Problem with restoring hardware on laptop

By Jacob Kobryn
Aug 22, 2010
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  1. I need help with my laptop, which is a Compaq Presario.

    I replaced the hard drive a few months ago, and I installed Windows XP onto it. It worked fine for a while but then, for whatever reason, it began to say "This copy of Windows must be activated before use. Activate now?" When you click, "OK," it said, "Windows has already been activated." When you clicked ok after then, it brings you back the beginning. It was a never-ending repetition...

    So I decided to just start from scratch on my computer and restore everything. I put in this compaq restore CD that I found in my house and did everything the CD said to do. Towards the end of the CD process (at like 98%) it said "Too many errors found, restore must halt." And then it stopped. My computer restarted itself and it didn't go back to the "Windows must be activated, etc." but rather went to the screen that displays the different start up options. When it went to load normally, or in smart-mode, etc it wasn't able to load. This is expected...

    I put in the Windows XP CD to attempt to install it onto the computer. After the set up window loaded, and I clicked install, it came up with message, "Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed on your computer." Obviously, seeing as I just installed a new hard drive, there is a hard drive on the computer.

    Please help me out. I need to get this laptop working by the end of the week.

    Thank you.
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    It sounds like the hard disc is a SATA disc, which XP's installer will struggle to find without the correct hard disc controller file. I'm not quite sure how you managed to install from the first XP CD to be honest!

    Did you try cleaning the Compaq restore CD, and then installing it again?

    P.S. Telling us (if this is what you are saying) that you effectively cracked your activation isn't the best idea - Its illegal! ;)
  3. Jacob Kobryn

    Jacob Kobryn TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Where do I get a hard disc controller file? This hard drive didn't come with one.
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    Its manufacturer specific.

    Go to your laptop manufacturer's website, head to support, key in your laptop model number etc, and it will then present you with the drivers specific for your OS and hardware. You want the .inf hard disc controller driver.

    You then have two choices: You slipstream the driver into the XP install using software like nLite, or you can add the driver to the floppy disc (or bootable memory stick setup as a virtual floppy) and add it by pressing F6 as the XP setup starts.
  5. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,681   +86

    Leeky rightly pointed out that XP won't see SATA HDD, but there is a way to circumvent the driver requirement, i.e. if your BIOS support IDE Emulation (or something similar, because all vendors just love make things miserable for users by naming things differently) for SATA hard drives. You will need to consult your BIOS manual for that, if it does, simply turn it on and XP setup CD should be able to see your HDD and install normally. Regards
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116


    Thank you for also pointing that out - I often forget this, and its by far the easiest available option if BIOS lists it. :)
  7. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,681   +86

    You are most welcome, also for Vista/Win7 you can always switch ACHI mode with a simple registry tweak, unfortunately I am not sure you can do it on XP, may be I'll try to do that in XP on a virtual machine and see what happens lol.
  8. Jacob Kobryn

    Jacob Kobryn TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I installed the only programs I could find on the Seagate website. Neither were an INF file. Upon putting the flash drive into my laptop, it didn't load any of those programs, but rather found my flash drive as the only possible hard drive. This computer simply doesn't recognize the hard drive at all!
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    Does your BIOS show up the SATA support heading, or words to that effect, with AHCI, SATA and ATA or other options like Archean said above?

    Also, whats the model number of your Compaq Presario? I'll see if I can hunt the driver down.

    Regarding the usb flash drive - It needs to be formatted and setup as a floppy disc in order to successfully use at the boot prompt. This is often considerably harder to achieve than just streaming the driver into an nLite disc.

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