WinXP machine searching for non-existent floppy

I am running Windows XP professional on my home machine. About a month ago it started to look for a non-existent floppy in the A: drive whenever the machine booted, and at odd intervals throughout the day. The sound of the attempted read drives me nuts. How do I counter this?
For one, check to make sure there's no A: drive enabled in the machine's BIOS. If you have it set to recognize a floppy drive in BIOS when there isn't one that might be causing the problem. (Windows has to resort to information in BIOS to detect certain kinds of non-plug-and-play hardware, including the floppy drive).

I've also found that some motherboards with the Intel 850E chipset have floppy problems when Windows XP Service...

Pack 1 is used on them; the solution there is to add Service Pack 2 if you haven't already.

This was first published in August 2005

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