Hard Disk Drive Not Found

Discussion in 'Dell' started by ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    I have a nearly new Inspiron 2200. Microphone input isn't working
    right. Dell chat line representative insists on scheduling technician
    to replace the motherboard.

    Unfortunately, the technician leaves two screws loose when replacing
    the mobo. I have the tech come back to fix this mysterious new buzzing

    This time, I make the mistake of handing the laptop to the tech while
    it is still in hibernation mode. I do not realize this is a mistake at
    the time, but I soon find out. The tech doesn't check the machine's
    power status; he immediately removes the motherboard while it is still
    in hibernation.

    After this, the machine starts acting funky -- primarily freezing
    during or shortly after bootup. I try some old familiar fixes, like
    Norton Disk Doctor. Nothing helps. Eventually, I discover it is
    possible to use the Recover option when booting from the Windows XP
    program CD. Inside Recover, I run CHKDSK /R instead of CHKDSK /P,
    which I think might have been the better approach.

    I run some diagnostics. The Hitachi online rep says the results
    indicate that the Dell tech basically trashed the hard drive by
    dismantling the system while it was in hibernation mode. Hitachi gives
    me an RMA for the drive.

    But I really don't want to lose data from that drive. My most recent
    backup is several days old. So I play around a bit more.

    At this point, the machine is functioning less well. At first, after
    the catastropic Dell service call, it would boot into WinXP and then
    slow down or freeze. Now it is sometimes not even recognizing the hard
    drive on bootup. I look in the BIOS Setup and it says there's no hard
    drive. I try booting from the CD and I get the same thing, whether
    booting with the WinXP CD, a Knoppix Linux self-contained CD, or a
    Hitachi diagnostics CD. The error message I'm getting is this:

    internal hard disk drive not found
    No bootable devices -- strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup

    After the first several boots into WinXP, I am getting this error
    message more frequently. This decaying performance seems familiar --
    it does seem like the behavior of a failing drive. But I'm not sure it
    adds up. If the Dell tech fried the circuits on the drive, it seems
    like it would perform at the same level consistently. I am guessing
    that dismantling a hibernated machine would not do any surface-level
    damage to a drive, of a type that would yield decaying reliability.

    I would like to get my data off this hard drive. But the options seem
    limited. I don't know how to configure Knoppix to use the laptop's
    wireless connection. There's no drive bay for a second drive in the
    laptop, to which I could copy the data from the first one; and anyway,
    the first one is nonresponsive.

    So I buy one of those little adapters that allow you to connect a 2.5"
    laptop drive to a regular 3.5" desktop drive cable. I figure maybe the
    problem is with the laptop, and this way I can copy my data directly to
    a hard drive in the desktop machine.

    I put the laptop drive in the desktop machine and play with multiple
    ways of plugging it in. The adapter doesn't come with instructions. I
    experiment with jumper settings, reverse plug-in options (the adapter
    fits the laptop drive both ways), etc. Nothing works. I cannot get
    the desktop to recognize the laptop drive. It's not a problem with the
    desktop machine. That connector is good; I have a different 3.5" drive
    hooked up to it right now. I assume the 2.5" Hitachi drive is acting
    this way because this is how it has been acting in the laptop too.

    I download some recovery software with a free trial version, I think,
    that lets you see the data but not recover it. The software I download
    is GetDataBack. I install it on the desktop machine. It, too, fails
    to see the 2.5" hard drive.

    Tonight, the Dell rep online thinks that maybe the hard drive is not
    properly connected to the laptop's motherboard. But would that explain
    why the little drive was not working in the desktop machine either? No
    connection option seemed to work.

    Dell says I may just have to pay a grand for data recovery services.
    That'll be the day. I've got a backup that's some days old; I'll have
    to be content with using that, and with losing some irreplaceable data.

    It just seems strange that, on this very evening, I was able to boot
    the laptop into Windows XP Safe Mode and then into Normal mode. I
    noticed this same thing previously: if I let the sucker sit for a few
    days, it seems to clear its mind and be ready to work again.

    Tonight, being cautious, I shut the machine down after both of these
    boots, because some newsgroup posting said that this was what someone
    else should have done immediately after a similar hibernation screwup:
    just do a normal shutdown and reboot. But after it did boot into Safe
    and Normal modes, it refused to boot anymore and, once again, it
    stopped recognizing the drive.

    I was thinking that maybe the solution is to let the thing sit again
    for a day or two and then do my first boot with the 2.5" drive
    connected to the desktop machine. That way, I might get some life out
    of it before it craps out.

    At times in the past, I noticed that recalcitrant hard drives seemed to
    work better if you let them sit for a while, or when the temperature
    cooled down. Sure enough, I have just discovered the "freezer trick":
    put the hard drive in a baggie in the freezer for a few hours, and then
    recover data from it before it warms up too much. See e.g.,
    http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp/t1122363710 and

    This, I am thinking, may be a way to accelerate the cooling-down
    process. I'll do it repeatedly if necessary. That's my next tack,
    after finishing this message.

    All this talk about the BIOS, in the webpages just cited and elsewhere,
    belatedly makes me think that maybe the hard drive was accustomed to
    working with the BIOS of the previous motherboard, which I might have
    flashed to update it, and maybe they installed a mobo with an older
    BIOS that somehow confused the issue. This seems a little vague and
    goofy, but since it's probably a good idea to update the laptop's BIOS
    anyway, I guess I'll also see if I can figure out how to do that from a
    CD drive. (The laptop has no floppy, and that's what Dell's downloads
    seem to prefer.)

    It may be just as well that the 2.5" drive was unresponsive in the
    desktop machine. As I recall, Windows gets confused if you have more
    than one Windows program partition in the same machine. So what I
    probably should do, after connecting the 2.5" drive to the desktop
    machine, is to boot the desktop machine from the CD drive, using either
    Knoppix Linux or Drive Image, so as to get the data off without booting
    into Windows.

    Dell is sending a tech to try to fiddle with the mobo some more, but I
    still don't think that's the problem. I've seen several messages
    online indicating that the problem in a situation like this is surely
    with the hard drive. I really don't want it to be the hard drive.

    I see where another guy had this same thing. See
    http://tinyurl.com/72fn3. He didn't confirm whether the hard drive was
    the problem in that case.

    If anyone has any ideas about any of this, I would be very interested
    in hearing them. At any rate, I thought it would be prudent to record
    the details for future reference by myself and others.
    ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005
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  2. ray_woodcock

    Clark Guest

    You can reinstall WinXP and still have your data. Did you try the Repair
    option? Before you try that, make sure which selections to make so you
    won't end up reformatting and destroying your data.

    On the big computer, was the master/slave jumper set correctly? You put it
    in as a slave and booted to your normal hard drive? Is the drive set up
    with FAT32 or NTFS partitions?

    I don't work for these folks, so I am just passing this along, but they seem
    to have a good disk recovery program to possibly get some of your data back.
    I think it is around $100.


    It might help get some back, but if the drive is physically damaged, it
    might not.

    Clark, Aug 7, 2005
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  3. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    Unfortunately, the WinXP CD's Repair option is available only when the
    CD can see the hard drive. I used it to run CHKDSK, as noted above,
    but now it is not seeing the drive at all.

    In the big computer, I tried making it both primary and secondary IDE
    master. In both cases, I tried both master and cable select jumper
    options. In no case did the machine recognize it. The machine did
    boot as usual when I used the usual hard drive as primary master.

    The partitions are mostly NTFS. One is FAT32.

    I've heard good things about SpinRite over the years. But I suspect
    it, too, will not see the drive. When the drive is nonfunctional, not
    even the BIOS sees it.
    ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005
  4. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    Funkiest suggestion yet, from

    Connect the drive up to a desktop as a secondary drive, leave it lay
    outside the machine so that you can get to it and carefully open the
    drive, boot the desktop on the primary drive once the machine gets
    started and the old drive is not spinning gently give it a spin to help
    it get started, if this process works BACK UP YOUR INFO!!! and trash
    the drive.
    ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005
  5. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005
  6. ray_woodcock

    S.Lewis Guest


    "System exchange".

    S.Lewis, Aug 7, 2005
  7. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    Update: I tried the freezer trick. I left it in the freezer for only
    one hour. Being a very thin drive, I felt that an hour would be enough
    to cool it all the way through at least slightly. This did not yield
    any noticeable results; the same error message came up. I suspect what
    is happening, during these days of delay, is not a benefit of cooling.
    Rather, I think, something inside the drive is relaxing or switching

    Note one problem with the freezer trick: in humid climates, the frozen
    drive will draw condensation. You could have electrical shorts --
    could even have a little puddle -- inside your laptop. So after trying
    this, I took out the drive and put it down to warm up and dry out.
    Also, I would think the extreme cold of the freezer could be bad for
    the drive -- might reduce its chances of functioning properly.
    According to the manufacturer's specifications webpage (see
    http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/5k80/5k80.htm), the low end of
    the operating ambient temperature range is 5 degrees centigrade, or
    around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That's fridge temperature, maybe, but
    freezers are obviously below 0 C / 32 F.

    I wondered if the thing that makes the difference is not merely letting
    it sit, or cooling it down; perhaps moving the laptop from one place to
    another, as I did during the past few days of disuse, helps to reseat
    or reposition something. After partly warming the drive, after the
    freezer trick, I shook it and reinserted it. This did not make a

    About flashing the BIOS: I contacted Dell. A Dell support rep
    recommended I pay for DriveSavers. See
    http://www.drivesavers.com/disaster_recovery/index.html. I said Dell
    should pay, since their tech caused the damage. He did not agree. But
    as I look at the DriveSavers page, I see a list of hard drive problems
    that confirms my sense that the hard drive itself may still be
    functional -- because none of the items on that list (e.g., water
    damage, head crash noises) seems to apply, and because Hitachi says
    that a large percentage (40%?) of drives returned to it are actually
    not defunkted. (That wasn't their word.)

    Dell's tech ran me around in circles for a while; then their chat
    service crapped out. So I'm on my own for now, with just two things
    left to try. First is the BIOS update. Without a floppy drive, it has
    not been easy to figure out how to do this. One guy recommends
    UltraISO to add BIOS flash files to a bootable CD; but I see some
    really bad reviews of UltraISO somewhere, so I am reluctant to use
    that. ISOBuster comes well recommended, but it looks complicated.
    Fiddling around, I burn one bootable CD that doesn't actually boot.
    Then I give up on that for now.

    The other thing to try is to go further on the earlier theory of a bad
    motherboard connection. Reposting an interesting suggestion posted in
    alt.sys.pc-clone.dell on 9/2/04:

    *** BEGIN REPOST ***

    IME, this error occurs especially after the hard drive has been
    removed, changed or if the machine has experienced some kind of shock,
    like being dropped.

    What can have happened is that the connector between the hard drive and
    the laptop has become unaligned. There exists a page of instructions
    for dealing with this, though I can't for the life of me find it now,
    but they condense as follows (hire yourself a guy to do this if you're
    not confident about it yourself!)

    1. With the screen closed, remove the 'K' screws on the underside of
    the laptop, and the hard drive's screw on the right side of the laptop.

    2. With the laptop the right way up, carefully open the screen and
    slowly lift up the keyboard at the right hand side.

    3. With care, the keyboard can be laid face down over the left of the
    machine without stressing the connectors attached to it. The hard drive
    to the right is now exposed.

    It may be obvious that the disk drive's connector is not pushed in, or
    it may not. The best advice I've seen on the web is to ensure that it
    fits both the hard drive /and/ the motheboard as closely as possible,
    and so one should remove the hard drive from the bay, then bend the
    caddy around the connector back so when it goes in, it goes all the

    However, on one occasion this didn't work for me. It turned out that my
    connector could be pushed *too far* into the motherboard's slot: I used
    a flat screwdriver to create a little distance between the two, and
    only then did the error messages vanish, and the OS could boot.

    *** END REPOST ***

    I think he should have said, disconnect the power supply and remove the
    battery before starting. Also, the screws on the underside of my
    Inspiron 2200 are labeled P, M (memory), and D (display?), not K. I
    take out every screw in sight, except the M screw, but can't t get at
    the ones under the display. So, not wanting to rip the machine apart,
    I stop this approach at that point.
    ray_woodcock, Aug 7, 2005
  8. ray_woodcock

    forkart Guest

    forkart, Aug 8, 2005
  9. ray_woodcock

    Ben Myers Guest

    Back to basics. If the BIOS cannot see the drive, no way no how will any
    software (Spinrite, etc) be able to see it. The odds are at least 99 to 1 in
    favor of this assertion.

    Possible reasons why the BIOS won't see the drive in a notebook:

    Faulty connection between drive and motherboard
    Faulty motherboard
    Defective drive

    That's about it.

    Possible reasons why the BIOS won't see the drive in a desktop system:

    Defective drive
    faulty connection to motherboard (can't be a bad motherboard, 'cause it works!)
    incorrect jumpering of drive

    If someone is quite experienced at hitching up 2.5" drives to a desktop
    computer, the possibilities narrow down to defective drive or defective drive.

    Why would the drive become defective?

    Failed circuit board
    Failed inner workings inside sealed portion drive (heads, platters etc)

    If the circuit board has failed, it is possible to bring a drive back to life by
    swapping a know good circuit board from an IDENTICAL model of drive. I've done
    this successfully numerous times with normal 3.5" desktop drives, but never with
    a notebook drive.

    Given what the Dell tech did, leaving metal parts boncing around inside the
    computer, the odds are pretty good that the notebook's motherboard has developed
    some flaws when the metal parts made contact with the board.

    Now get back to Dell, escalate the problem, contact your state's consumer
    protection division and raise hell because Dell's incompetent service tech got
    you into this mess and they are responsible for getting you out of it. At the
    same time, assess the value of whatever data and programs are on the drive. If
    it will cost you lots of time and/or money to get your data back, a drive
    recovery service is probably worthwhile, though very pricey. (I'm assuming you
    have the media to reinstall all your important software on a replacement hard
    drive, or that you can download all the software like Acrobat Reader at no

    At this point, the best course of action would seem to be Dell providing an
    entire replacement system, especially if the amount of your own personal and
    valuable information is minimal. Or maybe Dell refunds your money and you go
    your separate ways? ... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Aug 8, 2005
  10. ray_woodcock

    Tweek Guest

    The machine being in hibernation had nothing to do with the hard drive
    problem. When your computer is in hibernation, it is off the same way it is
    off if you had shut it down. All hibernation does is save the contents of
    what is in memory to a file on the hard drive. It then turns the computer
    off. When you power it back up, it loads what is in that file back into main
    memory and leaves you where you left off. If the tech dropped the drive or
    did not handle it properly, he could have damaged it. It also could be that
    its failing is just a coincidence.
    Tweek, Aug 8, 2005
  11. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    I wondered about that. I had run across some posts that led me to
    think there must be more to hibernation than that, but I'm willing to
    take your word for it.

    When the Dell tech shows up -- a different tech -- to replace the
    motherboard, we will see about the possibility of a faulty connection.
    If the drive can't be recognized by either of two motherboards, it's
    got to be the drive and/or the drive's connector.

    It being a brand-new drive that had just passed Hitachi's thorough disk
    diags and Norton Disk Doctor, I have to think the tech screwed up the
    drive while replacing the motherboard, though I don't see how. It did
    function intermittently thereafter, and even passed a thorough Hitachi
    diag thereafter. Very confusing. Hitachi is ready to replace it,
    anyway. The sticking point is the data recovery. That, I guess, is
    where the advice about the state consumer protection office will become
    particularly useful.

    Thanks again, all of you.

    ray_woodcock, Aug 9, 2005
  12. ray_woodcock

    Tom Scales Guest

    I am hopeful that it will work for you. I doubt, however, that even if it
    is trashed, the state is going to help you. First you would have to have
    pretty concrete proof that the tech broke it. Removing a drive while the
    machine is hibernated, as has been said in a previous post, wouldn't hurt
    the drive. Been there, done that.

    Even worse, I bet the warranty is very clear about Dell and the tech not
    being responsible even if your computer caught fire during the repair and
    the tech was standing over it with a lit blowtorch.

    Not defending Dell, just the facts in our society.

    Tom Scales, Aug 9, 2005
  13. You could also try mounting the bum HDD in an external housing and skip
    the spinning up by hand. I saved a HDD that way after it failed SMART
    tests at bootup right out of the blue. Apparently they're not done on
    external drives.
    Sparky Spartacus, Aug 9, 2005
  14. ray_woodcock

    ray_woodcock Guest

    That is a really interesting idea. I wonder if I can make it work.
    Partly to protect against future problems of this sort, I just ordered
    an external USB enclosure. I already have the 3.5" to 2.5" adapter.
    Lacking another hard drive to replace it with, I guess the idea would
    be to boot Windows XP from the CD (though I'm not presently sure which
    CD to use) and hope that (a) it would see the USB connection to the
    2.5" HDD and (b) it would recognize the wireless adapter, so as to
    transfer data from the external 2.5" drive to another computer.

    Or I wonder if Knoppix Linux can do this. It is a pretty
    self-contained CD, but does anyone know whether it can see XP USB and
    wireless stuff?

    Or would I have to buy a second HDD to take its place inside the
    machine, install Windows on that drive, boot from that drive, and
    transfer data to that drive?
    ray_woodcock, Aug 10, 2005
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