disappearing hdds

Ok, here is my situation. Last weekend, I put together a new system for my cousin(specs provided below). After getting everything together and firing up the system, everything worked fine, and we thought it was good to go. I put WinXP Pro on the system with SP2 and all updates and whatnot, and ran the XP disk-checking tool and all hdd's(3 of them) came up with no errors. So I'm thinking that everything's ok with the system and I shut it down for the night.

Now, when I woke up the next morning, the system would not boot. It would POST, but when it tried to load XP, it would give a random error message. One time, it would say something along the lines of "disk read/write error", and other times, it would say something like "please insert bootable media disc" or something to that affect. And then other times, it would boot like normal, straight into XP and everything with no problems. Once we lucked up and got it back into XP, I had my cousin back up all his data just to be safe. Then, we ran the error checking test again, and defragged the drive and everything and still got no errors or anything. After that, we restarted the system several times just to make sure that everything was ok with it, and it was. The system booted properly every time, whether it was from a simple restart from inside XP, or from turning the system off and then back on again. So I'm thinking that whatever the problem was, its fixed.......WRONG!

My cousin took the system home and fired it up and BLAM, there's the error messeages again. And then again, after about the 3rd or 4th restart, he said the system booted up fine. But later that night, he said the system was having the booting problems again. I figured it might be a loose connection or a bad cable or something of that nature, so I had him double and triple check all the connections, and everything was ok there. At this point, I'm thinking that maybe it's a bad drive(or a drive about to go bad), so I had him swap drives and re-install XP on another drive, and once again, everythign appeared fine for a while.

But the next day, the same errors started showing up again with the new drive and fresh XP install. Now, all week he has been experiencing these random boot errors(sometimes it'll boot, sometimes it won't), and I can't think of anything that might cause all of this short of either a boot virus(which McAfee couldn't find any), or a BIOS problem. And just today, he told me that another one of his hdd's just flat out disappeared from XP. The drive still shows up in the BIOS, and sometimes in XP. But then, for whatever reason, the drive just vanishes from XP. Now I think it could possibly be BIOS issue, because I have the exact same motherboard(Asus P4P800-E Deluxe) that is in his system, only I have BIOS 1004, and his came with BIOS 1006(which was a beta when I flashed my BIOS with the 1004 update about 2 weeks or so ago).

My questions to you guys are, 1. Have you seen/had any issues similar to this, and 2. if so, how do you go about fixing them?

The system specs are as follows:

Asus P4P800-E Deluxe motherboard
P4 3.0E ghz processor
2x512mb Mushkin DDR PC3200 RAM
Leadtek Nvidia Geforce 6200 video card w/ 128mb DDR RAM

Hard Drives:
Original: 30 gig 7200rpm hdd(I don't remember the brand name, but the drive worked perfectly, as it was the boot drive in his old system before we did the upgrades.)

New: 120gig Western Digital drive, fresh off the Fedex truck fron Newegg. This drive formatted well and didn't appear to have any problems.

There was also a 40gig hdd in his system that was just used for storage. It came straight out of my own system, so I know it worked well as well.

I apologize for the long post, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible about the problems we're having. Thanks in advance for any help that you can give us.


Specs: P4 2.8ghz, 512mb RAM, AIW 9700 pro,
ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe, Sound Blaster Live,
60 gig and 250 gig hdd's, 19" monitor,
Antec case w/430 watt psu
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  1. ok daft questions to clarify assuming u want all 3 hard drives and cd rom....

    what bus speed are ur hard drives
    i will assume ur 160gb new is 133mhz
    ur old 40gb is 100mhz

    try this...
    1)UNPLUG all other hardrives
    2)fit the new 120g hard drive as HDD0 set as MASTER
    3)fitt cd/dvd as slave on the other HDD cable
    4)partition and format new hard drive
    5)go into bios change to boot from CD
    6)put in the XP disc and setup a fresh copy onto a (first)partition on the new hard drive

    7) when setup finish and asks to reboot do so
    go into bios change to boot from HDD0

    8) should now boot from HD to complete setup

    9a) do all the setup installs (not xp2) check system a few times
    9b)reboot install XP2( doing things methodically allows u to see where problems occur than doing them all at once then trying to figure out whats wrong)

    10) reboot check all is ok

    11a) connect ur other fastest HDD on the first IDE channel and set as SLAVE ( now HDD1 )

    TEST SYSTEM before adding other hard drive

    11b)add the oldest (30gb?) HDD as master on 2nd ide cable (HDD2 ) with the CD as slave on this channel

    12) if u want to boot to the old drive ( i.e HDD2) then u can run the XP boot check utility or just edit the BOOT.INI on the new drive to give u a boot menu

    now check system

    u never stated what PSU u are using
    in my experience cheap 300W/350w psu SUCK especially for upgrades
    u got a GF 6 series card and 3 hard drives and a cd/dvd and floppy running plus a hungry intel + any fans

    i would suggest minimum 450w but 550w+ is better

    if u need help at any of these stages just ask
    at any stage if something goes wrong u know why!!! and how to fix it<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by mmuk on 04/23/05 06:40 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
  2. i would suggeest about 30gb for first partition as ur boot drive
    then add 40-80gb for next partition for games/apps/video editing
    and other as u like

    use the last partition as an archive type partition for storing rips pics movies mp3s etc
    end of drives are generally slower
  3. Thank you for the responses, and just to clarify, his original psu was one of those el cheapo 350watt jobs that came with his case. But he's now running it on an Antec True430 430 watt psu, and he's having the same issues, and now without the 30 gig drive. I feel like that 430 watt psu is enough, because that is what I have in my own system with a similar setup (see my sig) and I haven't had any power issues with my own system, so I don't expect that to be the problem with his.

    Also all the hdds used in this setup( 120 gig, 30 gig, and 40 gig) are all rated at 133mb/s bus speeds, but I only run them at 100mb/s because that is what the motherboard supports. All master/slave setting have been double and triple-checked to make sure that they are correct, and they are.

    As far as the drive partitions go, I'm only going to use 1 partition per drive, as I like to try and keep things as simple as possible. What I think I'll end up doing with his system is using the 120gig as the main drive and just having the 40 gig as a pure storage drive for music and pics and such. My cousin has decided to leave the 30 gig drive out of the picture all together and will probably end up selling it or using it in another system somewhere else.

    Thanks again for your response


    Specs: P4 2.8ghz, 512mb RAM, AIW 9700 pro,
    ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe, Sound Blaster Live,
    60 gig and 250 gig hdd's, 19" monitor,
    Antec case w/430 watt psu
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