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Re: Can't recognize OS with new motherboard

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      05-02-2009, 03:29 PM
suswoman wrote:
> I have a 6-month-old Acer Aspire M1641 that started to have some power
> issues, so I had to replace the motherboard, but kept the Dual Core
> Intel processor. At the first bootup attempt it would recognize the
> hard drive, which doesn't seem to have any problems or damage to it, but
> can't find that Vista is on it so thought I had no OS. After several
> attempts with no success, I finally installed XP separately just to get
> into the system. I can see all of my document and program files on the
> hard drive, but can't access anything. It also still does not recognize
> the second OS on the drive so that I can choose it for bootup purposes.
> Can anyone help? Thanks!

It could be a BIOS setting issue. Some chipsets have options
such as "IDE", "AHCI", "RAID" for the disk interface. You have
to set the interface to the same value, as was used when Vista was
installed. It could be, that Vista cannot be seen because of it.

When the motherboard was replaced, that doesn't reproduce the
same BIOS settings. A person would have had to record the BIOS
screens (with a digital camera), to get everything put back
the way it was, once the new motherboard is in place. If you're
not expecting trouble, recording your BIOS screens isn't something
many people would do.

I would not have installed XP as you've done, because that just
increases the odds of making problems. If you're going to do anything
with your WinXP boot right now, I'd be backing up user data and email
database file(s). It could be, that you'll be reinstalling yet again,
in which case, you should secure your user data first, and put it on
a separate external drive. Then, disconnect the external drive, and
continue with your reinstallation/hacking attempts.

Between WinXP and Vista now, I expect their disk drivers are set up
for different things. When you potentially change the BIOS setting,
in an attempt to make Vista work, it'll likely bust the operation of
WinXP. And vice versa.

Vista has the ability, to deal with IDE and AHCI by itself. WinXP has
provision for IDE, but would need a chipset driver for AHCI. Changing
between modes has been done, but the necessary instructions are not
easy to find. Plenty of fun for hacket types though...

To deal with the "but can't access anything" issue, you need to
"take ownership". This is one reference to ownership here, but there
may be other articles better than this one.

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Posts: n/a
      05-03-2009, 03:38 PM
suswoman wrote:
> Thanks for the reply, Paul. I've also contacted Acer, who is sending
> recovery disks. They suggest that if I reinstall Vista from the
> recovery disks, I will then be able to remove XP because the system will
> recognize a second OS. I'm a little afraid, though, that the reinstall
> will simply recreate a second Vista on my machine and I'll still be in
> the same boat, with all of the old program files and docs connected with
> the original Vista install. Does their suggestion sound right to you?

At least some recovery media, that comes with prebuilt computers,
wipes the disk clean. So when you use the Acer provided CD, it could
just wipe everything off the disk. (Your user manual may warn about
how their restoration procedures work.)

There are some companies, that provide real Microsoft installation
CDs, and with those, you can do a repair install or a clean install.
(Companies who provide such an option, are the smaller ones.) The
Acer disc will likely wipe it all out. It won't take you
long to see which happened.

At this point, I don't know what is the best answer for you.
I would have thought, by changing the BIOS disk setting,
you'd be able to get Vista started again. In dual boot
scenarios, there is usually a preferred order of installation
for the OSes, so the boot loader can support both from the
same hard drive. (You can find references to either install
order here, but one should involve fewer steps than the other.)

If you've "taken ownership", transferred any important files
to an external backup drive, you could then enter the BIOS
and change from IDE to AHCI or whatever. And then see if you
can start it in Vista.

Prebuilt computers are a little bit unusual, in that they
may have several partitions on the hard drive. There could be
a diagnostic partition (containing a program for testing the
computer), a recovery partition (containing a copy of the OS
for reinstallation, but the copy is not in the form of a
Microsoft installer CD), and then the C: drive.

If you want to examine the partitions (you don't have to
change anything, just have a look), there are a couple old
tools for download here. One utility, shows the raw numbers
in the partition table. And from that, you may get some idea
what kind of partitions are present. Since Acer is sending
you recovery media, chances are everything you need is on
that media. But in the spirit of "being careful", you
can use these tools to see how the disk is set up. Some
people, in their zeal for cleanliness, remove the hidden
partition(s), and then don't understand why they've lost
the ability to do a restore from the hard drive. (Raw number display - CHS and LBA type info, partition types.
Double click on the partition type field, to get a
text name for the partition type. There should be
things like FAT32, NTFS and so on.) (This display looks more like Disk Management type info)

If you need to really erase a disk, this tool is available. But
it erases every disk connected to the computer, so you want your
backup disk to be disconnected, before doing anything. This
program can erase 99 disks simultaneously. Select the "quick erase"
option, because some of the secure erase options could take
many many hours to run. Even the quick erase could take three

I have a much faster way of removing the partition table (so the
disk looks empty), but I do that using a bootable version of
Linux. I do a fair amount of Windows maintenance using Linux
(I don't use Linux for ordinary work). For example, if a file
refuses to be removed in Windows, I can boot into Linux and
bash it :-)

Good luck,
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