Help me find my old hard drive.
May 7, 2008 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Why would my hard drive show up in the BIOS, but not in Windows?

My boyfriend's main hard drive seems to have failed. When we tried to boot it yesterday, it gave us the message that the "self monitoring system has reported that a parameter has exceeded its normal operating range" and would not boot into windows. I ended up putting in a new hard drive and installing Vista to that drive, so now we can at least get the thing booted. But now, once in Windows, it only sees the new hard drive and the old storage drive (that didn't have Windows on it).

I'm trying to figure out how I can just see the original hard drive in order to get data off of it. It shows up in the BIOS, but once in Windows it's not listed in My Computer. I've also looked under Computer Management in Administrative Tools, and it's not listed there either.

Other random info:
- There are four hard drive bays in the computer.
- These are SATA drives.
- I have more familiarity with this stuff than any of my friends/family, but I'm not exactly a guru or anything.
- I'd like to avoid taking the drive somewhere if possible, because I'm a little paranoid about my data getting erased. I know that the information might just be gone, but I'd like to keep Geek Squad etc. as a last resort.

If there's any more information that I can provide please ask; I'm getting a little desperate at this's finals week of senior year in college and could really use some of that data! Thanks so much for any advice.
posted by DulcineaX to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Did you look under Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:32 PM on May 7, 2008

Response by poster: Yup, looked there...still not seeing the original one. It only lists the new hard drive and the old storage one.
posted by DulcineaX at 2:40 PM on May 7, 2008

If your OS can't recognise that a drive physically exists... well, I strongly suspect your last resort is your only resort. Sorry.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:49 PM on May 7, 2008

You could try booting up under a linux live-CD and seeing if the drive is mountable there. here is an example of a successful recovery using knoppix.
posted by nomisxid at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2008

If the OS can't find it, I'd try another OS: grab a linux live-cd and see if that will find the drive, and let you grab your data off.
posted by pompomtom at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2008

Another last resort: Steve Gibson's Spinrite.
posted by psyche7 at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2008

Try the Gparted live cd.

I suspect that your hard drive is borked though. Windows disk management should see all drives, even with non-windows/damaged partitions.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:18 PM on May 7, 2008

I'm not sure I've ever seen a drive appear in BIOS but not in the OS. Dumb question, but are you sure what you are seeing in BIOS is that drive?

Maybe the bad drive is connected to a RAID controller of some kind? That Vista hasn't loaded the driver for and so can't see devices on it?
posted by gjc at 4:31 PM on May 7, 2008

You might try connecting it using a SATA to USB adapter. You could easily try it against multiple computers that way.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:30 PM on May 7, 2008

If you do end up taking it in, visit a couple of local computer stores until you find someone you're comfortable with. The local guys will almost certainly do a better job than a big box. Also, you might download your drive manufacturer's diagnostic utility and run it against the drive. These are generally non-destructive and may give you some info on what's going on with the drive. Some manufacturers have DOS-based utilities that will pull any Windows issues out of the equation.
posted by cnc at 9:52 PM on May 7, 2008

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