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Error Message: Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your system

By trigger753 · 204 replies
Dec 22, 2004
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  1. I have a three month old Dell Dimension 8400. 3.0 GHZ P4, 1 Gig Ram and a 160 gig SATA Hard Drive. When I got the computer I used the files and transfer (PC Relocator) utility. And had a bunch of unwanted extras that came with it. I'm having a Satellite Internet system installed and they wanted a clean install of windows XP. So I opened the owner’s manual and got out the reinstallation disk and the problems began. By the way Dell tech support's only response has been to say gee that's not right, and would send a tech sometime after Christmas. Anyway heres step by step what I did.
    I boot to the Dell reinstallation disk. The windows setup screen appears and loads files. The next screen says welcome to setup and offers three options. 1-to setup XP press enters. 2 To repair XP press R 3 to exit without installing XP press F3
    I press enter and the following message comes up. Setup did not find any hard disk installed in your computer. Make sure any hard disk drives are powered on and properly connected. And any disk related configuration is correct.ect. Press F3 to quit. It dose this if I try repair also.
    Dell had me check the connections to the HD and Motherboard. They’re good. And debug the hard drive. No luck. Everything worked fine until I put in the reinstallation disk.
    Any help would be welcome.
  2. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,452

    During Setup, it will ask you if you need any extra drivers such as SCSI (or SATA in your case). If so, press F6. Now you are in trouble, because SATA drivers come on a floppy and new(er) Dells don't have a floppy anymore. Borrow a floppy-drive from another PC and install that in your Dell.
    Setting up with the Dell disks, I'm not sure if they are RESTORE-disks or full XP-disks.
    That may cause another problem.
  3. tyleryoungblood

    tyleryoungblood TS Rookie

    I completely feel your pain. I have the same system and just fixed the same problem. Here's what I did. And by the way, 2 hours of tech support with Dell did nothing for me other than give me practice understanding Pakistan accents. I eventually stumbled on the solution myself w/o dell's help.

    Reboot your system and hit F2 as soon as you see the Dell startup screen (the options are F2 for setup, F12 for boot sequence).

    In the System Setup screen, do these steps.

    Select Drives:
    Make sure your Diskette Drive (3.5 floppy) is set properly (Usually set to Internal)
    Make sure that "Drive 0: SATA-0" drive is set to "ON"

    Go to "SATA Operation":



    Reboot - make sure that the boot sequence is set to CD rom before HD and make sure that the reinstall CD is in the drive. Setup will load, hit enter to reinstall XP. Your HD should now be detected and you should see the licensing agreement.

    If you have your files backed up I reccommend deleting the partition and reformatting prior to installing XP, it will give you that option after the license agreement.

    Once you have successfully reinstalled the OS, Dell reccommends that you change the SATA Operation setting back to RAID AUTODETECT / AHCI (or back to whatever your factory setting was) to avoid any problems with other IDE devices installed on your system.

    Hope that helps!

    Good luck!
  4. WallyKid

    WallyKid TS Rookie

    Thank you tyleryoungblood, your solution work like a charm for me. I'm really happy that i don't have to return the computer i just got after waiting for 2 weeks. Thanks!
  5. tyleryoungblood

    tyleryoungblood TS Rookie

    :) No problem. I'm glad that I could help! Good luck with your Dell!
    - Tyler
    Rocky Hamilton likes this.
  6. lunaNM

    lunaNM TS Rookie

    hi! i had the same problem and followed the advice tyleryounglbood gave above. and it worked :D.

    however, after installing the OS, if i try to change the SATA Operation setting back to RAID AUTODETECT / AHCI, windows won't start up anymore. it blue screens, reboots, and takes me to the screen where i have the options of safe mode, last known good configuration, start up windows normally, etc. none of which work, they just do the same thing.

    the only information given is "We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this."

    i did try to get the Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver, v., A01 from Dell's website here: http://support.dell.com/support/dow...temID=DIM_P4_9100&os=WW1&osl=en&deviceid=8615, which says "at OS install time only", but again, i have no floppy drive, so i can't install it

    if i can't rechange it to the factory setting, does it matter? i don't know much about computers so any advice you have is much appreciated. thank you!!

    EDIT: i changed the SATA operation setting to: RAID AUTODETECT / ATA, and windows now boots for me :). so, this may be a really stupid question, but what is the difference between ATA and AHCI?
  7. Pachelbel9

    Pachelbel9 TS Rookie


    Thanks so much for the info! I was doing a google search for my Windows problem, and came across this post. I registered so I could thank you for the help.

  8. Ric

    Ric TS Rookie

    BIOS setting

    I just wanted to say thank you for your posting regarding the BIOS setting in a DELL machine. I have received a Precision WS 380 and had a problem with installing a new operating system. I always received the message "...Setup cannot find any hard disk drive installed on your computer..."
    As I changed the BIOS setting for the hard disk it worked!
  9. budgie123

    budgie123 TS Rookie

    Another thank you to tyler. This problem had me going round in circles
    until I read your message.
    I too had the problem rebooting though so had to change the SATA operation setting to: RAID AUTODETECT / ATA when it was originally ... / AHCI.
    Also it was trying to load from diskette each time it booted which meant I
    had to change the 'Diskette drive' to OFF.

    If this is any help to anyone.
  10. asadali

    asadali TS Rookie

    It Works!!!

    i spent the last few evenings wasting myself :blackeye: with the same problem. i've built myself a PC with a Seagate 200GB SATA HD and Gigabyte M/B. Blasted Windows XP Pro would not detect the HD, even though the BIOS did (which I updated), used the Seagate DiscWizard fingy-ma-jig and it did not help (although many said it did). Placed the error code on Google (thank god for the likes of google!!!) and voila :grinthumb , yours was the first fix that came up.

    I applied the fix, waited patiently, biting my nails to oblivion and that famous Microsoft T&C page :p came up ....yipeeeeeee ka yeeeeeeeeee...

    Thanks mate, your a star, you've saved my skin....and now I can make up for lost sleep!!!

    aka The Dumb Fool!!!

  11. Stryfe

    Stryfe TS Rookie

    I just wanted to add a little more to this topic that has been so helpful to so many people.

    "What is AHCI?"
    AHCI stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface. To quote Intel, "The Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) specification describes the register-level interface for a Host Controller for Serial ATA 1.0a and Serial ATA II." Basically, it's a performance enhancement that some drives have. One of the better known drives that has it is the Western Digital 74GB Raptor drive. You can head on over to this page at Intel's website for a more in-depth look.

    "That's nice. Now how the hell do I get my system working again?"
    If you want to continue using the "RAID Autodetect / AHCI" setting in the BIOS of your shiny Dimension 8400, you *must* have a floppy drive. Without a floppy drive, you will not be able to load the driver that will allow Windows XP to communicate with your SATA controller and by extension, your SATA hard drives.

    There should be a method to do this without a floppy drive, but as of right now it's only a theory in my mind and I don't know if it would actually work.

    Go to this page on Dell's website and download the driver. Then, once the download is complete, run the program and follow the prompts to create the floppy.

    Once that's done, reboot your machine (make sure you have the Windows XP CD in the drive) and hit the F12 key during the POST screen to get to the Boot Menu. Choose option 3, which should be the CD-ROM option. (Remember that even after you do that, you still need to hit another key to get Windows XP Setup to start.)

    After setup starts, you will see an option to hit F6 to install SCSI drivers. Hit F6. It won't be apparent right away that Setup recognized that you hit it, so don't panic. Once setup loads, however, that is a different story. You will get a prompt about installing extra drivers. Put the floppy in and follow the prompts. One thing to note here was that I got a choice of two drivers, a RAID driver and an AHCI driver. I chose the AHCI driver.

    Beyond this point, Setup progresses as normal with no further explanation necessary in regards to the driver.

    And there you have it. Windows XP will be running happily on the new driver.

    Good luck.

  12. hlywa2

    hlywa2 TS Rookie

    Same problem only different circumstances!

    I posted a new post with my issues, but now found this one. I tried the internal thing with the floppy under the bios setup. I am not really sure what is meant by that. I dont have any option like that. I formatted my friends hard drive after slaving it to mine. Now that i put it back into his pc during XP setup i get the error, "Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer". I have unplugged the hard drive from the power to the plug on the motherboard. Any suggestions would be helpful!
  13. Stryfe

    Stryfe TS Rookie

    That means that the Windows XP Setup program can't talk to the hard drive for whatever reason. This is usually because it doesn't have any means to talk to the controller. You can usually remedy this by finding out what your controller is, downloading the appropriate drivers for it, putting them on a floppy, and telling Windows XP Setup to use those drivers.

    (To put it simply, the controller is the device that translates requests for data from/to the hard drive or whatever else you have attached to it.)

  14. uniqueclone

    uniqueclone TS Rookie

    Also having trouble recognising hard disks . . .

    Now that sounds a lot like my problem (I even get the same error message). However, I just downloaded some drivers from NVIDIA, put them on a floppy and went through windows setup...F6, yes, yes . . . it saw they were there, it even offered to use them. All good, I thought, but then the next screen tells me that It can't find any installed hard disks . . .

    Now the odd thing about all this, is that I've already used Windows Setup (XP PRO, by the way) to format, and copy files too, this same SATA HDD. Surely if the problem was not being able to recognise it, I wouldn't have been able to do that?
  15. TaylorMade

    TaylorMade TS Rookie

    "SATA Operation" not an option in BIOS

    Hello, i'm new to this community and thank all those here and before me for all it has to offer! My problem (or more accurately, my roomate's problem) is that this Gateway desktop computer doesn't recognize that there is a harddrive attached. There is no SATA Operation option in the BIOS, nor did i see any place to "select drives" as described (aside from their priority for booting or in regards to power management. I ensured that all cable are secure, but do not where / which / how to use the 'slave'. If that's a reasonable option please explain and i'll certainly give it a try. Otherwise, any ideas are greatly appreciated!!!!
  16. uniqueclone

    uniqueclone TS Rookie

    I'm just as new to all this as you, so someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I assumed SATA drives didn't have any slave/master status, since you can only connect one of them to one cable.
  17. Vickzun

    Vickzun TS Rookie

    Alas, the solution..

    thank you, thank you, thankkkkkkk you!!.. couldn't for the life of me figure out what was causing the problem, not to mention the following blue screen of death upon loading windows normally.. i have a dell dimension 9100, purchased this past july - relatively new. started having problems with the cd burner (end of user area, power collaboration error, etc etc..) swapped out the drive for an older one just to see what would happen, older cd-rom worked beautifully, swapped it back out and went to format and couldn't re-install. sucked. anywho, thanks a ton!
  18. pinnale

    pinnale TS Rookie

    another thank to tyler!!
  19. lelong37

    lelong37 TS Rookie


    I was having problems getting an XP installation on my Dimesion 9100 to recognize my hard disk. Thanks to Vicksun's post i was able to get the install finished..

  20. App-Techs

    App-Techs TS Rookie

    Fix To Your Dell Problem

    Disregard previous postings.
  21. jerome8283

    jerome8283 TS Rookie

    Loading PBR for Descriptor 2....failed.

    Hey guys,

    My problem differs. I have a Dimension 8400 and at boot time I receive the following error,

    "Loading PBR for Descriptor 2....failed."

    I tried booting from the XP installation CD and running the "REPAIR" option but it was unable to find my hard disk.

    Based on this thread it appears I can get XP setup to recognize my disk however my question is, when I CHANGE THE SATA OPERATION SETTING TO "COMBINATION" will I lose any data? All I wish to do is attempt to "REPAIR" the disk.

    Can someone please clarify?

  22. Lainie

    Lainie TS Rookie

    tyleryoungblood -- you are wonderful

    I had the same problem and changed the settings in the system set up and Voila! success!!!!! thank you thank you thank you After spending most of yesterday in diagnostic mode only to have the hard drive finally just crash (guess it was beyond repair)--then to end up with this problem trying to install the new drive. Argh! You are a life saver. I too was getting no help from Dell or Microsoft websites and dreading trying to get any real live help, especially since we're two months past warranty.

    Hope I'll actually be able to contribute something useful here.

    Thanks again. Up and running. Yee haw!
  23. ccualumni

    ccualumni TS Rookie

    I an trying to do this, and I do not have the options that you say I should have.

    The only things with "drive'" on them are:
    Drive configuration
    Hasrd-Disk Drive Sequence
    Boot sequence

    I go into all of them and nothing comes uo with SATA or anything like that.

    I have a Dell and am using Windows XP.
  24. ninjazx12r

    ninjazx12r TS Rookie

    Thought I'd contribute to this very useful thread. I just got an XPS 600 and wanted to rid it of XP Home and put in Pro. Ran into the same problem being discussed here.

    The bios does not have the autodetection setting in the setup under drives. However nVidia MediaShield drivers fix this problem and are available

    Luckily I got a floppy disk with mine :grinthumb, Extracted the drivers and F6-ed during setup, copied over the drivers and was good to go.

    Oh, and I must mention, Dell techsupp in India were very good - after some initial misunderstanding (we can't help with software suport...) they pretty quickly understood the problem and pointed me to the MediaShield drivers.
  25. CapeCodNetworks

    CapeCodNetworks TS Rookie

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