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PC Not Detecting HDD's?

Posted on 2003-12-11
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Hello all,

I have a computer which seems to be killing Hard Disk Drives.  For background, take a look at the following open questions and also read below.

Read this one first:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_20822467.html

Then this one:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Win98/Q_20822220.html

To summarize, I had a PC that was locking up, someone on EE suggested that it may be overheating.  I took a look at the system and, in fact, there were no fans installed.  The fan on the PSU didn't seem to be connected or working.  Next, I purchased a 3 pin case fan and went to install it.  Because of the configuration of this system's hardware, the HDD was blocking the hole usually reserved for the case fan.  I decided to move the HDD and I installed the fan.  I booted up, go to the desktop, no problems.  Because I noticed that this case supported mounting the HDD on the top of the case, I decided to move it again (to allow me to keep the 3 1/2 floppy).  So, taking all the normal precautions, I moved the HDD to the new postion, reconnected it and No boot (Insert Disk in Drive A).  You can read the above threads for more detail, but I tested the HDD and It appears to not be detected by any system (including known goods).

Ok, so today, I bought a brand new HDD.  My plan was to load it up and then reinstall everything.  Before doing this, I checked the PSU's output with a volt meter (To further rule out a PSU problem).  All of the voltages were correct here.  So I installed the new HDD, and the BIOS detected it just fine.  I proceded to set up Windows XP without any problems.  XP installed successfully.  I had to run some errands, so I left the PC booted to Windows XP desktop and went out for a few hours.  When I returned, I noticed a balloon in the system tray that said "Unexpected Hard Error."  I clicked on the ballon and got the blue screen of death with the same error.  So I rebooted the system and wouldn't you know it, I got the same "Insert Disk in Drive A" error as I was getting with the previous HDD.  So I rebooted again and watched the BIOS test memory, Detect keyboard and mouse and then "freeze" for about 2 minutes.  No error message, no nothing.  After two minutes, it booted to Win XP desktop without problem.  In fact boot time is not even slowed (about 30 seconds to desktop) once POST has happened.  Now I have this two minute "delay" every time I restart the computer (This never happend to the system when the old HDD was installed).

 Here are some tests that I have performed and what I feel their results mean (please correct me if necessary):

Swapped a known good HDD with OS into the system in Question and the system booted.  I assumed that this means that the Onboard IDE Controller Works.

Ran several memory testing programs.  I assumed that the memory at least checks out ok, without any major errors. (I did not perform a physical swap of RAM per CrazyOne's suggestion, but I will as soon as I come by some more RAM chips)

Tested the PSU with a voltmeter to determine that it is producing the appropriate levels of power.  Since the power levels checked out (5V and 12V) it seemed that the PSU was functioning properly.

I changed IDE Cables.  Nothing indicated that any of the cables in use were bad.


So if you actually made it through both threads and then my lenghty explaination, what else should I check here?  I'm kinda at a loss.
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Question by:knottydrd
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by:CrazyOne
CrazyOne earned 30 total points
ID: 9924590
Is the cable at the mother board connected in a snug manner in other words make sure it isn't slightly loose.
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9924623
Also where do you see the delay. I mean is the delay at the BIOS post or at the point XP is suppose to be booting. Also how is your BIOS setup to detect the drive? Like get into the BIOS and see if changing the detection method does anything for you.
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by:rayt333
ID: 9924707
Is there anything on the screen when it is "froze"?
from the desktop open up MSCONFIG and see what is "checked" to load at boot, this could be an anti virus scan being done, or some other utility program.
Do you have a network card installed? sometimes they can take time getting drivers loaded at boot.

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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9925494
knottydrd:  First, I have to mention that you have EIGHT questions open and THREE of them are for the same problem.  This problem to be precise...

CrazyOne has posted in each one of these, btw, to check your RAM, which you have yet to do.

I agree that the RAM needs to be checked/replaced, as do the IDE cables, and failing that the issue is most likely with your motherboard.

Either way, you need to close out those open questions, it's just too confusing to experts having several questions open for the same problem, and, it can earn them an amazing amount of points.

IE: currently this question is worth 1250 points because it's continued in three threads -  That means if you award an 'A' grade for this, the 'A' grade is then worth 5000 points!  Which is way too much for one problem.

Please review those open questions and close them when you can, thanks.

And please don't accept this question as answer, thanks, it just offers my opinion and asks for cleanup...

Thanks!

AlbertaBeef
EE Page Editor, Desktops/Microchips TA's
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925603
I have checked my RAM as CrazyOne suggested, but I have not been able to perform a physical swap (which he also suggested).

As to the responses to this question,  the PC delays at BIOS, before POST is complete, just after the memory test and keyboard/mouse detection.  I have the BIOS set to auto detect.  I have not tried changing it to manual configuration, but I will try that tomorrow.  I have verified that the cables are firmly connected to the motherboard.

Ray,it is freezing before Windows even begins to load.
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by:rayt333
ID: 9925630
,it is freezing before Windows even begins to load.

Which it would seem to be doing if it was performing a virus scan, or if some utility was working or loading.

As soon as it boot up do a (Ctrl,Alt,Delete) and note everything listed there, and since you are now using XP, look under applications and process both. This should let you know what all is loading.
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by:
AlbertaBeef earned 250 total points
ID: 9925639
How did you 'check' the RAM?  If you used products like docmemory, etc., please be advised that RAM can pass those tests even if it's bad.  They simply cannot check every aspect of the RAM.  hardware RAM testers are much more precise than software RAM testers.

Also, if it's locking up right after detecting mouse/keyboard, you might try swapping those as well.
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925642
Are you sure, even though POST doesn't successfully complete?  How can Windows load before POST is done?
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925654
The system is not "locking up" right  now.  It eventually boots, but it only freezes for about 2 minutes after POST.  In any event, point well taken on checking the RAM.  The best I can do is a swap with another system.
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by:rayt333
ID: 9925658
Tap the F8 key when first booting (to get the "safe mode" menu) and choose the step by step, then answer yes to each device and see what it is attempting to load or start when it "hangs"

Or maybe look at the "boot log" and see if something failed to load or start, this may cause the system to "wait" for a minute or so.
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9925677
AlbertaBeef I disagree in part the Win98 guestion was asking what might cause the problem knottydrd was having with a system lockup/crash. So I don't think this question is a continuation of that question or the continuation of the other question. But I agree that perhaps the Win98 question should be closed because it looks like the culprit of the problem was the disk and I did post that to test the drive in that question. But the issue of that questions was lockups of the OS and/or crashes the guestion did not directly ask about the hard disk so I don't agree that that question is a continuation of this one and the other question there is connection to the Win98 question but isn't a continuation.

And the other question http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_20822467.html was referring to a drive after testing on more than one machine appears to be non-functional. This question is about a new drive in the same system. Although this question and the other question seemed be continual they may be in part but not in whole. But I do agree this http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_20822467.html should be closed because I think it has ran its course.
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9925683
>>>How can Windows load before POST is done?

It deoesn't. But we need to clarify how you know it is still in POST and not trying to boot to Windows
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Author Comment

by:knottydrd
ID: 9925686
agreed
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925691
No beep?
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9925716
Thanks for clarification, CrazyOne.   After a little more in-depth review, you might be right.

knottydrd, I'd still like you to look at the other open questions though, they go back to July, and see if you can close some.  

Thanks all for the input.

Ab.
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9925725
You mean no beep before going to Windows?

Ok then after the 2 minutes you see the normal Windows booting screens?

Try this just so we know that the 2 minutes delay is the POST and not windows

When in XP

Start > Run msconfig
Click the boot.ini tab
Put a check mark in labled /SOS

Now when you boot you will see the system files and drivers that are needed before XP can load the services and then login. If you don't see any major hang on anything it is loading then the problem is probably not with XP>
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925751
The last open question that I see is from 10/16.  But I am cleaning them up.
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by:knottydrd
ID: 9925790
Will do.  I can't test it till tomorrow though because it is at my job and I'm home right now.  Just to remind everyone that this is a brand new install of XP.  That makes me think that the problem may not be XP related.  Especially in light of my well documented hardware problems in previous posts :).
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9925791
Oops, sorry was looking at another account...  I'm busy doing cleanup work and found several open back a while, and accidentally confused yours with another.

My apologies, and thanks!
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 9925899
Another thing to try is get into the BIOS and slecet the options Default Settings and see hoe the goes. Have you thought about flashing the BIOS?
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Assisted Solution

by:briancassin
briancassin earned 200 total points
ID: 9926549
I have a few questions of thought I did not go through all the other posts but read through this one completely.

My understanding of the situation is that you have now had two  different hard drives in the same system and now the other one is responding but their is a delay during bootup....

I hope I am not repeating anything already done if I have I am sorry.

Some points of thought

1. Are you using the correct cable for your hard drive (i.e. you have an EIDE ATA66 Drive and you are using an ATA66 cable)

2. Before all of this ever start happening did you have anti virus software on this system and ever get infected with a virus ?  I have to agree with  rayt333 it sounds like it is doing something if it is sitting there for 2 minutes.....

Have you tried to run a dos based virus scanning utility ?
maybe a BIOS infector virus is present something similiar to CIH or HDK or something...

Also when you plug the hard drive cable into the primary controller port does it fit snug ? does it make any funny noises (like crunching noises or have a lot of resistance). Have you visually checked the EIDE port on the motherboard looked at the contacts and so forth to see if any are missing ? .... (I had a problem with a Primary IDE port on my motherboard that worked half the time and didn't the other half the actual port and connectors were not making good contact with the motherboard.)

Have you tried plugging the hard drive into the Secondary IDE controller port on the motherboard  and seeing what that does ?

Also I am assuming you have the hard drive set for Master and (not cable select)

If you have already tried all of this and/or none of this works then agree with what CrazyOne said  I would go into the Bios default all and if that still does not work flash the BIOS. If after that point it continues then I would have to say the motherboard is history.

One Final thought have you tested the power connector comming out of the power supply going to the Hard Drive, you said you checked the power but I have a concern here....

Did you check it while it was under a load condition or not ? I.E. was it already turned on and had been on when you checked it or did you check it when you first turned on the PC ????   the reason I ask this is since you said the power supply fan is not working we can assume that power supply has been subjected to being OVERHEATED (to what degree we do not know) but their may be a chance that it resulted in damaging it to some degree....

When you first boot your machine it powers up the hard drive the CD-ROM the MOBO, the A: Drive and any other drives you may have installed.

These devices all drawing power at once during the intial boot process may be causing unstable power....i.e. when this occurs the output of the power supply drops (because the power supply is not keeping up with the demand)....

At any rate you need to have an operational fan in that power supply, a regular case fan is going to do no good, the power supply needs to have a fan all to itself because the power supply is self contained it has to exchange a certain volume of air to keep it within operating temperatures.


IF your power supply has not been outputting the right amount of VOLTS & AMPS  then it may be possible it has damaged many things in your PC not just your hard drive but your Motherboard too.

Think of your power supply in your PC like this:

when an alternator in a car is on its way to failure, car runs fine during the day or during the summer, until you turn the heat on, the radio, windshield wipers, or headlights, then all of the sudden the car starts chugging things get dim the car stalls and its dead, this is because the alternator wasn't putting out 14.4 Amps like it is supposed to it was putting out 12 Amps instead.
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by:briancassin
ID: 9926552
sorry for the long post
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by:Wakeup
Wakeup earned 20 total points
ID: 9929120
A reason for the system hanging at post for 2 minutes then proceeding to the Windows XP......

What brand hard drive is it?  Western Digital? (the new drive that is)  If so do you have it as Master?  CS?  Slave?  OR SINGLE Drive no Slave present?!

The WD drives are notorious for setting the jumpers correctly.  I get people returning GOOD Drives as FAULTY to my store because of a jumper issue.  If there is no other drive connected to the chain of the hard drive, make SUREEEEEE it is set for Single Drive No SLAVE Present.  Setting it as Master will make it search and search for a Slave (for approximately 2 minutes)
If it is not a WD.....then I dunno hehe...
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Author Comment

by:knottydrd
ID: 9930509
I swapped the memory with Known good as per CrazyOne and everything seems to be stable now.  I have been running all day without problem. Perhaps the lack of cooling caused the componenets to overheat and damaged them.  This in turn would have caused the intermittant lock up problems.  As per Brian's post, I am working on installing a new fan in the PSU or a new PSU altogether.  Thanks for the posts!!  Sorry for any confusion they caused.

(BTW Wakeup, the HDD is a Western Digital, but I have it set to Master and there is a slave on the channel, good point, though!)

Thanks to all!!!
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