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Windows Vista install will not show HDD when selecting install area.

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May 27, 2012 1:11:04 AM

My friend had an old computer that he wanted fixed, so he asked me to look at it. I did, and I figured out the problem was the HDD (click of death). I tested everything else, and everything seems to be in working order, and I even went as far as taking one of my HDD's and going up to the point in Windows installation where you get to "format HDD, or select a partition", and it showed my HDD there, but of course I didn't go farther because I didn't want to erase my HDD which was full of data. So anyway, I told him to go ahead and order an HDD, which he did, and it just came in the mail today, and I was just got done installing it, and started up the computer, and now this has happened:

When I start up the computer, it hangs on the "ASUS" screen, which is just a black screen with the ASUS logo, and the text, "Press DEL to enter setup, or TAB to display BIOS Post Message", and it stays on that screen for about 1 minute, with neither TAB or DEL being responsive.

After it finally got off that screen and got to the screen where it shows the hardware in your computer, (i.e. it'll say 6,144MB of RAM @ 800MHz Frequency, 500GB 7200RPM HDD, DVD/RW Drive", things like that, and then at the bottom it said, "Primary HDD Failure, press F1 to resume". I pressed F1 and the computer continued into the Windows Vista install, and all goes fine until the point where it asks to select a partition for install, which shows no HDD at all. There is nothing to select, so I have to close out of the Vista install and restart the computer.

The second time I tried doing the above step, it does the same thing, EXCEPT, it never said anything about "Primary HDD Failer, press F1 to resume.", it just went straight into the Windows installation, as if there was no error this time, however, it still froze on the "ASUS" screen for about a minute.

I've checked the BIOS and the HDD is listed there, as well as in the general list that it shows after the first screen on startup. So it seems like it's recognizing the HDD, but the HDD is either DOA, or something else.

Now, during the Windows Vista install, when selecting a HDD, there is an option, "load driver", which is to load a driver so the computer can recognize your HDD. Is this something I would need, or should the computer recognize the HDD by default? And if I do need the driver, where exactly would I get it. I saw nothing about SATA drivers on the ASUS support page, in the downloadable items for the computer.

Do I need to send the HDD back, or would this be a computer problem?

Any help is appreciated, thanks!!
a c 359 G Storage
May 27, 2012 4:30:26 AM

You do NOT need a special driver to install VISTA on a SATA drive. Vista knows how to use both older ATA (or IDE) and newer SATA drives. However, there is one thing to check in the BIOS Setup screens. Find where the SATA drive is Enabled and configured, and look for a line about SATA Port Mode or something similar. It will have options like "IDE (or PATA) Emulation", "Native SATA", "AHCI", or "RAID". It should NOT be set to RAID; its best setting is AHCI for use with VISTA.

You should also check for loose data and power cables to the drive, and maybe even try using different cables or a different SATA port as troubleshooting steps.

Go to where the Boot Priority Sequence is set. Usually your best choice is to set the optical drive as the first device, then the SATA drive you're installing, and NO other devices. If you make any changes, don't forget to Save and Exit.

If that still does not work, you MAY have a bad HDD. First simple test: mount the drive in your own machine and see whether it apperrs normal there. It is completely empty so it will NOT show up in My Computer. But if you use Disk Management, it should show up in the LOWER RIGHT pane of that tool with the proper size, and all of its space labelled Unallocated Space.

If the drive seems to have problems, get the diagnostic tests you can download from the HDD maker's website and test the drive. Since you won't have any OS running on your friend's machine, I recommend getting the "for DOS" version that you can burn (from an .iso image) to a CD-R that you boot and run from. Record any error messages you get - the HDD maker will want that info to justify a warranty replacement.
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