How can I get BIOS to detect HDD?

By WyattT ·
I am trying to put together a new computer for my grandparents. I have a couple old Dells and 3 old HDDs along with all the other parts needed. The First Dell I tried to make work did at first. I had XP installed and everything was working great. When I went to plug in their old HDD to grab all their stuff off it would not want to boot to the new HDD and kept trying to boot up their old one. I later learned that the old HDD was clicking and very soon afterwards died.

This is where it goes bad. In trying to just hook up the new HDD again the BIOS would not detect it. I took it back home and used another HDD on the computer. This worked and I reinstalled windows XP on it. Again, I was going to try to recover some data off the old HDD, but when I plugged it in the computer kept trying to boot to the old HDD no matter the jumper settings or BIOS boot order. So i unplugged the HDD and like some dirty magic this HDD would not be detected by the BIOS. So I tried things like taking everything not needed out, different PSU, different RAM, different cable, different power plug, tried to reinstall winxp but the windows cd couldnt detect either, tried booting into ubuntu live, fdisk and other hdd diags could not detect the hdd. Both of the HDDs worked on a different computer when I hooked them up with a usb adapter and I was able to access and alter with no problems.

After a while of that I decided to just use the other old dell that I had. The same problem followed. The BIOS could not detect the HDDs. I had to use a 20 pin PSU instead of a 24 pin (which is what the mobo has) but as I understand it that only powers the pcie so that should not be a problem. The HDDs all spin so they are getting power

The last extra HDD had been broken for a while and gets blue screen anytime windows install is attempted. I hooked it up just to see if it worked. This HDD WAS detected by the BIOS and I was able to begin the install but it quit out as it has done.

I usually can get these problems but I am now stumped on this one. Any suggestions I can try would be fantastic because I am out of ideas. I'd list specs but as I said this has been attempted on two different computers. The only thing in common is that they are dells but the mobos on them are different, they are about 4 years apart in age, and of course the HDDs. Even different cpu type and ram type.

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All Answers

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There are about six problems here

by robo_dev In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

First of all, are these SATA or IDE devices?

Since they are older, I would assume IDE.

My first guess is that you have a power supply that is not putting out 5V to the HDD connector. In order to be recognized, the drive needs +12 to spin up the motor and +5 to power up the electronics. The jumpers have to be correct as does the IDE cable type, and the cable cannot be plugged in upside-down.

your blue-screen install issues are either that the hard-drive-controller drivers are not on your install CD, as is common with SATA drives (need to use Dell install CD or do F6+floppy thing), or you are trying to boot an installed copy of XP which has the wrong hard-drive-controller drivers configured in it.

My guess is that the reason you are struggling with boot order is that the IDE cable is a 'cable select' cable, and you are trying to use the primary/secondary jumpers on the drive. A cable select-IDE cable has some conductors cut off.

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by WyattT In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

Sorry, they are IDE. The 20 pin on a 24 pin was only on one of the computers I tried to get these to work on. The blue screen is not a current issue, this was one of three old HDDs that I had and I only plugged in the broken one to see what it would do, I already knew it was broken. I messed around with every possible jumper setting combination and most of the time I was trying to get these to work I didnt have anything else hooked up to it, no CD/DVD or floppy so it isnt really a boot order problem. In the Bios the boot order show everything as not installed. Neither of the BIOS have any auto detect setting but instead just on/off for the IDE and SATA connections.

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Reponse To Answer

by robo_dev In reply to no

I'm totally confused but....

In general, the PC should auto-detect anything you plug into the IDE interface.

So if that's not happening:
IDE cable, connector, jumpers ( obviously)
No +5V and +12V at drive power connector
IDE interface on drive is toast
IDE interface on MOBO is toast

If it's an older PC, you might also reset the BIOS to factory defaults and even try a BIOS upgrade, as maybe some drives might not work properly.

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by WyattT In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

I did update the bios on the last computer i tried but it didnt change anything. The IDE works with the cdrom and the broken hdd but not these two hdds, that do work with a usb adapter on my computer. I've messed with so many jumper and bios settings.

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Reponse To Answer

by Who Am I Really In reply to yep

why not just use the USB adapter to get the files that way, rather then trying to get it installed internally?

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IDE Mode?

by oldbaritone In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

Is the IDE controller enabled and set as the primary controller? If BIOS is in SATA mode, it may not detect the IDE devices. (guessing that it has both controllers available on the mobo)

And I'd agree with WhoAmI - it may be easier just to get a USB-IDE cable and pull the data from the device as an external drive.

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Reponse To Answer

by WyattT In reply to IDE Mode?

I'm not trying to get the files off it anymore im just trying to get one of the hdds to work on one of these computers so i can give it to them.

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So have you pulled the BIOS Battery

by OH Smeg In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

And cleared the BIOS then tried plugging in the HDD that it's not detecting?

That would be the way that I would approach this which should work unless the Faulty HDD has somehow damaged the IDE Controller on the M'Board which I have seen happen in the past.


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by WyattT In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

Yeah I pulled the batteries in both for a couple hours each and have reset to factory defaults too many times.

I didn't know that a faulty hdd could do damage to the mobo although the cd/dvd drives are still working so im not sure thats the problem. On the other hand I have no idea what the problem is. I was just hoping maybe I had forgotten a simple troubleshooting step.

I guess I will just have to buy them a new computer. Wish I would have just stayed quiet when they asked me to fix it. I will burn or somehow destroy the faulty hdd so it cannot ruin any other computers with its vodoo magic (the only reasonable answer to why it is doing this to me).

Thanks for all your help, it at least brings back some confidence in my pc repair skills knowing I didn't spend the last few days just forgetting to do something stupid.

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My troubleshooting motto:

by chrisbedford In reply to How can I get BIOS to det ...

"Never give up until you can't think of anything else to try" - in this case a cheap PCI expansion card would give you some new IDE ports to try the disks on. I don't think you mentioned whether you tried these two "questionable" drives in another computer - possibly because you don't have another machine with an IDE controller - so this is where I'd start. Stands to reason either the disks or IDE controller are faulty - but if a CD or DVD works the chances are it's the disks. Could be the faulty older disk caused some damage to the newer ones... twice...

So your other option is to try another HDD in the machine. Another (relatively) cheap part - together an IDE controller & a 160 GB IDE disk should set you back around $60 - not trivial, but a lot less than a new computer. And you will have some spare bits afterwards, for the next time you have to troubleshoot!

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