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Dell vostro 1520 not retaining bios settings

I have a dell vostro 1520 laptop.  it keeps losing an important bios setting (the AHCI/ATA compatibility).  It keeps switching back to AHCI after I set it to ATA. It won't boot if it's set to AHCI and I have to manually change it to ATA mode as it loses the setting.  

Any idea how i can make it retain the settings?

I installed a new hard drive and loaded a fresh copy of XP.  Everything works normally after setting it to ATA mode and restarting it.
3 Solutions
Just a couple of things you could check...
1) does it retain the correct time setting in the bios? - if it loses the time as well, it could be the bios battery that needs replacing (this is separate from the main laptop battery)

2) Do you have the latest bios installed? Version A08 is the latest one at present. If you don't, try updating it
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
You have auto detection for the HDD selected, it sees SATA on boot and so deselects PATA as the BIOS assumes you would want better performance.

Is there a reason why you are not going to install the Vostro's SATA drivers for XP?  that way you could get SATA performance without blue- screening.
possible low Bios battery  - it should read 3v; CMOS battery is located underneath the keyboard.
or just replace it
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fstincAuthor Commented:
masqueraid: Where do I get the SATA drivers and how do I install them?
fstincAuthor Commented:
laptop all of a sudden took a turn for the worst - Mobo fried. wasn't able to try the above. sorry.
..it happens

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