My 1tb hard drive won't install windows using AHCI mode

I have a seagate 1tb 7200 rpm hard drive that I removed from my old PC. I formatted it and when I try to install windows on my new PC It won't install when in AHCI mode only IDE mode. I'm using an m5a97 le r.20 motherboard.

Any help would be great!

Many thanks Tom
5 answers Last reply
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  1. which OS?
  2. Emerald is on the right track. What follows pertains to Win XP (all versions) and earlier OS's. It is NOT relevant to Vista or Win 7 or Win 8.

    Up to and including Win XP, Windows did NOT have "built-in" drivers for SATA (more correctly, AHCI) devices, and could only use them with proper drivers added. It DOES have the drivers for IDE devices. There IS a way to install those drivers "properly", but MANY mobo makers provide a "work-around" in their BIOS to avoid this problem. They allow you to set the SATA Port Mode to "IDE Emulation". In this mode, the BIOS intervenes and limits the actual SATA HDD to only the functions that the older IDE system supports, and thus make that HDD appear to Windows as if it is simply an IDE device it DOES know how to use. Then it works just fine (except that you lose a few new SATA or AHCI features that some people don't care about, anyway).

    But what if you want it all, and want to "do it right"? Well, the time to do that is right when you are first installing Win XP (or earlier), so this is the right time for OP.

    First, you need the AHCI driver(s). Often this is already on the disk of drivers and utilities that came with your mobo. Or, you may need to download it from the mobo maker's website. NOTE that you MUST have the AHCI driver for exactly the mobo you have, because it is specific for the particular HDD controller chip on your mobo. READ your mobo manual, and look for a section describing how to install Win XP on a SATA drive. Normally, you will also need (at least temporarily) a floppy drive and a floppy diskette. This is because usually the Win XP Install process can only load the required driver from a floppy drive - it does not understand many newer devices. So usually you have to copy the required AHCI driver to the diskette, and then have it available during the Install routine. SOME mobo BIOS's will let you use a USB stick in place of a floppy - they have some way to make that stick look like a floppy to the Install routine.

    To install Win XP to a AHCI device (SATA HDD) with its "proper" drivers, first you should go into BIOS Setup and set the SATA Port Mode to ACHI, then Save and Exit. The process makes use of a tool that's been part of Windows Install processes for several OS's. It was originally used for things like SCSI devices, and is still used for all Windows versions to make RAID arrays into bootable devices. Early in the Install process you will see a message that you should press the F6 key if you wish to install additional drivers. If you do nothing, it times out and proceeds normally. But if you press F6, it enters a routine that tells you to place the diskette containing the driver(s) you want to add in the floppy drive. When you do, it can read that driver in and install it on the HDD in such a way that it becomes a part of this customized Windows install, and from now on (INCLUDING this Install routine) it DOES have that driver available for the device. In this way you can give your Win XP the ability to use AHCI devices always. After your driver is installed, it will come back to the screen and ask whether you have any more driver(s) to add, and you must say no to return to the "main" Install routine. Then you CAN Install Win XP to the AHCI device; moreover, it WILL be able to boot from that device because this customized installation now DOES contain the AHCI device driver.

    As I said, all this does NOT pertain to VISTA, Win 7 or Win 8. Beginning with Vista, Windows does have BOTH IDE and AHCI device drivers "built in" and does not need them custom-added in the manner above.
  3. Paperdoc said:
    Emerald is on the right track. What follows pertains to Win XP (all versions) and earlier OS's. It is NOT relevant to Vista or Win 7 or Win 8.

    Up to and including Win XP, Windows did NOT have "built-in" drivers for SATA (more correctly, AHCI) devices, and could only use them with proper drivers added. It DOES have the drivers for IDE devices. There IS a way to install those drivers "properly", but MANY mobo makers provide a "work-around" in their BIOS to avoid this problem. They allow you to set the SATA Port Mode to "IDE Emulation". In this mode, the BIOS intervenes and limits the actual SATA HDD to only the functions that the older IDE system supports, and thus make that HDD appear to Windows as if it is simply an IDE device it DOES know how to use. Then it works just fine (except that you lose a few new SATA or AHCI features that some people don't care about, anyway).

    But what if you want it all, and want to "do it right"? Well, the time to do that is right when you are first installing Win XP (or earlier), so this is the right time for OP.

    First, you need the AHCI driver(s). Often this is already on the disk of drivers and utilities that came with your mobo. Or, you may need to download it from the mobo maker's website. NOTE that you MUST have the AHCI driver for exactly the mobo you have, because it is specific for the particular HDD controller chip on your mobo. READ your mobo manual, and look for a section describing how to install Win XP on a SATA drive. Normally, you will also need (at least temporarily) a floppy drive and a floppy diskette. This is because usually the Win XP Install process can only load the required driver from a floppy drive - it does not understand many newer devices. So usually you have to copy the required AHCI driver to the diskette, and then have it available during the Install routine. SOME mobo BIOS's will let you use a USB stick in place of a floppy - they have some way to make that stick look like a floppy to the Install routine.

    To install Win XP to a AHCI device (SATA HDD) with its "proper" drivers, first you should go into BIOS Setup and set the SATA Port Mode to ACHI, then Save and Exit. The process makes use of a tool that's been part of Windows Install processes for several OS's. It was originally used for things like SCSI devices, and is still used for all Windows versions to make RAID arrays into bootable devices. Early in the Install process you will see a message that you should press the F6 key if you wish to install additional drivers. If you do nothing, it times out and proceeds normally. But if you press F6, it enters a routine that tells you to place the diskette containing the driver(s) you want to add in the floppy drive. When you do, it can read that driver in and install it on the HDD in such a way that it becomes a part of this customized Windows install, and from now on (INCLUDING this Install routine) it DOES have that driver available for the device. In this way you can give your Win XP the ability to use AHCI devices always. After your driver is installed, it will come back to the screen and ask whether you have any more driver(s) to add, and you must say no to return to the "main" Install routine. Then you CAN Install Win XP to the AHCI device; moreover, it WILL be able to boot from that device because this customized installation now DOES contain the AHCI device driver.

    As I said, all this does NOT pertain to VISTA, Win 7 or Win 8. Beginning with Vista, Windows does have BOTH IDE and AHCI device drivers "built in" and does not need them custom-added in the manner above.


    Paperdoc any method for those of us who no longer rock a floppy drive in our set up (setting aside those mobos you mention that enable use of a thumb drive)?

    I am intending to put an SSD in my XP machine which does the job for me but would benefit from the speed of an SSD based on the recent Tom's article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-upgrade-hard-drive,2956.html
  4. thomasorley, I know of 4 ways to do this in total:

    1. As I outlined, loading the AHCI driver from a floppy disk during the Win XP Install via the F6 route. You do NOT need the floppy drive permanently installed for this - it could be only temporarily connected for the Install, then removed after. BUT you do need a floppy disk controller port on the mobo. Note that I do not think this can be done with a floppy drive mounted in an external case and connected via USB - at the time of Install, Win XP has not yet loaded any USB drivers.

    2. SOME mobos somehow can let you use a USB thumb drive as if it were a floppy disk drive - I'm not sure how they make one appear to be the other.

    3. The process Emerald linked to above. What it does is have you Install Win XP onto a SATA drive for which the port is set to operate in IDE Emulation mode. AFTER the whole thing is working that way, then the procedure guides you through a careful process of changing the port mode to AHCI, including all the little tweaks necessary to make this work.

    4. A process called Slipstreaming. In outline, you do these steps:
    (a) You need use of a second machine for the preparation steps here. First, download or find on your mobo disk the driver(s) you need for your machine. You can put them on your HDD.
    (b) You will need a CD burner and some software able to burn an .iso image file to a blank CD-R - something like Nero.
    (c) Search the web for info on slipstreaming, and for the lists of files and software you'll need to do this. Start with this link:

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/creating-an-xp-sp3-slipstreamed-iso-file/1848

    Download the resources you need.
    (d) Once you put all the parts you need into a specified folder on your HDD, you run the software tool you got for the job - probably nlite. What it does is copy all your Win XP Install CD to a HDD folder, merge into that the additional files like custom drivers you need added, then create a complete image (as an .iso file) of a NEW customized Win XP Install CD.
    (e) burn the resulting .iso file onto a blank CD.
    (f) Use that new CD as your custom Win XP Install disk. It will operate like a normal Install except that it will also install properly all the extra driver(s) you added to it. SO, if you added the proper AHCI device driver for your mobo to the collection that nlite created, you can Install Win XP to a SATA HDD set up in AHCI mode, and boot and run from it afterwards. The process makes the AHCI driver a "built-in" driver just as the IDE device driver is already.

    This slipstreaming method is also a way that you could make RAID array drivers part of the customized Install routine, for example, so that you could Install to, boot and run from a RAID array without having to use the F6 key and floppy diskette route.
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