CD drive not recognized, weird random startup errors

By activei
Apr 6, 2006
  1. Hi, new guy here... I was browsing through the web to fix this problem, found many alternatives, tried a few and still got issues...

    I had an old Dell Dimension 8100 with 4 IDE devices. 2 hard drives on the primary ribbon, master/slave, both 40 gig, no problems accessing any of those. 2 cd read/write drives on the secondary ribbon, master/slave. 768 megs of RAM. BIOS = A08. Windows XP SP2 Home edition.

    When I boot up, I often get errors scroll past when its hitting the BIOS prior to going to the boot devices. Sometimes it will tell me the amount of RAM has changed, but in the past few months, that has gone away. Often I don't get any errors at all. Reinstalling Windows didn't affect this.

    Just recently, it tells me consistently:

    Secondary hard disk drive 0 not found
    Secondary hard disk drive 1 not found

    When I go into Windoze, neither cd drive shows up in the Win Explorer. So I shutdown, started up with a new BIOS on a floppy, as was recommended on the Dell site, moving from A08 to the XP2 BIOS. No problems flashing the BIOS, so I shutdown/startup:

    Secondary hard disk drive 1 not found

    So I F2 -> setup. Both hard drives are ok, the 1st cd drive shows up ok, but the 2nd one doesn't, its set to 'AUTO'. Save, exit...

    When I go into Windoze, the first cd drive shows up in the Windoze Explorer, but the second one doesn't. Sometimes I am able to go into the Add Hardware tool in the Control Panel, sometimes it will recognize the CD drive as a new device, sometimes it doesn't know what to do with it at all.

    Pressing the eject button on the first cd drive, it opens & closes just fine.
    Pressing the eject button on the second cd drive, it doesn't react at all. The rare time that the drive shows up on the Win Explorer, I am able to right click on the drive letter and choose eject, so thats hopeful at least. So its getting some kind of messages sent to it, although XP doesn't know what to treat the device as.

    Inside the box, I double checked the ribbons, all were connected just fine, as were the power connections. No wires handing loose, nothing out of the ordinary. The master/slave settings I double checked, these are fine too. I haven't modified anything inside the PC hardware-wise in about a year. Unless you count swabbing out dust with a q-tip. :)

    Any ideas? Did I get the wrong BIOS version? Power issues? Maybe just assemble a new PC altogether? :)

  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    when you get errors on your POST - you are having hardware issues. Clean the inside of your computer with compressed air (be sure to ground yourself always and unplugg it). Reseat all your cards and RAM.

    There are many potenetial issues

    dust bunnies causing a short
    card(s) loose - reseat all cards
    PSU going bad
    memory going bad (test with memtest 86+) from a floppy drive
    motherboard failing (see if there are any bulging or leaking capacitors)
  3. activei

    activei TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sounds logical. I had a thick layer of kitty litter dust inside the machine that I had to clean out with q-tips, kleenex, etc. Lesson learned - never use a shop-vac to clean up cat litter, your room will turn foggier than a Greatful Dead concert. The fan has been making a really nasty grinding type of sound as well. The RAM sticks are only a year old, but I've had hard drives completely crash on me in less time than that. I hate dealing with hardware inside the PC, but this adventure might help me get over that...or make it worse. :) Thanks for the info!
  4. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    Dell is also infamous for there ide ports going bad
    they write bad bios's this is an attempt to make sure you keep there spyware on the machine
    you keep gettings such errors dump the dell board get a asus or epox and a xp pro OS.
    be careful with the compresed air thing don't use a air compresser line use the little can
    the power from compressed air line will blow something off the board oit loosen it
    the best method is reverse vacuum hose for normal cleaning
    fo a good scrub
    you would have to take the machine apart and wash everything
    thats another long discussion
  5. activei

    activei TS Rookie Topic Starter

    > they write bad bios's this is an attempt to make sure
    > you keep there spyware on the machine

    Wow man...pretty hefty claim there! Got any evidence to back it up?
    For cleaning it, I tossed all the pieces in the dishwasher. :) haha just jokin. I didn't go too crazy, just qtips, the compressed air thing just pushes the dirt around, or blows up a dust storm, its like using a gas leaf blower instead of just raking them up & getting rid of them!

    Right now I don't have the patience or the time to get a new motherboard and reassemble a pc from scratch, and I know the power supply blows, so I'll start with that, since I can drop by Factory Direct & pick one up for less than 20 bucks.

    I've found that the simple act of nudging a RAM stick or taking it out & plugging it back in works, but these little things seem like quick fixes for a much bigger problem, cheap hardware. Given the massive amount of downtime I've had in my studio caused by my PC over the past few years, building a new one from scratch will always be an option in the long run.
  6. activei

    activei TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Generic PSUs don't work with the Dell 8100 towers. Any idea where I can buy a Dell-tower-compatible PSU of the same wattage/amp level?
  7. g33k

    g33k TS Rookie

    i had same thing ahappen to me!

    a while bak i had the same thing happen 2 me...all i did was reverse the instead of using the master on drive "1", i used it on drive "2"...just an worked for me...
  8. activei

    activei TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I think I tried that already.

    The two devices it complains about are the 2 cd drives on the secondary slot. I tried switching them around so the cd drives were on the primary slot and the hard drives were on the secondary slot, then it complained that it couldn't recognize the devices on the primary slot! I tried switching the power plugs around, that didn't affect it. The end result is that, while in Win XP, my second cd drive usually doesn't show up or have power, so its got to be a power issue .

    I've been told that you can only get DELL PSUs from DELL, they run 5x to 10x the price of regular ones, and 10 minutes of being on the phone with DELL tech support was a very frustrating and futile experience...I think building my own pc is more & more tempting now, since I've already got most of the hardware devices I need. My work PC & laptop are faster than my studio PC, thats no good.
  9. g33k

    g33k TS Rookie

    nice.. worked for not enough pixie dust in the universe to fix a Dell..:D
  10. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    DUDE, you got a DUD. DELL is notorious for using proprietary junk to include memory.
    Don't buy a DELL and expect to use 3rd party aftermarket stuff.
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