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2.5" HDD in a notebook unable to format!

Last response: in Storage
February 4, 2006 1:34:19 AM


I have the following problem: A friend's notebook simply crashed one day and wouldn't boot, complaining about a missing boot device. I tried to reinstall Windows XP on it, but I discovered, that the Setup process detected the HDD, but instead of 40GBs, it found 230GBs!! I tried to format it, but to no avail... After a while the computer would block and restarting the setup process, didn't even find the HDD...

I tried to play around in the BIOS, but anything else than Auto detection would incorrectly size the drive. The BIOS did find the disk, however I noticed that the naming was corrupted, i.e. instead of TOSHIBA, it read TOOHIBA. SO I thought the drive was kaputt and ordered a new Samsung 60GBs disk.

Upon installing the new disk, although detected by the BIOS, Windows Setup still reports 230GBs!! I downloaded Samsung's low-level formatting utilities, and all of them report the partition is faulty, but formatting doesn't work! It reports to have have finished only at 2%. I have tried other free utilities, which can see the drive, but are unable to do any modifications to it.

Any ideas? I reflashed the BIOS, but the problem still persists. Is it possible that the chipset causes some kind of corruption on the IDE channel? And if yes, does that mean the mainboard is as good as dead?
February 4, 2006 2:17:32 AM

You have a motherboard problem. They aren't that bad to replace. Check out ebay for a used one that the seller guarantees is working.
February 4, 2006 2:23:02 AM

must be either the bios or the ata connector are you using ata-5 oe ata-6?
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February 4, 2006 11:08:04 AM

It is ATA-5, if I am correct. It says UDMA-100, during the detection progress. But the connector is fixed on the motherboard. I will try in ebay although, I think the best bed would be to send it back to the company.
February 4, 2006 3:51:08 PM

I just looked at the company's website, cause I am unable to find a mainboard for this model in ebay, and they want 500Eu to exchange it. That is kind of... ridiculous.

So I was thinking... Is it possible to make this 2.5" drive an externatl USB and boot from it? Would Windows install on it? Can I do it from the CD or should I copy the installation files on the HDD first and then run the installation from DOS?
February 4, 2006 5:12:59 PM

Don't give up on replacement yet.

Put the exact mobo model# in Google to see what you come up with. You might find someone in the States who has one.

What is the notebook and mobo BTW?

To answer your later ???. Assuming you want NTFS (very efficient, rather than FAT32), DOS cannot read NTFS. Doing a dos install was great with W98 wasn't it? Not possible with XP, unless you fdisk and format it for FAT32.

If you like that idea, you can convert to ntfs after you have everything working okay by doing this: Go to the command prompt and type:
(Note: items in parentheses are not to be typed that way; they are instructions for what to do or put in.)

cd(back slash here) (hit Enter). At the "C" prompt, type:

convert(space)C:( space)/fs:ntfs(hit Enter)

Just remember, XP installs have to occur on the final hardware it will be running on. You can't take a hard drive to another machine, install XP, then transfer it to another pc.
February 4, 2006 5:21:39 PM

You need to check the bios and find if there is anything about booting from usb. If not you wont be able to use external drive.
February 5, 2006 2:00:51 AM

Thanks for the replies guys...

Unfortunately, I am not from the States, I live in Germany, and the notebook is one called Peacock Freeliner XP-210. The only thing I have been able to find, is that is is also sold under the "Targa Visionary XP" name, but I haven't been able to find anything else, nor a motherboard.

As far as the USB installation is concerned I was thinking of:
Making the partition on another PC and simply copying the Windows installation files on the HDD, cause Windows Setup doen't detect USB drives from the CD.. right?

Then I would boot from a CD such as UBCD and access the HDD contents from the command prompt. I would run setup from there on then.

But I have read somewhere over at a blog at MSDN that it simply cannot be done, because of the way USB resets itself everytime a device is connected...

Has anyone tried or achieved that?

Thanks for the help anyway!
February 5, 2006 4:01:24 AM

I researched this unit. It's quite the cat's meow!

Anyway, I still think you have a mobo problem; not a hd or controller failure. Instead of sending to manu for replacement, what about a simple purchase, and you do the swap? This notebook is worthy of repair.

Download TuffTest ($10) and run the mainboard diagnostics.
February 6, 2006 11:04:53 AM

Well, after I figured out how to dismantle the notebook, I was able to get a good look at the motherboard: Its number is 755CA0. Using this number I was able to dig in the web and discovered that a Gericom unit is exactly the same to this one, at least the motherboad is.

Now I am watching in ebay, I was able to locate 2 motherboards, but one is 755CI, which comes with the KN400A chip instead of the KT400A of mine. Now, I know this chip has built-in graphics, but I was wondering if it did support an external AGP card, as I have a removable mobility RADEON 9600 128MB.

The 2nd one was an intel motherboard, but it did surely have the AGP expansion port, although it originally shipped with a GeForce FX card.

Now I am wondering, if I am unlucky enough not to come across an entirely similar motherboard, but one that feats into my enclosure, like the ones above, is there anything preventing me from using one with my older components? (ok, apart the processor :? ) I mean, if the original notebook shipped with a GeForce instead of a Radeon, is it still usable with a Radeon? (i.e. Does the VGA BIOS lie on the daughter card, or does it reside on the main system BIOS?)

Thanks a lot BTW! I never thought I would never find the courage to open this thing!
February 6, 2006 12:55:01 PM

A mobo that comes with the capacity to use a graphics card, and is also hardwired for video - can have this feature disabled in the BIOS.

The only concern you have, is whether your display is compatible with a different replacement. Occasionally it's problematic.

The KN400A chipset has S3 graphics integrated.

If the only difference between the two mobos is graphics, I would go for it.
February 6, 2006 4:05:42 PM

Is it able to accept a BIOS flash? If that tanks, then the mobo definitely has emotional problems.

If it does accept a flash, then see if the problem goes away, might have been just a corrupted BIOS.
February 6, 2006 6:32:44 PM

You can buy usb hd (2.5") enclosures most any were, Ive seen them as low as $15usd.

If you get in to you bios. Check on the boot order. A usb drive will not show up unless it is connected. There may be an option to search for usb devices.