previously had 1 500GB sata, added 1 1000GB SATA.. then days later old SATA 500GB no longer recognized.

Ok.  This one is probably a easy win.  

I have a Asus M3A78-EM mobo running Windows XP 64bit.  This machine has been running fine for about 6 months with a single 500GB SATA hard drive.  As I just ran out of space,  I popped in a new 1000GB Western Digital and everything worked just fine.  I created a partition in XP on the new drive and copied all my data from old drive to new drive.   I then  ran a defrag on the 500GB disk and continued for 3 days to use the PC as normal.  

After the Windows update ran on its own last night (i think it installed IE 8),  XP no longer booted up.  Well actually it did boot up to the regular page that appears just before the GUI username password entry page.. but then got stuck (no username/pw entry window appeared).

I could still connect to it via openSSH, and run tasklist from the console but couldn't get the UI login to popup.  

Eventually I hit the reset button on my PC and after this the BIOS screen takes a long time to load (30seconds) and the old 250 GB SATAdrive is not recognized automatically.  IT also is not recognized after i get into BIOS.   The LED activity light for the HDD turns on for a long time while waiting for the bios setup page to appear.

So any ideas what could be the problem?   I'm planning to check the wire connections and run a diag tool this evening on the disk itself, but can anyone suggest any other causes?    It would be kind of strange if my 1st HDD died by coincidence a couple of days after I installed a new HDD and backed everything up... normally the HDD comes AFTER the backups are lost...
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Check your connections, change power/sata cables.  If it is taking a long time to enter the BIOS and isn't recognize, it sounds like the drive died.  Remove and test in another computer - if it works, repost and we'll work from there.  Is the drive making any noises?  
You are very lucky...always have current backups!  Your drive may have been failing for quite some time, but with all the recent activity (copies and defrag) it may have invoked complete failure.
incongruentAuthor Commented:
well... just tried swapping power and moving it from sata1 to sata3.... no dice... its only a 6 mth old drive.  going to swap it into my other machine and see if I can get anything out of it but it is almost definately toasted i guess... I always kind of figured I'd get some magic smoke puff out of my drive when it died instead of one day restarting and having nothing happen.

will report back shortly.
Its not exactly an eventful experience, its usually just a major bummer.  What type of drive is it?  With a 6 month failure, I'm guessing Seagate Barracuda...
Check out this site, its pretty useful for determining the type of drive failure:
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incongruentAuthor Commented:
YOU CAN FIX IT:  see below....

I was kind of hoping I could come back and amaze everyone with my random experience but it seems you've already got an idea of what the problem might be... or Seagate just has that bad of a reputation.

The device is a Seagate Barricuda 500GB drive model # ST3500320AS.

After trying to get this puppy running on my 2nd PC and getting no results I knew this was toast... so i created a support ticket with seagate and wrapped up my experience with some googling to see how many other people had problems with this device.  

As the search results showed, this device is a complete lemon.  Basically seagate made a firmware coding mistake where after a certain amount of time the device will write a bad sequence to the cache or something and leave the state in a permanent "BUSY" status.  This means your BIOS will be unable to access the drive and it is more unusable.  This pisses me off, but it pisses me off MOSTLY because Seagate knew this was an inevitability and didn't do much of anything to warn anyone.  

Lesson Learned:  Don't buy seagate products..... infact... tell everyone you know to not buy seagate.   Sell all your seagate stocks...

ANYWAYS... it looks like seagate will RMA your drive and MAYBE they'll pay to recover your data from the drive but not sure if that will pan out... All I had was weeks of configuration time invested in that drive to tweak it as a media PC.. so no need to recover that... I'll just have fun doing it all over again.

YOU CAN FIX IT:  Okay... so if you really did have important data on there and Seagate isn't going to get it back for you.... someone has devised a way to remove the "BUSY" lock that inevitably will occur.  Chances are probably 75% that you will actually toast your drive more so and void your warranty and 99% if you're not a hardcore computer/electrical engineerish type superuse.... but you can review the "solution" here....

Hope this helps someone out there with critical data on their drive that seagate carelessly built.

Case closed... points go to me. :)

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incongruentAuthor Commented:
oh more links...

It seems this was a big issue earlier in the year but I've been away from home and not using the PC since March so I guess now that I'm back I encounter the problem months after everyone else.

I think I pretty clearly answered the original question - "so any ideas what could be the problem?"  The drive model was never even mentioned...
incongruentAuthor Commented:
Although your answer is helpful generically,  I would rather leave my answer as the solution incase someone with the same problem is looking for an answer.  I'll let the question expire and moderator can split the points or award them to you but I'd like for my comment to be recorded as the solution.
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