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Can only boot from the BIOS - usually.


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#1
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Two Hard Drives – Can only boot by entering the BIOS. :)

I have such an interesting problem that it makes me smile: I have two hard-drives installed in my desktop computer. The first – a 100GB Maxtor IDE drive has the operating system (Windows XP Home Edition, SP2) installed on it. I recently installed a second, 500GB SATA hard drive (which I only want to use as storage space, since I do a lot of video editing). Now, when I turn on my computer, nine-times out of ten, it doesn’t boot. Instead, it just sits there with a blank screen. On the 10th try, however, it will boot normally. Moreover I can get the computer to boot reliably (every time) by simply entering the BIOS during start-up and then exiting again (regardless of whether I save any changes). After that, the computer boots up, functions normally, and both drives are accessible. How weird is that?

At first I thought it might be a “master-slave” issue. But I don’t think it is, because one drive is IDE and the other is SATA, and they’re not connected by any cables. Besides, in the BIOS, it lists the Maxtor drive at the IDE Primary master, which sounds good to me. I then thought it might be a problem with the boot-sequence in the BIOS. But in the BIOS, it lists the first bootable device as the CDROM, and the second and 3rd as HDD-0, which also sounds okay.

Here is some information that might be useful:

(1) I’m running Windows XP HE SP2 on a desktop computer
(2) The BIOS is Phoenix AwardBIOS. (not sure what version…how do I find out?)
(3) My motherboard is old enough that it doesn’t have a SATA port on it, so I bought a SATA-PCI adopter card. My SATA drive thus plugs into this adapter-card through a PCI slot..
(4) The 100GB IDE drive (the one with the operating system) is a Maxtor 6Y080L0.
The device manager says it is at Location 0 (0).
(5) The 500 GB drive is a SATA drive, but when you look in the device manager, it states that it is a WDC WD50 OOAAKS-))A7B0 SCSI Disk Device at Bus Number 0, Target ID 0, LUN 0

My current belief is that my computer is simply confused – it doesn’t know what a SATA drive is – the motherboard doesn’t have a SATA port, and the BIOS doesn’t seem to list a SATA drive as an option for booting. (which is okay, since the SATA drive doesn’t have the operating system anyway). But both drives are accessible once the computer boots, so obviously, the drive will work with this computer…it’s just…weird. Who among you will tackle this one?
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#2
Neil Jones

Neil Jones

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This would appear to be an issue with the boot drive spinning up too slowly, therefore by the time the computer is ready to go the drive isn't. Hence you going into BIOS and waiting gives it time to spin up.

Many Award/Phoenix BIOSes have an option "wait for HDD" for so many seconds. This may help however it's more likely if the drive's taking long and longer to be ready to boot it may be an indication that's its going to die any time soon.
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#3
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Hi! Thanks for the reply! You could be right - and I will make sure that I back up my data in case the drive fails! However this never used to happen before I put the SATA drive in there. If it was purely the IDE drive starting to fail, wouldn't that have happened before I put the 2nd drive in? In other words...why should adding the SATA drive make the IDE drive boot up slower? Thanks!
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#4
Neil Jones

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The SATA drive itself should make no difference, so I'd be in favour of saying that your SATA adaptor is the ultimate culprit. Of course it may just have been coincidence. A lot of faults in PCs tend to show up when you end up rocking the casbah (so to speak).
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