3 Drive Swappable Drive Bay-Drives Not Recognized

Earlier this year, I purchased a new computer, a PowerSpec AMD 64 Atholon-x2, for our home.  I wanted to have a computer with swappable hard drives so that my wife and I could have our own version of Windows on our own private hard drive (I never have liked the windows system for multiple users).  The third removable drive would be for visitors and misc internet usage.

In order to accomplish this, I installed a "CompUSA Removable Rack for 3 SATA Hard Drives" (SKU-333106) (actually MicroCenter installed it for me, but they would not assist with the installation of windows on all the drives).  In any event, I now have five hard drives in my computer and can only access one of the drives.  3 of the drives are in the Removable Rack and two are installed permanently in the computer, (the one that I can access is one of the permanently installed hard drives).  In any event, to use the computer, the procedure would be to make sure that the appropriate hard drive was in Slot 1 and then to boot off that hard drive.  It was my intention to use the permanently installed hard drives as follows: --

Perm Drive #1 for Backup and
Perm Drive #2 for a clean original for when I wanted to wipe one of the swappable drives clean and start over.

In order to install Windows, Microsoft office and misc other software on all the hard drives, I purchased software (not Ghost), but another brand, that would create a mirror images from one disk to the other.  It is during this procedure that things got screwed up and what I may have done was to create an archive copy or a backup copy onto the hard drive and now the computer does not recognize them.

Drives are currently:
C:      Currently the only accessible drive
D:      CD Rom
E:      CD Rom      
F:      Portable Media Devices
G:      Portable Media Devices
H:      Portable Media Devices
I:      Portable Media Devices

If I go to computer management, I show the above configuration.  Also, If I go to defrag, I only show drive c: available to defrag

I guess that the first question is how do I get the computer to recognize the three swappable hard drives and the two permanent hard drives?  Then, how do I get the computer to boot up from Swappable Drive Bay #1????????

PS:  Out of curriosity, could you rate my reasoning on this from 1 to 10?  Is this something that you would do?

Thanks for any assistance that you can give.
Who is Participating?
>>  It could be a defective rack???    <<  yes, or cable
jorbay-DallasTexasAuthor Commented:
One minor thing is that when I go to Disk Management, there are two duplicate displays of the drives and storage devices on the right side of the screen?  I hadn't noticed that before.  I presume that it has nothing to do with my problem, but I couldn't get rid of it.
did you initialise and format the drives?
To do so, type diskmgmt.msc in the run box + Enter
then select 1 drive, from the menu select initialise, then format.
Cloud Class® Course: Python 3 Fundamentals

This course will teach participants about installing and configuring Python, syntax, importing, statements, types, strings, booleans, files, lists, tuples, comprehensions, functions, and classes.

jorbay-DallasTexasAuthor Commented:
OK, did that and as mentioned above the only drive that shows up is one of the permanently attached drives and it is designated as the C: drive.  None of the other Hard drives show up.
In my opinion it seems like a bit of an overkill and alot of work and money that could have probably been saved or spent else where however each to their own and far be it from me to say what is right or wrong just my opinion.

One install of XP with User accounts, "Husband" & "Wife" and a "Guest" for vistitors set to limited would have given you what you wanted without the need for seperate installs and also gives you the ability to user switch which you will not be able to do with the hardware configuration you have setup.
You will have to restart and boot into each user install each and every time you wish to use them.
So for example if you have a download going and your wife needs the computer you will either have to pause the download or wait until it is finsihed  so that you can reboot the computer and start a seprate installation.
With the user account method you just switch users and the download keeps running along while the other user does their business.

The other thing is you will have to use some third party bootloader or do some editing in boot.ini to be able to select which intall you wish to boot into at any given time.

My advice would be to format all the drives and start from scratch.

Do an install of XP to drive 1.
Then do another fresh install and select drive 2.
Then do another fresh install and select drive 3.
Then do another fresh install and select drive 4.

with each progressive install at boot you will see 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 choices to boot into XP.

Select one and boot into windows and find your boot.ini file.
Open it with notepad and you will see something like this but with multiple entries.

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

For each entry edit this section "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" to something like:
"Microsoft Windows XP Husband"
"Microsoft Windows XP Wife"
"Microsoft Windows XP Visitor"
"Microsoft Windows XP Backup"

Make sure that you DO NOT change anything else but that text.

Save that and restart.

Then when you restart you will clearly know which install you are booting into.
Just arrow key to the one you want and hit enter and you are away.

Once you have done this you can go into each install and configure and setup each one to your requirements.

Hopefully this helps :)
jorbay-DallasTexasAuthor Commented:
Reply #2--To The Professional

OK, one step at a time.  The first question is how do I do this? The following is what you stated:

""""""My advice would be to format all the drives and start from scratch.

-----Do an install of XP to drive 1.
-----Then do another fresh install and select drive 2.
-----Then do another fresh install and select drive 3.
-----Then do another fresh install and select drive 4.

---with each progressive install at boot you will see 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 choices to boot into XP."""

My question is How do I select the different drives when they do not show up in disk mgmt
The second question/thought, is that altering the boot.ini sounds interesting.  What is on my computer is:
     [boot loader]
     [operating systems]
     multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin/fastdetect
(I have no timeouts and windows is stated as WINNT)
OK, How do I alter "Microsoft windows XP Professional",
Do I change it as follows-with multiple entries?:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Husband" /noexecute=optin/fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Wife" /noexecute=optin/fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Visitor" /noexecute=optin/fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Backup" /noexecute=optin/fastdetect

Thanks, Appreciate the time on this.

since none of the drives appear, you have  :
-a bad cable or connector to the rack (how is it connected actually? ?)
-or the rack needs to be installed in another way.
you can inspect cables and connectors, or contact CompUSA with your problem.
They do not have to install anything on the drives, but they should show up.
nobus I did think about this but jorbay-DallasTexas said it was working until he tried imaging the drives and this is where it went wrong so I can only assume that it was working before this happened.

Q1:"OK, one step at a time.  The first question is how do I do this?"

Just act like you are doing a fresh install for the first time and once you get to the location where you want to install XP all of the drives should be visible there.
From there you can remove or create partions from each hard drive.
XP install will also allocate drive letters for you there as well so you can be sure you are seeing all the connected drives.
Select the first drive and install XP to that drive.
Once it has finished completely and you have booted into windows then start the procedure from the start again.
This time XP will detect the last evrsion you installed but you want to leave that one in place and do another install.
This will bring you to the drive section again but this time you select the next hard drive and install to that drive.
Once this install has finished completely and you have booted into windows then start the procedure from the start again.

So on first install you install to drive X: then the next to drive X: and so on until you have 4 seperate installs of XP.

NOTE: replace X with whatever drive letter assignments you get on install and with each fresh install move to the next alphabetical drive letter.

Now after all this has been done you will see when you start your computre 4 choices of XP to boot into.
Just choose the arrow keys to select which one you want and hit enter.

Q2:OK, How do I alter "Microsoft windows XP Professional",
Do I change it as follows-with multiple entries?:

You can only alter the text that I stated above nothing else.
When you have done the 4 seperate installs you will end up with 4 entries in the boot.ini file each of them will have different information about partitions etc.
All you are wanting to do is edit the text you see in the boot loader when you boot up windows XP.

EG: when you start XP you will see :

"Microsoft windows XP Professional"
"Microsoft windows XP Professional"
"Microsoft windows XP Professional"
"Microsoft windows XP Professional"

You just use the arrow key to select which one you want to boot into but with it like this you have to remember who's is who's.
So you edit the entries in the boot.ini so that you end up seeing this at startup:

"Microsoft Windows XP Husband"
"Microsoft Windows XP Wife"
"Microsoft Windows XP Visitor"
"Microsoft Windows XP Backup"

This way it is easy to know which one you are booting into.

You cannot just add entries into the boot.ini.
Each seperate install of XP will add its own information to the file and then you just edit the section I showed you in the first post.

I hope that is clearer for you.

I just checked the connections you should have as nobus got my mind ticking over and you should have 3 SATA cables connected to the unit and 2 molex plugs for power is this correct?
Obviously the 2 molex plugs come from the power supply and the 3 SATA cables come from the motherboard controller or add in card.
He never said it was working; and you do not have to answer to me, answer to the asker, he'll like tha
...he'll like that better
jorbay-DallasTexasAuthor Commented:
Back Again,  (1 correction to my previous statements--I only have one permanent drive and 3 swappable drives)

Picked up the System Recovery Disk, and disconnected the operating disk drive and rebooted.  The computer stated that there are no available drives.  I checked the cables and they seem to be OK.  I guess that I will take it in and see if Microcenter can look at it again.  It could be a defective rack???  

So, this question is on hold for a few days.
jorbay-DallasTexasAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, the problem turned out to be a defective rack.  I took it into MicroComputer and they said that the rack that I picked up from Compusa was defective and they sold me a replacement.  The replacement has buttons with which you can select which drive that you want to boot up.  I did say/think that the rack system was working, so, thanks to the professional for his assistance but nobus did correctly diagnose the problem as a bad rack.  
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.