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Hard drive not seen in BIOS/Windows but there in Linux...

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November 24, 2011 2:20:10 PM

I've been asked to look at a laptop that appeared to have a hard drive failure. On boot POST reports "No bootable device" and the BIOS shows "[None]" against hard drives in the system details. I've flashed the BIOS via USB (no change). Fiddled with BIOS settings (no change) and reset them to factory defaults (no change). I've removed and reseated the drive, etc. about a zillion times.

The user reported that he "tried to upgrade to Windows 7" and this was when the problem first appeared.

I'm currently running an AV scan using AVGs bootable USB, which I believe runs on a version of Linux (?) and the first notable thing is that this can see the hard drive and all the contents (\Windows, etc.) so it appears the hard drive IS working and accessible.

Nothing is reported so far (it's taking forever) but assuming nothing IS reported, can anyone suggest why a hard drive would be completely invisible to the BIOS (let alone Windows) but apparently fine for Linux booting on a USB?

Jon
November 24, 2011 3:10:38 PM

Can you change the disk controller settings from AHCI to IDE etc ? Sounds like an annoying problem...
November 24, 2011 3:49:13 PM

Hi seogoat. An interesting comment. I did try a change to the controller setting but it appeared to have no effect. However, just found this on Wikipedia...

Quote:
Some operating systems, notably Windows Vista and Windows 7, do not configure themselves to load the AHCI driver upon boot if the drive controller was not in AHCI mode at the time of installation. This can cause failure to boot with an error message if the SATA controller is later switched to AHCI mode


This seems particularly interesting given that the client said he tried to load Windows 7 and admitted he had 'fiddled' a bit before giving it to me (it was in AHCI mode when I first checked).

The virus scan is still running (!) and I'm still really hopeful that it'll turn something up that can simply be cured.

As additional information, I have also tried some fixes to the MBR but am a little hampered by Windows not being able to see the drive at all...

It's not so much annoying as baffling, although some deductive reasoning would suggest that if Linux can see the drive, it's driver related, not hardware.

J
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November 27, 2011 6:13:00 PM

OK, more info now, but still no nearer a solution. Here's the info to date:

1) Dell diagnostics are able to start, and stop, the drive (so there's power and the drive responds in this respect)
2) Vista or Windows 7 can see the drive, can read it's size correctly, but error on install.

Other attempts strongly suggest the drive is physically OK (i.e. it spins, is returning info, and is readable by Linux, in some circumstances).

I'm seeing a lot of errors reporting MBR/Partition errors and it does feel like this is some screwed up writing to the disk that's 'confusing' everything that tries to access it, in one manner or another.

What I'd really like is a Linux USB install that can just look at the drive and repair the MBR/Partition info. I thought I'd found it with Ubuntu Rescue, but all the online resources I've found don't work - Linux doesn't seem to boot properly. The PenDrive exe doesn't ever seem to list the ISOs for Linux I've found.

So, in short, can anyone recommend something I can load to a USB (bootable) that had a really good set of tools for examining and repairing hard drive config problems?

Jon

a b G Storage
November 30, 2011 3:25:44 AM

Hi Jon,

I had once run into same problem. I was installing windows and something happened and then my Hard Disk won't show in BIOS or anywhere.

What I had done then:

1. I used Linux based program Parted Magic and booted from CD http://partedmagic.com/doku.php . My HDD was visible in this program.
2. Formatted my HDD using Parted Magic
3. Reinstalled windows

This really worked for me and should work for you too - Good luck and don't forget to post the results.

EDIT: You can probably make a bootable USB Flash drive too. Just explore their website.
!