Help -- Had to remove extra hard drive, now mine won't work


I had 2 hard drives. One 260Gb Sata, which was my main Windows hard drive and a 1TB Sata, which was for storage.
Due to an unfortunate accident involving an AA-12, toxic waste and some very fast squirrels, I had to remove the hard drive.
When I got the computer I had to have someone else set it up because I wasn't able to telekenetically put it together on the other side of the earth. I am afraid that the person set the 1tb hard drive (Which is now full of holes, toxic waste and squirrel bits) to have the main boot loader.

The 260Gb is fine and in mint condition. It was working fine before the removal of the 1tb.
Now, whenever I try to start the computer, the Bios sees the HDD but the Windows on it thinks it doesn't exists.
I guess it says: "Wait a second, my hair is shorter. Either something changed or I don't exist. Ehh, that's impossible. Something couldn't have been changed. I guess I don't exist."

I have tried:
Switching around cables, attempting to make it master and also attempting to make it slave.
Punching wall. Computer still does not work.
Changing boot order.

I DON'T have my Windows disc anymore. My nephew mistook it for a Frisbee. I don't blame him. He was 3, it was shiny and flied really well.
What should I do?
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  1. For starters, I would like to know how you did "attempting to make it master and also attempting to make it slave." Most people do this by moving jumpers around on pins on the back edge of the HDD. BUT on SATA units (which is what you say you have) THERE IS NO MASTER OR SLAVE!! Any jumpers on those drives are used for other purposes entirely and you SHOULD NOT MOVE THEM unless you know what you're doing. So as a first step, go to the website of the HDD manufacturer and find out how those jumpers are supposed to be set, and put them back that way.

    On a SATA drive by Seagate or WD (and a few others) the ONLY time you should adjust a jumper on pins is one particular combination. That is if you have an older mobo with an original SATA controller system (1.5 Gb/s) plus a newer SATA II HDD unit that communicates at 3.0 Gb/s. In that specific combination sometimes the HDD fails to automatically adjust itself to the controller's slower speed and you must force it to slow down. Some SATA II HDD's use a jumper setting for this. But if that's not your situation, reset any jumpers to the default settings from the maker's website.

    Once that is done, let's review the BIOS settings. I assume your system has ONLY the 260 GB HDD and an optical drive connected in it, possibly both to SATA ports. Next we need to settle the question: what OS is installed on that HDD? IF it was any version of Win XP your SATA ports all should be set to IDE (or PATA) Emulation mode most likely. IF you have Vista or Win 7 installed on it, set the modes to AHCI (or to Native SATA, if there is no AHCI). (Win XP cannot handle AHCI devices by itself without having a drive installed; hence, many people did NOT install this driver at the very start of installing XP, using instead the IDE Emulation mode in the BIOS to fool Windows into believing it had an IDE drive it understands for installation. So unless you KNOW that an AHCI driver was installed at the beginning of the XP Install, set your port mode back to this IDE Emulation. This is NOT an issue with Vista and Win 7.)

    OK, with the ports enabled and modes set, check the Boot Priority Sequence. It should say optical drive first try, SATA HDD second choice, and NO other choices allowed after that. Check that the optical drive is empty. Save and Exit Setup and the machine should try the optical drive and fail, going immediately to the HDD and booting from there. If it does not, what does the screen message say? Does it give you some simple text message about inserting a boot disk, or does it get part way through the Windows start-up before stalling?
  2. I don't follow any of your story, but I'm intrigued to hear the story about the squirrels.

    Did you change the jumpers for a single drive option (neither master nor slave?) Oh wait, it's SATA, never mind.

    You sure it's SATA?
  3. Thanks for the reply.

    The drive is a SATA. I checked the HDD manufacturer and it looks like it is plugged in right.
    It is Windows XP, but it worked just fine before I pulled out the hard drive. Would it have worked in the first place without IDE emulation if the main booter was on the other drive?

    I had already tried checking the Boot Priority Sequence.
    It gives me a text message basically saying to insert boot device.
  4. You need to find a WIN XP disk and fix the MBR on the drive. You should be able to use any version of Win XP to do this.
  5. Sturm's idea seems a good one. We may never know how the MBR that worked some time ago got changed, but "insert boot device" message sure looks like the 260 GB unit cannot be recognized as a legitimate bootable device. This is not the same message as the request for a valid boot DISK when it does not contain the required .sys files.
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