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Secondary hard drive sometimes boots up rather than primary

Posted on 2004-08-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I ran into this situation, and need to be able to absolutely avoid it in the future, if possible: one day the user's IBM desktop computer booted up on the extra hard drive attached to the secondary IDE controller, rather than the 'normal' hard drive attached to the primary controller.  Is there a way to insure that this will not happen?

Here's the background: I had the 'normal' hard drive on the primary controller, and an extra HD on the secondary controller.  Both were jumpered as master, I believe; one or both MAY have been jumpered CS, but I don't think so.

Anyway, I ran norton ghost and made a complete image of the 'normal' drive to the extra drive.  The problem was that when the computer rebooted itself after running ghost (which is normal), it booted up on the extra drive.  However, I did not realize it at the time--there was no warning and no way that anyone would have known, without looking in control panel or some such.  BTW, I was running XP Pro.

A week later I was at the customer site doing some work, and after shutting down their system and turning it back on, I left.  The next day, they were calling in a panic telling me that a week's worth of work was gone.  After looking at the drives contents (file dates, etc.), that's when I finally discovered that a week prior, it must have booted up on the extra drive, and they ran on that for a week, and then when I turned on the computer that night before, a week later, it booted up to the 'normal' drive like it was supposed to...and of course the 'normal' drive had not been in use for a solid week, so it's data was old.

Note that in the bios, the boot sequence is set to diskette, then hard drive 0 (the 'normal' drive on the primary channel).  There's nothing specified for hard drive 2, which would have been the extra drive.

On some earlier IBM models, I know from experience that a hard drive WILL NOT boot unless it is plugged into the primary controller--I tried it, repeatedly.  But on newer models, you can boot up on either controller.  Even so, I don't know why or how it booted up the extra drive that fateful night instead of the 'normal' drive.  Yet it clearly happened, causing all kinds of problems, and scares me away from setting up a 'ghostable' drive for my users, feaful that this kind of thing could happen again, without anyone knowing it.

Any ideas why or how this could have happened, and whether there is any surefire way of avoiding it, while still keeping both drives connected to their cables and ide controllers?
Question by:sasllc
LVL 69

Assisted Solution

Callandor earned 300 total points
ID: 11857524
Hmm, spurious values getting into the BIOS and changing the boot sequence?  The only sure way to prevent something like this happening is to physically disconnnect it.  Too many things can happen to cause the switch (for all you know, someone could have changed the setting and changed it back), and only a physical disconnect can guarantee it not happening.
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

_ earned 300 total points
ID: 11857697
The only thing I can think of is that there might be a "boot from other device" setting in the BIOS that needs to be disabled.
LVL 28

Accepted Solution

burrcm earned 300 total points
ID: 11857849
Avoid the situation completely by Ghosting to an image file on the second drive rather than cloning the drive. No way an image can boot.

Chris B
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LVL 45

Assisted Solution

patrickab earned 300 total points
ID: 11858306
I think I got lost en-route. Fine, you have 'Ghosted' a secondary drive. Having done that, what is it's purpose in the system? Is it used as a secondary drive to store data or is it just sitting there unused? Why have you created a duplicate of the primary drive? If it is to preserve data then that's an odd way to do it as it's a one-time duplication. If it's as a back-up, it is static and fails to back up more recent data. If you intended to use it instead of the primary drive, why have you kept the primary drive in the pc? I dunno, I truly do not understand why you have 'Ghosted' the primary drive. Do please explain?

Meanwhile, if you really want to have on-line backing-up you would be far better to Raid your system rather than 'Ghosting' it.

By the way, if you want the pc to boot-up rather faster, why not set the disk boot sequence as C, D, A - where the primary hdd is C, D the CDROM (if there is one) and A the floppy. It's a bit odd to have the fdd as the first item in the boot sequence as it is surely the last item you would want to boot from!

Author Comment

ID: 11858772
I have a lot of customers who are hundreds of miles away.  A few have had hard drive failures.  My intention was to have them ghost the 'normal' hard drive every few months, so that the extra drive would have a legit copy of their xp operating system, and their programs, and registry, etc., i.e. the things that don't change much on their systems.  And then, of course, if they ever had to actually USE the extra drive to run on, I would help them restore their data backups.

So I need to have an EASY way for them to be able to get right back up and running.  When I first started this experiment with a few customers, I had the 'normal' drive as master on the primary controller, and the extra drive as master on the secondary controller.  After running ghost, I tested a theory hoping that I could select my boot device at startup time, allowing me to choose hard drive 2 (which would be the extra drive).  But the IBM I was doing most of the testing with would not let me boot on a hard drive unless it was attached to the primary controller.  Even so, all I would have to do in case of emergency was tell the user how to unplug the 'normal' drive's cable from the primary controller, and move the extra drive's cable from the secondary controller to the primary controller, and then they would be back in business, ready to restore their daily data backups.

And that was all fine--until I discovered two 'bad' things with this newer IBM I sold: 1) it can boot a hard drive attached to either controller, with no operator intervention and 2) it is capable of booting off the drive attached to the secondary controller, even though there is a bootable drive on the primary controller, and the bios says to boot from hard drive 0.  And that's what got me into so much trouble, without having any idea it was happening at the time.

I know for a fact that this user did not change any settings, because they are just not capable.  I guess it was a fluke, but since it happened once, presumably it could happen again...and potentially make a mess out of things, if the computer is not 100% consistent as to which drive it boots up on each time.

I'm not real familiar with the 'image' concept of ghost, but I am guessing that it would not give me the quick, easy ability to get the user back up as described above...wouldn't I have to have a bootable XP drive with ghost on it, so I could restore the image?  Explaining all that from afar to one of MY users could be a challenge!

In regard to raid, I know little about it.  Does it effectively let you have a mirror image of your 'normal' drive at all time, much like Novell used to do?  I've found comments on e-e saying that XP can't have a mirror image (on it's own).  Can a raid setup help meet my needs?  How much does it cost to do a raid setup on a simple IBM computer running a 'normal' 80GB IDE hard drive?  How easy would it be to get my far-away user 'back in business' if the 'normal' drive failed?

LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 11859003
To restore from image - one Ghost floppy or CD, and a short instruction list. i.e. Click Local - Disk - from image. Select image file - click OK. 5 minutes later pull bootdisk, reboot. Thats it.

Chris B

Assisted Solution

FieldIT earned 300 total points
ID: 11871767
check the jumpers on your slave and make sure they are set to the slave setting...usually the back of the hard drive has a sticker showing the jumper settings.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12094154
Thank you much.    : )

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