PC cannot read drive A or B

Ibm / Ps/2
March 24, 2010 at 09:46:15
Specs: Windows 3.1, AMD 233 MHTZ/40MB RAM
I bought a new pc a few weeks ago. However, I had to format the hard drive becuase I did not know any other way to fix my problem. Now, the PC cannot read the boot disks from either A: or B: and since the drive is not formatted correctly, it cannot boot to the hard disk. I have tested the boot disks on this PC and they work. Should I create a MS-DOS boot disk from a blank 3.5 and try that. Or, should I open the case and check the cables?

See More: PC cannot read drive A or B

Report •

#1
March 24, 2010 at 15:36:18
First check and see if the drives are enabled in the BIOS. If so, then ensure the boot order is to look for floppies first. If it still doesn't see the floppy, open the case and make sure data and power cables are attached properly. If it still doesn't see the boot floppy, it could be a bad floppy disk or bad floppy drive.

Report •

#2
March 25, 2010 at 13:38:15
I have checked the boot order and it is set correctly, Floppy CD-ROM then IDE-0 I was given the manual to an earlier version of dos from a co-worker and the system cannot read those disks even though they are set to the right format. One thing I did do was use older disks that have been in the basement for years and were very dirty. When I first tried to read 5.25 disks before i reformatted they worked. Drive B will try to read the disk and fail. Drive A does not do anything.

Report •

#3
March 25, 2010 at 17:40:20
>>>"One thing I did do was use older disks that have been in the basement for years and were very dirty."<<<

Don't use very old (or dirty) disks. Without proper storage, the magnetic media (which deteriorates over time) can easily wear off the disk onto the drive's head, making it unusable. Same thing with dirt...


Report •

Related Solutions

#4
March 26, 2010 at 04:49:40
How do I go about cleaning the drive heads?

Report •

#5
March 26, 2010 at 15:24:13
http://www.provantage.com/cables-go...

Granted that's for a 3.5" floppy. If it's a 5 1/4", then you need to do some googling. You could also accomplish pretty much the same thing with a long wooden Q-Tip and some isopropyl alcohol, assuming you know where the drive head is located...


Report •

#6
March 29, 2010 at 05:31:14
I have an old PS/2 model 70 with an external 5.25 drive. I could try that and see if the drive works. If all else fails, I can always upgrade to win 95 as I found the boot disks for the old system that had win 95 on it. I can also try and find cleaning kits for both drives somewhere. I really want to make this work but it's hard.

Report •

#7
March 29, 2010 at 11:43:20
Would it be safe to clean the drive heads with compressed air?

Report •

#8
March 29, 2010 at 16:46:22
>>>"I have an old PS/2 model 70 with an external 5.25 drive. I could try that and see if the drive works."<<<

If the machine you're trying to get running is somewhat newer (well, almost anything's newer than a Model 70), then you'd almost certainly have to rob the drive from it's case, and then it may or may not work. PS/2's used lots of proprietary and "often-changing" hardware, so if it's a 5 1/4" drive on a fairly generic machine you need to replace, I'd suggest this might be more successful (and in the long run, cheaper):

http://www.alltronics.com/cgi-bin/i...

>>>"Would it be safe to clean the drive heads with compressed air?"<<<

Safe, yes. Effective, not very. Floppy heads actually come into contact with their media (unlike hard-drive heads which "float" above it). So whatever may be on the head is likely stuck to it pretty well. ref: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/fdd/cons...

And FWIW, what are the specs on the machine you're trying to get going? You show "AMD 233 MHz/40MB" and "IBM PS/2" listed...


Report •

#9
March 30, 2010 at 05:57:58
A: 3.5 (not bootable)
B: 5.25 (not bootable)
C: 1.3GB FAT partition (not bootable)
D 8xCD-ROM drive
2x serial
1 parellel
Ps/2 keyboard
ps/2 mouse
monitor port (may also be serial)

I have 5.25 discs for dos 6.22 and 3.5 discs for windows 3.1 The windows 3.1 discs are not bootable


Report •

#10
March 30, 2010 at 07:54:14
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...

That is the exact machine I bought. When I used old disks the drives failed.


Report •

#11
March 30, 2010 at 16:14:51
>>>"The windows 3.1 discs are not bootable"<<<

That's normal. No version of Windows before 95 was bootable. Win 3.1 isn't an OS; merely a GUI for DOS.


>>>"monitor port (may also be serial)"<<<

No, there's a significant difference. VGA Monitor ports would 99% of the time be 15-pin D-style connectors. Serial ports are either 9-pin or (on very old machines) 25-pin, so it'd be almost impossible to plug any VGA monitor into a serial port (though I have seen a couple of very old multi-sync 9-pin VGA's).

Your link was a little difficult (took me to an e-bay sign-in) but I found the machine. Was yours from the same seller and did it include the same disks? If so, then I find it odd that he didn't load the OS before selling the machine, unless for some reason he couldn't (i.e.---bad disk drive).


Report •

#12
March 30, 2010 at 16:18:03
Your ebay link didn't take me to your machine. This is the only one I could find.

http://cgi.ebay.com/IBM-PS-2-vintag...

Skip


Report •

#13
March 30, 2010 at 16:44:06
The machine worked when I got it. I changed the resolution to something that was not supported, and never found out how to restore the original display settings. so I formatted the Hard Drive (mistake 1) Then, I tried to read the bootable disks and could not because the drive was dirty. (mistake 2) Now, I am left with a useless machine and need to find a floppy drive that works. So I can format the drive, and install dos again by using the dos 6 boot-disks which are 5 1/4 floppies.

Report •

#14
March 30, 2010 at 16:52:49
If you want to keep using the 5 1/4" drive, then again, you'll need to either clean or replace the one you currently have. If you know someone with a "dual-drive" (3.5"/5.25") system running DOS 6.22, you could just have them copy the contents of the 5 1/4" disks to 3 1/2" floppies (assuming they're still good). May have to "sys" the first one to make it bootable.


And FWIW, next time you're in Windows and mistakenly set the display to a setting that's not supported, just exit out to DOS, type in "cd
Windows" (without the quotes) and run "Setup" (also, no quotes) from there. Should bring you to a text-based screen where you can change settings back to a Standard VGA (or whatever works with your monitor/card mix).


Report •

#15
March 30, 2010 at 16:55:52
I have that exact model in the basement. I bought the machine I have now to replace it because that PC did not work. there was also an optional 5/14 that connected to a serial port. That is what I want to use on the machine to read the discs. However, all of the equipment is in the back area of the basement which is really hard to get to.

Report •

#16
March 30, 2010 at 17:05:09
>>>"there was also an optional 5/14 that connected to a serial port."<<<

It may have looked like a serial port, but unless it was something very oddball, it was likely the special external floppy adapter on the back that connected to the controller bus on the PS/2. So it most likely wouldn't work on your "newer" machine...


Report •

#17
March 30, 2010 at 17:27:36
How do I remove a drive from it's bay? Do I take the faceplate off and undo the mounting screws? Or, open the case and remove the mounting screws from the back?

Report •

#18
March 30, 2010 at 18:40:25
>>>"How do I remove a drive from it's bay?"<<<

If you mean the PS/2 external model, best as I remember it slid in and out after removing the case screws on the back. If you mean the one in your system, you'd need to remove the entire case top, and unplug the cables and (likely) slide it out through the front (obviously after powering down and making sure you were ESD-protected).


Report •

#19
March 30, 2010 at 21:07:11
It's been a very long time but didn't those things sit in a tray held in by one screw? Seem to remember that and that the actual drive was attached to that tray with 4 more screws.

And yeah, sure gotta get the cover off that thing before you can go any further (farther) (do anything else).

Skip


Report •

#20
March 30, 2010 at 22:00:20
How can I clean the contacts when the drive is removed?

Report •

#21
April 1, 2010 at 13:52:26
I currently have the PC open. How do I remove the IDE cable? Does it simply pull off?

Report •

#22
April 1, 2010 at 14:21:53
Yes. You should see the IDE cable and a power cable on the back of the drive. Carefully pull 'em out by pulling on the plastic and not the cable itself.

Is the drive sitting in a metal tray? If so, did you find the screw that attaches the tray to the chassis? You need to give yourself all the working room possible.

Skip


Report •

#23
April 2, 2010 at 07:23:26
Where is the serial number printed on the motherboard? I would like to see if I can find some sort of documentation for it.

Report •

#24
April 2, 2010 at 10:15:27
Hardware Maintenance Manual...

http://www.walshcomptech.com/select...

Skip


Report •

#25
April 4, 2010 at 12:19:52
>>>"Where is the serial number printed on the motherboard? I would like to see if I can find some sort of documentation for it."<<<

Which machine do you mean? The PS/2 or the "new" machine?


Report •

#26
April 4, 2010 at 14:35:15
Apparently I don't know what kind of machine we're talking about here. If it's not a ps/2 then have no clue as the ebay link takes me nowhere. I get this message...

"This purchased item information is no longer available.

*
There are a number of reasons why this information isn't available. The most common reason is that item details for purchases are not kept for more than 90 days."

Skip


Report •

#27
April 4, 2010 at 15:42:10
Skip, FWIW, it looked like (when I deciphered the e-bay link a few days ago) that he had a fairly generic AMD 233 MHz machine in a micro-tower case w/8X CD, 3.5" and 5.25" floppies. That made me doubt that he could use the external PS/2 drive with it (unless he removed it from the case). If that's the case, Offstring 156, you might be able to find some motherboard info here:

http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherb...

There's several pages (it's pretty much a TH '99 redux), so you'll have to page thru until you find the mobo info you need.

If you still can't find the type mobo you have, you may be able to narrow it down by checking the BIOS serial number on startup:

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/arti...


Report •

#28
April 5, 2010 at 13:06:37
OK, got it. Thanks T-R-A.

Let's try for a bios string to id the motherboard (second link T-R-A just posted). That will be important info. Once identified, many of us have information that is no longer available like manuals, drivers, updates, etc. for a lot of old motherboards.

The manufacturer and model number of the 5.25" floppy drive will also help if you need to disassemble the drive for cleaning..

Skip


Report •

#29
April 5, 2010 at 15:05:49
I have compressed air now, I will open the PC again soon and should be able to find the serial number on the motherboard.

Report •

#30
April 5, 2010 at 19:02:28
Here's an example of what you're looking for...bottom left of screen

http://ptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com/imag...

Skip


Report •

#31
April 7, 2010 at 15:30:59
I have my MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 burned to CD so that if my floppies ever become corrupted I can create new ones with my DiskWrite software. I have done this with all my old floppy-based software, I recommend that everyone on this forum do so if they have the time, materials and money to do so.

Report •

#32
April 7, 2010 at 16:34:17
So I found some information.


The Bios Manufacturer is:

American Megatrands

The bios date is 2/24/98S

The number is

51-0224-001437-001111111-07195-571-007_66_571-H

If someone could translate that long complicated number that would be awesome.


Report •

#33
April 7, 2010 at 18:05:19
Sadly, that a PC Chips Mobo:

http://motherboards.mbarron.net/mod...

Not that they're that bad, (I have one myself), but they don't have much of a reputation, especially for that time frame...


Report •

#34
April 8, 2010 at 00:07:37
I still have a few boards like that too; a couple of those M571's, a M575, and a M577.

The jumper manual download includes about everything for that board.

Notice that several companies used that basic motherboard but not all had ps/2 or usb connectors and so forth.

These boards were popular with system builders because they were pretty easy to set up with intel, amd, or cyrix processors; whatever the builder happened to have lying around.

Did you find a model number on your 5.25" floppy drive?

Skip


Report •

#35
April 8, 2010 at 06:23:10
That is the correct Motherboard according to the BIOS String. Once I open the case I can check everything and find what is what.

Report •

#36
April 8, 2010 at 17:47:23
"These boards were popular with system builders because they were pretty easy to set up with intel, amd, or cyrix processors; whatever the builder happened to have lying around."

Yeah, there were several of those back in the good-old days ('94 to '97) when folks were moving from 386's/486's to P-I's and pseudo-P-I's. RAM and other components (video/sound/CD) were still somewhat expensive and you could just about keep all your hardware (including RAM) and just swap out the MoBo and CPU for a 2-3x speed increase. Many of them had ISA, VLB and PCI on the same board. The Internet was new and reasonably safe and everyone had to have a 33.6K modem (or 56K if you were lucky enough to have your ISP support it). Many 1-4GB hard drives sold in that time frame as well. It all seems so simple and quaint now...


Report •

#37
April 12, 2010 at 10:21:26
the case is now open and sitting on the kitchen table. I was able to remove the power cables easily. How do I unhook the IDE cables. Also each drive bay has a number of screws on the side what type of screwdriver do I use to remove them.

Report •

#38
April 12, 2010 at 14:48:15
Pull the cable straight back; thumb on one side and forefinger on the other works for me. When reinstalling, note the colored stripe on the cable should go on the side closest to the power connector.

Normally all drive screws can be removed with a #2 phillips screwdriver. Depending on the builder, you'll find 1 to 4 screws holding the drive in. Put 'em in a safe place and make sure if you remove 4 screws that you have 'em all. You don't want errant screws rattling around inside the case.

Skip


Report •

#39
April 13, 2010 at 18:55:33
So I worked with a friend and figured out that both the floppy drives are bad. I even tried a 3.5 from another working computer, the drive did not work. My only option now is to format the hard disc using the old working PC, Then replace it in that one? Can NTFS still format in FAT? All this turned out to be waste of time/money/effort/ However, I am learning a lot about PC hardware and I wish I had done this years ago. All your suggestions have helped a lot. I appreciate it.

Report •

#40
April 13, 2010 at 19:10:07
"I even tried a 3.5 from another working computer, the drive did not work."

Wait a minute. If you tried a known working drive on your machine and it doesn't work then that's not the drive. It's something else on your machine (bad cable, controller, misconfiguration). Don't go considering other OS issues if you still have a hardware issue looming...


Report •

#41
April 17, 2010 at 02:20:19
Echoing T-R-A and very much so...

Find it a little difficult to accept that both flopppy drives hath died a death; possibly something else is a miss? This especially as a replacement drive also doesn't work...

Check a little (a lot?) further first?

Does the system try to boot at all? What happens exactly when you power up? What if anything appears on the screen? Is the cmos battery OK? Have you (with power removed entirely from system) removed all connectors and re-inserted them; perhaps after cleaning contacts for each on MoBo etc.as well?

When you go into the bios settings... are either or both drives a: and b: actually listed and enabled?

http://www.adriansrojakpot.com/Spee...

http://computersservicing.blogspot....

The second link tells how to diable it; so logically it will help you determine how to "enable" it after a fashion...?

Also if floppy drive/s is/are listed in bios... is/are the/y listed correctly in terms of size/capacity?

Incidentally you can obtain the dos (6.22 preferably) boot disks from bootdisk.com (as also advised in your W2K thread which is discussing slightly different issues).

Perhaps download those (I seem to recall they're images which you expand to a floppies; then use those floppies? But wise/best to read the instructions on the above site first?

ntfs isn't an operating systerm in itself; it's a file format common (with slight variations) to NT/W2K/XP/Vista etc...

But yes... all those OS can format fat16; but be aware/careful; remember that they all can format a partion upto 4Gig as fat16; but that that 4Gig partition cannot be seen/used by dos/windows-2x/3x/'9x/ME, only those OS. Thus if you use any of those OS to format a patition as fat16 (for dos/windows2x/3x/9x/ME) - first set the partition size to be no larger than 2Gig...

I'm also across your W2K post too... like many others here...


Report •

#42
April 17, 2010 at 05:24:39
When I boot. the boot is set as such:

1. A: 3.5
2. B: 5.25
3. CD-ROM (no disc in drive)
4. IDE 0


All drives fail and when it tries to boot to hard disk it comes up with

"non system disc replace disc and try again"

my idea is to format teh dirve using windows 2000 then install windows 3.1 on teh same drive using windows 2000.


Report •

#43
April 17, 2010 at 06:35:34
When I boot. the boot is set as such:

1. A: 3.5
2. B: 5.25
3. CD-ROM (no disc in drive)
4. IDE 0


All drives fail and when it tries to boot to hard disk it comes up with

"non system disc replace disc and try again"

If your configuration is correct and you've tried boot disks in all floppy drives with no luck and the hard drive and CD also fail, then your controller is likely shot. If that's the case, then without a replacement, you won't get any OS installed on this machine. If your controller is on an expansion card, try re-seating the card. If it's internal, you'll have to disable it should you opt for a new card.


"my idea is to format teh dirve using windows 2000 then install windows 3.1 on teh same drive using windows 2000."

That won't happen. DOS is the "underpinning" of Win3.1, so without it, (or some equivalence of DOS), you'd never be able to install it---even on a working machine.



Report •

#44
April 17, 2010 at 06:52:32
The error message will pop up if there no bootable device found in either a: or b: and not in cdrom: either, and as there is no OS installed on teh HD - at least system files for dos - then it cannot boot...

Per chance have you tried restoring bios to default settings?

Referring obliquely to your W2K post and formatting this 1.3Gig drive to fat16... then yes do that - via W2K (disk manager) - once you have a working W2K installation.But perhaps first see if you can get anywhere resetting bios to defaults settings? One way to do this simply remove (mains) power into the system; then remove the cmos battery for a mninute or two; then restore it and restore mains power etc...

There is often an option in bios settings to allow it too...

http://www.ami.com/support/bios.cfm

deals with assorted versions of your bios...

Although not generally advised to run multiple threads re' a given situation..., the one here is about a dos/win3x system that won't boot; and the other a rebuild of a W2K system that may be used to resolve the dos/win3x issue (to some degree)... Useful to for those here to be are of your W2K post too and visa-versa?

If you happen to have a bootable CD does that boot up OK in this system?

Incidentally what was the intial problem that caused your reformat etc.?


Report •

#45
April 17, 2010 at 12:14:20
I am in the process of cleaning the drive heads.

Report •

Ask Question