A HD is probably an important part...
September 9, 2011 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Computer appears to be dead. Before I go and replace it, is there anything else I can do to try and bring it back to life?

HP desktop (model p6210y), relatively new, running Win7. I was using it fine last night, went to bed, and woke up this morning to find a black screen with a blinking "_" in the corner and nothing else. I figured something crashed, so I rebooted it.

It went to the blue HP startup screen. Next step is typically the Windows 7 login screen. Instead, I get a screen that just says: "Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key _ "

I restarted it again, got to the blue HP screen, and ran diagnostics.

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Processor CPU - PASSED
Memory (7169 MB) - PASSED
Drives - WARNING

Error Code: BIOHD-2
Warning: No drives detected.
Suggestion: Turn off your system and verify the drive cables are securely attached.

So, I did that. Opened up the machine, detached and reattached the two cables going to the hard drive, put everything back together, and restarted. Still no luck: blue HP screen, then "Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key _ "

So, two questions:

1 - What else can I do? (I'm at the end of my technical knowledge for home computers!)

2 - If I need to replace something, do I need to replace the whole computer or just the HD?

I'll be watching the thread, so if there are questions, I can provide more details or info. Thanks!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
It sounds like your hard disk is either crashed (or the bus may be unplugged) but there's no reason the rest of your computer needs to be replaced. You can boot from a live CD of some sort (e.g. Ubuntu) and you're computer will be functioning (except for the disk)
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:30 PM on September 9, 2011

It sounds like your hard drive died. Replace it, reinstall your software/system from original media or a good backup, and you're probably good to go.
posted by paulsc at 3:32 PM on September 9, 2011

Here is a live CD to try. (And I can also "edit" my "You're" to "your" while I'm here.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:34 PM on September 9, 2011

It might be worth seeing if your BIOS can redectect you drive (see instruction manual for how to do this), with correct cylinder and head geometry. Sometimes, due to a weak CMOS battery, BIOS will lose or corrupt its stored settings for a hard drive, and then, on next boot, report no valid hard drive found, and put error messages asking for bootable media. The downside to asking BIOS to redetect the hard drive is that if it presents a choice of cylinder/head geometry, and you pick the wrong one, you won't be able to access the drive anyway. If it does work, you probably need to replace the CMOS battery, pronto.
posted by paulsc at 3:48 PM on September 9, 2011

I made the Ubuntu LiveCD, and it won't boot from it. Made a Win7 boot disk from my other computer, and it wouldn't boot from that either. Perhaps this is more than just the HD?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:06 PM on September 9, 2011

Somewhat related to paulsc's suggestion, I once helped a friend diagnose a computer that refused to boot, even after I completely rebuilt it up and down. The problem was simply that the CMOS needed to be hard reset by setting the CMOS clear jumper. You should be able to see how to do it in this link.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2011

When you say "wouldn't boot," what do you mean? Is your BIOS set to try the CD/DVD drive?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:14 PM on September 9, 2011

thewumpusisdead - I just tried that, but it didn't make any difference.

Obscure Reference - Sorry, right not be the technically accurate phrase. When I put in the DVD, it doesn't have any impact on the process described in the initial question. From the blue HP screen, I can go into "Setup" from which I can go to "Boot" and "Boot Device Priority." 1st Boot Device is CD-ROM Group, 2nd Boot Device is Hard Drive Group, 3rd is Floppy Group, and 4th is Network Boot Group. Does that answer the question?

And, thank you to all of you for putting ideas out there. I know tech support from a distance is a bit of a frustrating exercise, but I appreciate your help!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2011

on my current desktop, even when the bios is set to choose the CDROM first, it still tries to boot from the disk. i have to hit a key (f2 IIRC) that allows me to select from a menu (which is not the menu in the BIOS) and then I can boot into Ubuntu from that.
posted by fake at 4:44 PM on September 9, 2011

There should be a option in the bios to exclude the HDD from the boot order. If you do that it will definitely boot from cd.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:03 PM on September 9, 2011

Here is a link to HP BIOS support. On the face of it, it certainly sounds as if your hard drive is dead. You should be able to boot with any kind of bootable CD or DVD though. I'm pretty sure that with HPs, once you get to the HP splash screen, you should be able to press F12 and then select which boot option you want manually - then it will try to boot from that. Of course, the acid test would be to remove your hard drive from this computer, put it in another, and boot to the BIOS screen and see if the BIOS detects your drive. (Don't try to *boot* the drive in another machine as Windows will not be too happy about that! - just power off after the BIOS splash screen). The reverse test is to go to your local friendly computer store and purchase a new SATA drive, install it, and see if it is detected.

My gut feeling at this stage is dead hard drive.

If the system is relatively new, it should be covered under warranty - have you tried calling HP?
posted by humpy at 5:44 PM on September 9, 2011

I see you are in Cambridge.

Guessing, and it's just a guess, that there's maybe a 24 hour hard drive store somewhere close by, but even if not, there should be a few hundred within a mile drive of MIT, so tomorrow, you might get a small hard drive (these days that means 500 GB) for $50 or so, and a small USB/SATA/IDE drive adapter thingie for another $30. Hard to believe, but quite realistic.

I'd install Windows (pardon me while I throw up!) on the new hard drive, then use the IDE/SATA thingie to check and see if there's any salvageable content on the hulk. It is quite possible for the drive to be readable, but not bootable and that would let you get your data off the old drive.

I've only ever had drive problems on computers with drives! If you need your computer on a Friday night, you must be an old geezer like me. Go get laid and drunk, then fix your PC in the morning. Jeez.
posted by FauxScot at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

- try the drive in another computer to make sure it's really dead and can't be accessed (either by hooking it up directly or through an HD docking station type thingie, don't know the correct term for that)
- if you still can't access it and need to recover data on it try googling the model to see if there are any known issues (i had a seagate drive which could no longer be accessed because of a firmware bug and recovering it wasn't fun but there were lots of guides online).
- if you replace your drive make sure to destroy the old one somehow, who knows what kind of personal data can be recovered from it (yes, i'm paranoid)
- find/borrow a drive someplace and see if that's recognised by the computer. if not, it's possible your motherboard is having issues. the fact that the computer won't even see your DVD drive and boot off it is troubling
posted by canned polar bear at 4:34 AM on September 10, 2011

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