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Problem with HDD configuration during system boot up.

By Jerute ·
Hi guys. I have a problem with an attempted XP installation. The two relevant parts of this equation are:

The motherboard: MSI n1996
The hard disk: Maxtor 6Y080P0 YAR41BW0 80GB IDE

To all intents and purposes the system appears to be working fine: it powers up and posts correctly. The hard disk was working fine in one of my other machines prior to being moved into this system. The system finds the HDD during the post check.

The POST reports:

Primary Master is the AOPEN DVD drive
Secondary Slave is the Maxtor HDD.
The POST screen also reports floppy disk(s) fail(40) but this is because the floppy is not attached.

When I boot from the XP disk in the DVD drive it finds the HDD, even correctly naming the partition defined on the previous machine. I choose install windows, it reformats and begins copying the core files. No problems so far???

Then the system reboots and it fails, again reporting the error ???Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem. Could not read from the selected boot disk. Check boot path and disk hardware. Please check the windows documentation about hardware disk configuration and your hardware manuals for additional information.???

If I then power the machine down and reboot it, the windows XP disk goes back into installation mode as if it has not found the beginnings of its previous installation. Again, it will find the existence of the partition but describes the partition as being empty??? (77574MB free of 78152MB).

Any suggestions would be appreciated because this has me stumped.

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Couple of thoughts

by robo_dev In reply to Problem with HDD configur ...

First of all, where EXACTLY in Windows setup is it failing/rebooting? There are some points of the install where Windows is just copying stuff, vs some points where it changes graphics modes and starts doing hardware detection.

1) It probably is more 'tidiness' than anything, but I always put the HDD as the primary master and CD/DVD somewhere else.

2) During certain parts of Windows Setup, it changes video modes; it goes from a very easy 640x480 text mode to a more demanding SuperVGA graphics mode. If your video adapter or video ram is hosed, then the PC would reboot when more complex graphics are called for.

3) Download and run the Maxtor drive utilities in case the drive is on the way out.

3A) are you using 80-wire IDE cables or an old 40-wire cable? The 80-wire are the 'finer looking' ones, versus the more coarse looking cables. A 40-wire cable will cause trouble.

4) Default the motherboard BIOS, and make sure the latest and greatest BIOS version is there.

5) Is the machine failing on a certain file? A scratch on the CD should not do this, but you never know.

6) If you have multiple RAM modules, try the setup process with one removed and/or with the other removed. Some parts of the setup process use more resources, and a bad RAM chip could cause this.

Note the following web page, the sections about 'stability issues'

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Partial Success

by Jerute In reply to Couple of thoughts

Ok I changed the master / slave relationship as you all suggested and now the system will boot into the windows installation BUT ONLY IF THE INSTALLATION DISK IS IN THE DVD ROM. Very curious.

At startup it will go through the POST screen then hang for a good couple of minutes on "Verifying DMA Pool Data ..........". It will then display the "Boot from CD :" line and this is where I get the problem.

If, as stated above, the DVD is in the drive, it will give me the option to boot from the disk(Press any key blah blah" and then boot into the C: drive windows installation.

If, however, the disk is not in the drive I get "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER".

This again brings me back to the thought that my BIOS settings are not correct but I can't find anything in there to suggest a reason for this.

It doesn't appear to be hardware related, though on the first occasion that I booted into windows it did install the VIA IDE bus drivers in the "Found New Hardware" screen. Any relation to the problem at hand?

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by Jerute In reply to Partial Success

On a flash of inspiration I disconnected the DVD rom and the machine booted straight into windows with no hanging on "Verifying DMA Pool Data.....".

Clearly I was looking for a hardware failure issues, just not where I expected.

Many thanks to you all for your help.

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The issue still exists

by NickNielsen In reply to SUCCESS!!!

and will return when you reconnect your DVD ROM drive. The fix you describe means the BIOS is finding your HDD as a boot device only in the absence of any other boot device.

Check the boot sequence in your BIOS. Is it configured to search for the HDD during boot?

Are the two drives configured on the controller as follows?
- Primary Master: Maxtor HDD
- Primary Slave:
- Secondary Master: DVD ROM
- Secondary Slave:

Assuming the boot sequence in your BIOS is set correctly, this configuration should allow you to have both the DVD ROM and HDD connected and boot from the HDD. If it doesn't, set the boot order in your BIOS to HDD-first and set all other options to NONE. You will still be able to boot from other media by selecting the boot menu (usually F12) immediately after POST.

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Swap the drive roles

by NickNielsen In reply to Problem with HDD configur ...

Move the Maxtor HDD to be the primary master. Make the DVD drive the secondary master.

See if that works.

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Well as stated above you need to make the Maxtor the primary Master

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Problem with HDD configur ...

Not Secondary Slave. The hardware always looks to the Primary IDE Channel for a Boot Device and can only find the XP Install Disc.

So here you'll need to remove the Maxtor HDD alter the Jumper to Master or CS Cable Select and plug the End Connector of the Primary IDE Lead into it. Then plug the DVD Drive into the other IDE Lead.

XP doesn't support booting off the Secondary Slave so that is what you problem here is. Although I would first suggest testing the Drive with it's Makers Testing Utility to see if it's functioning correctly. This is Sea Tools available free here


You want the Sea Tools for DOS Utility and you'll need to connect the Floppy or disable Halt on all Errors in the BIOS if you do not want to use a floppy. It also wouldn't hurt to remove the Floppy from the Listed Drives if it's not connected. You do not need to add additional errors to the system.

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