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Can't change boot order of internal hard drives on my computer?

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  • Hard Drives
  • Computers
  • Boot
  • Dell
  • BIOS
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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August 27, 2013 12:21:29 AM

Hi guys/gals,

I'm having a little problem with my Dell A03 (or AO3) BIOS configurations. I have a Dell Optiplex 220 with the above BIOS version. It's possible for me to select a boot order for the following: (internal drive, CD-Rom, Floppy Disk etc.) but I can't figure out how to choose which internal hard drive to boot from.

I have the following drives installed into my computer:
1) 149GB Seagate ST3160212AS
2) 932GB Seagate ST1000VX000-1CU162

So basically I have windows installed on the 149GB drive. When both drives are plugged in, it tries to boot up from the 932GB drive (even though there is no os installed on it). Upon pressing F1 to continue after a message saying there's no boot disk available, nothing happens, even when the smaller drive with windows is also plugged in. It's highly irritating as I have to unplug the 932GB drive every time when I boot up the computer, just so it will boot off the smaller drive. Then once the computer starts up, I need to plug the larger drive back in (while computer is running! which isn't very safe, nor is it good for the hard drive I assume). Then go to comp management and rescan disks just so I can use that hard drive.

What can I do to solve this problem?

More about : change boot order internal hard drives computer

August 27, 2013 9:44:35 AM

Here's something you can try. Shut down and change the way the two HDD's are plugged into your mobo. Switch the data cables between the two mobo HDD ports. Why? Well, although your BIOS Setup screens will tell you that it is set to boot from a particular HDD model, in truth it remembers which mobo PORT it is booting from. So if you switch the HDD's between the ports, it will try to boot from the same PORT as before, but this time it will be the other HDD.

Oh, by the way, whatever HDD you boot from will be the C: drive. Others will be given other letter names. Just check that they are the way you expect.
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August 27, 2013 11:43:44 AM

Paperdoc said:
Here's something you can try. Shut down and change the way the two HDD's are plugged into your mobo. Switch the data cables between the two mobo HDD ports. Why? Well, although your BIOS Setup screens will tell you that it is set to boot from a particular HDD model, in truth it remembers which mobo PORT it is booting from. So if you switch the HDD's between the ports, it will try to boot from the same PORT as before, but this time it will be the other HDD.

Oh, by the way, whatever HDD you boot from will be the C: drive. Others will be given other letter names. Just check that they are the way you expect.


Smaller drive is C: drive and larger drive is G: drive. Also, I have tried switching the hard drives around but with no luck (forgot to mention it). That's why this is bothering me so much - nothing seems to work. In "computer management" though, it says both hard drives are primary partitions, meaning it will boot from both. If there was a way to make the larger drive a secondary partition, it might fix it
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Best solution

August 27, 2013 7:38:54 PM

You are misinformed about "Primary Partition". On any HDD there are two fundamental types of Partition. A Primary Partition (there can be no more than 4 on one HDD) is the common basic type, normally found on EVERY HDD. An Extended Partition is a special kind that can contain more Extended Partitions in it, just as any "disk" can contain subdirectories or folders. The HDD's Partition Table is a fixed size and only has space for 4 Partitions max. So you could have up to 4 Primary Partitions. Or, you could have up to 3 of these, plus one Extended Partition that can contain many more Extended Partitions.

Any Primary Partition MAY be made bootable by installing on it an Operating System, and by making a proper setting in the Partition Table to note it as bootable. But if this is NOT done, any Primary Partition can still function as a data storage place only - it's just not bootable. It is possible to have more than one bootable Primary Partition , as in multi-boot systems that allow you to choose which OS to boot up.

Now, I'll recommend a sequence that MIGHT get you where you want to go. You want to be able to boot from the smaller HDD, and not try the larger one, right? For the folowing I'm going to assume you want to try to boot from the CD-ROM unit first and, if that does not contain a bootable disk, to fall through to the next (and last) choice, the smaller HDD.

1. Shut down and disconnect both HDDs' data cables.
2. Boot directly into BIOS Setup and go to select the boot order. Set the CD-ROM unit first, and there should be no other option chosen. (Unless, for example, you actually want the floppy drive in there as a second choice.) Save and Exit, and the machine should try and fail to boot from the CD-ROM unit.
3. Shut down. Reconnect the small HDD only, preferably to the first SATA port.
4. Boot into BIOS Setup again and this time add the HDD as the second choice in the boot sequence. Save and Exit, and the machine should try the CD-ROM unit, fail, and very quickly go on and boot successfully from the smaller HDD.
5. Shut down and reconnect the larger HDD to another SATA port.
6. Boot into BIOS Setup again and just check - the boot sequence should be unchanged, with NO mention of the larger HDD. If so, just Exit without Saving. (If you have to make any changes, Save and Exit.) The machine should boot just as it did last time, the way you want.
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