Can't find Hard Drive

I have a dell xps 400.  When I am in the bios the hard drive shows up, shows all the specs.  When I try to install a new copy of Windows it keeps telling my it can't find the hard drive.  i have updated the bios and nothing works.  Is this a bad motherboard?  
Who is Participating?
If your bios is set up to raid autodetect /ahci and if you don't have the SATA driver thats why Windows XP can't find your hard drive. If you can, disable raid autodetect /ahci temporarily and see if Windows XP see's your hard drive.
can you see the hard drive specs in the BIOS
It may be an issue with the disk drivers. What version of Windows and what is the model of the hard disk... does it require SCSI drivers?
Introducing Cloud Class® training courses

Tech changes fast. You can learn faster. That’s why we’re bringing professional training courses to Experts Exchange. With a subscription, you can access all the Cloud Class® courses to expand your education, prep for certifications, and get top-notch instructions.

Hi pwarren1212,

If your system is using a SATA drive, you are going to need the drivers for it, Windows XP doesn't support SATA drivers.
Go to dells site and get any Sata,AHCI,or RAID drivers, when it first starts to install windows (as it's loading files) it gives you the option at the bottom to hit f6 to install drivers.

As a quick fix sometimes you can go into the BIOS and turn off any RAID or AHCI settings.  These are usually found under the advanced tab.
If it's using a SATA drive, you need to integrate the AHCI drivers with the XP installation. A post in a similar question today had a good link to do this:

Alternatively, you can disable SATA or AHCI mode in some BIOS's, and then install XP. But, re-enabling this after the XP install can be tricky.

The mobo isn't bad because it can see the HD no problem in BIOS.
pwarren1212Author Commented:
Yes the details of the hard drive shows up in the bios.  I am using windows xp pro, seagate harddrive.  The bios are set to raid autodetect / ahci.  
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Have you got the XPS 400 with the floppy drive option or the multi-card reader?

If you have the floppy download the SATA driver for your HDD (SATA300) from the Dell support site here (

Unpack it onto a floppy and when the install boots from CD insert the disk and wait for the messaage at the bottom of the install screen asking if you need to install any additional drivers.  Hit F6 and a little while later into the install Windows Setup will load the drivers from the Floppy Drive.

If you don't have a FDD then the link above will help you incorporate the drivers into a new XP setup CD.
Like skywalker said(and me), turn off the ahci raid
If tehre is still no disk you need to integrate sata drivers into your Xp installation. Use nlite to do that.
Take a look at
This is the parts that you need
Copy your XP instalation CD files in some folder on disk (on another computer of course),
direct nlite to that location
on the option screen select only Integrate drivers
select folder with your unpacked drivers as in manual part 2
at the end nlite will create ISO bootable XP installation CD with your drivers on it.
Burn the image on CD and thats it.
pwarren1212Author Commented:
Thanks, I couldn't turn it off, but I could change it to autodetect / ata.  That worked and I was able to install OS.  Thanks again
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.