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My second hard drive is doing the peek-a-boo thing

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 21, 2007 4:40 AM PDT

Hello, I am not what you would call a computer geek by any means, but I'm also not afraid of the computer and love to learn about its inner workings. I installed a second hard drive to my new computer (second drive from my old computer, 5 years old). I made it the slave drive and reformatted it. I just wanted to use it for backing up. My problem is...sometimes when I turn the computer on I can see it as the "E" drive and I can access it. Other times I turn the computer on and it ISN'T visible to me so I can't access it. However when I use a program like Winaudit or Fresh Diagnose it shows up in there. I also have an external drive and it always appears visible. What could be going on, I need to see the drive. My computer is an E-machines T6216 with XP Home. Thank you!

--Submitted by Wendy B.

If you have an answer for Wendy, let's hear them! Click on the "Reply" link to post. Please be detailed as possible in your answer. Thanks!
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Disappearing E: drive
by Busted Flush / September 21, 2007 9:55 AM PDT

I just went thru a similar experience with the built in CD/DVD drive on my Compaq Pressario V2602XT with Window XP Home...somedays it would be there some days finally was not....or it would disappear when you put a disc in.... the fix came down to a Hotfix Update from Microsoft for Media player 11 dated 3-19-2007... I unloaded that fix and the E: drive came back and things work great.... I know it's a strecth but it might be related...I have since told Windows Update not to tell me about that update...


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unload a fix
by walter17 / September 28, 2007 4:19 PM PDT
In reply to: Disappearing E: drive

i have an emachines laptop model no. W4605. i damaged my dvd-rom/cd-r drive. i thought gateway fixed it in 12/06, but after trying it 2 1/2 months later it didn't work. it would do that appear and disappearing thing. so i'm wondering if those techs did fix it or it's a windows update problem. i got tired of not having an optical drive, i bought one an external drive from wal-mart. the my computer does something weird when i plug in the external drive, the computers optical drive show's up. so i don't know what to figure and i'm scrathing my head. i went through hell with gateway getting to fix my computer and now this. what could it be? how do i unload a fix, that hotfix update. if i can eliminate that at least i know if it might be still broken or not. can anyone help?

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Disappearing E Drive suggesstion
by iogt007 / September 28, 2007 5:02 PM PDT
In reply to: unload a fix

Your DVD drive sounds like it was improperly installed. Check your connections or take it to someone who knows how it should be connected. The connecting wires may just be loose. As far as removing the update, here is what you do: go to Start/control panel/Add-Remove programs and scroll down to the bottom to find the last update and click remove. Windows will do the rest.

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Uour E:\Drive
by pain_viande / September 28, 2007 6:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Disappearing E: drive

It is normal, when you buy those two or fout GiG Bank; if i understand your question well. Every time you plug you USB I/O Giga Bank, you will end up with a new virtual Letter. This letter is created by your Windows, and Windows will keep this, if i may called Virtual Drive letter, in case you plug your Device, well the Drive letter, like Drive F:\ will reappear until you want to save important Files, or pictures etc... For me, i have two of those Drives. That means, i have two more Letters. EX: F:\ anf G:\. But if my answer is not what you whant, just e-mail me at Hope i help you, if not, just e-mail your question,

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About the hard drive.
by A.T. / September 21, 2007 10:07 AM PDT

Ok, well. First of all, is the hard drive formatted as NTFS? Also, are the plugs to the hard drive connected properly? The reason is because I've installed second hard drives before and it's worked this way for me. I hope this works for you.

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second hard drive
by flguy48tc / September 21, 2007 10:20 AM PDT

wendy....i too have a emachine,but i have a T6216.i have no problems with it.i installed a second hard drive also. but mine is only took me a few mins to set it up, it`s great.i think thats the way you should have gone.maybe you can take back your hard drive and get a external hard drive. there so easy to set up. i think there alot better then internal hard drives...good luck

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So your drive is flakey .....
by Watzman / September 21, 2007 10:42 AM PDT

The thing that is puzzling here is the "intermittent" nature of the problem. There are not too many things that can cause that. One possibility is that the drive is bad. But let's assume, for now, that it's not.

Are you certain that you have the drive configured correctly? I'm talking about both the jumpers on the drive (master / slave / cable select) and the cable (using cable select requires a special cable). A related question, is your original drive in the new machine configured correctly? On some drives, "master is master is master", but on other drives, there is a separate setting for "Master with slave" and "Master without slave". This could be further complicated by the matter of cable select on the original drive. So the first thing I'd try is configuring the 1st drive (the drive originally in the computer before you added the new drive) as a "hard" Master (with slave if there is such a setting), and the new drive as a slave, and not using cable select (even if cable select is how the system was originally configured before you added the new drive). [This assumes that the two drives are both IDE drives on the same (primary) channel, with your optical drive on the secondary channel.]

Also, go into the BIOS and make sure that the BIOS has both drives enabled (that could be the entire problem ... there originally was no slave drive (on either primary or secondary channel) and you added a drive but you may never have enabled it in the BIOS.

Actually, as I think about this more, you have failed to provide enough information to really help us nail down the problem. We don't know if the original drive in the new machine was IDE or SATA, if it was IDE, we don't know the configuration of the IDE channels or what devices are in the system, what is on what channel, what is master or slave or cable select, or the kind of cables that you are using (40 or 80 conduct, cable select or standard). These are all of the very issues that you have to address, and that are in some way likely to be capable of solving the problem, but we need more information to suggest, with certainty, how to proceed.

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I agree
by gutta / September 28, 2007 2:13 PM PDT

If it is a SATA drive it shouldnt have jumpers, and the HD with the OS should take presedince over the other when booting, but excellent post Watzman it is mostlikely improperly set jumpers.

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I disagree
by knight10034 / September 28, 2007 3:39 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

I have a SATA drive (300 Gig) in a home built with 3 IDE HD's (200 Gig, 80 Gig, 250 Gig) and 1 DVD-RW IDE. It is not nor has it ever booted from the SATA drive. In part because the Ghost image didn't work - and I conceded to my computers wish to not use it as a Primary still acknowledge the existence of the other 4 drives.

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I had the same thing
by donjrtx / September 29, 2007 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: I disagree

I had built a computer (ASUS) and I bought a SATA, I installed my old IDE drives in as well. At first it would only allow the boot drive to be the IDE drive. There is a setting in the BIOS to put the sata first. This is not the BOOT setting where you only get on HD choice. This setting was in the HD area. After I changed that setting and made the SATA first....then the BOOT Order showed the SATA Drive in the list.

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i dont think so
by alvirani / September 28, 2007 4:30 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

if there is some prob with the jumper setting it would have shown at all its all or none basis..

but in this case the the drive shows up and disapper again ...
this is generally happening bcoz of the external drive...
as per the windows OS the newly install hard drive firstly shows up ...and it should be working fine.. bcoz the software (OS) is tested for the same.. but the main prob arrives as soon as you put and plug in or and external HDD or flash drive.. the bug activates the newly installed drive and some how hides the older one (just in the explorer) but the third prty software can access it .. means it is still active but just hidden ..

its all bcoz of the bug in the OS ... it can be patched

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Agreed Again
by chinese_eggrolls / September 28, 2007 6:35 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

Keep it simple as the post by Gutta, I'm replying to. Jumpers might have not properly set. Set boot up to "automatic" so it can detect. If not switch the old drive to primary, and since its smaller in capacity booting would be even faster. Check JUMPERS, then Check if PRIMARY or SECONDARY or SLAVES.

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If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to inclu
by sandip_2411 / October 8, 2007 3:10 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

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by sandip_2411 / November 20, 2007 2:28 PM PST
In reply to: I agree


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Drive playing peek-a-boo
by AndreDierick / October 2, 2007 6:35 AM PDT

One reason can be that Windows gets mixed up when an external drive is connected. Somehow the operating system determines a drive letter in the start-up process.
Please try the following sequence:
-start up the PC without the external drive. Is the second drive available? And accessable?
-if yes now connect the external drive. What happens now? Are both drive visable and accessible?
If both answers are YES, then go to Disk Management, and assign a new drive letter to the external drive (try Z).
Then restart the PC and see what's happening. If both drives are visable your conflict problem is solved.
If you have to answer no on the questions I really cannot contribute more to the problem solving.

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Intermittent Hard Drive
by deltoncbaker / September 21, 2007 10:42 AM PDT

I had a hard drive that was Intermittent and I didn't have the jumpers set properly. It was set to CABLE SELECT, sometime it would work and sometimes it wouldn't.
I understand that todays cabling can select MASTER and SLAVE status just by the header you choose to connect it to. The jumpers need to be set to CABLE SELECT instead of MASTER or SLAVE if you have the newer style cables. I suggest if the hard drive that came with your new computer is set properly. If you haven't tampered with it, its settings would tell you the type of cabling you have. If the new hard drive is set to CABLE SELECT your old hard drive should also be set to CABLE SELECT.
If this doesn't help a third possibility is the drive is really old and tired. If the motor doesn't spin up fast enough the computer will skip it and not list it. Several companies sell software to test your hard drive. I use PC Pitstop's Disk Health ( and Norton's SystemWorks ( my computers. Both are download able from the internet.

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RE: Installing a Second Hard Drive
by appman67 / September 21, 2007 11:57 AM PDT

Wendy; I ran into the same issue. And frankly it's easier and safer to replace your primary hard drive with a new larger capacity hard drive. You can damage your pc going through the steps to install an old, outdated or incompatible hard drive. So, unless you can afford to loose your saved data and likely frag your primary drive. Just buy a new bigger & better drive to play it safe. A new drive can be easily turned into a clone of your old drive with the larger storage space and faster speed. I know you want to make it work with the old drive. But, its a bit like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Installing a two drive system is much easier when your building a pc from scratch. And your manually loading the operating system and individual programs. Sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear. But this is your pc and you're the one whose taking the risk of damage and loss.

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Read the problem
by fisherv / September 21, 2007 4:52 PM PDT


Nice advice for a different problem. This is a NEW PC, where she is adding her crappy old hard drive as a second drive. She's not building it, nor is she using the old drive as a replacement for "C".

I'm not sure I understand your contention that one can "damage" a PC by installing old hardware??? Maybe ruin data - yes, but the only way I can imagine "damaging" a PC is to put broken or electrically incompatible parts inside one.

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Old? Just gently used.
by ehymel / September 28, 2007 1:29 PM PDT

A five year old PC drive is fully compatible with everything that's on the market today, and there is no technical reason why a drive shouldn't last ten or even more years. In general, a desktop drive that doesn't fail in the first year of its existence normally lasts a lot longer than the system will - it may be a bit slower than a new drive, but that will be the only "risk". And I too am surprised abut your mention of "damaging your PC" - there is absolutely no risk to the PC when installing a used secondary drive, the worst that can happen is the drive failing.

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Old Hard Drive Problem....
by ronjon / September 21, 2007 11:57 AM PDT

"I made it the slave drive and reformatted it. I just wanted to use it for backing up...."
You took a drive from a machine that was five years old and want to use it for backup?
DON't. Its old worn out, knackered, dying. Take it out and give it a decent burial. If you want to use a second internal drive for backup, get the best and most reliable you can find (read the reviews!). If you want a serious backup to a hard drive, you might consider using an external drive, which you can unplug after your regular backups and put somewhere safe. It is also worthwile looking at getting NAS (Network attached storage), which these days is cheap and easy to set up. Ron H

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Internal Hard Drive (E:\\)
by xceo37 / September 21, 2007 12:19 PM PDT

Dear Wendy: I let someone install a 150 GB Hard Drive in my CPU. It doesn't show anywhere on my monitor. I have to click on My Computer and there it is. I was surprised to see my D:\\ drive gone. The friend made an E:\\in its place for my new hard drive. My D:\\drive changed to F:\\ DVD and my E:\\drive changed to G:\\. I seldom go into any of these drives. I mainly use my C:\\drive. Click your My Computer and look for your new hard drive. I seldom use the new internal hard drive. Keep looking for yours and make a note as to where it is. You might have to get a technician to reinstall it for you. It is there somewhere. Good Luck. X-CEO37

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Intermittent drive
by mjd420nova / September 21, 2007 12:52 PM PDT

One of the things you can do is check your BIOS for that second drive and write down the parameters given(when it's working properly). Note the number of cylinders, number of heads, precomp and landing zone, all that the BIOS lists and load those parameters into the BIOS instead of using the auto function. Sometimes the auto function doesn't collect the second drive properly. This could also be an indication of an intermittent IDE controller on the motherboard or the controller card on the drive itself.

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about your Emachine
by proulxp / September 21, 2007 1:20 PM PDT

your number one problem is that you have an E machine. I had one of those when I first got into computer then everything went wrong and I was left thinking that it was me who was to stupid to do things right until I was told it was not me it was my E machine. I got rid of it and and now, I use Acer and have 2 Acer Desk Computers and 2 Acer Laptops one for me and one for hubby and we both swear by them and neither of us is that good on computers. If you need to go cheap and not have problems like you do with Emachines go Acer.

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Ancient History
by irlandes / September 28, 2007 1:37 PM PDT
In reply to: about your Emachine

Your comments about e-machines were indeed true in their early days. My son bought one in the late 90's and took it back a few days later; it was junk. However, e-machines are now owned by a different company, and newer ones are not that much less reliable than other brands.

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Peek-a-boo drive!
by redking44 / September 21, 2007 1:58 PM PDT

Hi Wendy,
Glad to hear you're not intimidated by a computer. Not so glad to hear it's not giving you the respect you deserve. When a computer fails, it should fail and when it works it should work. It's the on and off bit that's frustrating.

I do not know your E-machine so I can't make any model-specific comments, but at 5 years any computer is getting on a bit, and may be developing eccentricities... Also any new item is itself suspect, that's why a warranty is important. That aside..

You can check your system's BIOS. When Windows can't see the disk - does it show in your bios? If it does - you have a Windows problem (and advising on that's beyond me). If it doesn't show - it's a hardware problem, and Windows doens't show it because the hardware can't find it.

An act of desperation you can try: if your drive is set to AUTO in hte BIOS, you might be able to change it to the drive's specific configuration (which is usually detected autiomatically). Or if it is specifically configured, you might change it to AUTO. It may make a difference.

Then I'd check the IDE and power cables are seated properly, and check that when the disk is not recognised, that it is spinning (possible power connector problem). It is also possible your IDE cable itself is acting up. If you have a spare available it may be worth a try.

You can usually hear a drive spinning, but if the computer is loud enough to mask it, you can use a screwdriver as a stethoscope - put the end of the handle against your ear (yes wash it first) and the tip against the drive case. Avoid the circuit board! If you find it is not spinning you may have a weak power connector. You can try a different connector - perhaps the CD drive's connector.

Next - check the original drive's jumper settings. Most drives have master/slave/CableSelect, but some vary. Some older Western Digital drives, for example, have 3 settings - single drive, master with slave, and Slave - as well as CS. If your original drive has a 'single master' setting it needs to be changed to recognise slave properly. You can get the jumper settings from the disk maker's web site.

Most likely, however, the original disk is set to "Cable Select." Cable select is a way of assigning master/slave depending on which connector goes to the drive - end is master, middle is slave. I think. Also, the middle connector is not exactly in the middle - the longer side always goes to the motherboard. (Maybe this isn't always true with custom cables in a name-brand computer.) A Cable Select IDE cable has one of the wires cut. You can't usually see it, but this is very convenient for manufacturers - the disk/CD/DVD etc makers set the jumpers to CS and the system builder just takes the required drive and plugs it in. Nothing to configure, nothing to get wrong, and a few seconds saved. And time is money. (insert maniacal laugh here)

SO as an upgrader, you have to check the existing drive - is it set to master (or single drive) or CS? - and then you have to decide how you want to configure... You can set your drive to CS and connect to middle - and it is recognised as slave. If it is physically inconvenient to connect your new drive to the middle, you may prefer to re-jumper your exisiting drive to master, and jumper your new drive as slave, and then it doesn't matter which connector you plug into which drive. However - you should not have one drive set to CS and the other to slave.


As a diagnostic tool - try disconnecting your CD/DVD and hook that IDE cable to your new drive. If it sees that reliably you know it's not the new drive. If it still plays up - you likely have a dodgy drive.

Instead of having main drive/backup drive on the same cable, put your backup drive on the same cable as the CD/DVD drive. This will likely give you slightly better performance when making backups. Before you do this, make sure the CD's IDE cable is an 80-wire cable or the hard drive will be very slow. Many makers put an 80-wire cable on the hard drive and a 40-wire cable on CD, since the CD is slower and doesn't need the speed an 80 wire cable supports. It saves a few cents. It is easy to see if the 2 cables are the same or different - just look at them. If your CD cable is a 40-wire cable, you can change it to an 80. That will let the disk run fast, and the CD won't care.

Maybe external USB is the best option for a backup drive anyway. Any drive in the case could get fried when the main drive gets fried... power surge, lightning, power supply failure, virus attack... If you unplug it when you're not actually making backups or doing a recovery, you elimiate (minimize) these risks. Of course there is always the risk of dropping an external drive. At 5 years old your computer probably has original USB, limited to a little over 1 MB/second. This makes an external drive painfully slow. You can find a USB2 PCI adapter card that gives you about 48 MB/second transfer online for around $10 (buy, newegg, many places). Offline - expect to pay $30.

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CS/non-CS cables
by redking44 / September 21, 2007 3:29 PM PDT
In reply to: Peek-a-boo drive!

I forgot to mention - as I understand it, only very old IDE cables will be non-CS cables. Your computer, "only" (in this context) 5 years old, will have CS cables. A CS cable can be used with drives configured as Master/Slave or CS. Your choice.

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Second Hard Drive
by mkresner / September 21, 2007 2:42 PM PDT

Wendy, I can offer a few ideas on the problem. It's difficult to diagnose since you didn't mention which operating system you are using, however... you may have a hardware compatibility problem. Even though every hard drive should be compatible with your PC, that's not the case. Some hard drives don't work as well with specific PCs. Or, there may be a compatiblity issue between your old hard drive and new one, especially if the new hard drive is considerably larger. Also, did you check to make sure your computer could handle the size of the new hard drive? Depending on your hardware and operating system, your computer may not have the capacity to handle a huge new hard drive. You may want to swap and make the old hard drive the slave and the new one set up as the master. This is a huge pain to do but may resolve your problem. If possible, you could also return the new drive and buy a drive with less capacity. A 5 year old computer may not be able to handle a hard drive over 40 mb. The manufacturer should answer that question.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

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She is using Win XP home
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 24, 2007 9:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Second Hard Drive

Last sentence.


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Second Harddrive visibility.
by Robert welsh / September 21, 2007 7:22 PM PDT

I am sorry to hear about your difficulties. Why you can see the drive sometimes and not others is difficult to answer, but it may have something to do with whether the external drive is connected or not... Maybe you could try what I suggest below with the external drive connected and then disconnected to see if you can identify any differences.
When managing harddrives, I always find it best to go to Start / Right click My Computer and select Manage and go into Disk Management.
This should show you all available harddrives that the BIOS can see, even if they are un-formatted or un-partitioned.

Once in that area, you can partition, format and generally manage your disks.
I hope this helps.

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answer to youre hard drive meassage
by cracker135 / September 21, 2007 11:07 PM PDT

try changing the hard drive from slave to cable select

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