, and another Seagate SATA II one of the same size I bought before that, that works fine, both had the tiny grey jumper that limits the bios to seeing it as a SATA drive already installed when I got them brand new.

In any case, when it is recognized, go into Device Manager, find the model of it, tell us what that is.

Check your SATA data cables. The connector on each end should "latch" into the socket on the drive and on the mboard, or on the drive controller card - it should not move when you merely brush your hand against it near the socket - if it does, mere vibration can cause a poor connection of it - use another SATA data cable that does "latch", or tape the connector in place.
(There is a slight projection or bump on one side of the outside of the connector that "latches" it into the socket - it's easily broken off or damaged)

The same thing applies for the SATA power connection.

Some bios Setups have a setting where you can set it to delay detecting the hard drives. If the bios has that, try selecting a delay.

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June 27, 2010 at 16:50:51

I disagree that if the drive is a SATA II and the controller is a SATA I that either it works or not. The BIOS only takes so much time to configure hardware. The OP stated they could get it to work if they use a diagnostic CD the drive is found.

While you may be correct about the new drive going bad I covered that by suggesting they run a drive fitness test.

It is also possible it could be a dodgy cable or controller.

The simplest fixes should always be tried first.

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June 27, 2010 at 17:59:39
The info in the first paragraph of Response 4 is based on what I have read on the web, in many places.
I have had to install the jumper on only one SATA II drive so far - the drive was not recognized at all until I installed the jumper. I don't recall if I ran diagnostics while the drive was not recognized, but how could the diagnostics find it if the bios couldn't ??

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June 27, 2010 at 18:04:37

Reread the original post. The drive is being seen sporadically. So, the OP would just keep trying until the fitness test did see the drive.

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