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Hard drive or XP? Unable to boot.


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#1
karaldesdesdan

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I have a Dell XPS system that is about 2 years old. It has 2 gb of ram, also has a western digital 250 gb hard drive. I normally (stupidly) keep my computer on all the time and never had any problems with any of my other 3 computers being left on (when they were new).

Yesterday I arrived to my home and realized that my mouse wouldn't move. I thought the system locked so I turned off and on the computer. The computer went through the first boot up process that shows the Dell logo with a bar that fills as it loads up. The bar went to about half way and wouldn't move. I waited about 20 minutes to make sure the system wasn't just slow and it still wouldn't move. I turned it on and off and this time it would stop at the 3/4 way mark (I believe its the bios loading or something because its not the screen with the windows logo.

I was frustrated. At about the 5th time I passed the point and it went into an option to safe boot, safe boot with network, last known safe point, and start normally (I'm at work and can't be too specific). I picked start normally and it gave me the message that a system file was corrupt and that I could fix it by placing the windows cd and restarting and picking "r" for repair. I restarted, again, lock up at 1/4 mark on bar. I restarted and again back to the options for reboot. I picked last known safe spot and again the "file cannot be found or is corrupt (system file)."

I placed the windows xp disk and after it started i pushed R and it tells me that my hard drive cannot be found. I thought, WOW. I restarted with the xp disk again and picked to reinstall windows and it said the hard drive could not be found.

I tore up the garage and found the diagnostic disk for the xps system and thought my hard drive was fried. I did ALL the diagnostics and it shows no problems at all. Everything passed. So the Dell diagnostic disk sees my hard drive but the xp disk does not. I did some googling and found the sites that state that the sata disk might need a driver to start so figured I would try that. I went to Dell.com, placed my service number and it had a section for "Sata drivers" but only with MAXTOR on it. I have a western digital. My xps also does NOT have a floppy drive (never had it installed) and from what I read the xp disk can't read off of a cd drive only floppies.

I had a ton of stuff on my hard drive and this is the ONLY sata system that I have. I don't know how to save what I got on the disk or how to fix this problem. I don't know what to do and am frustrated because the only place I can view the internet is at work and not in the comfort of my own home.

My bios shows sata 0 is ON. When i change it to sata 1 and move the cable from the hard drive to sata 1 on the motherboard it shows the sata 1 is on and gives a message that the sata 0 could not be found so I know the bios sees the hard drive or it would have given me an error initially. Am I out of luck? I can try to get more info that you want me to give when I get home and post tomorrow. I have no internet or computer anymore. :)
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#2
Artellos

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I placed the windows xp disk and after it started i pushed R and it tells me that my hard drive cannot be found. I thought, WOW. I restarted with the xp disk again and picked to reinstall windows and it said the hard drive could not be found.

You probably have a SATA disk. This means you need to load the SATA drivers by pressing F6 when booting the XP disk.
Google searches for this help you :)

Regards,
Olrik
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#3
karaldesdesdan

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But i have no floppy drive. Should I buy one and then use that? I'm assuming that I can't do it unless i have the driver on a floppy. Sorry but I'm rather a noob when it comes to computer software stuff and this is the only new computer I have with a sata drive. :)

Do you think its just my hard drive?
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#4
Artellos

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You can also use an external USB floppy driver.
Or slipstream an XP CD with the Sata Drivers. (Google for "Slipstream XP Sata Drivers")

Once you get your SATA Drivers loaded you should be able to repair XP and get your computer working again.

Regards,
Olrik
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#5
The Skeptic

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1: Reset the BIOS by doing this:Disconnect the power cable from the back of the computer. Open the side cover and carefully take out the cmos battery (looks like a silvery button). Keep it out for about 15 minutes. Reinstall and reboot. You will probably get a checksome error or some other message. If you do, enter BIOS and set time and date, save the new values and let the computer boot. There are computers in which other keys have to be used to enter BIOS. You can find the correct key when looking at the screen right after pressing the start button. Look for what key you have to press to enter setup.

2: Boot with the XP CD. At the Recovery Console type chkdsk /r (please note the space in the command), press Enter and let the process run to the end.

A computer which is about 2 years old doe's not require an installation of SATA drivers. The BIOS and windows contain whatever is required to run the disk.
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#6
Artellos

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A computer which is about 2 years old doe's not require an installation of SATA drivers. The BIOS and windows contain whatever is required to run the disk.

Correct, however the Windows XP CDs still need to load SATA drivers in order to find the hard drives.
Sorry if I didn't make myself clear.

Regards,
Olrik
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#7
karaldesdesdan

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I can't get into the recovery console because it doesn't see my disk. I have to have a floppy I think though I'll try the slipstream thing (i'm assuming it will be time consuming).
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#8
The Skeptic

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Hi Artello.

I am not sure I understood correctly but when you load XP-sp2 on a computer of this age you don't need any drivers. You just run setup and that's it.

karaldesdesdan:

Can you boot with the XP cd and start the setup process? If yes, at what point does it stop.

Did you reset the BIOS?

You can save your data by connecting the drive to another computer which has SATA on-board connections. Alternatively, you can buy an adapter that can connect your hard disk to a USB port. It's a very useful tool. You don't need special, expensive, enclosure of the old stile. It's a small device that enable either SATA or IDE disk to be connected as external drive to a USB port. Where I live it cost about 25$.
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#9
hfcg

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Hello,
Before you go and buy a floppy drive I would try a known good hard drive.
From what I have read your hard drive may have failed.
Even if you buy a new hard drive, and this hard drive has not failed, you can use a secondary drive as back up.
This way you will not have wasted your money on a floppy drive that you may never have use for again.
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#10
Artellos

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I am not sure I understood correctly but when you load XP-sp2 on a computer of this age you don't need any drivers. You just run setup and that's it.

I might be not completely up to date. But I got a laptop about 1 year ago and I still need to load my SATA drivers if I want to install windows.

Sorry for bringing confusion into the issue :)

Regards,
Olrik
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#11
hfcg

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I am not sure I understood correctly but when you load XP-sp2 on a computer of this age you don't need any drivers. You just run setup and that's it.

I do not believe that the drivers for the hard drive need to be loaded on this machine if it came with a SATA drive from the factory.
This issue is more likely a corrupt master boot record on a hard drive with bad sectors (or a failed hard drive)
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#12
The Skeptic

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What confuse me here is the diagnostic test that you made without any negative results. I am not familiar with Dell's diagnostics.

Please use this link to download WD's Data Lifeguard tool 11.2 for DOS (CD)l. Burn the image file to create a bootable CD (please note that burning image file is somewhat different to burning other files). Boot the computer with the WD tool and run a complete test. Let us know what happens.
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