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SATA RAID 1 w/ WinXP Won't Boot With a PATA Drives Installed

Posted on 2006-11-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I successfully installed two new WD 250 GB SATA drives on this 8rda3ipro mobo in RAID 1 (mirrored). XP sp2 installed, etc. Drivers have been installed correctly. Problem is when I attach any of 3 other PATA drives to ch 0, master/slave or ch 1 master/slave. It gets through the POST and detects the IDE drives correctly. Then Windows starts to load and shows the black screen with white bar at the bottom that moves from left to right, then the screen blanks out, next I'd expect to see the Windows XP splash screen on a black background but it doesn't get that far. The monitor 'clicks' like it's about to show the desktop and I see a brief flash of garbled video then it reboots and loops like that.

I thought maybe Windows is trying to read those drives but can't for some reason out of some confusion over the drive controller. So - In the BIOS I set all four PATA channels as enabled for RAID, so the nvidia raid controller controls them instead of the regular controller. That did work - I got past the boot loop and can boot into windows, but can't see any of the PATA drives. When I go into the RAID BIOS (F10 at boot), it 'sees' the PATA drives. I leave them alone - I don't want to make an array out of the PATA drives. I thought if I didn't create an array, the disks would show up as single disks in Windows but they don't. They don't show up in Disk manager. I can use the Windows GUI nvidia raid control program and 'see' the PATA drives there, but again, I don't want to create an array from them.

I also tried updating the BIOS to the latest version - didn't help. I think the PC is trying to boot off the PATA drives and getting confused. Someone suggested making the PATA drives not 'active' using Partition Magic. How is that done?

Any ideas?
Question by:RickNCN
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LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 2000 total points
ID: 17985336
Check the utility for your raid controller, some require that even a single disk is looked upon as an "array". If that is the case on yours, try to create a 1 drive array.

You can use fdisk or most other partitioning software to flag a primary partition "active". This isn't destructive and can be easily done. within fdisk you should see an option to toggle active or inactive, just use that. In the partition table you should have an "a" if a partition is active and nothing if it isn't. But I don't think this will make a difference to your problem, although you should only have one partition active.

Can you boot into safe mode? Have you tried a live CD like knoppix? Or the UBCD4Win?


Author Comment

ID: 17986638
The raid utility is very simple - essentially selecting the disks, raid type and stripe size I think. It does do JBOD, and that thought had crossed my mind, I just didn't want to do that until I got some confirmation that making a single drive array wouldn't scramble something, or make the drive unusable  without the raid controller. One thing I tried is going into the mobo bios and telling it to control the PATA drives with the raid controller. I did not create any 'single disk arrays', just left them alone. And, as expected, I suppose, they didn't show up in Windows.

I will try making a single disk array and use fdisk to make only 1 disk active and see what happens.

Author Comment

ID: 18044729
Can a disk have no active partitions?

 I did try making single disk jbod arrays for the 3 pata drives I'm trying to address, but it doesn't work.

I used partition magic (8 I think) to try to set active partitions, but when it booted from CD, it wouldn't see my wireless usb mouse - no biggie, I navigated with keyboard, but I found absolutely nothing in the available menu options to change the active partitions.

LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 18047840
Sure, there doesn't have to be any active partition on a disk. Usually only one disk in a PC can have an active partition, that is the one that you can boot from. Also, only primary partitions can be set to active, logical partitions inside extended partitions can't be active! If you have more than one active partition in a system, you can get problems particularly when booting, as then it isn't clear from which disk to boot from.

Author Comment

ID: 18375256
Welllll... I got around the problem, never resolved anything. I simply removed the 3 PATA drives, and booted normally from my mirrored 250 array. Then one by one I put each PATA drive into a usb external enclosure and copied off the data that I needed and then formatted them. I reinstalled them into the PC and used the raid controller to make one large 160Gb jbod drive out of them. Now I back up to that volume.

The question this seems to boil down to is this: If I put two hdd's into a PC that both have XP and active partitions on them, ~and~ I set the bios to boot off of one and leave the other out of the boot order ~and~ boot.ini is specifying the correct drive, why does it still get confused about where to boot from? Is this just my motherboard/bios? Do all mobos have this issue? I can see many people needing to do this all the time to extract data off a failed drive. It must not be a problem for other people with different hardware.

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