Windows XP Bootup Screen doesnt hang, but Windows doesnt load

My rig:

EVGA 650i Ultra
E4400 o/c to 3.125GHz (10x 312.5MHz (1250MHz effective)
Corsair XMS2 DDR2 PC5400 C4 @ 625MHz in sync, 4-4-4-12-1T, 2.1V
1 x 320GB Seagate 7200.10 (with operating system)
2 x 200GB Seagate 7200.7

More hardware, but none of that is relevant. My PC is running absolutely stable (7 hours of orthos). Just bought this EVGA motherboard and swapped it in place of an Asrock motherboard and got everything running, overclocked and stable.

Before I got Windows XP running (previous installation from the asrock mobo), I encountered an issue and i isolated it down to one of the 200gb 7200.7 SATA HD's.

IF this HD is plugged in when the PC boots, then the Windows XP Boot screen appears and hangs. NOTE: it DOES NOT freeze - the bar still moves, but there is no HD activity and the pc stays like this for hours on end. Note again - this is not a hang. the activity bar still moves from left to right, and it keeps doing this indefinitely it seems (with no HD activity from any drives).

IF this HD is not plugged in, the PC boots in straight away. All drivers are tip top (nforce drivers, SATA drivers). However if I hot-plug this drive from within Windows, it works fine!. The PC just doesn't boot with the HD plugged in.

What's puzzling is I have 2 identical drives and one is fine, one isn't. The drive has no problems (chkdsk within windows, no errors. HD Tune, no hardware faults. like i say the HD works tip top if i hot-plug it from within windows).

Everything with the system is absolutely fine, I just have this issue alone. I've tried different SATA ports on the motherboard, no luck. I've also put the two 7200.7's onto a silicon image 3114 PCI card, and the same thing happens, even before windows xp boots and installs the siI3114 driver. It's definitely an issue with the hard drive. Can anybody give me some ideas? I don't have 200gb free elsewhere to back everything up and reformat the drive. At the same time don't want to reinstall windows (hence why i didn't reinstall for this motherboard swap - i used the same windows and everything turned out fine whilst bench testing the rig).

Any help? any ideas will be appreciated. I don't want to have to keep unplugging the drive when booting my pc up, then plugging it back in after windows has loaded. I turn my pc off and on every day so too much of a chore. shouldn't have to be this way.
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  1. I'm going to guess and tell you that your drive jumper settings are wrong. Make sure that the drive that is causing the problem is in SLAVE mode.

    Recently i had the same problem. I had bought a new WD hard drive, but when i stuck it into the computer, the same thing happened. Minutes later, i found that two of my drives were set as master, therefore confusing the computer. If your drives are in Cable Select, try making the XP drive master, and the other two drives slave.

    If that still doesn't work you can always exchange your drive for a new one.

    ALSO, check your bios, there may be a problem there, which shouldn't be too hard to fix. Otherwise, check disk management in XP.
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