Need bootdisk and won't recognize HDD!

January 28, 2012 at 06:43:23
Specs: Windows 3.1, 486 DX @33Mhz (Yes, i know, it's slow!)
I have an old Brick PC. When I start it up and go to CMOS setup it says there is no hard drive installed, but there are. And when I boot it up it says DRIVE NOT READY. INSERT BOOT DISK IN DRIVE A: AND PRESS ANY KEY TO CONTINUE or something like that. Where can I download a Windows 3.1 bootdisk? And how can I get it recognize my hard drive? My computer don't have a CD drive, it only has a floppy drive.

See More: Need bootdisk and wont recognize HDD!

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January 28, 2012 at 06:53:02
There is a very good chance that with a computer that old the hard disk had died of old age.

There is no such thing as a Windows 3.1 boot disk. To install Windows 3.1 your first have to install MS-DOS 6 then install Windows 3.1 as an MS-DOS application.


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January 28, 2012 at 07:28:29
It could also be that the CMOS/BIOS battery has failed, thus losing all the parameters (disk geometry). If this is the case, you'd need to replace the battery and then correct the settings in the BIOS.

As mentioned above, there is also good chance that the drive itself has failed (or a connection may have worked itself loose). In that case you'd have to replace the drive (or repair the connection) and finding a new drive which would work with an old machine may be somewhat difficult. You wouldn't necessarily need MS-DOS 6, but you would need at least MS/PC-DOS version 3.1 or better...

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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January 28, 2012 at 07:33:11
Very old PCs did not have the ability to auto detect the hard drives. The parameters from the label had to be inputted into the BIOS. The CMOS battery is probably dead so those values were lost.

Read the label on the drive and use the information to configure the drive.

If the drive that was installed was larger than the BIOS could configure there were different methods to sometimes get the drive to work. That is too much to go into a this time.

What do you hope to accomplish with your "brick"?

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January 28, 2012 at 07:51:49
I hope to get Windows 95 on it... windows 3.1 is to old. I think this computer is very rare because i have searched Brick PC on the internet and i only get pictures of computers looking like lego bricks

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January 28, 2012 at 08:06:25
If you intend to use this computer on the internet, it's relatively useless for that.
I used a DX2-66 computer up until 2000 with Win 3.1 but gave up and built myself a new computer and installed 98SE on it because at that time the load on the computer was becoming far too much when it was on the internet, and the demands on your computer when on the internet have increased a lot since then

"..when I boot it up it says DRIVE NOT READY"

That message doesn't necessarily indicate the bios is not detecting the hard drive. You would get that message
- if the hard drive was detected but it was not found to be bootable (have an operating system installed on it)
- or if the Boot Order or similar settings in the bios are not set correctly
- or if you have two or more hard drives and the bios is trying to boot from one that is not bootable - the bios will not try to boot from anything else if the first hard drive it detects by default or is set to detect is not bootable.

The hard drive(s) may be working fine but is (are) not correctly jumpered on the drive itself or is (are) not connected to the data cable(s) properly or there is a problem with the data cable otherwise.

The possibilities vary depending on how old the computer is.

Early 486 computers had to have the hard drive paramters chosen or entered in the bios - if the Cmos battery was ever removed, or if it became too weak, those parameter settings are lost and must be chosen or entered again with a good Cmos battery installed.

Later 486 computers had bioses that could be set to automatically detect the hard drive parameters, and were often set that way by default.

Tell us the make and model of your brand name system, or if you have a generic desktop system, the make and model of the mboard.

The specific model of a brand name system is often 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 and loading a program they have available, if Windows is still working, on the subject computer.

If it's a Dell computer...
Go here for how to find the Service tag "number":

Tell us what it is.

If it's a HP or Compaq computer.....
Go here:
Scroll down a bit.
Look for the similar label on the outside of your computer.
Quote the specific model number - that's at the end of the first line.
Quote the Product number - that's on the third line.

If it's a Lenovo or IBM computer
Find your specific Product number and tell us what it is:

Finding my product number

The model, sometimes the make, of a mboard in a generic desktop system is usually printed on the mboard's surface in obvious larger characters, often between the slots.

If you find no obvious model "number" on the case or on the mboard, for older computers, the bios string of the mboard can often be used to identify which retail mboard model or which brand name system model the computer has.

The bios string is usually a long string of numbers/letters at the bottom of the first black screen as you boot your computer - it often begins with a date - usually you can press the Pause key to read it and copy it down.
Press any key but Pause to continue booting.

It could also be higher up the screen under or beside the bios version line, e.g. under or beside Award or AMI or Phoenix...

Post that bios string here, and include any dashes, etc.
Please make sure you copied it right. Most Award and AMI Bios strings do not have spaces. Newer Phoenix bios strings, based most often on those for Intel mboards, are often like so:

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January 28, 2012 at 08:23:04
If your goal is Win95 (assuming the machine has enough "horsepower" to run it), then you wouldn't necessarily need DOS/Win 3.1. If you're using upgrade floppies (you mention it doesn't have a CD), then you'd only need the first disk of Windows 3.1 to prove the upgrade (there's also a way to bypass even that, but it's been so long I've forgotten how). You'd first have to get the hard-drive working; but realize, however, that:

1. Depending on the age of the machine and it's hardware, Win95 may be a big disappointment (slow on machines with less than 16MB of RAM and at least a 486-33---when installed completely and "untweaked").

2. While Win95 came with support for many devices, there were still many more that relied on OEM drivers. Finding video/sound/modem/LAN/etc. drivers for Win95 may also prove difficult.

3. Even Win95 is very old (almost 17-years now). Finding older programs is still not too difficult, but don't expect anything made within the last several years to run on it (especially a good virus/malware package).

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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January 28, 2012 at 08:25:07
Get the QNX demo disk and see it that boots and connects. It is about the only way I know to use a crummy computer at all on the internet. All the java and flash stuff will not work though.

A Pit Bull is like a gun you can pet. And there is no safety on it.

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January 28, 2012 at 11:55:28
I'm not gonna use it on the internet. I don't know which manufacturer it is, on the left top corner of the computer it is a pink logo; it says Brick. I haven't solved the problem yet... I don't wanna mess with this computer. BTW: Thanks for the answers, everybody.

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January 28, 2012 at 12:18:52
When I insert a Windows 95 bootdisk, it reads the floppy, but it only says: DRIVE NOT READY: INSERT A BOOTDISK IN DRIVE A: AND PRESS ANY KEY TO CONTINUE. And i've changed the boot sequence to A:, C:.
I'm gonna upload some pictures of the problem soon. If somebody wonders; "What do you mean with mess?" I mean I don't wanna open the computer and take out parts and stuff. And the CMOS battery is NOT dead. I've changed the BIOS 6 months ago, and what I changed then is still "unchanged". So the problem is NOT the CMOS battery.

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January 28, 2012 at 13:36:08
"When I insert a Windows 95 bootdisk, it reads the floppy, but it only says: DRIVE NOT READY: INSERT A BOOTDISK IN DRIVE A: AND PRESS ANY KEY TO CONTINUE."

Either your bootdisk is somehow bad, or the floppy drive may have died. You should be able to create another bootable floppy from an image from (link in #1 above), assuming you have access to another machine with a working floppy drive. If that disk doesn't work, then you can just about bet the floppy drive is gone. At that point, I'd seriously reconsider investing more time/money on the machine (especially since you state that you don't want to "mess with" it)...

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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January 28, 2012 at 13:43:16
Here is some photos of the errors:

As you see, it won't boot from floppy at all. Thank you very much for your help.

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January 28, 2012 at 13:44:19
Sorry, for the pictures, click here:

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January 28, 2012 at 13:49:27
Are the BIOS settings in your photos the same as what you currently have set? If so, then it appears your battery has died (your date shows Jan 2, 1980, your floppy drive is set to 720KB---the bootdisk is 1.44MB, and you have no geometry set for the Type 47 hard-drive).

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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January 28, 2012 at 15:02:49
The battery has NOT died. I haven't changed the date settings since I bought it. I don't know which type of hard drive I have. And what is geometry? And how do you "know" that I got a type 47 hard drive?

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January 28, 2012 at 15:05:09
Perhaps I just should give up?

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January 28, 2012 at 15:22:23
Geometry is the physical configuration of the disk, Number of Cylinders (Tracks) , Number of Heads, etc.. The drive geometry has to conform to the low level formatting of the disk which is done by the manufacturer.

Drive geometry numbers should should be on a label on the drive itself. It should be in the format CHS, Cylinder, Head, Sector. Until you get something in there the hard drive is never going to be recognised. You need to make sure you get it right otherwise you will start losing data.

Depending on the BIOS Drive type number from 1 to around 40 were predefined. The higher numbers where user defined to take into account advances in hard disk design.

I would set the time and date as well. With a computer that old you may well find your self being hit but the millennium bug which means you wont be able to set the date greater than 1999. Even with something as old as Windows 3.1 that may cause problems.


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January 28, 2012 at 15:27:31
Perhaps I just should give up?

Probably. Last week I threw three computers half the age of this one in the rubbish skip. The newest had an AMD Athlon 1.6 Ghz CPU in it.


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January 28, 2012 at 17:43:41
I'm posting from a pc with a athlon 1.6 running linux mint 11, with firefox 10, libre office, vlc, ect...


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January 28, 2012 at 19:03:12
"I haven't changed the date settings since I bought it."

That doesn't matter. If the BIOS/CMOS battery dies, the "default" date will be set in the Time/Date setting of the CMOS setup (usually something like Jan 1, 1980). Your photos (#12102011053 & #12102011054) shows Jan 2, 1980, which sounds like you've had the machine on for a while (or Jan 2, 1980 may be the machines' default date)

"I don't know which type of hard drive I have. And what is geometry?
And how do you "know" that I got a type 47 hard drive?"

If you don't know what hard drive you have in the machine, then you'll have to open it up to look on the drive itself to determine it's manufacturer/model, or the Cylinders, Heads, and Sectors per track (i.e.-drive geometry) which should be stated on the drive. Look at this photo for an example:

That IBM drive shows a geometry of 10336 Cylinders, 15 Heads, 63 Sectors per track (CHS: 10336/15/63). Your own photos (#12102011053 & #12102011054) shows the BIOS being set at Type 47 (User Defined type) but has 0 Cylinders, 0 Heads, and 0 Sectors per track shown in it (meaning it's completely undefined). It also shows your floppy drive A being set as 720KB 3 1/2", which is likely why your Win95 boot floppy isn't working (you're trying to read a high-density floppy disk in a drive set for low-density)

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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January 28, 2012 at 22:34:20
There's a good chance your 486 has an 'auto detect hard drive' option on the first or second bios setup page. If so try that first and see if it finds the drive. The bios will not auto detect on its own as more modern computers do. You have to tell it to find the drive. If there is no 'auto detect hard drive' then, as already mentioned, you need to manually enter the C/H/S figures as a user definable drive type.

And the 'brick' sticker means nothing. It's probably associated with either the original owner of the PC or a shop that built the PC.

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January 29, 2012 at 11:19:18
See the last part of response 5.
There is probably a bios string showing up on your first screen as you boot the computer.
If you supply the bios string, we may be able to find info about and possibly a manual for your retail mboard model.
It's likely the bios version is that for a retail mboard model rather than a brand name system bios version.

Search for: "brick computer"

The Brick Computer Company
a.k.a. - no longer a valid url

"Brick Computer proudly distributes products under the Ergo Brand as well as the Brick Brand. Since 1986 The Ergo brand has been distributed on every continent and has been known for quality and ingenuity"

If that's the company that built your computer, they have no apparent support on their web site for their older models

You could try contacting them.

1990 overall AMI bios version (a / in the zero)

- your computer was made no earlier than 1990.

Bios is showing....

Floppy drive A : 720 kb floppy disk

ROM bios date: xx/xx/91

- it has a 1991 model specific bios version. The computer was probably made in 1991, unless you or someone else flashed the bios with a newer version .

Base memory size: 640 kb
Ext memory size: 2424 kb ?

- you have 3 mb (3,096 kb) of ram installed ?

Hard disk C: None
Hard disk D: None

- at the time the computer was made, 720 kb drives were a lot cheaper than 1.44 mb drives, and the bios defaults were often set to a 720 kb drive.
Some people never installed a 1.44 mb drive. It may or may not have come with the computer.
You may have a 720 kb drive or a 1.44 mb drive. It's hard to tell the difference by looking at it in most cases, and if so which one it is can be confirmed by searching the web with it's model or part number,
or - when you prop up the flap when there is no disk in the drive, a 720 kb drive has one tiny sensor switch "plunger" sticking up on one side for the one rectangular hole in the 720 kb floppy disk, a 1.44 mb drive has two of them, one on each side.
A 1.44mb drive can read both 720 kb and 1.44mb floppy disks, but a 720 kb drive cannot read 1.44 mb floppy disks.
If you have a 1.44 mb floppy drive you must specify that in the bios Setup.

Win 95 boot disk is 1.44 kb - it has the two rectangular holes - 720 kb floppy disks have one.
It cannot be read in a 720 kb drive, or in a 1.44 mb drive if the bios is set to a 720 kb drive.

"There's a good chance your 486 has an 'auto detect hard drive' option on the first or second bios setup page"

Standard setup screen

shows User type

Hard Disk Utility selection - that may be equivalent to Auto hard drive detection in newer bios versions.

Date Jan 2 1980 - the default date is probably Jan 1 1980

Your Cmos battery is dead or too weak or is not getting a good connection or it's polarity is backwards (installed upside down in it's socket, or if it's connected by wires, the connector is on the pins backwards).
If your mboard has a flat "coin" sytle battery, they generally last about 5 years.
Cmos batteries for desktop computers are nearly always not rechargable.

- it appears your bios version set to default settings does NOT auto detect drive parameters like newer bios versions can.
You must
- select a drive type that matches the parameters your hard drive has
- if no drive type matches the parame ters your hard drive has, select the User type and type in the parameters

- or - if you choose Hard Disk Utlity, that MAY be able to auto detect the drive parameters , or not. If it does detect them, you need to Save bios settings.

Old bioses often cannot detect or support hard drives larger than 528 mb (binary size). If you haven't changed the hard drive(s) to a larger size that wouldn't be a ptoblem.

Your hard drive(s) size(s) may not meet the minimum requirements for Win 95


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