After rebooting, the BIOS registered my primary HD as a slave drive?

By benweiss
Feb 6, 2007
  1. Howard,

    I am officially in trouble. Last evening, I came home to discover my computer frozen on my desktop. After rebooting, the BIOS registered my primary HD as a slave drive (IDE 1 - slave, with primary empty) followed by a message stating that the computer couldn't boot the OS.

    I ran the Windows XP CD to the recovery console and found that I could not do anything with my C: drive (i.e. 'dir' came back with an error). My other HDs are not bootable, and somewhat full, so I have decided to purchase a new HD and do a clean install. As for the OS, since my XP was an upgrade from a few yrs back, and I no longer have 98, I have purchased Vista Home Premium, in the hopes that a clean install of the new HD and new OS will solve some of my headaches.

    Any thoughts on the future of my C:? The drive is less than 2 yrs old and is a fairly standard 300GB Western Digital 7200 RPM 8MB Ultra ATA drive.

    Any other things I should consider before taking this drastic measure? One additional motivation for doing this cleanup is that my files are poorly organized across my HDs today, and one of them has a prior OS on it (XP Home) in blue-screen perpetuity. I figure its time for a full-scale clean up.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, i'll try not to cry all that much. Thanks again.

  2. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    This is a common sign of drive failure.
    This also is a possible side effect of drive failure.

    What I would guess happened is your secondary drive has failed, meaning it no longer works properly. :( This can cause freezing and unexpected behavior with the relationship between slave/master - especially if you're using cable select to assign drive roles.

    By adjusting the jumpers, try your primary drive as a single master on its own cable and see if you can get it to recognize it. Try to boot from it. If you cannot boot from it, double-check your boot order in the BIOS and try again. There are two master settings (Single master & master with slave) on many newer drives, so make certain you are choosing the correct role. This will tell you if your primary drive is working.

    Next, try your secondary drive by itself in single master mode. This too, will tell you if this drive is working. If both are detectable, run a manufacturer's drive diagnostic on each one to verify their physical health. A list of diagnostic utilities can be found at the top of our storage forum in a sticky thread.

    If both seem to be working by themselves, try connecting both drives at the same time. Make sure each one is set to single master, connect each to a different IDE channel on its own cable - by itself - and see if you can boot. Disconnect your other IDE driver, such as CD-RW etc.. if you have to.

    If both drives are detected in the BIOS but you are still unable to boot, double-check your boot order in the BIOS once again, as sometimes this can change while you shuffle drives around.

    If you cannot get both recognized on separate IDE channels and separate cables, try swapping cables. If this doesn't work, then you probably have yourself a bad drive.
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Drive failure. Change jumpers from cable select to Master and Slave... with the bad drive as slave. You can probably still drag and drop most stuff off of it.
    Many Maxtor, Western Digital, and Hitachi hard drives are lucky to last a year, let alone two.
    Be sure to try new or different EIDE cables to assure that it is not just a cable or connector problem.
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