Hard Disks "dissappear"

I am helping a friend work some glitches out of his computer, but the one I don't even know where to begin troubleshooting has the following symptoms:

First, keep in mind, these are two separate physical hard drives, and neither is the system partition. The C:\ drive is a SATA and is working normally. These are D:\ and E:\, two separate IDE drives.

1. His hard drives randomly dissappear and reappear (yet mostly just stay dissappeared) during normal operation. They do not show up in Explorer/My Computer, whatever.

2. At random, they may show up from time to time, one at a time or both. If one at a time shows up, attempting to access them prompts for formatting, yet if both show up, everything works fine. Rebooting does not cause them to reappear.

3. In BIOS, the hard drives are listed as they should be, yet they have "! ! ! !" after their names in the Primary/Secondary Master/Slave list.

I am going to open the computer atm and switch out the IDE cable, as this is the only thing I can think of that is causing the problem. I am at a loss for troubleshooting solutions. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
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More about hard disks quot dissappear quot
  1. I would need some more information to nreally help you, but I can help you clarify the problem.

    1) Are both of these drives Master/Slave on the same IDE channel, or are they both Masters on different channels?

    2) If you only connect one drive (the master) does it show up?

    3) Are the drives detected on any **other** systems?

    4) How old is this system and what is the date on the BIOS?
  2. Might also want to set one as master and the other as slave if they are currently set to CS... But it could be that its a dodgy controller. Hmm... Are there two IDE ports on that board? Is the other in use?
  3. Ok, some of these I can answer now, others I gotta shut down and try some things. Here's what I have now.

    1. They are both on the same IDE cable as Master and Slave. I don't have a spare cable to test with, but I will try seeing if they work one at a time. This setup has worked for several years with no problems as a MS/SL setup. I never use Cable Select.

    2. I'll try hooking one at a time up in a few minutes.

    3. I don't have any other systems to plug the drive into, but from time to time they reappear on this computer working normally.

    4. The system is a few years old, but I maintain it for him with regular formats. He has had some trouble with trojans/virii lately that mostly deal with adware, but he claims to see some sort of registry deletion thing running the other day after a boot. I don't know much past that to elaborate on with that event.

    5. The BIOS are AwardBIOs, and I keep them as current as possible.
  4. Patiently waiting...
  5. Heh, while I appreciate the attention, don't wait too much. Gotta run out for a few hours, gonna troubleshoot more later.
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