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The Case of the Disappearing Hard Drive

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August 28, 2010 5:56:56 PM

I've been using a 750 GB Sata II hard drive on my home built computer for about two years now. I turned the computer on yesterday, only to have it not detect the drive. I tried unplugging and replugging the sata cable to different slots on the motherboard, but to no avail. I tried a second sata cable, no luck on detecting the drive. I looked in the bios for some option to tweak, but that didn't work either. A friend suggested that the drive was dead. I can hear it spinning, but not clicking - it sounds pretty normal to me.

Anyone know what else I could try? I have data I need off of that drive - I really hope it's not dead. Thank you in advance for all of your help.
August 28, 2010 7:45:04 PM

If you go to disk manager does windows see it there?
Rype "compmgmt.msc" in the start menu search field. (will have to "allow" the program in vista)
Select "Disk Management" from the left side. (will take a minute to load and you should hear all your drives spin up).

If you see it there but it doesn't have a drive letter then all you need to do is assign it one. If it doesn't see it you may be SOL.

Only thing I can think of to try then would be to put it into another computer or external enclosure and see if it spins up.
a c 104 G Storage
August 29, 2010 3:54:59 AM

Hi there,

Please describe your computer system and the kind and how your HDD's are used.
Also if you changed or if anything changed a day or so before your drive began causing trouble

Since you can boot into the OS and desktop, your OS must be on a separate drive, or a separate partition of this drive?
Sounds like this is a second HDD, that you are using for backup? Be as specific as you can

First thing I'd do is boot to the spash screen, then enter the BIOS system setup.
Does the CMOS setup see all the drives connected to your system, and in what order.
Check to make sure the HDD controllers are set to "Enabled" and the HDD set to "Auto".

Also check the drive 15 pin power connector, try another one, since without the drive spinning and 5 V supplied to the electronics, it won't be discovered by the computer.



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September 5, 2010 3:42:11 AM

No, it's the primary drive. No partitions, it has vista ultimate 64 bit installed. I cannot boot into an OS; it's the only drive as well. I don't have another computer/enclosure to test it in. I have tried swapping the sata power cable, as well as the sata data cable. I have determined it is not a fault of the motherboard sata plug, this is working fine (it will detect my dvd drive). So I'm kinda up the creek.
a c 104 G Storage
September 5, 2010 3:33:25 PM

Hello again,
OK, primary drive, 1 partition, Vista Ultimate. Data and OS on same single SATA HDD which you can hear spin up.

Was there anything you changed the day before this problem occurred? Like adding a new program or updating a driver, or optimizing the registry?

How far in the boot up process can you get? Can you get to the splash screen, if so <del> and review all the System setup settings. On the standard CMOS page, does it see the HDD, and the DVD, other peripherals?

If you can get that far, reboot, go past the splash screen and listen for any speaker beep codes. Hear a single beep, meaning the MB POST is OK. Or possibly another sequence of beeps. In the Boot Loader Phase, at this point do you get the Console message "Hard Drive or Non system drive not present" or something similar.

If you can get past the splash screen click reboot and click <F8> to get to the Advanced Start Up Options where you will see the choices, including Safe Mode option. If so, see if it will load the OS using Safe Mode.

Safe Mode, Repair your computer, Last known good, Safe Mode with command prompt, System Restore, etc. If you can get this far, consider a system restore point before the date you had trouble, or last known good, or even repairing the mater boot record.

Sometimes a little snooping (investigation) pays off
September 5, 2010 8:48:25 PM

No, I can't get to the splash screen. Hard drive simply not detected in bios. Computer turns on, detects CPU, Tests Memory, Looks for hard drives - and can't find one.

I did install a new program a few days before this happened (it was a simple programming application that allows me to code basic programs - I use it for a beginning programming class. I also installed this program on my laptop (win 7 home premium 64-bit) and it runs fine and has caused no issues.) Other than that, I didn't do anything unusual - no registry tweaks, etc.

Thanks for the help, this has really got me scratching my head.
a c 104 G Storage
September 5, 2010 10:39:03 PM

No, I can't get to the splash screen. Hard drive simply not detected in bios. Computer turns on, detects CPU, Tests Memory, Looks for hard drives - and can't find one.

I did install a new program a few days before this happened (it was a simple programming application that allows me to code basic programs - I use it for a beginning programming class. I also installed this program on my laptop (win 7 home premium 64-bit) and it runs fine and has caused no issues.) Other than that, I didn't do anything unusual - no registry tweaks, etc.

Hi again,
The fact that you can get to the BIOS means you actually can get to the MB splash screen by clicking on <del> before or when it should be visible? I am asumming you can see the System Setup pages on the Monitor, CMOS Setup, Adv BIOS page, Power page, F10 to save, etc.

Next step I would disconnect the HDD and, and try to boot up. If the MB, Video card, RAM, CPU are OK, it should display "Non System Drive or Disk" or something similar, and halt there. If something else, you should get a beep code that may point you toward the culprit.

What was the programming application you recently installed for school?

Plug the HDD back in and instead of clicking the <del> key on bootup to get to the BIOS, try clicking <F8> several times to see if you can get to the Advanced SetUp page as mentioned previously.
!