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  1. #1
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    Got an HP Pavilion desktop which is failing to detect its hard drives properly on almost every boot. Have eliminated the PSU, CMOS battery, IDE cable and the original HDD as potential sources of the problem by replacing them. Don't see a BIOS upgrade on the HP/Compaq site which is correct for this mobo (Belarc Advisor says its an Asustek with an Award BIOS from 2002). Going to email HP about this, to see if they have a BIOS update, but I'm wondering: does this sound like a BIOS problem or a hardware problem with the mobo?

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    You access the bios prior to the HDDs, so what is the bios showing for status for the drives? If its correct, then that eliminates quite a bit. You also say "on almost every boot" which would indicate it is working sometimes. For an intermittent problem I would look at the cable first, regardless if you've changed it as they break easily. then the IDE connectors. If those are okay, you could have a trace on the mb that is flexing and breaking, or quite a few other things.

    Too little information I think. What is the history of the setup, was it working, how long, what changed if anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Karl View Post
    You access the bios prior to the HDDs, so what is the bios showing for status for the drives? If its correct, then that eliminates quite a bit. You also say "on almost every boot" which would indicate it is working sometimes. For an intermittent problem I would look at the cable first, regardless if you've changed it as they break easily. then the IDE connectors. If those are okay, you could have a trace on the mb that is flexing and breaking, or quite a few other things.

    Too little information I think. What is the history of the setup, was it working, how long, what changed if anything.
    It shows Auto in the detail page for each hard drive, but the actual make and model doesn't appear in the main BIOS page on the "fail" boots. On successful boots, that info does appear. I also have to jumper both drives as Master/Slave--Cable Select will not work. All the user can tell me is this is a recent problem (PC appears to be from 2002). When I first looked at the PC yesterday, a large case fan was dead, and the single hard drive was pretty noisy, so I replaced the fan and used Acronis True Image 2010 to clone the drive onto a new one.

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    Cable select was always flaky. I'd guess the bios is okay and would see no reason to try a burn to upgrade it as it is seeing the drives, and if the info is correct than all is good there. Can you unhook the slave drive and see if you get a reliable boot with the master? I'd also go back to the cables and connectors. Look at every pin and every socket. If you can get a good boot, move the cables and see if you lose access to the HDD. Move the PSU wires (know you replaced it but the sockets are still original) and see if the drives fail.

    Oh, have you checked the ram? I can't remember how you get post codes from a mb back that far. Those might help also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Karl View Post
    Cable select was always flaky. I'd guess the bios is okay and would see no reason to try a burn to upgrade it as it is seeing the drives, and if the info is correct than all is good there. Can you unhook the slave drive and see if you get a reliable boot with the master? I'd also go back to the cables and connectors. Look at every pin and every socket. If you can get a good boot, move the cables and see if you lose access to the HDD. Move the PSU wires (know you replaced it but the sockets are still original) and see if the drives fail.

    Oh, have you checked the ram? I can't remember how you get post codes from a mb back that far. Those might help also.

    I hate computers when they don't work
    The problem is that on the majority of the boot attempts, it DOESN'T see the drives. I don't think I've ever been able to get a proper boot with only the Master drive hooked up (last attempt was this morning, and it failed). Have to get out my lighted magnifier to check the pins and sockets <grin>. PC is seeing both optical drives and the 2 sticks of 256MB RAM on every boot. PC is back at the auto repair shop it belongs to, so I can't get a look at it till tomorrow.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    It looks like it could be the board, possibly a short somewhere.
    Have to get out my lighted magnifier to check the pins and sockets <grin>.
    That would be a good idea. Maybe take the board out of the case and start troubleshooting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJDetroit View Post
    The problem is that on the majority of the boot attempts, it DOESN'T see the drives. I don't think I've ever been able to get a proper boot with only the Master drive hooked up (last attempt was this morning, and it failed). Have to get out my lighted magnifier to check the pins and sockets <grin>. PC is seeing both optical drives and the 2 sticks of 256MB RAM on every boot. PC is back at the auto repair shop it belongs to, so I can't get a look at it till tomorrow.
    Not booting without a slave present would take me back to the bios settings. I would try, if you can, get a good boot and write down the setup for the drive(s) that the bios gives you on Auto. Then turn off auto and configure the master manually, w/o the slave and see what you get.

    Clint also has a good idea, pull the mb out in case you're getting some twisting or tension from the case mounts. I've run into that numerous times with cheap cases or boards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Karl View Post
    Not booting without a slave present would take me back to the bios settings. I would try, if you can, get a good boot and write down the setup for the drive(s) that the bios gives you on Auto. Then turn off auto and configure the master manually, w/o the slave and see what you get.

    Clint also has a good idea, pull the mb out in case you're getting some twisting or tension from the case mounts. I've run into that numerous times with cheap cases or boards.
    Of course, now I can't get a good boot to write down the setup info Users went ahead and bought a new PC today. I was hoping to get this one up and running long enough to use Windows Easy Transfer on it, but it looks like I'll have to slap the newer HDD into an external enclosure and transfer their stuff manually.

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    You can try introducing a delay before the drives are queried by the BIOS. Do this by Disabling the "Quick Power on Test". This enables a RAM test, which takes a few seconds to complete, and allows more time for the drive to become ready, prior to detection.

    It's not a bad thing anyway to give the RAM a quick workout before starting, as this can show up bad RAM when it starts to fail, before it corrupts the whole system.

    I've seen a few BIOSs that actually allow you to specify a delay before the hard drives are queried - you could check to see if you have that setting too - but I always set the systems I'm responsible for to have the longer RAM test as I think it's a "good thing" in any case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJDetroit View Post
    Users went ahead and bought a new PC today.
    You obviously have to tell the users they can't have the new computer until we figure out what is wrong with the old one. We have time invested and we want to know what is wrong!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Karl View Post
    You obviously have to tell the users they can't have the new computer until we figure out what is wrong with the old one. We have time invested and we want to know what is wrong!
    I was told elsewhere about software which can both monitor the SMART data and provide some data on the HDDs (heads, cylinders, etc.). I have a large tower PC with unused IDE connectors. I think I'll install the drives from the Pavilion in that and see if I can get enough info on the drives to use the "Manual Define" choice in the BIOS of the Pavilion.

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    Are you sure you have the drive jumper settings correct? Is it a single drive or a master and a slave. Some drives have different settings for Master with a slave and Master with no slave attached.

    Jerry

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    I wouldn't rule out the PSU, unless you've tested it properly. I had intermittent boots like yours on my new build for months. I replaced the SATA cable and power cable. The PSU appeared to be working perfectly, although I didn't have a meter to test it properly. After months, the PSU blew, because it was junk to start with. When I put a Thermaltake PSU in, the symptom disappeared.
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    I would tend to agree with Rochelle on this. I had some very wierd problems caused by a failing PS that acted as though it sometimes did not find the HD, sometimes booted OK for a while, just really flaky stuff. New PS fixed the problem. If the power is off even a little it can have serious consequences on all components that rely on that power. A good voltage PS Voltage monitoring S/W can help isolate what is happening.
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