Hard drive not recognised in Windows

By mike.prince ·
I have a relatively new assembled PC with two Seagate SATA hard drives. An 80GB drive (C:) holds OS (Windows XP) and a 250GB (E:) holds all my data (with My Documents etc. moved to the 250GB). In addition both hard drives are partitioned into two (the secondary partition on the 80GB I use as a backup for some of my data, and the secondary partition F: on the 250GB is used for the swap file).

This has been working ok but a few weeks back the 250GB drive appeared to fail, not being recognised in Windows or BIOS. After much trial and error I replaced the drive and got things working again.

However today the new 250GB drive again failed in Windows. The drive is still visible in BIOS but not in Windows (not present at all in Device Manager). I have checked the cable connections and they seem to be fine. However this sounds like a hardware problem somewhere, but not with the drive itself: I presume the first 'faulty' drive I replaced wasn't actually faulty.

I'd appreciate some pointers as to what the problem could be and how I can get the drive working again, since I don't want to be replacing hard drives every few days :-)

-- Mike --

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All Answers

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OK the first things to look at are the SATA Data Leads

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Hard drive not recognised ...

If you have the ones that go through a 90 degree bend at one end pull them out and replace them with the straight ones as these work their way out of the drive and stop it working correctly.

Next thing or probably the first thing to do is visit the HDD Makers Web Site an download the HDD Testing Utility to test the HDD with if they pass this test they are A OK and if they fail the test they need to be tested in a different computer to rule out the Drive Controller Hardware. Seatools is available from here


I would suggest that you go out and buy a USB to SATA Drive Caddy and put the SATA Drive into that and try it in a USB Port and see if it now works. If it does you have a M'Board or M'Board Driver problem that needs fixing. You can also try the SATA Drive Lead in another SATA Connector on the M'Board if you have one and make sure that it's not in position 2 with the primary SATA Drive in Position or Socket 1 as it's possible that a Software Raid Controller is attempting to work and is causing the disappearing HDD.

Knowing the model of the M'Board would be of some assistance and if there is any Software RAID Controllers loaded.


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Thanks for the pointers...

by mike.prince In reply to OK the first things to lo ...

... will check some out.

The MB is an Intel DG965RY and there are no RAID controllers loaded.

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Update: stranger and stranger

by mike.prince In reply to Thanks for the pointers.. ...

I have straight SATA cables which seem to be fine, although I replaced them anyway. However then after rebooting I could not get into Windows, getting a "Error loading operating system" message instead. This time the dodgy 250GB drive (which is not the one the OS is loaded on) was not even showing in the BIOS. I tried other SATA connections on the motherboard with no luck. Eventually I disconnected the CD/DVD drives and for some reason it then loaded into Windows ok, although I was still stuck with no 250GB drive showing.

Rebooting (with the CD/DVD drives reconnected, but I forget what else I had done since I was experimenting so many times) actually detected the 250GB drive and ran chkdsk (on both partitions). This came up with quite a lot of unreadable segments. Finally (again after some trial and error, and I'm not sure what I changed overall) I did get the drive recognised again in Windows and all seemed to be fine. However after a few minutes Windows gave a 'delayed write error' and the drive was lost again. Rebooting has me back at the "Error loading operating system" stage.

Even though it came back for a while (with data intact) it seems that there is a problem with the brand new 250GB drive after all, although I'm concerned that something else is causing my HDD to get faulty?

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Actually it sounds much more like a M'Board Problem

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Update: stranger and stra ...

Where the SATA Controllers are no longer working properly and causing the drives to not be addressed properly.

Seagate SATA Drives are reasonable reliable and while you will always run the risk of getting a Bad One it's very unlikely to have 2 in a row with the same problems so I really would be looking at the M'Board as the possible problem and try some diagnostic tools from the Ultimate Boot CD to test the hardware



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HD data not readable in second PC

by mike.prince In reply to Actually it sounds much m ...

Thanks for your help so far with this very frustrating problem!

The store that assembled my PC in the first place insisted on trying another new 250GB drive. After initially giving a disk read error on booting it worked after a reboot and was recognised fine in Windows. After a few hours testing though everything hung as Windows lost access to it and then automatically rebooted. It now appears in Windows but as unallocated and not initalized. The machine has now gone back to the store to try another motherboard/power supply (so I haven't had a chance to test your suggestion of using UltimateBootCD).

Meanwhile I have just connected the previously failed 250GB to a different PC via a SATA USB enclosure. This works but the drive appears as unallocated (and online) whereas it should contain two partitions and all my data.

So somehow whatever is wrong with the PC (MB SATA controllers sounds most likely as you suggest) is causing the drive(s) to lose information regarding the partitions and data on it, such that it cannot be read correctly in a different PC.

So whilst my PC is being examined elsewhere, any suggestions for how I can read the data on the 'damaged' HD?

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There are heaps of suggestions but none is cheap & fast

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to HD data not readable in s ...

On Tracks Easy Recovery is the best available but it's also quite expensive


But these are also available and while I haven't used every one they all have a following. Just remember that with any Data Recovery to always write what you save to another HDD so that you do not over write anything and make it very expensive to recover








One of those should work but if you go with the X Ways Product unless you know Hex inside out steer clear of Win Hex.


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Recovery looks like it will work ok

by mike.prince In reply to There are heaps of sugges ...

Thanks again. I've been running a trial version of GetDataBack which seems to have identified pretty much everything (although I think not 100%). I'll have a look through your links and go with one of them or GetDataBack.

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