Computer isn't recognizing HDD drive (Windows 10), what to do?
January 3, 2019 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Last week my computer's hard drive failed. I backed up all my data, but for some reason not my OS (which was probably for the best, as I was still clinging onto Windows 7). Today I bought a new hard drive for the computer (Samsung SSD 850 EVO) and did a clean install of Windows 10. Everything is working well so far, except that only 1 of my 2 extra HDD drives is detected now. How can I make my computer detect my other hard drive?

Both drives were working fine and dandy in the computer before everything went to hell. (They're both: Seagate Firecuda 2TB 3.5-Inch SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache Internal Hard Drive (ST2000DX002)).

First of all, the hard drive that in question works. I was able to access it with no problems with my macbook after I put it in an old external hard drive enclosure to test it. Also, I brought my entire computer into a computer store today and the employee tested all my drives and told me that they were all in good condition (aside from the one that died, obviously). So, if the problem doesn't appear to be the HDD, then... what is it? What do I do?

What should I do to get my computer to read my other hard drive? No extra drives appear when I go to "disk management." All the advice I'm finding online says that that's the best place to access a drive that isn't visible, but it isn't showing up!
posted by VirginiaPlain to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(I forgot to add, the drive isn't visible in the BIOS, either)
posted by VirginiaPlain at 8:00 PM on January 3, 2019

Have you tried switching the power and Motherboard connections with the working drive? It could be a bad connection, a problem with the HDD controller, or a bad cable.
posted by nalyd at 8:23 PM on January 3, 2019

Did you install any motherboard drivers that might me necessary?
posted by humboldt32 at 8:26 PM on January 3, 2019

Does it work if you switch the cables from the detected to the not-detected drive ?

Does the drive work via USB on Windows 10 OS via the enclosure you used to access the drive from the Mac ?

Bit tricky to diagnose if the BIOS doesn't detect it - although as per suggestion about switching cables with the detected drive, that might at least determine if a particular SATA path has failed (or has a dodgy cable).
posted by phigmov at 8:38 PM on January 3, 2019

Okay, so I just moved the drive into another hard drive bay and it worked! However, it appears that there is a problem with the hard drive bay I had it plugged into and I have more questions.

Before I describe the computer, bear with me because this computer used to belong to my dad who was suuuuper into building his own computers, etc. Which is why the computer I have sounds a bit ridiculous, but it has SIX hard drive bays (which is ridiculous to me!).

The "top" 3 bays work, but the "bottom" 3 bays don't work. I had the drive that didn't work in one of the "bottom" bays. I put another working HDD drive into the extra tray and the computer doesn't see it. I took the side off of the computer and it does appear that cables are just hanging there aren't aren't plugged in to... whatever they're supposed to be plugged into (when they used to work).

This is what all the bays look like. And this is a picture of the inside of the computer with all the cables/wires. By looking at this, is it possible to figure out what I need to plug into what to get the other bays working? I'd like to have them working, just to have them working.

Unlike my dad, I have no idea what I am doing with the insides of a computer.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 9:01 PM on January 3, 2019

The drives are controlled through SATA cables - they’re the thin red cables bunched up on the right of your inside the computer shot. (There may be some other colors with the same connectors mixed in. They’re SATA, too.) The cables typically go between the drive bays and the motherboard.

Next to the SATA cables on the drive bays is a wider connector with several different color wires going into it—-typically red, orange, yellow, and black, but orange is sometimes missing. That’s the SATA power connector. In your case, that connection goes through the bay but the bay is just a straight through to the drive. A failed bay would manifest as a failed cable.

In order for a drive to work, it has to be plugged into both the SATA power connector and the SATA cable.

If it’s not detected in BIOS that means one of a few things, ordered roughly by probability
- One of the cables is unplugged.
- The drive is broken (which you’ve verified isn’t the case)
- The SATA cable is broken
- The power cable is broken
- The SATA controller is broken.
- The power supply is broken.
Note: we know the power supply works, because the computer boots! :)

So troubleshooting basically runs down the list, swap things until you find the problem.

Note that while the SATA cable being broken is common usually they don’t fail if they’re not touched. So a sudden failure when the machine hasn’t recently been moved would probably point to something else on the list; this is especially true when multiple ports fail at once. So what you’re describing sounds a lot like a SATA controller failure to me. SATA controllers can be replaced with an add-in card, though if you don’t need to use all the bays it’s safe to simply avoid the ports that aren’t working.

There’s no particular reason to worry that other things would break because the SATA controller did; I had the SATA controller on one motherboard I used fail and I replaced it with a add-on cards and used it for several years after. (The add on cards were also flaky, but that’s a different story.)
posted by doomsey at 9:47 PM on January 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, those 4-pin connectors facing out are an older connector style (they carry power to pre SATA drives) and are most likely not being used.
posted by doomsey at 9:51 PM on January 3, 2019

Thanks for the explanation of what the insides mean, doomsey!

So, if I want to use those bays, what exactly do I have to do to replace the SATA controller with an add-on card? Is it something I have to download or is it a part I should buy? (Gah, I hate being so computer-part/hardware illiterate).
posted by VirginiaPlain at 10:22 PM on January 3, 2019

So, if I want to use those bays, what exactly do I have to do to replace the SATA controller with an add-on card?

First check where the three SATA cables (I also see black ones as well as the red) from the bays that aren't working are connected. Might be that they're hooked up to an add-on card already which has gotten dislodged, although I expect that the computer shop person would have checked that. If so, unscrew its back panel bracket, pull out the card and reinsert it. If that doesn't help, try another slot; if there's one free that's longer than the contact edge of the card, that's fine. If that doesn't help either, it's broken and you need to get a new one.

If those 'bottom' cables are connected to the motherboard, unplug them and reinsert them (both ends), although with three bays failing I don't expect that to be the cause. The better cables have a metal tab on the side of the connectors to prevent them coming off, and I really really REALLY HATE those SATA cables that don't have them.

If you really want those bottom bays to work and the above hasn't solved the problem, you need to get something like this. Any decent computer shop should have them. Remove the cover for one of the back panel slots, insert the card and plug the SATA cables for the bottom bays into it. Not much more to it, really.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:13 AM on January 4, 2019

while the SATA cable being broken is common usually they don’t fail if they’re not touched

This is generally true, though it's not touching them per se that kills them, it's repeatedly unplugging and re-plugging them. Internal SATA cable connectors have disturbingly low ratings for guaranteed disconnection/reconnection cycles; I've seen them fail after ten. I think the cheap ones use really, really shitty thin plating on the connector fingers and rapidly become susceptible to corrosion.

I've also seen troublesome SATA cables come completely good after a squirt of solvent-only, lube-free contact cleaner into the business end of the connectors.

In general I'm not a huge fan of the SATA connector design. USB-C manages to run way higher data rates through a much smaller connector with far better reliability. Dunno why SATA connectors should work so much worse, but they frequently do.

Apart from the connector issues, SATA cables do not like being bent sharply. I frequently see boxes where all the cabling has been aggressively tidied up and ziptied into this amazingly neat looking wiring loom, which when you look closely at it has involved a three foot SATA cable being wound into a flat bow held tightly together with zip ties to reduce it to the six inches actually required. They don't like that, and are less likely to cause trouble if you just leave them sloppy and loose (obviously using the shortest cable you can find that actually makes the distance is best). Unlike the earlier flat ribbon ATA cables they superseded, doing this has basically no effect on ventilation.
posted by flabdablet at 5:25 AM on January 4, 2019

ok this is WILD but i had the exact same problem, and i had to do something really weird to fix it.
i have no idea why this worked, but it did.

i even had the exact same samsung HDD. try this, it might work, it worked for me, even though i was very dubious. give it a shot.
posted by capnsue at 7:48 AM on January 4, 2019

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