New HDD; XP install hangs, MaxBlast & PowerMax don't work

By ukdavid
May 25, 2006
  1. Hi all, this is my first post. My old HDD drive failed and I bought two 20gb HDD's from Ebay - supposedly new. When installing XP it hangs up after about five minutes, it never gets as asking how I want the drives formatted. I then booted with a MaxBlast install disk to do the formatting but get a 'No active partition' message. Per Maxtor, I tried booting with a PowerMax floppy disk to do a low level format but get the same message. I don't know how to research or fix this problem.

    Could the drive already be formatted? But why would that stop the XP install?

    The drives are connected to the same IDE controller and are both jumpered as 'cable select' and the BIOS sees both drives.

    Can anyone help? Thanks, David
  2. WinDoWsMoNoPoLy

    WinDoWsMoNoPoLy TS Rookie Posts: 252

    What kind of packaging were the Hard drives in when you got them? Have you waved any magnets near them? lol. "No active partition" would mean there are no partition and it would be read as "unpartitioned space" and should definitely be formatable.

    Try setting one as Master and the other as Slave on the jumpers.
    Also, what brand/speed are they?
  3. resu

    resu TS Rookie Posts: 172

    I doubt they are of any use tbh.. with HDDs you should really buy new unless you know where they've come from! £30 for an 80gb HDD new is an awesome price i use
    At least they are easier to return if they break
    i suggest send em back and buy new but not from ebay
  4. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    WindowsMonopoly - they were not in a manufacturers box and I got nothing else except the drive. Not sure now if it was in an anti-static bag or not. The Master is a Maxtor Fireball 541DX, the slave, a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8. Bought them both from the same company. they're both ATA100, 5400rpm. Thanks for your quick reply.
  5. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Resu - I'm not in the UK anymore, although half of my heart is.
    I'm thinking you're probably right. In $'s a new drive is cheap. I was being cheap by not wanting to spend anything on a 5 yr old PC unless I had to. The place where I got the drives from jerked me around so much that they sent me a 2nd drive free(that's why I've got two) and they eventually refunded all my money. It cost me a lot though to get the data off my old drive onto CD's because my wife just HAD to have some of her work stuff and couldn't/wouldn't wait. Thanks for your quick reply too.
  6. WinDoWsMoNoPoLy

    WinDoWsMoNoPoLy TS Rookie Posts: 252

    Man i would just ditch them lol. 5400rpm is ancient, and slow. You can get a new Western Digital 40gig 7200rpm for under 50 dollars, possibly with a rebate to make it even cheaper. I've always stuck with Western Digital HDs.
    But back to the problem.

    You said your old HD failed, what proof do you have that it was FOR SURE your HD? Just because a HD won't read doesn't mean it is the HD failing. Check IDE, PSU, pretty much any cables in your PC for damage. Pretty much unplug all of them and look at the plugs to see if there is any sign of short.(ie. melted plastic, black spots from burning). It will be very obvious if there is.

    Also do you have a fully functional computer that you can use? I'm guessing you have another computer that your posting from. Hook one or both of your HDs as slave in a working machine and see if it detects it.

    Was your computer off when you plugged in the HDs? Sorry to ask questions like that but people do do this.

    And if they weren't in static resitant packaging it is very possible they did get fried. Depending on where they came from and how far they traveled. Those packages go through alot of scanning. Also if they weren't i would contact the person you got them from and ask for a refund for their stupidity.
  7. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well actually my old HDD is OK, it was a system file that got corrupted and Win 2000 would not come up, I couldn't find any of my software becaused we moved a couple of years ago. A shop I took the PC to could not fix the problem. That drive is only 4, 5 or 6gb and I didn't want to reuse it. I'll go to today and see what they have. Thanks.
  8. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The real error message

    Hi all,
    I think my floppy drive wasn't connected properly. I disconnected and reconnected the ribbon cable. Now when I boot with MaxBlast this is displayed:
    Starting Caldera DR-DOS...
    Extended memory manager V1.0.5
    Copyright (c) 2001 ONTRACK Data International Inc.
    XMS Manager installed.

    VDISK R1.3 Virtual Disk Drive
    Copyright (c) 1988, 1989 Caldera, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Virtual disk drive : D: (6000kb, 512 bytes, 512 entries)

    Bad or missing ACTCD.sys file.
    Please press any key to continue ...

    Of course, this file is present on the floppy disk.
    When I press Continue:

    Bad or missing command interpreter.
    Please enter a valid filename (eg. C:\COMMAND.COM),
    or just press ENTER to retry.

    I compared this to my old WD drive. This drive has Win2000 on it but there is corruption to a system file and it won't boot.
    I downloaded Western Digitals version of the MaxBlast disk and booted from it with the WD hard drive installed.
    I got exactly the same messages.

    I'm now lead to believe that maybe the Maxtor HDD is OK after all, but I'm still at a complete loss as to what the problem is. I know I could spend $25 and get it looked at, but I want to figure it out, with help of course, from you guys.
    Does anyone have ideas on this?
    Thanks, David
  9. WinDoWsMoNoPoLy

    WinDoWsMoNoPoLy TS Rookie Posts: 252

    Do a file search on another computer for actcd.sys and mscdex.exe and put them both on the floppy. I know it may be on there but it may differ from the one on the computer.
  10. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Back to the beginning!!

    (WinDoWsMoNoPoLy - thanks for your reply).
    I managed to get the use of another PC and by installing my drives as slaves was able to format them. Put them back in my PC and booted with the XP CD. After a few minutes of copying over files and drivers the install stops displaying "Setup is installing Windows". There's no activity at the CD drive or the hard drive. This is where I started this at. Can the hard drive really be bad? I can try another XP disk tonight. If that doesn't work where do I go. I don't mind getting a new HDD, but I'd be sick if the problem was something else. I'll give an update tomorrow. Thanks, David
  11. ukdavid

    ukdavid TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'm throwing in the towel

    After playing around with the ram and removing one stick, XP installed to within 1 min. of completion and then rebooted!! Couldn't get install to run on this disk again. Used my slave HD as master and started again. Got near the end of the install and the HD started clicking loudly and got the BSOD. So I'm done with this PC. It's just not worth swapping everything out. Is it the HD's, the RAM, the PSU; I just don't know or care anymore. I now have a similar system from my stepson which is a little newer - only need to add a modem. Thanks everybody for your help. David
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