Need help booting off of a SATA drive
December 27, 2004 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I have been unable to boot from my brand new SATA hard drive. If I boot from an IDE drive, I can read from and write to this drive with absolutely no problems whatsoever. But when I try to boot, I get a "DISK BOOT FAILURE" error. I've tried many things to get this to work, and I'm quickly running out of ideas. List of things I've tried and hardware details inside.

I have an MSI K8N Neo Platinum motherboard, and a Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 (the 160G model). The mobo has SATA support on-board, and it definitely recognizes the hard drive. I can hit F11 during the boot process and tell the motherboard which device to use for booting, so I know it's trying the new drive.

I've tried the following:
1) Using Powerquest Drive Image 7 to copy my old IDE drive onto the new one. This is my preferred method of upgrading. Whether or not I try to include the MBR in this copy helps none.
2) When this failed, I booted off my Windows XP install disc, and went into the Recovery Console, and ran both "fixmbr" and "fixboot" on this drive.
3) I then tried a full XP repair install over this copied image.
4) This failing, I've tried to do a clean install of XP. I run through the blue-screen portion of the install, when it copies the install data to the hard drive. When it tries to reboot to do the GUI portion of the install, it fails. But I get a slightly different message in this case: "Operating system not found".

All along, I've been doing searches and fiddling with BIOS settings. Some people suggested a single-drive RAID array, or turning off the IDE controller altogether. Nothing has worked. Any advice?

(I'm pretty technically inclined, and I've been building my own machines for about 10 years now, so don't pull any punches)
posted by Plutor to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I just experienced a similar problem with a 160GB Maxtor drive. In my case this was OS related, according to this Maxtor page. Also see this Microsoft KB article.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:09 AM on December 27, 2004

Is this the first time you are trying to boot from a SATA drive?

I've built a couple of systems based on the 865PE chipset, they required some form of legacy mode setting in the BIOS. Basically, there was a setting that allowed the SATA drive to be recognized as an IDE drive. There was no SATA choice in the boot order at all...
posted by Chuckles at 9:14 AM on December 27, 2004

Is this the first time you are trying to boot from a SATA drive?


There's no "SATA" choice in the boot order, but there is a specific entry for the drive (long serial number, it starts with "HD..", and when I unplug everything else, it's the only entry). I had read something online about a legacy option for SATA, but I have been unable to find one in my BIOS or any mention of one in the mobo manual.

In my case this was OS related

That's possible, I suppose. I'm running XP SP2, and the Maxtor page implies that the fix isn't required in SP2. I'll have to check the Microsoft article when I get home. How can I ever be expected to install fresh to this drive, if hacks are necessary for it to work with XP?
posted by Plutor at 9:28 AM on December 27, 2004

On my machine, I had to select "SCSI" to boot from my Seagate SATA drives. I'm on an NVIDIA chipset mobo.

One step further though- it sounds to me like you need a Third Party Driver ("Press F6 to load a third party SCSI or RAID Driver"--- sound familiar?) to get the windows install to work. I did...

What usually seems to happen is that the BIOS works for you, copying the windows install data to the drive. Then, when windows boots and wants to access the drive in a different way ( i don't know the tech details) you need the driver.

Your mobo or chipset manufacturer will have a driver ready to go. For me, it was a huge PITA because I actually had to go find a floppy drive and a working diskette, because that's the only place the windows installer would look.
posted by fake at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2004 sounds to me like you need a Third Party Driver...

fake, you may be right.
Hot damn, I hope you're right.
posted by Plutor at 9:43 AM on December 27, 2004

Plutor, yeah, that's it. It shouldn't have allowed you to install unless you added the third-party driver. Mine wouldn't work until I went through that procedure.
posted by SpecialK at 12:29 PM on December 27, 2004

Dang, no, that's apparently not it. Because it didn't take. I tried it with both the SATA and RAID drivers, and with just the SATA driver.

The error that I get during the XP install (that I was apparently misremembering) is "Error loading operating system". Microsoft tells me that this is a BIOS problem with big drives. This forum says I need to turn RAID on for all of my devices, which doesn't work.

The only idea I have at this point is that the one BIOS release since my last upgrade has a large-drive fix in it somewhere even though the release notes don't say so. I shoulda tried that before posting to AskMe, but I'm trying it right now.
posted by Plutor at 1:49 PM on December 27, 2004

BIOS upgrade, possibly in addition to the SATA drivers, appear to have fixed it. At least, the XP install was able to boot from the drive. I will do a Drive Image now, and let you guys know if that works, or not. Thanks for your help!

Let that be a lesson to you: BIOS upgrade release notes are never exhaustive.
posted by Plutor at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2004

man, that's brutal. thanks for posting the real solution, plutor.
posted by fake at 3:04 PM on December 27, 2004

Talking about bios updates, it is much easier to recover from a bad flash than you might think. If you have another motherboard with a similar EPROM on it you can hot flash with UniFlash. It is really very easy!
posted by Chuckles at 3:49 AM on December 28, 2004

The Drive Image again wouldn't boot, and even re-trying "fixmbr" and "fixboot" or a repair install didn't work. I was going to try another clean wipe install and go from there, but it was late. It'd be nice to save everything I've got, but I've got no problem with reinstalling.

And thanks for that pointer, Chuckles. I've never had that problem before, but I know that I will eventually. My brother had a flash become corrupt after a circuit breaker flop at a LAN party.
posted by Plutor at 4:20 AM on December 28, 2004

This is really getting ridiculous :P

Have you tried installing a different OS? Just format /s from a DOS disk will be good enough. It seems very likely that it is a windows problem, but that needs to be confirmed.

Have you partitioned the drive? I haven't kept up to date on all the drive size limits, but it is definitely worth trying. It wouldn't be surprising if there was a boot partition size limit like the old 2GB limit in NT...

When you say the drive image wouldn't boot... Exactly what are you doing again? From the previous discussion it sounds like the install worked fine but you couldn't boot after reloading the partition from a Ghost image. That is a very interesting one... Once, after ghosting, I had to go and set a partition to active with fdisk before it would boot.
posted by Chuckles at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2004

Basically, what I was doing was this:

Boot into XP with the old IDE drives, but with the SATA drive attached. Partition the disk roughly in half (I have two old IDE drives that I'm trying to migrate both). Use Powerquest Drive Image (which, yeah, from what I've heard is similar to Ghost) to copy my C: drive to the G: drive (first partition of the new SATA), and the D: drive to H:. Before rebooting, everything looks okay. Files all present and accessible on the SATA partitions. Even the permissions on the files and directories look fine. Then I shutdown the computer, disconnect the IDE drives, and try to boot off the SATA drive. "DISK BOOT FAILURE".

If I copy the old IDE boot drive's MBR along, same thing. If I _don't_ copy the old IDE boot drive's MBR, same thing. If I do a fresh install of XP on the drive (so that it's bootable and working), and then Drive Image everything over except the MBR, same thing.

I think there's just something too different between the two drives for it to work. Or maybe Drive Image is borked. Maybe I should try to get my hands on Ghost or something.. maybe that'll work better for me. Although I'm just about ready to just go forward with a clean XP install on this one..

(Thanks for your help on this Chuckles..)
posted by Plutor at 4:54 AM on December 29, 2004

« Older Fired! How to Deal?   |   How do I fix damage from snow on my car? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.