Message "New CPU installed" when an external hard drive plugged in

A couple of days ago, my cousin plugged in a Hitachi external hard drive to an USB 2.0 port on her computer. Then, all hell broke loose.

A message popped up, "New CPU installed. Please enter setup to configure your system. Press f1 to enter setup, press f2 to set default values and continue." My cousin did nothing and the computer went ahead to reboot itself but failed. Then it rebooted again and again without any success.

She had four drives in an RAID, and her OS would see two of them during normal operation. Think it's 2 pairs of RAID 1. All four drives have windows installed. So tried to boot from the other three drives, still no luck. Tried to repair the OS with Windows XP Pro CD, but still couldn't boot.

I'm not that familiar with RAID myself but I'm thinking, if it's the RAID controller went bad. Her BIOS showed the four drives as Third and Fourth Masters and Slaves while her Primary Master showed nothing. Don't see any RAID controller in BIOS too. Is it supposed to be there?

Now, we're totally stuck. She has some programs in there that she couldn't afford to lose. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance for any help.
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  1. I don't understand, did this message appear while you were running Windows? Or while you were booting up?
  2. If the drives were in two RAID1 arrays operated by RAID systems built into the mobo's BIOS and chipset, you should get the manual on how that on-board RAID system works. Sometimes that is included in the manual for the system or the mobo, but sometimes it is a separate document. If you can't find it from the mobo manufacturer's website, look closely at the main chips on the mobo and and note down the chip label numbers and maker. Now go to the website of the chip maker and look there for a RAID manual for that chipset. For example, nVidia has a good manual for the chipset that runs my ASUS mobo, so I can get the manual from either website.

    Now, with a built-in RAID system there will be a point early in the boot sequence where you must press a key (maybe CTRL-I, or who knows - watch the screen for details) to enter the RAID Setup screens. There you should be able to see any error messages telling you about problems with either of the RAID arrays. In the case of RAID1 there usually are good tools for telling you which of the two drives in an array has a problem, and also good tools for repairing the array by using the good disk to restore the other. If that is not possible, there are also good tools to break the array down to individual hard drives that can be used alone (not in an array) so that you can use the one known to be good until the faulty one can be fixed. All of this is detailed in the manual, so it's a great place to start.

    The original event with that error message about a new CPU is confusing. I suspect that message was generated by the BIOS, not by Windows. It seems to indicate that the BIOS thought you had changed the CPU in it and some adjustments to BIOS settings is needed. No reason at all that plugging in an external drive should do that! However, even assuming that was an unexplainable "glitch" that has "fixed itself", you still have the issue that the system cannot boot from its drives. If that problem rests in the RAID arrays, I am hoping that using the built-in tools, with the manual as a guide, will let you find and fix the troubles in the RAID system.
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