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  1. #1
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Windows Geek Wanted

    So, there I was, some time ago actually, maybe early July? Anyway, there I was minding my own business when my Win2k machine starts giving me headaches booting. At the time I really didn't have time to futz with it, but I did need to work with some data on the hard drive. So I did what anyone would do: I unplugged the hard drive & put it in my girlfriend's computer as a slave & went on my merry way.

    Now, I do have a little more time on my hands, so I'm back to diagnosing the original problem. I've got it to the point where it'll boot - mostly. I can get into the BIOS setup & whatnot, but when it goes to start Windows, it says 'Operating System not Found on Disk.' Or something reasonably close to that.

    What now? I do have the Win2k install disk, but I really really don't want to reinstall the OS, all the patches, etc. Can I recover from the install disk? Some cob-web filled corner of my brain is telling me that when I plugged that drive in as a slave on the other box the bootloader got overwritten or something, which is why it doesn't look like an OS is on there. Or am I making that up?

  2. #2
    Senior Member jdtschida's Avatar
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    Sounds like you could have some bad sectors and physical damage to the disk. First thing you should do ASAP is get all your data off the disk and onto DVD or something for backup.

    When you boot from the Windows CD, you may be able to do a repair of the installation, but I doubt it. I'd suggest just sucking it up and attempt a full re-install. Ya, I know the time sucks, but that's what I'd do.

    You may still run into the drive being bad, in which case you might want to just go out and buy a new hard drive and re-install Windows on that, then maybe keep the old one as a slave in your computer.

    I see you suggested maybe that the bootloader got messed up. I highly doubt it if you just plugged it in as a slave. Maybe if you had re-installed Windows on the master drive on the other system while this one was the slave, that could mess it up, but just reading data off of it isn't going to mess it up.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jdtschida's Avatar
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    Also, when you get your data backed up, go to the drive manufacturer's website and download their diagnostic tools. You can create a bootable floppy or maybe CD with those tools and test the drive. That will help quickly determine if it is bad.

  4. #4
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdtschida
    Sounds like you could have some bad sectors and physical damage to the disk. First thing you should do ASAP is get all your data off the disk and onto DVD or something for backup.

    When you boot from the Windows CD, you may be able to do a repair of the installation, but I doubt it. I'd suggest just sucking it up and attempt a full re-install. Ya, I know the time sucks, but that's what I'd do.

    You may still run into the drive being bad, in which case you might want to just go out and buy a new hard drive and re-install Windows on that, then maybe keep the old one as a slave in your computer.

    I see you suggested maybe that the bootloader got messed up. I highly doubt it if you just plugged it in as a slave. Maybe if you had re-installed Windows on the master drive on the other system while this one was the slave, that could mess it up, but just reading data off of it isn't going to mess it up.

    If anything, this will hasten a conversion to Linux, I've been meaning to, but have been too lazy.

    On the bootloader thing, the XP box has the Auto Windows Update thing going on; I wonder if that may have done something. The drive was in that box for 6 weeks or so, including the last wave of critical updates for XP.

  5. #5
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdtschida
    Also, when you get your data backed up, go to the drive manufacturer's website and download their diagnostic tools. You can create a bootable floppy or maybe CD with those tools and test the drive. That will help quickly determine if it is bad.

    Ok. Good idea. I'm a little hamstrung, as her machine is at the old house & it seems like my CDR/W is the piece of hardware that gave up the ghost. Grrr.

  6. #6
    Senior Member nick burns's Avatar
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    I agree with the other poster that you may have a damaged drive. If it were mine, I'd buy a new HD as they're pretty cheap these days, install your OS on it, and set the old drive as a slave to retrieve data off it.

    With a reasonably fast internet connection the patches for W2K won't take all that long to download & install. Now if you're dialup, that's another story...

  7. #7
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Do you have another computer you can test the drive in? Put it in as a slave in another computer and run some diagnostic tools on it?

    Hey Nick Burns....great avatar, Sleestack boy!!
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  8. #8
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    From now on, it's all Seagate disks for me. 5 year warranty and just about the same $.

  9. #9
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Update!

    DSA problem #1: forgetting which plug was which on the motherboard & having HD plugged into secondary IDE slot, optical drives in primary. reversed those & made some progress.

    Still had goofy errors like 'Floppy drive wrong type.' so unplugged it & told BIOS not to look for one.

    Still had occasional 'operating system not found' error & found BIOS was searching for removable media first, then hard drive (but both on primary IDE). Changed that to only look at hard drives & it seems to be working.

    So I'm back to no floppy drive, which is no big loss, but also no CDR/W which bites.

    But I CAN boot from the CD drive, which means knoppix works. I guess I'm one step closer to dumping windows entirely. (even though this problem was 100% hardware & firmware, not software)

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    boot-sector virus...

  11. #11
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    Still had occasional 'operating system not found' error & found BIOS was searching for removable media first, then hard drive (but both on primary IDE). Changed that to only look at hard drives & it seems to be working.
    Don't quite "get that". It shouldn't hose up if it finds no bootable media in the drive.


    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    So I'm back to no floppy drive, which is no big loss, but also no CDR/W which bites.
    How is it all configured now? What is on primary and secondary IDE busses and what is on each master and slave? Do you have dip switches on all devices set appropriately (for master or slave)?


    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    (even though this problem was 100% hardware & firmware, not software)
    Firmware/BIOS is software....that just happens to be loaded in EEPROM. LOL
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  12. #12
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    Still had goofy errors like 'Floppy drive wrong type.' so unplugged it & told BIOS not to look for one.
    Uh, what kind of motherboard do you have? Most BIOS settings are editable. Hit <DEL> or <F1> or <F2> on the initial start-up screen and you get into the BIOS. Set floppy-drive to 3-1/2" 1.44mb and you're fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    Still had occasional 'operating system not found' error & found BIOS was searching for removable media first, then hard drive (but both on primary IDE). Changed that to only look at hard drives & it seems to be working.

    So I'm back to no floppy drive, which is no big loss, but also no CDR/W which bites.

    But I CAN boot from the CD drive, which means knoppix works. I guess I'm one step closer to dumping windows entirely. (even though this problem was 100% hardware & firmware, not software)
    Most modern BIOSs can also select which device to boot from as well: IDE-0, IDE-1, IDE-2, CD-ROM, floppy, ZIP, etc. Regardless of which cable-position you have, you should still be able to boot from the single hard-drive you have in the system. For now, put the HD and CD-ROM on separate ribbon cables so there's no master/slave conflicts. Set them both to master, although WD drives have a 3rd setting of "single" drive (master w/o slave). Put the HD cable on the main IDE channel, the CD-ROM on the secondary IDE.

    Pick IDE-0 in your BIOS ( or 1st-hard d rive, terms different between different BIOS manfuacturers). If it still won't boot from form the HD, boot from a WinXP CD-ROM (or WIn2000 if that's what you're using) and go through the set-up process. At some point, you'll have the option to REPAIR your windows installation. Pick that and you're offered several repair options. Check ON only the "repair boot-sector" option and that should be it. Windows makes a copy of the boot-sector in a file called "bootsec.bak" on the 1st installation. This is then used to restore your boot-sector in case you end up with situations like this.

  13. #13
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Just to clarify a little.....when you put devices on the ribbon cable, the "end" of the cable is where the "master" device goes, the middle connection is for the "slave". Hard drives and optical drives have dip switches to set their operation mode....either set directly to master or slave or in some cases there is a "cable select" mode or something like that to choose. If "cable select" is an option, then use that - it sets the device to operate in whatever mode its plugged in as (e.g. its like an "auto" mode).
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Also cable-select only works with an 80-pin ribbon cable...

  15. #15
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Yeah, like I said, its working now. Fine, BIOS is software, not firmware; I was trying to indicate that its not an OS problem, but something below that in the stack.

    Primary IDE - one hard drive, on end of cable, dip switch set to master. Secondary IDE one CD drive, on end of cable, dip switch set to cable-select.

    Motherboard is by Intel, apparently a custom one for Dell, circa 1998. Updated the bios 2+ years ago, when I updated the processor.

    The problem does not seem to be a boot-sector problem, because with the BIOS setting changes, the boot problem has gone away. There was another menu (i.e. not where the IDE settings are) that I used to change the HD setting; I could be misremembering, but thought it was looking for removable media on the primary IDE. It does not now & the 'could not find OS' problem went away. I can boot to Win2k on the HD or anything else via CD ROM.

  16. #16
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    Have you had this computer since circa 1998 too? Could be the CMOS battery needs to be replaced...that can cause all kinds of funky problems.

    (Snicker)...I mean Firmware, in general, is software. LOL Just picking for fun...don't get your hair in a knot.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  17. #17
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite
    Have you had this computer since circa 1998 too? Could be the CMOS battery needs to be replaced...that can cause all kinds of funky problems.

    (Snicker)...I mean Firmware, in general, is software. LOL Just picking for fun...don't get your hair in a knot.

    When the wind blows, my hair knots. Knots create knots?

    I'm going with the theory that the CDR/W crapped out on me, then after swapping the hard drive out & back in got the IDE cables into the wrong slots on the MB which screwed things up. Battery is a good idea to keep in mind though, if goofy stuff crops up again.

  18. #18
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, yeah, I bought it new in 97 or 98. Pretty hot machine at the time, 350mhz!! Been slowly adding stuff to keep it up to date - memory, 1.4ghz processor, CDR/W, more disk, etc. It may be nearing retirement however...

  19. #19
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    lol. Yar, they have these new fangled 3ghz 64-bit processor thingamajiggers. Me, I'd rather write it down on paper. At least i dont' have to worry about a battery dieing or a wire getting crossed.
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
    "Stop Ruining my joke!", "No, a joke implies humor attached at no additional cost"
    So many sayings, so little sig space.

  20. #20
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    I'm a semi-cheap bastard, such that if I have something that works, its hard to throw it away. Especially because it was expensive when new. Sure its outclassed by $500 computers now, but 7 years ago it was HOT.

  21. #21
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    I know the feeling. I still have my first self-bought computers
    Compaq 233mhz 32mb of ram
    Gateway P3 750 256mb of ram
    I now use an AMD XP 1800 1.5gb of ram and a P4 2.4ghz 512mb ram and some day when they get the deal sorted out on Dual Core, 64-bit and PCI-Express, I will buy a new machine with these features.
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
    "Stop Ruining my joke!", "No, a joke implies humor attached at no additional cost"
    So many sayings, so little sig space.

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