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BIOS cannot detect SATA anymore

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May 11, 2012 3:41:19 PM

Hello, everybody!

My PC used to work fairly well, until one day, when I booted it, I got the message “DISK BOOT FAILURE. INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER.”
I checked the BIOS and it could not detect the hard drive (a SATA disk) anymore. :cry: 

Information about the PC:

PC: HP Pavilion A1487c
Hard Drive: Samsung SP2504C

1) FIRST TEST

I tried to connect the drive to the different power supplies in the PC. I also changed the SATA cable. I tested both cables in all of the SATA ports. None of them worked.

2) SECOND TEST

I removed the hard drive and placed it into one of those cases that allow you to turn an internal SATA disk into an external USB disk.
- I connected the drive to the SATA port in the case, for which I used the same SATA cable that had initially connected the drive to the SATA port in the motherboard.
- I left the PC open (that is, I removed the lid) and connected the case to the internal power supply of the PC (the same that the drive had been connected to as an internal hard drive).
- I connected the case to the PC via a USB port.
Finally, I booted Mini-Windows XP from a CD, opened the Windows Explorer, and I could see the disk and all of its contents.

So it seems that:
- The drive works.
- The SATA cable works.
- The internal power supply works.

Does this mean that there's trouble with the SATA controller in the motherboard? If the answer is "Yes", is there a way to fix it?
Thank you very much! :D 





a c 317 G Storage
May 11, 2012 7:25:23 PM

While it could be something bad, most likely it is just a corrupt boot sector on the drive -- I would copy all the important data off the drive and then reinstall Windows -- you might be able to get by with a repair install, although with XP there can be issues with IE: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917964
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May 15, 2012 1:51:34 PM

Hi, RealBeast! Thanks for your fast reply.

I hope you're right and it's just a corrupt boot sector. My PC's been out of order for quite some time now, so I'm not quite sure, but I think I already tried to perform a repair install, but got an error message and the process aborted. Anyway, I will try it again as soon as I have the time.

Again, thank you very much! :na: 
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May 15, 2012 3:11:10 PM

Hello again.

1) I remember now! I could NOT perform a repair install because:
- My PC has on OEM version of Windows XP (Windows Media Center, or something like that), and, of course, the guys in the shop where I purchased it gave me NO Windows XP setup disk. :pfff: 
- I also DON'T have the Administrator password that I think is required to perform such an install. :pfff: 

2) As I said, when I tested the disk using the SATA-to-USB case, and booting from a CD with Mini-Windows XP, the system COULD DETECT the drive, and Windows Explorer showed the drive's contents. Doesn't that mean that the boot sector is OK? :o 

I'm quite at a loss with this problem! :( 

Greetings and thank you! :hello: 
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May 15, 2012 10:35:16 PM

Can the SATA port read other SATA devices? It sounds like your SATA controller is the problem from the testing you have done and testing a DVD drive or something would double confirm my suspicion. Are you sure the BIOS is set up correctly? You may have a setting that is off, blocking the SATA ports. who knows why... Maybe you can reset BIOS or update BIOS.

1. check another SATA device
2. reset BIOS
3. replace mobo

I have never delt with a problem like this. The only way I can think of to fix it would be to replace the Mobo. I wouldnt want to debug the Mobo.
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a c 317 G Storage
May 15, 2012 11:29:14 PM

That does not mean the boot loader is okay -- since you can read the drive but not boot it indicates to me that is the likely issue. You can read the disk from that SATA port when you boot from the CD drive so the port and motherboard are fine.

You need to repair the boot loader, which a repair install would do. Unfortunately since you have no system disk, no password you cannot do the repair: http://www.ehow.com/how_4891476_reinstall-xp-bootloader...

If you still have your Windows serial number, perhaps you can borrow an install disk. Unlike Windows 7 there are no legal downloadable Win XP images.
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May 16, 2012 12:44:38 PM

Hi, pearlmam! Thanks for your reply. Right now, I have no other SATA device to test the PC's SATA ports. I'll try to get one.

About the BIOS setup, it stopped detecting the drive overnight; that is, one night I turned off the PC normally, the next day I turned it on, and the drive didn't show up! I did not change the setup between turn-off and turn-on. After I detected the problem I tried quite a few things; one of them was to restore the BIOS' factory settings, but it didn't work either. I guess I'll try different setup options, though I think I've already tried them all and besides, I'm definitely NO expert at that.

If none of this works, I guess I'll have to discard the computer altogether :cry:  - except for the SATA drive which, as I said, seems to work fine.

Thank you again. :hello: 

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May 16, 2012 1:36:55 PM

RealBeast said:
That does not mean the boot loader is okay -- since you can read the drive but not boot it indicates to me that is the likely issue. You can read the disk from that SATA port when you boot from the CD drive so the port and motherboard are fine.

You need to repair the boot loader, which a repair install would do. Unfortunately since you have no system disk, no password you cannot do the repair: http://www.ehow.com/how_4891476_reinstall-xp-bootloader...

If you still have your Windows serial number, perhaps you can borrow an install disk. Unlike Windows 7 there are no legal downloadable Win XP images.


Hello again, Realbeast! Thanks for taking the trouble to keep replying! :na: 

"That does not mean the boot loader is okay." Thanks for making it clear to me. I am no expert at this, and I thought that the "boot sector" was a sector in the drive that the system needed to handle it, to access the data it contains. I did not know that it had to do with its ability to boot a machine from it.

"You can read the disk from that SATA port ..." Maybe I have not expressed myself clearly. Actually, I CANNOT read the disk from ANY SATA port in the PC. What I did was put the SATA disk into a case, connect it to the SATA plug IN THE CASE, and then plug the case into a USB port in the PC. That is, I could see the disk only when I connected it to the PC via a USB port.

"You need to repair the boot loader ..." As you say, I have no system disk and no password, so for the time being, I cannot resort to that solution.

"If you still have your Windows serial number ..." I don't know if I have it. I'll have to check. I might also try to use one of those programs that retrieve product keys.

" ... perhaps you can borrow an install disk ..." I'm afraid that may be quite hard. As I said, my PC came with an OEM version of Windows XP Media Center. I understand that this is a version of Windows XP that has been modified by the maker of the PC - Hewlett Packard in this case. So I have NO idea how I could ever get a copy of this. :cry: 

Thanks again! :D 

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May 16, 2012 3:12:53 PM

"Finally, I booted Mini-Windows XP from a CD, opened the Windows Explorer, and I could see the disk and all of its contents"

I didn't read this completely, I thought you said you booted from the usb drive, but you booted from cd and viewed the contents. First of all, if your cd drive has a SATA port, then your SATA ports are fine. Can you boot directly from the USB? You should be able to. If not then it sounds like a problem with the boot sector, which I know nothing about.

If you need a windows cd, just pirate it. Technically, I think its illegal, but if you have the KEY, then I don't see anything wrong with that. They make it real difficult to get these old versions of windows, sometimes its your only option. However, you dont have the Key then you may have to call windows and get one. And, if you are uncomfortable with pirating, you may need to call them to get a disc sent out. Forget about the OEM version, I don't think you'll need that exact copy. There is only one way to find out.

The product key retrievers I think need the OS up and running. then need to read the registry and what not. That may not be an option for you.

Also, if you didn't get a disk with your computer, are you sure that the OS "disc" is not on another partition. That seems to be the norm now. Check out your brand and which keystroke to apply at boot to get to the hidden OS partition.
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a c 342 G Storage
May 16, 2012 3:54:40 PM

One test you have not done may help clarify the status of the mobo's SATA ports. Try this.

Mount the SATA HDD in the computer exactly as it was originally - same cables, same ports, etc. If you just turn the system on this way, it should still have the same problem, right? BUT when you turn on, go into BIOS Setup directly and change the Boot Priority Sequence to boot from your optical drive first. Make sure your Mini-Win XP CD is in that drive, then Save and Exit from BIOS Setup. The machine ought to boot successfully from the CD. THEN see if you can read all of your SATA HDD that way (just as when you had it mounted outside and connected via USB). If you can read this way, you know that the SATA ports system is just fine, and the problem is VERY likely as others have said - a corruption of the boot files on the HDD.
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May 18, 2012 3:57:57 PM

Hi, Pearlmam! Thanks for your post!

I'll consider the options you suggest:
- getting a "pirate" copy of XP,
- checking whether the OS "disc" is on another partition (I remember the drive has an "HP Recovery" partition, and I have 3 HP Recovery CD's which I made when I purchased the machine, but I don't remember having a full OS partition).

However, the situation has changed quite a bit, as I explain below.

Yesterday. I connected the drive to the PC's SATA port and plugged it into an external power supply. (I think I'd already tried this before). This time, the BIOS detected the hard drive, and the booting process started! However, I immediately got a message saying that the drive had to be checked for inconsistencies. Chkdsk started, detected some errors in the drive, and quite soon it stopped with a message saying that it could not go on (I cannot remember the text right now). So I restarted the machine and ran a test of the hard drive, using PC Doctor, which comes with the machine. Quite soon, it finished processing, showing the following info on the screen:

Test Result Information
-----------------------------
Hard Drive-Samsung SP2504C (Hard Drive)

Results Test Name Error Code
----------- ------------------- ---------------
Failed Short Self Test HD521-2W

It also showed a message window titled: "Recommended tip", with the text: "Please contact and provide error code to HP Technical Support. HP does not recommend performing System Recovery at this time."

I googled the error code (HD521-2W) and was quite disappointed to find out that the drive is quite likely to be damaged. A guy posted that, in some cases, it may be a firmware problem, so I tried to update it (I have the file, which I had previously downloaded from HP's site). However, I could never get the PC started again, even though I tried quite a few times! Every time I tried to start it, the BIOS could not detect the SATA ... The disk seemed to start spinning (making no particular sounds; some people mention they heard "clacks" or something like that in situations similar to this one), but stopped after a few seconds. :cry: 

In short, the trouble seems to be with the drive itself, and NOT with the SATA connection.

I guess I'll get in touch with the HP guys to ask if there's anything I can do with this drive, and in case there's nothing to be done, I'll try to get a replacement disk with Windows XP Media Center loaded in it (not very optimistic in both cases).

Thanks again for your help!
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May 18, 2012 5:58:18 PM

Thats a shame. Hopefully you didn't have important data on the drive. See what those HP guys can do. The most important thing you need is the OS disc and the KEY. Without that, you will need to buy a new OS.

Also, you should consider getting 2 hard drives and using a RAID1 so this will never happen again.
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May 18, 2012 6:39:33 PM

Hi, Paperdoc! Thanks for replying again!

As I said in my previous post (in reply to Pearlmam), the SATA port seems to be OK, and the problem seems to be with the drive itself.
So may be the boot files on the HDD are corrupted, like you say. I hope it's just that, but I'd need to get the drive to at least boot, or work as a slave, once, so I can try to update the firmware (in fact, I'm not sure whether the boot files are part of the firmware or not; if they're not, then I don't think updating the firmware would fix the problem.)

I did not have much information left in the drive, because all along this process I managed to back up most of it to an external drive one of the times I succeeded in turning it on. Basically, I'd like to recover the drive and Windows XP Media Center, which has some functions that Windows XP and Windows 7 do not have, and which is not so easy to get.

Greetings and thank you! :na: 
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a c 317 G Storage
May 18, 2012 7:13:50 PM

jorff, there is a small chance that you may be able to do a recovery from the hard drive if all of the hp recovery sector files are still intact -- since you have already backed up all your data, it is safe to try: reattach the hdd to the same sata port with the hdd the first boot device in the bios and then power on the computer while pressing F11 repeatedly during the startup to start the Recovery Manager.

If the Recovery Manager is operational, your computer will display a prompt to either recover the operating system from files stored on the recovery partition, or (2) create a set of recovery discs. I would go for the first, and then do the second later if the first works for you.
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June 15, 2012 6:00:19 PM

Hi, Realbeast!
Thanks for your reply. Sorry I've been away from the forum for about a month.
I think I've tried something like that some time ago and it didn't work. I think the recovery drive in the HDD appeared to be empty. I have a set of recovery disks which I made a couple of years ago; I think I also tried them and that didn't work either. Anyway, I'll try it again in the weekend so that I can be more specific about the problems I encounter.
Thank you again! :D 
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June 15, 2012 7:19:30 PM

When you bought the computer it should have the Microsoft tag on the side panel of the case with you CD Key on it. I would download a free WinXP iso (easy to find these days, google: windows xp free iso download) and burn the image to a dvd disc. It's not pirating when its just a copy of the software, it's pirating when you use a fake cd key.
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