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"Error loading operating system . . ." and black DOS screen with cursor?

By roweski
Aug 19, 2007
Topic Status:
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  1. Hi, i just completed a new build for my parents and the last peice to come was a 160gb maxtor hard drive. No accompanying CD's etc, just came in a jiffy bag. I hook it up, run xp pro setup disk, and when i restart, an error appears just after the bios loading screens.

    I do some research and aparrently there needs to be some fiddeling in the bios. I need to change the IDE hard drive settings from 'Auto' to 'Large'. Except the cheapo motherboard i bought for the build [Elitegroup ECS 945gzt-m] doesn't have that option. So i muck about with the settings and try a few different things. Nothing seems to work.
    Then all of a sudden, when i boot i get just a black screen with a white cursor prompt, ala MS-DOS.

    I have tried hitting F8 for the boot menu and loading the CD-ROM, and the Hard drive; but nada. Again nothing works.

    Any ideas on how to get out of this mess?


    Set-up:
    Pentium D 2.66
    ECS 945gzt-m motherboard
    Maxtor 160gb hard drive, diamond seris
  2. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    reset the motherboard bios - check the manual to find the jumper to do this.
    restart. press f8 and check to see if the new hdd is showing on the list - if not it is probably bad (especially if it was shipped to you in a jiffy bag!).
    Is this a SATA or PATA drive?
    Set the bios to optimum settings if there is an option. Auto should cover the drive settings as 160Gb almost standard.
    If the hdd is showing, reboot and run the XP install routine. If it can't install to the drive you have it will tell you that is the reason it can't go further.
  3. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Reset the motherboard by taking the battery out and replacing it; but still nothing. The drive is PATA by the way, and uses an IDE connection.

    The pc just goes through the bios loading thing and then the screen stays black and a cursor appears: "_"
  4. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Reboot and go into the BIOS. Check that the hard drive is there - if not check all connections and if in doubt replace the 80 core ribbon cable. Reboot. If the drive is present and it still does not load windows you may have to go through the install routine again.
  5. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Okay, still nothing. I have replaced the ribbon cable with one from a computer i know is working fine. Nada.

    As for booting from DVD. That doesn't even work. I get the same DOS-like screen.

    Any ideas?
  6. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Can you see the hard drive and DVD drives in the BIOS?
  7. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Yeah. I can select them in boot mode too. But i still go to the same screen.
  8. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Check the boot order in the BIOS - list the DVD drive first?
    I'm beginning to think the board may be bad.
  9. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    No. But it was. I tried to mix it up a little see if i could get anything to boot.
    Is there anything else i can try; i don't really want to send the board back if i can help it . . .
  10. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Disconnect the DVD drive and see if the machine tried to boot from the hard drive? You should get a message saying the operating system is not found.
    Does the system pass the POST?
  11. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    No. I don't get an error message, just boots to the same screen . . . :(
     
  12. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    How many beeps when the system starts up?
  13. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    No beeps; but the speaker cable for the case inside isn't plugged in. That shouldn't affect it though, right?
  14. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    This would not stop the boot, but connect it and tell me how many beeps you get, please.
  15. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    just one. .
  16. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    I just posted a reply to this and it ain't there!
  17. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    :s wierd :s
  18. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    What did you say in it?
  19. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Damn - it has just done it again!
    Third time lucky.
    One beep is good. This means the board, the RAM and the graphics are all working - but not necessarily working properly.
    If you can see the drives in the BIOS and it won't boot, it means that the boot sequence cannot find bootable media.
    First try booting from the windows install CD on another machine - just boot, don't do anything else. Power off once the boot from the CD has started.
    Disconnect the hard drive and insert the windows boot CD into the DVD drive. Reboot, and if necessary set the BIOS to boot from the DVD first.
    If it fails to boot, and you have reset the BIOS to kill any BIOS infection, I think you need a new board. Sorry.
  20. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    I disconnected the hard drive and Windows XP setup starts. What does this mean?
  21. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Excellent - this means that things are not as bad as we thought.
    I think maybe that the hard drive is faulty (which is what I said in the beginning but nobody likes a smartarse) due to transit damage.
    Tell me how you have cabled the DVD drive and the hard drive? Are they master and slave on the same I/O cable?
  22. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    They are master and slave on the same cable [HDD - black connector; DVD - grey]
    The pins are set as cable select also.
  23. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    OK, so use that other ribbon cable you said you had and put one on each. Connect the hdd to the first drive connector (check with the board manual if not sure) and the DVD to the second.
    Reboot and what happens?
  24. roweski

    roweski TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Trouble is the motherboard is cheap [its only meant for surfing the web and letters] and only has one IDE port on it.
    I've ordered a IDE-SATA converter dongle from ebuyer, that should be here in a few days.
    Would it be worth testing the HDD in another computer, see if it is the HDD or the motherboard?
  25. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,712

    Having been round the houses with this one, I am back with a bad hdd. If you can, connect the hdd to another pc and see what happens. Better still, get another hdd and connect that.
    Before that, one last possibility - set the jumpers on the hard drive to master and the jumper on the DVD to slave and reconnect the cable. You may need to peer at the hdd to find out how to set this. If that fails, I stick to my opinion that the drive is dead. Sorry.
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