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XP Won't Boot WIth Large Hard Drive

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May 25, 2008 4:26:34 PM

Hello,

Hardware is Dell Inspiron 9300, Windows XP MCE + SP2. I installed a 250GB WD hard drive in January 2008, and removed the existing 80GB drive. The new drive is IDE, as this seems to have been the last Inspiron made without SATA. The following story has happened three times since January.

I booted the WD Data Lifeguard Tools CD 11.2 and created a partition of size 250GB. I booted Dell's XP CD and installed XP without incident. The computer runs fine for a while. After some time, the computer boots to an empty text screen with a cursor in the upper-left corner. This is right after POST and before anything Windows-related happens. So, F8 doesn't work, safe mode doesn't work, and there's no Windows logo. The only thing that I could think of that worked was to delete the partition and recreate it.

The first two times that this happened, it was after about 2 months of using the computer. Everything worked very well in that time. I can't think of anything that happened out of the ordinary on the days when the computer stopped booting.

The third time, I did a few things slightly differently. I installed CentOS (and a swap partition) on two other partitions. I installed GRUB as well, thinking that this might help diagnose the problem. It turns out that XP stopped booting after less than a month. GRUB works fine, and I can boot into CentOS without problem. When I try to boot into XP, it shows the "rootnoverify" and "chainloader" lines on the screen, and then nothing more.

Here's a list of things that I've tried, in no particular order:

I ran FIXMBR and FIXBOOT from the XP recovery console. This removed GRUB, but it didn't boot into Windows. I reinstalled GRUB after this.

I ran chkdsk from XP recovery console.

I checked the NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files. They match the files on the XP install CD.

Interestingly, I can read the files from the XP partition in CentOS. I've been able to back up my files *after* the boot problems each time.

Anyone have any ideas? I appreciate the help.

- Kert

More about : boot large hard drive

May 27, 2008 3:02:28 PM

have you tried just booting from the dell xp disc and deleting the partition and then make the new partition, doing a full format rather than a quick format.

may be worth a try
July 7, 2008 8:17:47 PM

I have just run into this exact same problem with a 160GB drive. It worked fine for about 2 months, and now just boots to the cursor screen you described.
FIXMBR and FIXBOOT didn't resolve the problem, neither did an XP repair install.

I can hook the drive up to another PC via USB and verify all the data is still there.

Did you find any solutions to this?
Related resources
July 8, 2008 4:47:54 AM

Sounds like a hardware issue. Track '0' on the HD is bad or the IDE chip. Whats the model? Stuff out of china is crap anymore! Try running the tools from seagate or WD.
July 8, 2008 4:59:30 PM

It's not a hardware issue. I'm having the same trouble with my 8600. It might be related to the old 137GB limit.

The only thing we've found that fixes it is imaging the drive and putting the image back on there. Mine has now failed again a week after doing that.

I wish I knew the cause, but my next solution is going to be to image the drive onto my 120 as my boot drive and leave the 250 for the data drive and see if that fixes it.
July 9, 2008 1:26:33 AM

I think I figured it out!
I'm now fairly sure it is the 137 GB limit, so if your hard drive is huge, this is sort of bad news.

I used a partitioning utility to shrink the C drive and move the other partitions (dell and utility), so that the used space was below 137GB. I left the remaining un-partitioned, and at the far end of the drive. So I lost about 20 gigs worth of my 160. I used Paragon Partition Manager 2005, with the drive plugged in via a USB caddy on another PC

Put it back in the laptop, and Windows booted normally, like the problem never happened.

Apparently Windows didn't have a problem addressing the extra space, and would show the full size drive. My theory is that once any data actually got written past where the BIOS believes anything should be, we get the blinking cursor.

Hope this helps.
July 21, 2008 10:54:49 PM

I have the same problem with my Inspiron 8600. I ghosted the original 80 GB drive onto a new WD 250GB Scorpio drive supplied by Dell. It booted a few times and showed the correct contents and free space. Then suddenly it stopped booting and I got the blank screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. Bios (Phoenix A09) now only showed 137 GB. F8 was ineffective on boot but F12 worked and I ran Dell diagnostics which found no problems with my hardware. So I replaced the new drive with the old 80GB drive and the machine booted flawlessly. I then upgraded the Bios to A14 and put the 250GB back but to no effect - no boot - blank screen with blinking cursor. Does anyone know why one cannot scroll down on Page 1 of the Bios to select another option for the Hard Drive?
:pfff:  :ange: 
September 30, 2008 11:17:32 PM

Try defragging. I had a dual boot windows XP/Linux 160GB drive that worked fine that I upgraded to a 250GB drive with a 180GB XP partition. All was fine for awhile then one day windows wouldn't even start to boot yet Linux continued to boot fine. I won't go in to the deep details here, but the XP CD wouldn't boot either (hung with a message about checking hardware)! I also downloaded the microsoft recovery console .iso and burned that to CD and it wouldn't boot either. XP filesystem still accessible from Linux. chkdsk /R (drive in external enclosure) didn't help. Oddly running a defrag "fixed" it (plus the XP CD would then boot as well). Unfortunately it soon happened again. Again a defrag "fixed" it. That is where I am tonight.

I'm starting to think now that once files get a certain distance in to the partition, windows chokes on boot. Defragging moves them back closer to the "front" of the partition. But what is causing this and why does it seem to only afflict a minority of computers? I'm using a Dell Latitude D810 laptop. Is everyone here having trouble with Dells?

Hope this helps someone. Try defragging. It won't fix the problem but it may get you booted again for awhile. You'll probably need to put your drive in an external enclosure though to defrag it, which may not be an option for everyone.
October 1, 2008 8:26:12 PM

funny, my twin 1TB drives work fine...
October 2, 2008 8:56:40 AM

> funny, my twin 1TB drives work fine...

At the risk of feeding a troll . . .

Yea, and the 1.27 Petabyte fibre channel SAN I use at work works pretty dang well too. And your point is? What model laptop are you running twin 1TB drives in exactly?

End of feed.
October 2, 2008 3:30:57 PM

The issue is this: if my 1TB drives work, its obviously not a windows XP problem.

And where exactly did I say i was using a laptop? Windows XP is Windows XP, regarless of what you run it on.
October 2, 2008 4:08:55 PM

Dell Inspiron 9300 = Laptop
Dell Inspiron 8600 = Laptop
Another Dell Inspiron 8600 = Still a Laptop
Dell Latitude D810 = Laptop.

I think it is safe to say that everyone here knows that windows XP is generally capable of handling file systems larger than 128GB. We are trying to find out why XP on our Dell laptops suddenly won't even try to boot without warning after working fine for some time. It looks like an issue with the Dell BIOS on my 3 year old Dell laptop. Your posting sounded like you were simply bragging about 250 USD worth of hard drives. I for one certainly appreciate any helpful postings.

October 2, 2008 6:02:23 PM

What are the brand of HD's/motherboards you are all using? Its not Windows, so assuming the BIOS haven't been touched, its either the HD's or the Motherboard itself acting up.

Its been ages since i brought a Dell, i thought the Inspiron was their desktop line... :pt1cable: 
Anonymous
November 13, 2008 6:36:29 PM

Hi Dudes,
got the same thing since I exchanged a 80GB with a 160GB hard disc. All of sudden on a start up, blinking cursor. :cry:  first I thought it's the HD, did reinstall, bought a new HD. Still the same.

Dell Inspirion 8600. BIOS A03. Samsung 160GB.


Try to solve it with shrinking the partition :pt1cable: 

cheers
Anonymous
November 14, 2008 9:09:01 PM

I think this is my 2nd and last post.

I've just resized the hard disk to 132GB and my Notebook is starting fine. Just want to confirm the message of the other guy. It really works to just resize the drive.

good luck and good night
December 11, 2008 4:52:58 PM

Hello, I have Dell Inspiron 6000.
When I replaced my 60 GB HDD with WD 250GB (WD 2500BEVE) approx. 2 months was working (booting perfectly) but after that simply didn't boot.
Cursor was blinking in the upper left corner as described above. Here you write that resizing the drive helps.
But what when I have sensitive data on the drive ? Can I save them somehow ? Is it somehow possible to connect this large HDD via USB for example and save the data ?
Thanx for the help
Anonymous
December 17, 2008 6:01:43 PM

My question is that if f I partition my my WD 250 gig drive and put the XP on the C drive using less then 137 gig, can i make the rest for the drive another letter and put things like pictures and music on the second half of the drive? or do I have to leave the rest of the drive unassigned?

Thanks,
Jeff
December 18, 2008 1:41:25 PM

Jeff,

I'm sure that will work, to keep the boot partition all within the BIOS' addressable space. If you make a boot partition bigger than the BIOS can see, at some point some important boot/OS information is going to get stored above that limit.

I'm just about to try a WD 250 G drive on my 9300 with EIDE, and split it into two partitions. I'll let you know (although it can take months to know for sure, according to the stories above).

Mark
Anonymous
March 1, 2009 1:16:24 PM

I finally was able to test what this post said after backing up all my data. I used a linux system resource CD to boot and then ran "wizard" which it tells you to do to run a GUI session of linux after it boots to a prompt. Then I ran GPart I think - whatever the partition software was. I reduced my partition to 130GB and it booted just like everyone said! Finally. Thank God!

Savance
In Out Board specialist
www.eioboard.com
May 16, 2009 9:52:33 PM

Add another Dell Laptop to the list...Same stories as above...
Dell Inspiron 6000
Bios = A09 - (Setup showing HD as 137gb - that's a clue)
OS = WinXP Pro SP3
HD = WD Scorpio 160gb - WD1600DEVE
Checking Dell Support - says this model has IDE drivers for WD40, 60, and 80gb HDs...nothing higher?
Also BIOS A09 is the only available...sigh...dated 2005
Defragging it as a slave to another machine...looks like the data will be moved all to the 1st half of the drive, so keeping fingers crossed, but I will also resize the partition below 137gb just to be safe.

Thanks for all the comments guys!
I was really beginning to question my skills (over 27 years since DOS 3.3)
Todd
May 27, 2009 8:53:18 PM

You guys are GREAT! I also have an i9300 and this happened to me when I installed a 250GB IDE. I thought the drive was bad so I returned it for a 160, same problem. Then I thought I might have had some malware... nope. Clean scan.

Shockingly I imaged the "bad" drive with Acronis TrueImage, and restored the "bad" image and it booted! Now I'm restoring but with the active partition set to 135GB, leaving about 14GB empty at the end. Of course it booted, but I won't know if this worked for a few weeks :whistle: 
June 3, 2009 10:44:14 PM

I have never posted anything before, but wanted to add my grateful comments to this string, which I found quite helpful in getting me down the right path (especially the post by 'lawnmowerde'!). And I am pleased to say I have found a relatively easy solution to this issue.

First, some background. I was trying to replace a dead 40 GB HDD on my Dell Inspiron 600m laptop, and bought a WD Scorpio EIDE 250 GB HDD to replace it. I installed it without partitioning -- in other words, keeping the C: at a full 250 GB -- and loaded back Windows XP from the original installation CD (SP1), and then had to load all the drivers, applications, etc. from the other Dell disk as well. Of course, then I had to update XP with all the updates, and back all the way to SP3. Finally, I reinstalled my programs, files and shortcuts to get it back to working order. In any event, I got the new HDD and laptop back to working mode as normal. I could boot, reboot, and reboot to my hearts content, without any problems - but only for a while. (Most of this can be avoided if you had a ghosted or cloned backup, which I didn't.) Anyway, I thought everything was fine, and I could run (& even reboot) as normal.

As I usually leave my laptop on continuously, I didn't have any issue until about a month or so later, when I had to reboot after loading a new program. Then it wouldn't reboot and I got the infamous flashing cursor after the BIOS screen splash (hence my Googling & finding this string!).

After looking through these forums, I decided to try the theory some new data had been written above the 137 GB point on the HDD. I figured if I could resize and/or repartition the HDD to below the 137 GB level, I'd be OK. I would need a good Partition Manager software to do this. So here is what I found that worked:

1- Ran out and got a copy of Partition Commander 10 from my local OfficeDepot ($50). I read this has a self-bootable 'Boot Corrector' application, which allows you to put the disk in your CD/DVD drive, boot from that drive, and run the app directly from the disk. (You first need to hit F-12 on the BIOS screen during the startup to change the one-time boot order to the CD/DVD drive so the program will load.) I also looked at (and even downloaded) Norton PartitionMagic 8.0, but it didn't seem to have this crucual self-bootable capability, as did PC10.

2- Run the 'Boot Corrector' app, which will allow you to fix: MBR, Boot Partition, Registry, etc.

3- Then I ran the main partition manager program, which allowed me to resize my C: drive from the full 250 GB to below 137 GB (I used 120 GB).

4- Ran 'Boot Corrector' once more, just to make sure it 'took' after partitioning.

5- After running these steps, I was able to boot directly again off the HDD! And the best part was all my files were still intact!

6- I then created a second partition on the HDD, which would be labeled D:, or E:, depending on what else is assigned already (mine showed as E:, since my D: was already assigned to my CD/DVD Drive), so I didn't waste the other (roughly) half of the available disk space. I made this drive the balance of the HDD, or 130 GB.

7- The only issue I had: I did have to re-load some of the Windows XP files (and subsequent updates), since some of them may have been lost during the boot correction and/or partitioning. But all my files & programs were still OK. Just to be sure, though, I reinstalled some of my applications, so they could recognize hardware (my LogiTech Webcam Software, for example).

8- One quirk, which I guess makes sense: I did have to reauthorize my iTunes library (which, fortunately, was also intact) to the computer, since after repartitioning, it probably "looked" like a different computer to the library. (I first "de-authorized" the computer, and then re-authorized, so I wouldn't have 'two' computers authorized to my library.

So, it is possible to get rid of the dreaded 'flashing cursor', as well as get beyond the 137 GB limit, and if you install a new HDD larger than this, first partition it with C: less than that limit!

Thanks to everyone for their posts - it truly helped me!

JimP
June 6, 2009 7:00:44 PM

My thanks, also, for telling me what I need to know about this same issue I'm having with my WD2500BEVE. No need to return the HD for another that would act the same way without these fixes.

I do have a question, though. I have nothing on my Latitude D800 that I need so I plan to reinstall WinXP Pro and format an NTFS partition in the process through the WinXP install CD. I haven't tried it yet but:

1. Can I tell the WinXP installer to make a 135 GB partition to put WinXP in and then run Acronis Disk Director to add another partition for the rest of the drive?

2. Can I get WinXP to make two partitions, one 135 GB and the other of the rest of the WD2500BEVE?

3. Must I tell WinXP to partition the full 250 GB (really only about 232 GB, right) and then use Acronis Disk Director to resize it and make another partition?

4. How do I do this in a way to preserve C: as the main Windows/Program Files/etc. partition, D: as the CD drive, and let E: be the second partition on the HD for My Documents? I think Disk Director will let me reassign drive letters after the fact but maybe you a way to do it through WinXP or the BIOS.
June 16, 2009 12:53:33 AM

Hi No88Fan,

I believe you can set up multiple partitions during th initial WinXP installer, but not certain. (It's certainly much easier to use a partition software progam like Partition Commander, or in your case, Disk Director either before or after the fact, especially if there is no hard data on it to worry about.)

So, #1 should defintely work, and #2 should also work, I believe. I don't think you need to do #3, although that software would probably still allow you to resize (shrink) the first partition and set up a second partition, while preserving your data (or at least the boot/system portion.

For #4, you have to make sure that the C: is the Boot partition, which should be the default if using WinXP installer, etc. And also make sure that C: is the only partition that is listed in the Properties as "Active" (This is the term for the "Bootable" partition - You can't have multiple "Active" partitions and expect it to boot up.) In my case, C: is the Boot partition ("Active"), D: is my CD Drive, and E: was automatically set up as my 2nd partition ("Non-Active"). (Your sequence my differ if you do it from the WinXP start-up, as oppposed to using the partition software after the fact, as I did.) And yes, with those programs (at least the one I used) you should be able to reassign the drive letters, but I didn't want to push my luck once I was up and running again!

Note - In my case, I first tried partitioning the 250 GB HDD into a 135 GB + a 115 GB partitions, but it didn't seem to recognize the 135 GB partition (and wouldn't boot up), so I backed it down to 120 GB (+ 130 GB) which worked, but it may have been because of the older BIOS that was installed, or something else it didn't like for my system. ("Your actual results may vary" as The Man says!)


Hope that helps, and good luck!
July 3, 2009 3:23:14 AM

Jim,

I have a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. I replaced my 30 gig (ha ha) drive with a Scorpio 160GB ATA-100 8MB 5400RPM Mobile Hard Drive last November. All has gone extremely well until the other day and it would not boot up, just a flash of “Dell” then black screen. I tried using my xp cd to repair it…. Nothing worked. I was blaming it on a group of windows update, thinking the sp3 had snuck in their without my notice.

This is interesting about this “size” issue – never have used partitions. I do know that my files all seem intact when I check it through a usb on another computer, and on my laptop using my old hard drive (as I am doing now).

I welcome any advice you have – this particular issue is uncharted territory for me.

Also, If I were to have to reformat and reinstall windows xp at some point, should I avoid sp3??

Prudence
July 3, 2009 3:30:27 AM

I wanted to add that I have been researching this issue coming at it from various ways for MANY HOURS, and this possibility has NEVER shown up!!! I hope this is it - now if I can actually do it..................

Prudence
July 3, 2009 7:12:50 AM

Hey i've experienced this problem on my Dimension 4700 most of the hardware beside sound and CPU has been changed, occasionally I get a blikning cursor at the top left and no response, I think ctrl+alt+delete reboots it abd same issue. I turned the fastboot of in bios and seemed to correct it occasionally. Also found turning power off and unplug for half a min would sort it. mabey hope the info helps
August 24, 2009 10:04:23 PM

All systems have a limit as to how may GB the BIOS can address directly. 128 GB (meaning 137,438,953,472 bytes) is common for systems dating from a few years ago. If you install a larger hard drive and put Windows on that you will be fine until Windows writes something important beyond that 128 GB limit. After that your booting will be unpredictable, up to and including not being able to boot.

There are two workarounds. One (recommended) is to limit the operating system (C:\) partition to 128 GB, or whatever your BIOS's limit is, and make one or more partitions out of the rest of your hard drive. (EaseUs Partition Manager is a great free tool for this.) This works because once booted, the BIOS has passed control to Windows, and Windows XP is able to address a larger HD than you will ever need.

Another workaround is to use what's usually called a disk management utility (but not to be confused with the "Disk Management" utility in Windows). Samsung has OnTrack, WD has Data Lifeguard, every HD manufacturer has one. They insert an extra "layer" into the boot process that allows your BIOS to address the full HD. The problem is that they are notoriously buggy, and your system will boot fine until one day it doesn't. Plus, booting into your Windows OS from media like CD's, floppies, etc., if you do that, will be very complicated or impossible unless you have made the media yourself to include that disk management software. It is much safer to go with the multiple-partition solution above.

Please note I have omitted a lot of technical detail and language to keep this discussion simple; please do not troll me. Look up "Logical block addressing" in Wikipedia if you want to know more. But to get the job done you don't need to know more or more accurately than I have stated here.
August 25, 2009 10:26:56 PM

Thanks for the info and "link" for more info. I may have had a combo of issues that interfered w/ the boot up - this bios/HD size, and also I did find several windows updates that had failed the night before the trouble began. Maybe the one caused the other?

For my installation, I learned how to slipstream an install cd using my original one with service pack 1 and added service pack 2. I reformatted and partitioned my drive - "C" w/ operating system, etc. into 29 gb, and then another partition with the rest of the drive 124 gb. So far all has been working well for the past few weeks or so. Very thankful that all of the files on my drive were perfectly fine and I was able to extract what I needed before wiping it clean. I am beginning to feel like I am becoming a bit of a computer geek myself!

October 1, 2009 8:21:48 PM

hbearden said:
All systems have a limit as to how may GB the BIOS can address directly. 128 GB (meaning 137,438,953,472 bytes) is common for systems dating from a few years ago. If you install a larger hard drive and put Windows on that you will be fine until Windows writes something important beyond that 128 GB limit. After that your booting will be unpredictable, up to and including not being able to boot.

There are two workarounds. One (recommended) is to limit the operating system (C:\) partition to 128 GB, or whatever your BIOS's limit is, and make one or more partitions out of the rest of your hard drive. (EaseUs Partition Manager is a great free tool for this.) This works because once booted, the BIOS has passed control to Windows, and Windows XP is able to address a larger HD than you will ever need.

Another workaround is to use what's usually called a disk management utility (but not to be confused with the "Disk Management" utility in Windows). Samsung has OnTrack, WD has Data Lifeguard, every HD manufacturer has one. They insert an extra "layer" into the boot process that allows your BIOS to address the full HD. The problem is that they are notoriously buggy, and your system will boot fine until one day it doesn't. Plus, booting into your Windows OS from media like CD's, floppies, etc., if you do that, will be very complicated or impossible unless you have made the media yourself to include that disk management software. It is much safer to go with the multiple-partition solution above.

Please note I have omitted a lot of technical detail and language to keep this discussion simple; please do not troll me. Look up "Logical block addressing" in Wikipedia if you want to know more. But to get the job done you don't need to know more or more accurately than I have stated here.


I am new to this forum. Like others, I had installed a WD 250GB drive into my older Compaq N800 laptop running XP Pro SP3, partitioned it to the full 250GB, and was lulled into thinking it was working fine, until one day it didn't (disk read error). Using EASEUS Data Recovery (a purchased product), I was able to recover my files, but many of which had been overwritten and were badly corrupted.

The most recent BIOS for my laptop (2005) doesn't display any information about hard drive parameters. The (cheap) program HDInfo verified the BIOS has limitations reading large drives (is not 48 bit LBA compatible) but little more. Using EASEUS Data Recovery, I learned my BIOS reports the drive as 240 heads, 63 sectors, and 17753 cylinders (240 * 63 * 17753 * 512 = 137.4GB). OK, my laptop BIOS has problems above 137GB.

Armed with that information, I used EASEUS Disk Copy to clone the original 80GB disk to the WD 250GB drive in an external USB case. This worked flawlessly, and the new drive booted first time and had one 80GB Partition (Drive C). Next, I installed and used EASEUS Partition Manager running in Windows to resize that partition. This time, instead of allocating all 250 GB to drive C (my previous mistake), I set the partition size to just under 137.4 GBits (=2^28 * 512), or around 127GB, as reported using Windows Explorer properties. Using Partition Manager, I then created a second partition that used the remaining space (drive E). So far, so good. However, you will forgive me if my confidence was shaken by my previous experience. Therefore, I contacted Western Digital to see if they would verify this approach (partition 250G in two logical drives, with C being under the BIOS limit), but I was told I need a DDO. Strangely enough, I also was told they no longer support Data Lifeguard Tools, which is the WD tool they supply to install a DDO.

I got some help from Microsoft, Article ID 305098, which was written to address the 48-bit LBA limitation in Windows 2000 SP2. It states:

"The operating system must be installed on the first partition that is smaller or equal to 137 GB when the EnableBigLba registry value is enabled but when you do not have a 48-bit LBA compatible BIOS. If you enable the 48-bit LBA ATAPI support by editing the registry setting, but you lack both a 48-bit LBA compatible BIOS and a hard disk that has a capacity of more than 137 GB, the hard disk continues to function as a standard hard disk with an addressable limit of 137 GB. The operating system must be installed on the first partition that is less than or equal to 137 GB and the rest of the hard disk divided into one or more remaining partitions when the EnableBigLba registry value is enabled on a computer without a 48-bit LBA compatible BIOS that has a hard disk with a capacity of more than 137 GB. "

Per this article, if your computer BIOS is not 48-bit compatible, you should make sure the EnableBigLba registry bit is set (=1), install the OS in a partition that is below the BIOS limit (137 GB), and then create other partitions to use up the rest of the drive (just as hbearden wrote), at least with Windows 2000 SP2. I was unable to find a similar article about Windows XP SP3. One, older article about Windows XP SP1, Microsoft Article 303113 came close. It reads:

"The registry value EnableBigLba is enabled without a 48-bit LBA compatible BIOS, but you have a hard disk with a capacity that is larger than 137 GB. If you enable 48-bit ATAPI support in the registry and you have a hard disk that has a capacity that is see comment than 137 GB, but you do not have a 48-bit LBA compatible BIOS, only the first 137 GB of the hard disk are addressable. The remainder of the hard disk is not used."

The article has typos, but it at least validates the approach of restricting the C drive size to 137 GB if your BIOS is not 48-bit LBA compatible. As for the rest of the space on the large drive, the article is vague: "the remainder of the hard disk is not used." Not used... does that mean not used by the BIOS, by the OS, by Windows? And that was SP1, whereas we are now at SP3. If Windows XP SP3 works like Windows 2000 SP2, then dividing the rest of the disk into one or more partitions should work safely (as hbearden says). Does anyone know of any technical article or statement from Microsoft, a computer manufacturer, a hard drive manufacturer, or any other source that states for Windows XP SP3, if your computer BIOS cannot be made 48-bit LBA compatible, you can restrict the first partition (drive C) to the BIOS limit (in my case, 137 GB) and then safely divide the rest of the drive into one or more partitions (logical drives)? Has anyone had any problems doing this?

Anonymous
October 9, 2009 8:53:14 PM

The BIOS in my Dell Insperon 9100 also limits my hard drive size and causes my computer to fail. When I go into setup, in my case by pressing F2 my new 320GB Western Digital hard drive is reported by the BIOS as 137GB. I tried reinstalling Windows Xp (SP1) and I partioned my drive into 3 seperate partitions. I set Partition 1 to 120GB and loaded Windows XP there. It was assigned Drive C. Partition 2 became Drive D and was set to 120GB. Partition 3 was assigned the remaining space and labled Drive E. All of this automatically moved my DVD drive to F:. When I rebooted I had hope, but my system shut down on me again. When it fails, the computer just shuts down, as if power was removed, and I end up with a black screen. I went back into the Setup by pressing F2 at startup and noticed that my 320GB drive was still being reported as 137GB, not the new 120GB size that I had assigned to partition1. However, Windows XP recognizes the 3 partitions that I made propperly, and reports their respective drives and sizes acurately. What I have not done yet is "Enable Big LBA". I did some googling and found the following instructions on Enabling Big LBA. They are as follows:
Manual Method:
To enable EnableBigLba in the Windows registry, perform the following steps:

# Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe). In Windows, click on Start->Run, enter "regedit".
# Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\atapi\Parameters registry subkey.
# From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
# Enter the name EnableBigLba, then press Enter.
# Double-click the new value, set it to 1, then click OK.
# Close the registry editor.
# Restart the machine for the change to take effect.

I also found a website called 48bitLBA.com which will analyse your compter for you and automatically change the registry value. Here is the link http://www.48bitlba.com/enablebiglbatool.htm

I am going to go try one of these methods now. Hopefully it will solve my problem.
October 10, 2009 8:14:16 PM

Quote:
The BIOS in my Dell Insperon 9100 also limits my hard drive size and causes my computer to fail. When I go into setup, in my case by pressing F2 my new 320GB Western Digital hard drive is reported by the BIOS as 137GB. I tried reinstalling Windows Xp (SP1) and I partioned my drive into 3 seperate partitions. I set Partition 1 to 120GB and loaded Windows XP there. It was assigned Drive C. Partition 2 became Drive D and was set to 120GB. Partition 3 was assigned the remaining space and labled Drive E. All of this automatically moved my DVD drive to F:. When I rebooted I had hope, but my system shut down on me again. When it fails, the computer just shuts down, as if power was removed, and I end up with a black screen. I went back into the Setup by pressing F2 at startup and noticed that my 320GB drive was still being reported as 137GB, not the new 120GB size that I had assigned to partition1. However, Windows XP recognizes the 3 partitions that I made propperly, and reports their respective drives and sizes acurately. What I have not done yet is "Enable Big LBA". I did some googling and found the following instructions on Enabling Big LBA. They are as follows:
Manual Method:
To enable EnableBigLba in the Windows registry, perform the following steps:

# Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe). In Windows, click on Start->Run, enter "regedit".
# Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\atapi\Parameters registry subkey.
# From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
# Enter the name EnableBigLba, then press Enter.
# Double-click the new value, set it to 1, then click OK.
# Close the registry editor.
# Restart the machine for the change to take effect.

I also found a website called 48bitLBA.com which will analyse your compter for you and automatically change the registry value. Here is the link http://www.48bitlba.com/enablebiglbatool.htm

I am going to go try one of these methods now. Hopefully it will solve my problem.


Unless the BIOS is 48-bit LBA compliant, it isn't ever going to report the large drive parameters correctly. Also, the BIOS won't change what it reports even if you make the Drive C partition smaller.

Depending on the age of your laptop, using the manufacturer's "System Recovery" feature will install a very old version of Windows, overwrite all your data, and make you install all your programs. If installing from a Windows install disk, use one that includes SP3. However, if your computer already has a working drive running XP SP1 or later, you avoid lots of problems by simply cloning the old drive to the new drive. First check the manufacturer to get the very latest BIOS available for your laptop. Then follow this procedure:

Clone Your old EIDE Drive to a new PATA Large Drive

1. Put the new drive in a USB external 2.5" EIDE or parallel ATA (not SATA) case, preferably with its own DC supply so you don't overload the Laptop's USB outputs. Leave your old drive in your laptop.

2. Boot to the old drive and run regedit to check this registry setting:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\atapi\Parameters

Make sure a dword named EnableBigLba exists and has the value 1.

3. Download (free) EASEUS Disk Copy, burn it (ISO image) to a CD, boot to the CD with the external USB drive connected, and use it to copy source drive 0 (your old, installed drive) to destination drive 1 (your USB external drive).

4. When done (several hours later), remove the new drive from the USB enclosure and install it in your laptop in place of the old drive. Windows should boot normally, although it may need to restart once. At first, the new drive will have the same partition size as the old one. Download and install (free) EASEUS Partition Manager, and run it in Windows to re-size drive C to 128GB. Next, create a second partition with the rest of the drive. As long as you aren't shrinking a partition, these operations won't even require a reboot. The EASEUS software is amazing!

You are done. Your BIOS will still get the drive parameters wrong, but the drive will work safely. I've done this several times now on three different non 48-bit LBA compliant laptops using WD 160GB and 250GB PATA hard drives. The only issue I encountered was when my external USB drive exceeded the output DC capacity of one laptop (so I put its drive in a different laptop to do the cloning).
October 13, 2009 10:57:31 AM

I have an Inpiron 9200 and yes it too has the 137GB limit.

Mine is an interesting set up. I decided to make this machine dual bootable. It is a work computer so I wanted a partition that was dedicated for work only. I guess the company doesn't like games on their computers. The second partition was solely devoted to anything that is the opposite of work (had to have a well balanced computer).

So I partitioned the drive as follows

1GB partition - For XOSL (a boot loader program)
80 GB Partition - Partition to hold the OS for work plus any work related files.
80 GB Partition - Partition to hold the OS for Play
90 GB Partition - Was to be a partition visible to both OS's so I could have a common drive between work and play.

So when I booted to work, XOSL would hide the play partition and keep the last partition open. When I booted to play, XOSL would hide the work partition and keep the last partition visible.

This kind of worked except that data written to the 90 GB partition when I was using it as a work computer could not be read by the computer when it was booted into play mode and visa versa. That was all fine. I just made the final partition visible only to the computer when in play mode.

Any way things worked well for a while. I typically hibernate my computer when I power it off. Well one day the play partition wouldn't boot. I thought it may be a bad drive, but in the end I figured that the hibernation file somehow resided beyond the 137 GB limit. So I configured XOSL to boot into work, but let me see the play partition. I then booted into work and went into the play partition and deleted the hibernation file. I then rebooted back into the play partition and all worked ok.

This happened about 2 months later and the same cure worked. about 2 months after that it happened again, but this time I was not so lucky. Deleting the hibernation file didn't work. I ended up defragging that drive in hopes that whatever file had migrated beyond the 137 GB barrier would be moved to the good side of the 137 GB barrier. This did work. The play partition has been working fine for the past 3 or 4 months.

I suppose I could just shrink the play partition to fit within the 137 GB barrier, but I haven't and probably won't.

The ultimate solution to this problem is to have the bootable partition completely located within the first 137 GB and then have the rest as one or more partitions.
October 16, 2009 3:02:46 PM

Hello,

Here are my specs:

- Dell Dimension 3000, about 4 or 5 years old
- 200 GB Seagate Barracuda HDD
- 120 GB WD Caviar HDD
- 40 GB Seagate Barracuda HDD
- Ultra ATA PCI IDE card to account for bad secondary IDE interface on MB

I was running Windows XP on the 200GB HDD for about a year or so (using 120GB HDD as additional data drive) when suddenly the OS became corrupted somehow and I could not boot to it anymore. I brought in the 40GB HDD to continue using the computer until I could transfer my files off the old drives and reinstall Windows.

The 40GB HDD had Windows XP on it as well and booted up fine. I bought a NAS and transferred all my files off the 120GB and 200GB drive and was preparing to reinstall Windows on the 200GB drive. I wasn't able to boot from the OS DVD to reinstall windows for some reason, so I brought the 200GB drive into work and reinstalled the OS on it there. It booted to Windows fine on the HP I installed it on at work.

I brought the drive home and tried to boot up from it on my computer at home. I experienced the same blinking cursor problem everyone else has reported here. Yet, the 40GB drive booted fine. Given the input from this forum, I tried taking the 120GB drive into work and installing the OS on that one. Again it booted fine at work, but not when I brought it home. Again, the 40GB still booted fine at home.

I tried different BIOS configuration options and tried booting the drives from the PCI IDE controller card I had installed to replace the bad secondary IDE interface on the Mother Board. None of this seemed to work. I tried using EASEUS to partition the 120GB drive down to 80GB, still it would not boot. So it does not seem to be the size of the drive issue (not to mention the drive is only 120GB to begin with), thought the 40GB drive does work.

Does anyone have any idea why these drives won't boot or how I can resolve this? Thanks in advance.

John
November 25, 2009 11:57:41 AM

Hello,

I had a 120gb HDD and bought a WD Scorpio Blue 320gb.

I used Acronis True Image to copy the whole partition on the new disk, and left the remaining space on the disk unallocated.

I tried in several ways, but always got the blinking prompt on the upper left of the screen or a "read error".

I then downloaded WD "dlginstall_10_0.exe from:

ftp://ftp.cs.umd.edu/pub/faculty/keleher/dlginstall_10_...

created a bootable floppy disk, restarted PC with the floppy and, among the several options given by the software, installed EZbios.

Removed floppy, restarted computer and, MAGIC, everything worked: the OS loaded, etc.

I then created two more partitions on the new HDD, in order to keep their size under the 127gb limit, left only OS, "My Documents" and "Program files" on the C:/ and trasnferred the rest on the other partitions.

Knockin' on wood everything seems just perfect, at the moment.

Hope it might be of some help.

Regards

meraxx
December 2, 2009 5:49:53 PM

Thank you to all those you know who you are for quality contributing to this thread, which helped me solve my problem. I do not have a flashing cursor like many of you. My boot screen from my WD Scorpio Blue 250Gb in my Dell Inspiron 9100 read “A Disk Read Error Occurred” Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to Restart. I did this a couple of times only to receive the same error message as expected. I tried to boot from the Installation Disk of XP Pro 32 Bit and when the Dell said “Press F2 to boot from CD” I did so. The screen went blank and after 10.5 minutes of waiting with a blank screen, I gave up on that disk. I tried 3 other legal XP Pro 32 Bit Master OS CD's plus an XP Pro 64 Bit Master OS CD again each time a long (as long as my temperament would allow!) period of time which only a blank screen with no other computer movement. I tried Hiren's Boot CD and found any Boot CD with utilities uses DOS 7 as a booting OS. Never knew that or needed to know before this problem. Many bootable CD's like Hirens and Geek Squad have mini XP boot routines to allow you to access the repair XP command prompt screen. These also all fail as they were based on XP Pro. Don't try don't know..... I tried many of the Hdd diagnostic packages on the Internet and bootable CD's listed above. Interesting results. Some say the HDD is in error with an Unknown error code. Funny thing searching on the Internet with these codes does not give any answers but there are sites that will give an answer if you are willing to give money for a satisfactory answer. I did not fall for that one but did waste some valuable time filling in the form and thoughtfully giving an exactly worded description of the problem, up pops the credit card details request form...... That's right the jerk now has my email in my throw away email account and I am still getting his emails that he can help..... for a reasonable fee... I then booted with a Ubuntu ver 9.04 and did not install it but Ubuntu allowed me to see my files and thumb nails of my photos. My Dell rejected it’s original 80 Gb Hdd (after five and a half years of faithful use and international customs mishandling died a peaceful death) which all info was not lost, as a notebook is only a copy of your data stored on your other computer(s) (or that’s how it should be) but what was lost was how everything was stored and the time taken to install a new OS on a new Hdd etc. I had just finished all installation, updates and configured all programs I wanted to use. I have just copied the photos I like taking with me when I go out with the notebook. I turned off for the day I have spent 20 hours arranging things on this Dell Inspiron with this new Hdd, which is remarkably quiet compared to the original Hdd. Well worth the update for the noise difference. Anyway the next morning I powered up to do a BACKUP. I spent too much time whilst researching other thoughts on the Internet writing in other forums and emails whilst multi-tasking building the new OS on my Dellnote to lose it again. I powered up, which started the above story. Now that Ubuntu showed me my pixs, not just file names, I knew I was right that the Hdd was not dead but have a unique problem not experienced before.... The Internet holds many answers; the trick I have found if one does not find the answers - to ask the same question but another way. I found this wonderful thread after the fourth question! To prove this theory I asked Google if this WD Scorpio Blue 250Gb would work in my Dell Inspiron 9100 before purchasing! The answer in the first search said, “Yes it will, the trick is to ignore the 137 Gb Bios limit and the WD will format the entire disk”. We all in this thread know that this answer is a porky!!!!!!! Should have rephrased the question and asked again!!!! After 25 years of computers I am still learning, which is a good thing as life is not boring:o )!

Thank you once again guys for your help and I am writing this post both in thanks, confirmation and to the new readers the solution to your problem if you are reading this and saying to yourself this smells familiar that the answer is here. My solution was as outlined but different excellent software to repartition my 250Gb. I used Geek Squad Emergency CD Ver 5.01 and under Acronis Disk Director Suite (The first Partition Manager Utilities that showed me my directories and files which also was a well respected Utility!) to reduce C drive down to 119.2Gbs and create a new partition with 113.7 Gb to see if Hdd will work within Dells Bios limitations. Acronis seems to have done it now lets test it…. Reboot and Win XP Pro 32 Bit is booting as it did before this problem ;o)!!!!

Lastly to the poster who was bragging his Hdd is bigger than ours with his 1 TB Hdd - I am sorry you have not learnt how to read and think at the same time and no Windows XP is not Windows XP in every situation!!!!!! As far as a home computer your 1 Tb is small...

Thanks guys once again for your postings

IceHappy
Nearly Frozen but still Truckin
December 2, 2009 7:05:48 PM

Prudence said:
Jim,

I have a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. I replaced my 30 gig (ha ha) drive with a Scorpio 160GB ATA-100 8MB 5400RPM Mobile Hard Drive last November. All has gone extremely well until the other day and it would not boot up, just a flash of “Dell” then black screen. I tried using my xp cd to repair it…. Nothing worked. I was blaming it on a group of windows update, thinking the sp3 had snuck in their without my notice.

This is interesting about this “size” issue – never have used partitions. I do know that my files all seem intact when I check it through a usb on another computer, and on my laptop using my old hard drive (as I am doing now).

I welcome any advice you have – this particular issue is uncharted territory for me.

Also, If I were to have to reformat and reinstall windows xp at some point, should I avoid sp3??

Prudence



Dear Prudence,

Hope you mind me answering your question from my humble experience. I have updated in house my DellNote book, XeonTWO which is a dual core dual chipped Xeon HTPC which is water kooled, DualXeon sister computer of XeonTWO, Xeon very old motherboard with slot one to slot to converters which have twin Pentium 500 cpus and have been running 265/24/7 since built as a file server, print server, Skype Phone server and ready internet computer rarely used for any other apps, another Dual Core computer which is used as an HTPC which was the only computer which was effected adversly. The problem is that I had installed an original release of Hauppauge Nova T 500 dual (English Freeview) digital tv card which is based on USB chipset for some strange reason. I found a thread like this one after many BSOD which pointed to a USB device. It was suggested and I was offered a PM which I gladly accepted with WinXP 32 bit Spk 2 USB drivers which are a total of 8 files in three locations. I installed these and problem went away until I reboot when Windows did me a favour by updating all old drivers. Some of us are familar with this merry go round. Solution was to download a Cab file unzipper which I unzipped Service Pack 3 and replaced the 8 newer drivers with the Service Pack 2 8 drivers and used the Utility to rezipped the files back to the Cab with the original name. My other computers have the correct Service Pack three so I did not keep a copy of the original service pack and moved my new one to the correct location and recopied the "older service pack 2 USB drivers" to their correct location rebooted and again no problems and that is since Service Pack 3 was released. I use many application Corel Draw, PageMaker, Video editing digital pixs editing as well as normal nerd usage. Being a Viet Nam era Vet who body has now paid the price I am reduced to a nerd that is.... The interesting point is XeonTWO has the same Hauppauge Nova T 500 card and never a problem. I was told by this helping forum poster that this problem I experienced only happens with the original release of Hauppauge Nova T 500 and since Hauppauge solved this by a newer revision, Microsoft is aware of this problem but because it is only one revision of one card Microsoft does not care. Which is understandable and the solution is so easy, however, it would have gone down better had it been on the Microsoft site where I went first for answers. I hope this answers your question regarding "is Win XP Pro Service Pack 3 okay to install.... My computers besides DellNote are built by me based on SuperMicro Motherboards and Chassis.

All the Best

IceHappy
Nearly Frozen but still truckin
March 5, 2010 1:43:34 AM

Quote:
I think this is my 2nd and last post.

I've just resized the hard disk to 132GB and my Notebook is starting fine. Just want to confirm the message of the other guy. It really works to just resize the drive.

good luck and good night


You and others have hit on the problem. My Inspiron 6000 belched big time when I placed a 250G WD drive in it. Same problem as others. Cause: the bios limits the Drive C to 137G (120G). I used WD utilities to whack the entire drive (wrote zeros). This took out the Dell partition. I then reparted the drive to Drive 0 (C:)  to 120G (131,XXXG as reported by disk utilities) the reloaded Win XP Pro. Lastly, I went to INTEL not Dell for the drivers. Intel has a neat little package for what every your MBoard is. This also loads a UltraATA controller driver(s) in your Device Manager, System section Problem solved. I partitioned the remainder of the drive that pops up as Drive E. Thus I have 250G worth of space (less the 8+ meg used for System Volume information on NTFS formatted drives. Oh yeah, not a chance to upgrade my bios, at least at this writing. So even the "latest" (four years old) upgrade leave the 137G (131G) limit. I have been living fine without the Dell hidden partition. It was more of a hindrance and joke than being of help.
March 19, 2010 9:17:49 PM

cdtplug said:
have you tried just booting from the dell xp disc and deleting the partition and then make the new partition, doing a full format rather than a quick format.

may be worth a try

I had this problem and tried all you said now it goes to blue screen saying hard drive error does this mean my hard drive has gone?
March 20, 2010 12:03:54 AM

Possibly your hard drive is bad. Run a good diagnostic on it from outside windows (boot from a cd) such as Western Digital Diags. Others can be found on Hiren's BootCD available free from http://www.hirensbootcd.net/ . Go to their download. Possibly you did not totally zap all partitions on the drive. If so, your Windows will not boot. To totally delete everything on the drive, write zeroes to it with a good drive erase.
July 29, 2010 6:35:17 PM

I'm looking at the 137gb issue as well. For the people who posted here who tried partitioning the drives - are they still working? Have you had any problems since you posted?
August 4, 2010 8:23:20 PM

Just wanted to post and let you know one more thanking you for the info about the 137GB limit.

Same story WD 320GB replacement hard drive, one day boom no boot.

Used Hiren's boot disk booted into Mini Windows XP (great feature) saw the disk there intact, but no boot.

Resized the C drive to 120GB with EASEUS Partition Master and boom booted right up.

Partitioned the unused space as an additional dirve.

All OK.

Will report back if there are any problems
August 16, 2010 8:18:33 PM

I am now into my second go-round with this issue. With a number of lessons learned as I shall explain.

Dell 9300
Windows XP Pro SP3 Build 2600
BIOS A05 9/19/2005

When my 80GB drive had gotten too small, I tried to upgrade to a 250GB WD drive like so many others. First I found info that said XP could handle it fine just put it all in one big partition... Well, we all know how that went. Fortunately I always had my 80GB drive to go back to.

Subsequently I found some of this information in another discussion thread, but mixed with a dose of some ambiguous misinformation too.

I tried partitioning my drive to get under the 137GB limit (asked for 135GB and got 133GB), and created a second partition with the rest. A few weeks later that failed, so I decided (perhaps incorrectly in hindsight) that the second partition must be the problem.

I happened to have an unused 160GB drive available which we bought for another computer whose motherboard literally had fried before we ever installed the larger drive (smoke, burned traces, ugly thing, teenager spilled coke didn't admit it, kept using it, dried and fried, crispy traces like fried bacon).

So I figured if I can only get one partition anyway I would go with the 160GB drive, why run 250GB if I can't use it. I built that with the same 133GB size and all was fine from September 2009 till Aug 15, 2010, this past Sunday.

And then Sunday morning it would not boot again. I'm saying to myself "what the ..." I loaded the 80GB drive and attached the 133GB as a USB drive and everything is still there fine.

As some of you are no doubt guessing, the trouble is in numbering systems. My 133GB partition was actually 143,654,907,904 Bytes in total capacity. Now I am finally understanding that I had still used a size that was beyond my BIOS limit. The 137GB limit is in decimal bytes notation.

In the metric system "G" stands for Giga (greek for giant), also known as a billion, or 10 to the 9th power, which equals 1,000,000,000.

In the binary world of computers, "GB" is used loosely to refer to a "billion Bytes," or a "GigaByte" but is actually defined as 2 to the 30th power which is 1,073,741,824 rather than 10 to the 9th.

Every GB in the common binary notation is actually 73.7 million more bytes than in the Giga of decimal notation.

I knew this, but it was not clear to me that the 137GB limit was actually 137 billion bytes in decimal notation and not 137GB in binary notation.

When people say there is a 137GB limit to the BIOS they are talking in decimal notation, which has to be translated down to the binary notation of about 127GB or less. Some have used 125, some 120, etc. It looks to me like 127GB in binary notation should be a good number which equals 136.3GB in the decimal equivalent.

Having been around computers since long before we ever had to deal with billions of bytes or even bits, we really should have come up with some less ambiguous nomenclatures like GBb for binary notation and GBd for decimal notation.

So now, I guess I am going to go back to the 250GB drive and try a boot partition of 127GBb (136.3GBd) and a second partition of the rest and see how that works.

When I last went through this, I first tried to use Norton Ghost to clone my 80GB drive to a 133GB attached as a USB drive, but had difficulty that the USB drive ended up thinking it was a drive D even when I installed it internally.

I am debating a couple of approaches:
1) Defrag on the 133GB that is not booting to see if I can get everything magically down to within the BIOS limit and then shrink the partition size back down to 127 instead of 133.

2) Rebuild the 250GB as two partitions with the boot being 127GBb, then attach the non booting 133 as a USB drive and use Norton Ghost disk copy function to copy the 133 to the 127 partition.

I am leaning toward the second option.

In either case, there is presumably some small chunk of critical boot code that Windows XP had placed up beyond the 137GBd limit last Saturday when it last worked fine, which Windows should be able to retrieve and move back into the smaller partition.
August 16, 2010 11:18:39 PM

so it took me two years to ask google "dell inspirion 9300 doesn't see my 250 hdd".
well we all know, when it's working the i9300 is still great to use.
I tried a lot of thing's, but never partinioning.

thought it was the adapter, the first new 160 hdd, the bios ( flashed it ) , the battery, the litte 3V battery cell ( this weekend ).

I partioned one of my disks ( i have two disk's, just in case of one of them failed :-) , always had an image by hand )
So now i have to wait for two or three months and see if that helps.

It helps already to know i am not alone, and if this fails, a 80 gig solid state drive is euro 110.

thanks for tips
August 17, 2010 2:33:37 AM

This topic has been closed by Aford10
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