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Primary drive 0 not found - Dell Dimension 2400 - P4 - WinXP


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#1
britechguy

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Hello All,

I have been working on a computer that was badly infected with several rootkits. After removing them it would not boot. I tried WinXP recovery console (chkdsk /r and fixboot) and that didn't work. After extracting the user data from the disk, I tried doing a fresh install of WinXP, which resulted in an unwanted dual boot situation.

I thought my best bet would be to pull the hard drive, reformat it using another computer, and start completely afresh with an WinXP install.

The drive has been completely reformatted and now has two NTFS partitions - a small one of 31 MB at the start of the drive and another that eats up the remainder of the 40GB drive.

Now, however, when I attempt to boot the system I am getting a BIOS error saying 'Primary drive 0 not found - press F1 to retry or F2 to enter setup utility'. I have checked that the boot sequence is supposed to go to the CD drive first, and I thought it would continue to do this as it always had, but it now refuses.

I should note that the drive appears to be perfectly healthy. I can hook it up to my other computers using a USB-to-IDE bridge cable and it shows up and acts perfectly normally. In fact, this was how I went about reformatting the drive, using the USB-to-IDE bridge. When I use the WinXP Administrative Tools->Computer Management->Disk Management under the control panel this drive gets a full "healthy" on each partition.

I know I must have done something utterly bone-headed, and I'm hoping that it can be remedied.

I am sorry if I picked the wrong forum in which to post this question, but it could fall into any of several categories.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer.

Brian
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#2
The Skeptic

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when you formatted the hard disk on the other computer did you define the partition in which you intended to install windows as "active"?

Please rig the hard disk again to the other computer, click Control > Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. Click the partition and then click Action > all Tasks > Mark Partition as Active.

You did correctly by formatting the disk on another computer but I suggest that you do it again, this time making sure the partition is active.

Edited by The Skeptic, 13 March 2010 - 04:09 AM.

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#3
britechguy

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Skeptic,

Thanks. I will definitely do this, but I have to say that I do believe that the partition on which the OS was to be installed was marked as "Active". The other tiny partition was unallocated, and as a precaution I set it up as its own tiny NTFS file system.

I don't have the drive with me right now, but will definitely do as directed.

If anyone has any other theories, please share as well. I have found *tons* of questions on the internet (and in "tech geek" forums, in particular), about this error but there is very little out there about how to go about fixing this problem. It seems that the general position is, "Your drive is bad," which might often be the case. I know it's not the case in this instance, as everything was working as expected before the full reformat. I'm trying to figure out what that reformatting "wiped out" that is needed on the primary boot drive.

Brian
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#4
The Skeptic

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Is the disk recognized in the BIOS? Judging by the size of the disk I assume it's an IDE drive (80 lead flat cable). Double check all cable connections and make sure that jumpering is correct. If not successful try another cable and/or move to the second IDE connection on the motherboard.

The problem could be hardware related cause during the removal of the hard disk or during reinstallation.
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#5
britechguy

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Skeptic,

No, the disk is not recognized by the BIOS, hence the error. BIOS is set to AUTO and if you
go in to BIOS setup it declares that this device is "Unknown".

I would imagine that the jumpering has to be correct as I have left it unchanged and this drive (which is a 40GB IDE drive) had been the one and only hard drive in the system.

After reading through another thread I am going to try the "remove cable-reseat-try again" for
all connections first. Then move along to the next thing.

Again, thank you very much for your assistance. I do not take this help for granted.

Brian
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#6
britechguy

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OK, here's the latest:

1. Connected the drive to my laptop, ran Disk Management, reformatted the entire drive again with a single NTFS partition, this partition is marked active.

2. Found (DUH) that I had a loose IDE connection at the motherboard [I can't believe I didn't even check for that last week!! I guess the stress/frustration got to me]. Reseated this connection.

3. Reconnected hard disk IDE cable and attempted boot. Received the following message:

NTDLR is missing
Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to reboot

4. Used F2 to check setup sequence. Order is CD-ROM Drive, Hard Disk, Diskette Detailed info from
Drive Config:
Primary Master Drive . . . . . Hard Drive
Secondary Slave Drive . . . . OFF
Primary Master Drive . . . . . CDROM
Secondary Slave Drive . . . . .OFF

IDE Drive UDMA. . . . . . . . . . . . .ON

5. The message in #3 occurs again, so I use F12 to enter Boot Menu

6. Choose option #4: IDE CD-ROM Device. Get no action on the CD-ROM and after a few seconds the message:

strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility

Striking F1 gets the same message instantly.

7. Restarted PC and used F12 to enter Boot Menu. Chose option 6: IDE Drive Diagnostics. Results are:

Primary IDE
Drive 0: WDC WD400EB-75CPF0 - Pass
Drive 1: No IDE Device
Secondary IDE
Drive 0: Lite-On LTN486S 48x Max - Diagnostics not supported
Drive 1: No IDE Device

Test Complete, Press <ENTER> to reboot

8. Pressing enter and allowing things to "run their natural course" takes me straight back to step #3.


Any follow-up suggestions most welcome.

Brian
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#7
The Skeptic

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The "NTLDR is Missing message" is because the computer cannot find any operating system to boot from after the hard disk was formatted. You must reinstall Windows from an XP installation CD.
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#8
britechguy

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I do understand that I need to reinstall WinXP from a CD, but that's where I'm now stuck.

Before this whole affair began (and even when things were very messy in the middle) I could always get the PC to boot from CD and continue from there.

Now, even though BIOS recognizes the CD drive and even though I've specifically tried to boot from it via the boot menu, it just won't do it.

Do I need, at this stage, to make the CD the Primary IDE drive by switching out its IDE connection and the one for the hard disk on the motherboard?

This is one of the most intractable problems I've ever encountered with a Window XP PC. I'm looking at this as a challenge and a learning experience.

Again, I appreciate the input I have received.
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#9
The Skeptic

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The following is based on the assumption that you have one hard disk and one CD drive in your computer. First you must make sure that the jumpers are set correctly. This is done by first jumpering the hard disk as Master, or Single (in some brands) or Cable Select. The hard disk should be connected to the end connector (not to the middle one) of the flat cable that connects to the Primary (very often blue) connector on the motherboard.

If your CD drive is connected by a seperate flat cable it should be jumpered as Master and connected to the end connector of the Secondary connector on the motherboard.

If you use a single flat cable to both drives then the HD should be jumpered as Master and connected to the end of the cable and the CD drive should be jumpered as Slave and connected to the mid-cable connector. Another alternative is to jumper both as Cable Select. In this case HD must be connected to the end connector and the CD drive to the mid-cable connector.

I have seen a number of cases in which I had to try different jumpering options (all within the framework described above) until I succeeded.

Are you sure that your XP installation CD is good? Please check it on another computer.

Are you sure that your CD drive is working? Please try another one if you have any.
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#10
britechguy

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Skeptic,

Thanks for the additional information. I am going to be going out of town tomorrow so my work flow on this will be interrupted.

However, I'll give you some specifics:

1. The motherboard has 3 separate IDE connections:

a) Primary - goes to hard disk and hard disk only - uses "blue tab" cable

b) Secondary - has a 2-connection cable and the one labeled Drive 0 (as opposed to Drive 1)
goes to CD drive

c) Diskette IDE

2. Hard disk jumpered as "Cable select", which is the way it has been since delivery of the machine

3. Can see jumper on CD but haven't pulled drive to check it yet.

4. Windows CD I'm trying to use had been working using boot from CD up until I did a reformat
of the hard drive. Has remained in the CD drive and it has not a scratch or blemish on it. I have
another that was from a Dell Dimension 4550, and can try that if necessary.

Brian

Brian
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#11
britechguy

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Here's the latest:

- When the drive in question is installed in another computer as the secondary IDE drive it works just fine.

- I successfully performed a parallel WinXP installation on it when it was installed as the secondary drive.

- Modified boot.ini on the computer that was used for the parallel install to get rid of the prompt for the parallel installation. This was what it looked like *before* the edit:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=signature(840927ee)disk(1)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
signature(840927ee)disk(1)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect


and after:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

- Tried to boot using the disk on which the parallel install had been performed. No dice. Then realized that it didn't have a boot.ini on it since it had been the secondary drive when WinXP was installed on it. Added a boot.ini with the following:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect

as I am presuming this drive would now be disk(0)rdisk(0) and it only has a single partition.

- Am still having no luck having the machine boot. The missing primary drive and ntldr missing messages are gone, but I never get beyond a "black screen" at boot time, and have not been able to force any "Boot from CD" etc.

- I'm about ready to throw in the towel on this - but I feel like I have to be either really, really close to a solution at this point or beyond hope. I'm just not sure which.

Brian
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