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Dell dimension 4300 hdd not found

Last response: in Windows XP
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February 29, 2012 11:02:35 PM

Hello,
I can only get the old dell dimension 4300 (Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A02) to come on to where it says try F1 or F2. I get "Primary hard disk drive not found, also secondary hdd not found. I recently switched to Macs and when I went to make a copy of the old disc I could not boot up past this. I fear it was a power surge, and don't care about the dell, but my son died in Afghanistan and his pictures are on there. Is there still a way to recover the data myself, or should I take it somewhere, and who would that be? I live near Nashville, TN... I don't want to take a chance here...Thanks~
March 1, 2012 6:59:36 AM

There are several thing you could try to access the hard drive;
1. Access the BIOS. Right after you turn the PC on, as you see the Dell logo, press the F2 or the Delete key repeatedly about twice per second. In the BIOS, Advanced menu, find the IDE Configuration or Hard Drives, and disable the S.M.A.R.T. Setting. This setting preventd the BIOS from recognizing hard drives which are in not so good condition... so disable this setting and see if the Hard Drive is recognized and boots.

2. If it doesn't boot after a few attempts (restarts), open the computer case and switch the jumper on the Hard Drive; If the jumper is in the CS (or cable select) position, switch it to the MA (master) position, and viceversa. I've found this will work sometimes.. I had a bad hard drive that would fail recognition and I switched the jumper from CS to MA and later on when it wasn't recognized again I'd switch the jumper back from MA to CS and invariably it would work again. If that doesn't work, remove the jumper and try again. IDE Hard Drive Jumpers

3. And if that doesn't work either, remove the Hard Drive and install it as the SL (Slave) on another computer. Disable the BIOS S.M.A.R.T setting on that computer if necessary.

If the Hard Drive is not making any abnormal sound or noise, either of the three options should make it boot or help you access it. On option 3 you will need to take ownership of the hard drive to be able to access it; Do as follows: On Windows XP Pro; Explorer Tools menu\Folder Options\View\Use simple file sharing (recommended), next go to the slave hard drive letter, right click and select Properties, and click on the Security tab, next click on Advanced\click on the Owner tab\select Administrators, next check on "Replace owner in subcontainers and objects", and Apply, and Accept.

On Windows XP Home Edition, you have to Logon in Safe Mode to have the Security tab available. To logon in Safe Mode; right after the BIOS post, press F8 once every second, and select the "Safe Mode" option, and press Enter.
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March 9, 2012 8:20:29 PM

I cannot get it to boot in safe mode. It says the same thing...Primary Hard Disk drive not found and Secondary drive not found, Strike f1 to continue, f2 to run setup utility. I can only get anything by striking f2. It has a list of information about the computer. The drives, the boot sequence, memory info, cpu info, devices, pci irq assignments, all the way down to system events log. I did not go further to try and open up the computer, though. Should I still do that? Thank you so much for responding!
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March 9, 2012 11:10:22 PM

pink22go said:
I cannot get it to boot in safe mode. It says the same thing...Primary Hard Disk drive not found and Secondary drive not found, Strike f1 to continue, f2 to run setup utility. I can only get anything by striking f2. It has a list of information about the computer. The drives, the boot sequence, memory info, cpu info, devices, pci irq assignments, all the way down to system events log. I did not go further to try and open up the computer, though. Should I still do that? Thank you so much for responding!


I imagine if you press F1 it doesn't continue (the No drives found message pops-up)?

The program that comes up after you press F2, is the BIOS setup.. that's the program that manages the motherboard and detects all the hardware connected to it... So, if you do see any description in Drives and boot sequence refering to Hard Drives, (like make, model, serial ID) it means the Hard Drives are being detected but issues may be present, such as;
1. their jumpers may be configured incorrectly,
2. or the System HD may not be spinning up to speed possibly due to a weak power supply,
3. or the IDE Data Cable may not be firmly connected to the motherboard or Hard Drives.

So check the BIOS (F2) and make sure Hard drives information such as make, model, or serial ID number is being displayed. IF it does show this type of information, it means the Hard Drives are being detected (are in good condition), but some other issue (1,2,3) are preventing the system boot... so the next step is to open the case and check the IDE Cable connectors are tightly fitted on the motherboard and hard drives, and that the Hard Drives IDE Jumpers are configured as follows: On the HD connected to the end of the IDE cable, the jumper should be on the MA (Master) pins, and on the HD connected to the middle of the IDE Cable, the jumper should be on the SL (Slave) pins. Dell also connects IDE both jumpers on the CS (Cable Select) pins... so depending on which pins the jumpers are connected to, you can move them to the alternate setting (from MA & SL to CS & CS, or from CS & CS to MA & SL) and see if the system boots after this alternate jumper settings. If none of these jumper settings make the Operative System boot, you may have to replace the Power Supply (metallic box with a fan where the power cord connect to). Another possible cause could be the System partition Master Boot Record is damaged, but if I remember correctly this problem would give a "Missing Operating System" message.

I was forgetting to mention: If you've found the BIOS S.M.A.R.T setting, turn it off, and see if the Hard Drive boots up.
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August 29, 2012 10:00:45 PM

Well, I realized I don't have the knowledge to do any of this, but the Geek Squad Tech came to my house and did take the hard drive out, and connected to another computer. He could not get it either. He suggested taking it to Best Buy and having them do it. Said it would cost about $1500!! But it will be the only way I can get my son's photos and documents, so I will do it. I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for helping me, and that I did not forget you~

Chicano said:
There are several thing you could try to access the hard drive;
1. Access the BIOS. Right after you turn the PC on, as you see the Dell logo, press the F2 or the Delete key repeatedly about twice per second. In the BIOS, Advanced menu, find the IDE Configuration or Hard Drives, and disable the S.M.A.R.T. Setting. This setting preventd the BIOS from recognizing hard drives which are in not so good condition... so disable this setting and see if the Hard Drive is recognized and boots.

2. If it doesn't boot after a few attempts (restarts), open the computer case and switch the jumper on the Hard Drive; If the jumper is in the CS (or cable select) position, switch it to the MA (master) position, and viceversa. I've found this will work sometimes.. I had a bad hard drive that would fail recognition and I switched the jumper from CS to MA and later on when it wasn't recognized again I'd switch the jumper back from MA to CS and invariably it would work again. If that doesn't work, remove the jumper and try again. IDE Hard Drive Jumpers

3. And if that doesn't work either, remove the Hard Drive and install it as the SL (Slave) on another computer. Disable the BIOS S.M.A.R.T setting on that computer if necessary.

If the Hard Drive is not making any abnormal sound or noise, either of the three options should make it boot or help you access it. On option 3 you will need to take ownership of the hard drive to be able to access it; Do as follows: On Windows XP Pro; Explorer Tools menu\Folder Options\View\Use simple file sharing (recommended), next go to the slave hard drive letter, right click and select Properties, and click on the Security tab, next click on Advanced\click on the Owner tab\select Administrators, next check on "Replace owner in subcontainers and objects", and Apply, and Accept.

On Windows XP Home Edition, you have to Logon in Safe Mode to have the Security tab available. To logon in Safe Mode; right after the BIOS post, press F8 once every second, and select the "Safe Mode" option, and press Enter.

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August 30, 2012 1:07:19 AM

Chicano i agree with You..................
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September 5, 2012 11:55:17 AM

pink22go said:
Well, I realized I don't have the knowledge to do any of this, but the Geek Squad Tech came to my house and did take the hard drive out, and connected to another computer. He could not get it either. He suggested taking it to Best Buy and having them do it. Said it would cost about $1500!! But it will be the only way I can get my son's photos and documents, so I will do it. I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for helping me, and that I did not forget you~


You are welcome pink22go.... but maybe you'd want to try this simple trick before giving up: Sometimes you can access a damaged hard drive if it is cold enough... freezing the HD electronics improves their conductivity (something related to creating a temporary and limited sort of superconductivity)...

I have done it several times and it does work if the HD is not beyond hope... but you have to be very meticulous following these instructions; You have to freeze the hard drive for about 30 to 45 minutes, but it has to be well wrapped in Kitchen Stretch Wrap to prevent moisture from getting into the hard drive electronics. It would be best if you could extract any air (and any moisture contained in it)... so if you have a kitchen vacuum packager it would be best but this is not completely indispensable.

Once you remove the Hard Drive from the freezer, try to install it on the computer as quick as possible to improve the chances it will work. Don't worry about damaging the HD electronics if moisture should creep in because the $1500.00 job will discard the Hard Drive Casing anyway... they remove the platters and install them on another Hard Drive Casing, in a dust & moisture free enviroment afaik.

If you're going to access the HD from another Operative System (installed on another HD), make sure the HD jumper is in CS (Cable Select) or SL (Slave) and installed on the middle IDE cable connector, or if you want to access the HD (if you had an Operative System in it), the jumper should be in CS or MA and install it on the end of the IDE cable.

Hope this does help and it's simple to do... that's if you haven't already taken it to Best Buy.. but if you have, this may help someone else so I had to mantion it.
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September 5, 2012 11:56:43 AM

herster said:
Chicano i agree with You..................


Thanks Herster!
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