Questions

How do I create a bootable hard drive?

+
0 Votes
Locked

How do I create a bootable hard drive?

kaibosh23
Hi everyone,

I have a laptop with no floppy or CD drive, which will only boot to the hard drive. The HD is currently formatted - so the laptop will not boot up. I can remove the HD and plug it into a USB docking station and access that through my Mac, either in OSX or a Windows 7 virtual machine.

I am hoping I can use the Mac to prepare the HD and make it bootable so I can return it to the laptop and it will boot, either to DOS or Windows. I've tried copying the contents of various boot disks (intended for floppy disk, I think) and the contents go on there OK but it will not boot when placed back in the laptop.

How do I make this hard drive bootable?

Any help gratefully received.

Thanks,

KaiBosh
  • +
    0 Votes
    a.portman

    The BIOS controls what devices and in what order the computer boots from. Hiren's Boot CD or another Linux based partition editor can set the hd to be bootable.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    As you have neither a Floppy or Optical Drive which is how all Net Books come you need to use a USB Thumb Drive to hold the Install Files and set the BIOS to Boot From USB before the HDD in the Net Book.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    ...the laptop will only boot to the hard drive, I cannot change the BIOS settings. So I cannot boot from a USB stick. This is why I've had to remove the hard drive and access it using another machine.

    I haven't used Linux before but I'll read up on Hiren's Boot CD and give that a go.

    Thank you.

    +
    0 Votes
    HAL 9000 Moderator

    What Model NB is it then?

    The only ones that can not boot from USB are very old.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    ...it's a Panasonic ToughBook from 2010 - not that old. I can't boot from USB because I cannot enter the BIOS. The previous owner - who was almost completely computer illiterate and wouldn't know what BIOS was if it jumped up and bit him on the behind, somehow managed to set a password on it. The model is made specifically so this cannot be undone. I called Panasonic and they confirmed it - they also said they could replace the BIOS chip (eeprom) but wanted ??400 ($600) to do it.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    You need to create a Boot Partition of about 1 Gig on the Root of the HDD as a FAT 16 or maybe 32 Partition.

    That will be the problem part as I'm not sure that OSX can make a FAT 16 Partition and I know that 7 can not natively.

    When you have the FAT 16 Partition Created at the Root of the Drive copy the files from the Windows Install Disc to that partition and leave the rest of the drive blank and untouched.

    After you have finished copying the Install Files off the Windows Install Disc return the HDD to the NB and start it running. If the system can read the Root Partition it will read the Windows Install Files and allow you to install Windows to the remainder of the unused HDD.

    You may get away with making a FAT 32 Partition and the computer may be able to read it but honestly a FAT 16 Partition is the best alternative.

    Also depending on which version fo Windows you want to install a 1 GIG Partition may not be big enough but if it's XP that is involved here it's pleanty big enough. It's just 7 or Vista 1 GIG will not be big enough and to be perfectly honest if it's so badly knocked around it probably will not run either of those OS either.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    Hi Col,

    Thanks for all this info - really useful.

    I have built up a collection of Windows CDs over the years and could install any of them on my Mac. I think I have Win7 and WinXP at the moment. Can you do the things you describe using XP? If so:

    How do you create a boot partition? This is the main question above.

    Don't worry about what OSX can or can't do, I'll do it in Windows.

    When you create a boot partition, are some files copied across? System files or DOS or something?

    Or are the boot files copied across when I copy over the contents of the Windows install disc?

    It will run Vista, it came with it originally. It's not a new laptop but has Intel Core 2 Duo and 4Gb RAM. It cost nearly ??4,000 two years ago.

    Thanks again,

    KaiBosh

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Make the Recovery Partition about 2.5 GIG in capacity and copy all of the Vista Install Disc to the Root of the C Drive.

    If it's too big for that size partition make sure you copy the main files but not the Folders labeled Value Added and Documents. You need the loose files and the i386 Folder if it's a 32 Bit OS I'm not sure off the top of my head what the main folder is called for a 64 Bit OS but it will be obvious.

    XP can make a FAT 32 Bit Partition so I would start with that the worst that will happen is that it doesn't work.

    What you are doing here is moving the Boot Install Disc to the Root of the HDD and it's important that you don't stick it into any Folders the Base Files need to be located on the Root of the Drive so that when the hardware starts looking they are the first thing that are seen. It's not difficult to do just don't copy the Install Disc into a Folder.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    Hi Col,

    Thanks very much for the clarification. I shall copy the contents of the install DVD to the root of the drive.

    The bit missing here is that I still don't know how to make a Recovery Partition or a Boot Partition. I have created partitions using Windows' own Disk Management tool (in Utilities) and also a third party app called Partition Wizard but it does not make the partition bootable.

    In Partition Wizard, for example, it shows the C-drive (virtual drive set up to run the virtual Windows machine) as a bootable partition - it has 'Boot' included as one of its attributes - but not the E-drive (the laptop HD plugged into the USB dock).

    I have searched every toolbar, all the help files, multiple Google searches. I have posted questions on 10 forums. I just don't know how to make a drive bootable. It seems like it should be such an easy thing to do but no-one seems to know.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    They require some form of Script to launch the Recovery Process and this is where things get difficult.

    The Script and Base Files need to be located in a small Partition at the Root of the Boot Drive where as the Recovery Partition needs to be another Partition and the Work/Windows Partition is yet another. The Root and Recovery Partitions need to be setup prior to installing the OS where as the Windows Partition is setup from the Recovery Partition.

    Copying things to the Root of the CD Drive means that they are read when the computer starts, well goes beyond the POST Part, the Root of the C Drive is the first thing that gets looked at once the POST Process is finished.

    If you copy things to the Root of the C Drive you'll get a message something along the lines of To Install Windows press any key much like you get the Prompt nowadays to Boot from an Optical Drive when it's the First in the Boot Order no matter if there is a Disc in it or not somethign like Boot from CD/DVD.

    The thing here is that to be Bootable the Root Partition need to be readable and not require software to allow the system to be able to read the HDD Data. NTFS Partition are not readable without the necessary software which is installed by default as you install Modern Windows, you are not asked if you want it or not it's just placed in there.

    As for the drive plugged into the USB Dock it can not be bootable because the system doesn't read it as a first alternative even if you where to set it in the Drive Chain before the HDD in the computer you are using it's unlikely to be readable because USB Drivers are needed for a HDD where as a Thumb Drive doesn't need those drivers. If the Root Partition is readable by the Hardware it's by Default the Boot Drive.

    I hope that explains things in a way that you understand though I think I've made a mess of trying to explain.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    http://www.techrepublic.com/article/illustrated-walk-through-creating-a-bootable-usb-flash-drive-for-windows-xp/6160062

    Is likely to give you a better insight than my poor explanation. Yes I know it's talking about a USB Flash Drive but the same applies to a Bootable HDD.

    Col

  • +
    0 Votes
    a.portman

    The BIOS controls what devices and in what order the computer boots from. Hiren's Boot CD or another Linux based partition editor can set the hd to be bootable.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    As you have neither a Floppy or Optical Drive which is how all Net Books come you need to use a USB Thumb Drive to hold the Install Files and set the BIOS to Boot From USB before the HDD in the Net Book.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    ...the laptop will only boot to the hard drive, I cannot change the BIOS settings. So I cannot boot from a USB stick. This is why I've had to remove the hard drive and access it using another machine.

    I haven't used Linux before but I'll read up on Hiren's Boot CD and give that a go.

    Thank you.

    +
    0 Votes
    HAL 9000 Moderator

    What Model NB is it then?

    The only ones that can not boot from USB are very old.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    ...it's a Panasonic ToughBook from 2010 - not that old. I can't boot from USB because I cannot enter the BIOS. The previous owner - who was almost completely computer illiterate and wouldn't know what BIOS was if it jumped up and bit him on the behind, somehow managed to set a password on it. The model is made specifically so this cannot be undone. I called Panasonic and they confirmed it - they also said they could replace the BIOS chip (eeprom) but wanted ??400 ($600) to do it.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    You need to create a Boot Partition of about 1 Gig on the Root of the HDD as a FAT 16 or maybe 32 Partition.

    That will be the problem part as I'm not sure that OSX can make a FAT 16 Partition and I know that 7 can not natively.

    When you have the FAT 16 Partition Created at the Root of the Drive copy the files from the Windows Install Disc to that partition and leave the rest of the drive blank and untouched.

    After you have finished copying the Install Files off the Windows Install Disc return the HDD to the NB and start it running. If the system can read the Root Partition it will read the Windows Install Files and allow you to install Windows to the remainder of the unused HDD.

    You may get away with making a FAT 32 Partition and the computer may be able to read it but honestly a FAT 16 Partition is the best alternative.

    Also depending on which version fo Windows you want to install a 1 GIG Partition may not be big enough but if it's XP that is involved here it's pleanty big enough. It's just 7 or Vista 1 GIG will not be big enough and to be perfectly honest if it's so badly knocked around it probably will not run either of those OS either.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    Hi Col,

    Thanks for all this info - really useful.

    I have built up a collection of Windows CDs over the years and could install any of them on my Mac. I think I have Win7 and WinXP at the moment. Can you do the things you describe using XP? If so:

    How do you create a boot partition? This is the main question above.

    Don't worry about what OSX can or can't do, I'll do it in Windows.

    When you create a boot partition, are some files copied across? System files or DOS or something?

    Or are the boot files copied across when I copy over the contents of the Windows install disc?

    It will run Vista, it came with it originally. It's not a new laptop but has Intel Core 2 Duo and 4Gb RAM. It cost nearly ??4,000 two years ago.

    Thanks again,

    KaiBosh

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    Make the Recovery Partition about 2.5 GIG in capacity and copy all of the Vista Install Disc to the Root of the C Drive.

    If it's too big for that size partition make sure you copy the main files but not the Folders labeled Value Added and Documents. You need the loose files and the i386 Folder if it's a 32 Bit OS I'm not sure off the top of my head what the main folder is called for a 64 Bit OS but it will be obvious.

    XP can make a FAT 32 Bit Partition so I would start with that the worst that will happen is that it doesn't work.

    What you are doing here is moving the Boot Install Disc to the Root of the HDD and it's important that you don't stick it into any Folders the Base Files need to be located on the Root of the Drive so that when the hardware starts looking they are the first thing that are seen. It's not difficult to do just don't copy the Install Disc into a Folder.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    kaibosh23

    Hi Col,

    Thanks very much for the clarification. I shall copy the contents of the install DVD to the root of the drive.

    The bit missing here is that I still don't know how to make a Recovery Partition or a Boot Partition. I have created partitions using Windows' own Disk Management tool (in Utilities) and also a third party app called Partition Wizard but it does not make the partition bootable.

    In Partition Wizard, for example, it shows the C-drive (virtual drive set up to run the virtual Windows machine) as a bootable partition - it has 'Boot' included as one of its attributes - but not the E-drive (the laptop HD plugged into the USB dock).

    I have searched every toolbar, all the help files, multiple Google searches. I have posted questions on 10 forums. I just don't know how to make a drive bootable. It seems like it should be such an easy thing to do but no-one seems to know.

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    They require some form of Script to launch the Recovery Process and this is where things get difficult.

    The Script and Base Files need to be located in a small Partition at the Root of the Boot Drive where as the Recovery Partition needs to be another Partition and the Work/Windows Partition is yet another. The Root and Recovery Partitions need to be setup prior to installing the OS where as the Windows Partition is setup from the Recovery Partition.

    Copying things to the Root of the CD Drive means that they are read when the computer starts, well goes beyond the POST Part, the Root of the C Drive is the first thing that gets looked at once the POST Process is finished.

    If you copy things to the Root of the C Drive you'll get a message something along the lines of To Install Windows press any key much like you get the Prompt nowadays to Boot from an Optical Drive when it's the First in the Boot Order no matter if there is a Disc in it or not somethign like Boot from CD/DVD.

    The thing here is that to be Bootable the Root Partition need to be readable and not require software to allow the system to be able to read the HDD Data. NTFS Partition are not readable without the necessary software which is installed by default as you install Modern Windows, you are not asked if you want it or not it's just placed in there.

    As for the drive plugged into the USB Dock it can not be bootable because the system doesn't read it as a first alternative even if you where to set it in the Drive Chain before the HDD in the computer you are using it's unlikely to be readable because USB Drivers are needed for a HDD where as a Thumb Drive doesn't need those drivers. If the Root Partition is readable by the Hardware it's by Default the Boot Drive.

    I hope that explains things in a way that you understand though I think I've made a mess of trying to explain.

    Col

    +
    0 Votes
    OH Smeg

    http://www.techrepublic.com/article/illustrated-walk-through-creating-a-bootable-usb-flash-drive-for-windows-xp/6160062

    Is likely to give you a better insight than my poor explanation. Yes I know it's talking about a USB Flash Drive but the same applies to a Bootable HDD.

    Col