Q

After I installed a second hard drive, my BIOS won't see ANY hard drives. Is this a Windows 2000 iss

I have a Dell Dimension XPS B866r Desktop with 384 RAM, CD-RW, DVD, WD 40 gig HD and Promise Ultra 100 ATA PCI Controller, all as OEM. Although the unit came with WIN98 installed, I upgraded to Win 2000 about 5 months ago, with no problems. Yesterday, I attempted to install a second hard drive, a WD 100 gig unit. FYI - for as long as Win2000 has been on this unit, I have received an error message related to the Ultra Controller, but...

it was undefined and has never seemed to affect system performance. I run many apps at once, and perform lots of large file (shn music files) downloads, with no problems.

After physically installing the WD 100 and connecting it to the second IDE interface on the controller card, I rebooted with no problem. Using W2k Disk Mgr, I formatted the second drive as dynamic disk with NTFS. The OEM disk, formatted as FAT32, was partioned into 3 logical disks, with OS in one, apps in one and files in one. Second drive formatted fine and seemed fully functional. I began to copy a folder containg about 15 gigs of MP3 and SHN files to the new drive. Midway thru the process, without any warning, my machine rebooted. I looked at the files, sysinfo and event log and found nothing noteworthy (same error msg abt Ultra, otherwise nothing new). I restarted the copy process. Shortly thereafter, the machine blue screened, with this error msg: Kernel_Stack_Inpage_Error 00000077, 1, 0xB180491C, 00000000, 0xB9F1A930. I rebooted and began trouble shooting this problem. The BIOS did not show any hard drives installed. The third partition of the OEM drive, which contained the music files I had been copying now showed as empty and unformatted; the other two partitions looked OK. The new drive showed the files that had been copied. Thinking that the problem was the PCI cables, I unattached and reattached them and rebooted. At this time the machine showed no hard drives and would not reboot. Unfortunately, I did not create an Emergency Repair Disk beforehand. The OEM drive contain a lot (25 gig) of hard to get music files that I do not want to lose, in addition to a very comprehensive set op apps that would take many days to reinstall. I know all of it is still there, the question is how do I get the PC to recognize the hard disk. I am very adept with Win2k and day to day hardware issues, but am obviously much less familiar with the details of hard drives, PCI controller cards, PCI buses/cables, as well as their BIOS configuration details. In priority, my objectives are:
1) Recover/preserve the music files on the OEM drive
2) If possible, reconnect/reinstall/ the OEM hard drive without losing the OS, apps and music files.
3) Complete the successful install of the second hard disk.

Please advise. If I need to get local assistance, please recommend a service provider.
The is one wicked problem you have there. The problem is basically that connectivity or information on the disks is not accesible. If the BIOS does not see the drives, it would make me wonder if the controller had not failed. IF you have another controller card you may want to try that. Since you had recevied previous errors regarding the controller I am further suspecting the controller. The Promise Ultra 100 does have a BIOS/Firmware update posted on the Promise technology web site. Applying the firmware update may help restore connectivity to the drives, provided the controller itself is still operational. If the you have another system, you can more the drives to the other system to see if the data is still there. Of course, if the primary partition is screwed on the drives then you will have difficulty access the data on the disks. There are some companies that can access the hard drives and retrieve the data. That could run into some big dollars, so you will have to weight that against how valuable the data is to you. WWW.SYSINTERNALS.COM also has a tool to access the drives of dead system via a serial connection - interesting, but I am not sure if it will work in this case.

One company that I have used in the past is OnTrack www.ontrack.com. They can even repair the drives over a modem or internet connection in some cases.

This was first published in October 2001

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