Windows won't boot with backup sata drive connected

Hi, I hope someone can help.

My system has 3 hard drives installed, a 500gb Western Digital, a 320gb Western Digital, and a 1tb Samsung, with Windows Vista Ultimate installed on the 500gb WD drive. This setup has worked fine for about 6 months, until now. When I switched on my pc 2 days ago it wouldn't boot - it gets as far as the first splash screen, and then gets stuck at the following black screen. I know the problem is the 1tb Samsung drive because, when I remove the drive windows boots fine, and when I plug it back in the problem recurs.

Note: The 1tb drive, and the 320tb drive are only backup data drives. Only the 500gb drive(partitioned 150gb/315gb) has 1 system partition on it. Also, I've tried plugging all the drives into different sata ports, and swapping around the cables. All drives show up in the bios(Asus P5Q Pro, with a recent bios update), and are configured correctly as sata drives.

Please, can you help?
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  1. You have isolated the problem to your 1 TB Samsung HDD unit. The ideal utility for testing that unit for hardware problems is the one provided free by Samsung at:

    Some important notes included on that screen:

    1. SOME of the HUTIL utility's tools will completely ERASE your disk, so they caution you to make a complete backup before using it. However, if your disk can't be used, that is tough. It appears the Self Diagnostic Tests do NOT do this, although it does not specifically state that.

    2. The utility actually makes a bootable floppy diskette for you to use to run the tests. This means that, at least temporarily, you will need a floppy drive and diskette to use for testing.

    3. IF this utility says you have no hardware problems on the unit, then you will have to start looking for things like corrupted data on the disk - maybe trouble in the MBR or Partition Table. For that you will need third-party tools for Partition Recovery or Data Recovery.

    4. One other important thing to check: in BIOS Setup there is a place where you specify which devices are used in which sequence for booting the machine. Check there to be sure that the Samsung HDD is NOT on the list by mistake.

    5. If the utility says there is a hardware problem that can't be fixed, or you must have the unit replaced, etc, you still have the issue of trying to back up its data. For that I suggest a third-party package (you have to pay for it) called GetDataBack NTFS. It often can access all the data on a drive that has trouble, allowing you to copy everything to another disk, which is what you would need if the Samsung must be replaced.
  2. Thanks for the reply, I'll check it all out.
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