Hard drive undetected in windows XP installer, read for details?

I have a slightly old computer with a broken hard drive. im trying to get working again, so i got a new hard drive for it and now i am trying to install windows XP. The previous drive was a SATA hard drive, as is the new one. When i boot up the machine after the boot screen that gives the option to enter the BIOS i get a screen the says “Detecting SATA drives…..” and it shows that it has detected my 160gb SATA drive. It continues to boot from CD after that and loads up the windows installer. The windows installer says it can’t find a hard drive and to restart the computer. Inside the BIOS there is absolutely nothing about SATA anywhere, and it does not show a Hard drive only my IDE DVD. drive.

So just incase it was SATA related i tried a IDE hard drive. Used the same ribbon cable that my DVD drive used since i knew it worked, and the screen that says “Detecting drives…” after the boot screen also showed it detected this 60gb hard drive, but also it does not show up in the bios, or for windows install.

I ran a linux live CD to see if i could find my drives through that and nothing showed up. Obviously they are somewhat working because it detects their size during boot up, but then does not get shown inside the bios and they do not show up anywhere else.

Any ideas? ( I’m not retarded with computers i very rarely ask for hardware based help, so feel free to be very technical on your idea’s and no need for a step by step walk through.)

2 Responses to Hard drive undetected in windows XP installer, read for details?

  1. This is obviously tricky, so i am only giving some thoughts, sorry no definitive answer.

    There are different versions of SATA. Could you motherboard only support lower bandwidth SATA?
    Could this be a BIOS problem? Did you try upgrading the firmware?

    Could the disk be damaged? Do you hear it spinning normally?

    You could try to plug in the disk in an external bay and connect it via USB. This may tell you whether it is working.

    If it is the disk controller which is faulty, you may try to investigate it. In Linux you can type “lspci” to see if something like “SATA controller” is correctly detected.

    Long-time Fedora user.

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  2. It’s actually a good thing ur older mainboard does support ide, because ide drives are natively supported by xp, while sata drives need drivers added during for instance the installation. My new mainboard has an ide emulation mode for sata that supports xp, but unfortunately that mode is slow as hell when using it with my favorite bootmanager and imager “bootit ng” because the bios slows down the datatransfer outside windows.

    When trying to install xp i would focus on installing it on an ide hdd. This eliminates the problem of extra needed drivers. Make sure though the ide-hdd u use is connected to a true ide-controller and not some connector that’s part of for instance a 3rd party pci-controller. In that case u still might need extra drivers. An ide hdd that gets detected in ur bios is the perfect windows xp installation candidate so try install it there. U can always copy the entire partition to some other hdd/partition afterwards, if u have the tools for that that is, and if u can find and install drivers that make xp recognize the controller that hdd is connected to.

    While trying to install xp on my new comp i found out that the F6 method to add drivers during installation didn’t work for me. I always ended up with a blue screen resulting from inaccessable installation media. Even installing on the ide connector of my mainboard didn’t work.

    As a result i descided to install xp the only way i knew would work, and that was by using the ide-emulation mode of my onboard sata controllers. After that i tried to make windows recognize a 3rd party pci controller with an ide hdd on it by installing the drivers in windows. (installing drivers during xp installation is only nescesarry when u install ON an unsupported hdd, not when u want to install support for a different hdd, then u can install support in windows like any other device driver) This worked so now i still had to somehow move the windows installation from the slow ide-emulation hdd, to the faster hdd on the 3rd party controller. Wich can easily be done by just copying the partition. Then it’s still a matter of making the target partition the active partition, so finally i got a working xp installation on a fast hdd. Next i could turn the sata controller back to AHCI mode (instead of the slow ide-emulation) and install the same sata drivers that didn’t work during installation but now after installation. And that also worked, so via via i got xp installed.

    So, to recap: my advice would be to first install xp in any way u think u can install it (probably on a bios detected ide hdd) and then find and install drivers to support other hdd’s and then move the entire installation partition to there. Do this though before activation. Because changing harddisks quickly invoke a needed reactivation.

    I was only able to do this because i have bootit ng so maybe have a look at this site (nope it’s not an add, just advice) http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootit-next-generation.htm
    The knowledge base on this site may be worth a look as wel.

    Take a good look if ur sata controller supports an ide-mode. U said ur bios doesn’t mention sata at all while it stil has sata connectors? Do u still have the manual? Try get some info on the sata-controller. Maybe visit the mainboard’s support site. The message “detecting sata drives” is probably from either an integrated 3rd party sata controller in the mainboard or a sata controller in a (pci) slot. When it’s a mainboard integrated controller the bios should have at least an option to activate or deactivate it. Note: sometimes that controller is also refered to as a raid controller. Also such a sata/raid controller might have it’s own setup, like the bios setup but with another hotkey.

    Don’t forget this: windows XP wil NOT install on a sata hdd that’s not runnning in ide-mode, unless u provide it with extra drivers during installation (F6), and in my case that also didn’t work.

    U might try the F6 method though. U need to know what brand/type of sata/raid controller u have, get the drivers for xp, put them on a diskette (for this method u do need a diskette-station) and press F6 when prompted during installation. Maybe it works for u….

    Personally i would try install xp on that 60 gb hdd, but make sure it gets detected by a “real” ide controller. I guess the controller ur dvd-drive was attached to and let it get detected in the bios, should also let ur ide-hdd get detected in the bios. Once u have installed xp DON’T activate it but look for sata drivers and let xp recognize those drives. Then u could try moving the installation like i described earlier.

    Long-time Fedora user.

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