Frowny face.
July 24, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

"Error loading OS" after installing new (slave) HD.

I had a spare Windows machine (HP Pavilion 724c running XP) left over from when I got my Macbook, and I'd been wanting to turn it into either a personal media server or DVR. The first logical step was to add some extra storage to the sucker. I got a 300GB Seagate drive and, despite being relatively n00bish, managed to get it up and recognized by the system.

Unfortunately, that's when I decided it would be a good idea to restart the machine. Then came the message no one likes to see: "Error loading OS." This kind of thing is usually bad, but it's even worse when you don't have the XP install CD (damn you preinstalled OS!) or a system restore CD (d'oh).

I've tried tweaking various settings in the BIOS utility (I don't remember which ones, it was a while ago) to no avail. I'm thinking it may be a bad boot sector. I'm thinking of making some kind of bootable Linux CD or thumbdrive to test this theory and hopefully rectify the situation. My two-part question is as follows.

What Linux distro would you recommend for this task? Keep in mind, I have never dealt with Linux before and only
What software would you recommend for me to go about repairing the boot sector using this Linux boot CD/thumbdrive?

I looked at this thread, but the circumstances are a little different. Namely, I don't want to take it in because a) There's no reputable computer repair outfit in my neck of the woods and b) That costs money, son! Also, I absolutely cannot erase the drive and start over because I have no XP install CD (remember, it was preinstalled).

Thanks so much!

Details: (I don't really see how these matter in order to answer my question, but some people like to know. If you must throw another theory out there, please do so in small font.)

I set up the original hard drive (80GB, the one with the OS and all my old stuff) as the master drive and the new drive (300GB) as a slave.

When I boot up, if I do nothing I see the blue HP screen ("F1-Setup, F10-System Recovery") briefly and then it goes to a black screen with the message, "Error loading OS."

When I boot up, if I press F1 at the blue HP screen it takes me into the BIOS Setup Utility. It shows my old 80GB drive as the "Primary Master" and my new 300GB drive as the "Primary Slave."

When I boot up, if I press F10 at the blue HP screen it does nothing and proceeds to the "Error loading OS" message.
posted by dondiego87 to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you pull the 300gb drive, and set the 80gb drive to the way it was before, does that fix the problem?

How is your 80gb drive partitioned? Is there a hidden recovery partition, or anything along those lines?
posted by box at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2007

1) what box said

2) Many hard drives have different jumper settings for "master (single)" and "master (with slave)". Make sure your jumpres are set correctly. If the jumper positions aren't labeled on the hard drive, the support site should have the info you need.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:54 AM on July 24, 2007

"... I set up the original hard drive (80GB, the one with the OS and all my old stuff) as the master drive and the new drive (300GB) as a slave. ..."

Did you do this by setting jumpers on the drives? Or do you have a cable select cable? If you're using a cable select cable, the jumpers on both drives have to be in the CS position to work. If you expect to set the jumpers appropriately, you have to be sure you are using a non-cable select IDE cable. Most 80 pin high speed IDE cables for ATA 66/100/133 speeds are non-cable select, but many earlier 40 pin cables were cable select types.

Returning to a single drive with your 80GB drive would at least demonstrate that your Windows partition is still active on that drive, and let you do a backup or create a disk image to another USB drive, if the Windows partition is still good. Don't make hardware changes without the ability to reload the system from an image, unless nuke-and-pave is an acceptable post-hardware installation strategy for you.
posted by paulsc at 11:56 AM on July 24, 2007

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