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Help for an Amateur!!

Last response: in Storage
September 29, 2009 6:59:26 PM

First off, thanks to whoever can give me some advice on the following. Recently, i was getting the BSOD with regularity and one day (after constant restarts) it would just go straight to the BSOD after the shortly after the windows splash screen came up.
Given what I had read in the error reports I assumed that it was my Hard Drive that finally failed. I went down to the computer store and picked up a similar replacement (WD Caviar SATA 7200rpm 320GB HD). After installing the HD I adjusted the startup configuration to boot from CD and used the CD that came with the HD to boot from. problem is, it kept saying that it was "invalid" or "not a bootable disk". I heard that the Windows XP software could hanlde all the new hard drive partitioning and so forth so I decided to boot from that disk instead. This seemed to be going well until it go to the part where it claimed "Windows is Starting up". Painfully, I got the same BSOD that I was getting before I replaced the hard drive. I beleive RAID is supported by my SATA controller (I see several references to it in the set-up area) and read on another post that windows will not be able to configure a hard drive with these attributes??? My fear (after seeing the same BSOD is that the problem was not the hard-drive, but something else? Perhaps I am not doing this correctly? Again, your help is much appreciated.

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a c 126 G Storage
September 30, 2009 12:30:37 AM

Your story is not entirely clear. Did you try to re-install Windows on your *NEW* drive?

Also, if you set the SATA transfer mode to AHCI in the system BIOS setup, you would need additional (floppy) drivers when installing Windows XP, just like with RAID-drivers. Vista and up can handle AHCI just fine.

Also, take care that the harddrive boot order is setup correctly. This is often a seperate setting to the general boot order (CDROM - HARDDRIVE - NETWORK) but you can go in a menu where you can select the boot order of all harddrives.

Good luck.
a c 329 G Storage
September 30, 2009 1:42:27 PM

It's common to have RAID capabilities available in your mobo's BIOS, but it will NOT use RAID unless you tell it to do so. Setting up a RAID array will require a couple extra steps when you install Windows, and it certainly appears you do NOT want or need it. So, you should look in your BIOS and be sure you do NOT have RAID enabled on your drives.

While you're there, examine carefully how your SATA ports are configured. Many mobos have three or four choices, including the RAID you don't want. IF you are trying to install Windows XP, it can only deal with IDE (aka PATA) drives, so you MUST set your BIOS to the IDE Emulation option. If you are installing Vista or later, it also can handle either native SATA or AHCI, so any of those three choices will work.

Check your BIOS Boot Sequence. Most common setting is optical drive first, and your SATA HDD second, nothing else. If you don't set the HDD as an option anywhere, it will never look there.

You could not boot from the CD that came with the drive, so I guess it was not made bootable; some are, some are not. But you were right to proceed to using the Windows Install disk - it will Partition and Format a new disk as it prepares to install itself there. Re-do that process, except for one extra step. At the very beginning it should have messages about which drive to install on, and probably will show you some info on its current contents. Since you have already partly installed Windows on it, be sure to Delete any Partition it has so that the disk really is empty before starting to Create the new Partition.

As you re-do the installation, make notes on what stages it goes through and post back here. The "Windows is starting up" message can show up at several points, so I'm not clear whether it BSOD'ed on you just as the Install routine got going, or after the entire installation was complete and it was trying to boot from the finished installation on the new drive, or somewhere in between.
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October 1, 2009 3:11:01 PM

I was able to get into this a little more last night and did the following:

(By the way, this is a Dell Dimension 9200 with a 2.8Ghz pentium D processor)

In setup I selected the "SATA Operation" line in the "Disks" section and changed it from "RAID ON" to "RAID Auto detect/ ATA". This seemed to solve some of my problems. Now, Windows was able to load the startup and files and the actually load Windows to the point where I can partition and format the hard-drive (FYI...with "RAID ON" it never made it that far, I would get the BSOD right before this step).
I was then able to partition and format the hard drive and load windows onto the disk as well. However, I am stuck again. Once windows completes the first portion of the install sequence it then requires a system reboot. It prompts you to remove any disks in the "A" drive and after a 15 second countdown begins reboot. It also states that the install process will continue follwoing the reboot. What is happening at this point, is upon reboot, I get the prompt, "To boot from CD press any key". If I press a key or simply wait a couple seconds, it then says, "Invalid system disk".
I tried to do this step again, but this time pulled the CD out when the system reboot began, it imeediately said, "Invalid system disk". Then, I shut the computer off, and went into set-up and changed the boot order to place what was being referred to as "Onboard SATA disk" as the first in the sequence. When I do this, the dell splash screen comes up and then it goes to a completely blank, black screen with no progress. I then tried to turn "RAID ON" and reboot and it seems to get a little further, but this time it tells me, "Invalid system disk". I know that there is something I can do to make this work, something I am missing here for sure. BTW, this is Windows XP SP2, not dure if I mentioned before. Again, thanks for the help.
a c 329 G Storage
October 2, 2009 9:00:27 PM

Turning off RAID in the SATA port settings was right - now it appears to be working as an emulated ATA drive. So then you were able to boot from a Windows Install CD and partly install Windows on the HDD.

Here it gets a bit confusing. You say the message is to remove disks form the "A" drive, but that name is normally reserved for a floppy disk drive. Do you have a floppy drive? In the BIOS, it should be set to boot from the CD-ROM drive first, then the HDD second, and no other option. If you set it that way you certainly should be able to boot from the Install disk in the optical drive. On the other hand, if you set it to boot solely from the new SATA HDD and it does not yet have a complete Windows installation, it might have trouble trying to do that. If you turn RAID on it cannot use that HDD because Windows does not know how to use RAID without drivers. Besides, you don't have a RAID array established for the system to use.

Set it to boot from CD first, HDD second, nothing else. Make sure the SATA port is set to Auto Detect /ATA. Put your Install disk in the CD drive and try to boot - it should do that, from the Install disk. It may try to continue the Install, or it may want to do it all over again.
a c 126 G Storage
October 2, 2009 9:15:27 PM

Often the BIOS-setting looks like this:

SATA Transfer Mode: [IDE/AHCI/RAID]

Choosing IDE should work.