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11/11/05 Katrina survivor needs help with PC's hard drive

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 10, 2005 2:19 AM PST

Hello. I am a Katrina victim and I took my hard drive out of my computer when evacuating so that my data would not be lost. I uploaded it on a laptop when I reached safety. Now, I have gone home and tried to plug the hard drive in, and I cannot get the computer to recognize the hard drive. I have the recovery CD and that helps the computer recognize XP, but it cannot boot up. Can you help me?

Submitted by: Coach Alan


Hi, Alan! It sounds like your data is safe, at least. You didn't mention whether your computer was exposed to water, so I'm playing a bit of a guessing game here. But it sounds like your optical drive is reading the recovery CD, so that suggests that your optical drive, and the other major components of your computer, are working properly.

Remember, whenever you're working on a computer, you must power the machine down and physically disconnect the power cord every time you make a change. If you do not, static discharge can easily damage or destroy your computer. With that said, here are a few things to try:

First, some hard drives are sensitive to their orientation, while other hard drives need to have the case grounded to the chassis in order to work properly. For this reason, it's important to slide the drive back into the original drive bay that it was in, and secure it into the bay with at least one screw.

I'm going to assume that you haven't made any changes to the jumpers on the drive that determine if your hard drive is seen as a Master, Slave, or Cable Select device; but just for the record, if this is your primary hard drive, it should be jumpered as a Master - or, in the case of Dell computers, as a Cable Select device. You might want to check that, and make sure nothing has come loose in transit.

Next, lets check the cable connectors. If there's any possibility that dirt or corrosion has gotten into the cable connector ends, I'd replace the cable with a fresh one. Cables are a surprisingly common cause of hard drive failures, and a lot of people have dropped $200 on a new drive, only to discover the source of the problem was a $3 cable. Alternately, if you have any connector cleaner spray - available at Radio Shack - you can spray the connector end on the cable, and plug it into the drive several times. This action will help clean the connectors.

Lets talk about the power cable for a moment. This plug is polarised, and will only go in one way; typically, it will have one red, two blacks and one yellow wire. Make sure that it's securely inserted into the hard drive; they can be stiff, so make sure it's properly connected. You might also consider using a different power cable; there are probably several spares coming off your power supply. If you have a voltmeter, you can check for power at the cable end. Alternately, you can use a known good power plug, which in this case would be the plug connected to your optical drive; we know that one works. Whenever you connect or diconnect a power plug, always pull on the white plug, never on the wires; if you pull on the wires, you'll likely break them.

Now, I have another question for you: is your drive an older style PATA (parallel ATA) drive, or one of the newer SATA (serial ATA) drives? Here's how to tell: the pata drives use a broad, flat ribbon cable - about two inches across - while the newer sata drives use a rubbery cable about the diameter of a pencil.

If its an older style Pata drive, you can run a quick test. Here's how: disconnect the existing pata cable from the optical drive, and connect it to the hard drive. Now, try to boot up. If the machine will recognise the hard drive and boots up, then your problem is with the primary IDE controller on the motherboard, or the IDE connector cable, or with the physical connection of the cable.

If it does not boot up, then I'd power down the machine, disconnect the power cord, and check the pata cable where you connected it to the drive. Try flipping the cable end for end. Will the cable still plug in? If so, you have a non polarised Pata cable. There are a lot of them out there, particularly on older machines. Try booting up with the cable connected this way. If the machine boots up, then there's no problem with the drive. Examine the cable where it connects to the drive; on one side of the cable, you'll see a faint red line. Make note of which side of the drive that red marking is on. Now, disconnect the optical drive cable, plug it back into the optical drive, and plug the hard drive cable back into the hard drive, making sure that the red mark on the side of the hard drive cable is connected the same way you had the optical drive cable connected. Power the machine up and see if it will boot. If so, then you're done. If not, I'd replace the cable.

If it still doesn't boot up, then I'd try connecting the drive to another computer, and see if it can still be read. If not, then the problem is the drive; if it can be read on another computer, then the problem is likely with the IDE controller on the motherboard, which essentially means a new motherboard.

If you have a newer SATA drive, then your options for troubleshooting are limited. I'd replace the cable; and if that didn't solve it, then we're either looking at a new motherboard or a new drive. To troubleshoot this, I'd try plugging in a known good drive with a known good cable, and see if the motherboard would read that. If not, the problem is with the motherboard.

With all of this said, I really think that your problem is a bad or dirty power or data cable, or an inadvertently flipped data cable, made possible by a non polarised cable end. I'll bet that securing the drive into the drive bay, making sure the jumpers are set to Master, replacing the data cable, and making sure the drive data and power cables are plugged in securely and correctly, is going to solve your problems. Good luck to you!

Submitted by: Charles W.
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by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 10, 2005 2:20 AM PST

Coach Alan:

I'm glad to hear you were one of the lucky ones that have been able to return home. There are still, at last count, an estimated 8,000 still here in Northwest Louisiana. And I apologize in advance if my answer seems so long-winded.

Your problem, though easily stated, is rather vague, but I will help you the best I can with the information given. I'm assuming that you have a desktop computer for this. I am unsure how the hard disk was transported, but some are rather sensitive and can damage easily if it is dropped, jarred, or in some cases, looked at wrong.

First, let's check some of the simple things: 1) Is the power supply plugged into your hard drive? (I've fallen victim to this one myself) 2) Look at the drive's pins...are they straight? Is one bent? If one is bent, take a small pair of needle nose pliers and gently try to straighten it out. 3) Make sure your jumper settings are correct (Should be set to master or cable select depending on your system...this could have been changed when you backed up your data to a laptop).

If all that is okay, let's get started on the next step. With all the water damage and mold in the area, let's rule out your motherboard (the IDE plug in). This is easy to test....with the hard drive set to 'master' or 'master with slave' jumper setting and a CD or DVD drive jumper set to 'slave', plug the IDE cable from the primary IDE port on the motherboard to both drives. When the computer boots up, watch your BIOS (boot up) screen and see if both drives are listed. If one or both are listed, chances are, your IDE port is good. If only the CD or DVD drive is listed, there is a good chance that the hard drive itself is damaged. If both drives are listed, then you need to check the hard drive itself.

Now, assuming everything seems okay so far, let's get into your BIOS. When booting your computer, press the key to get into the BIOS. There are different ways to get into the BIOS depending on the BIOS manufacturer and the computer manufacturer. Generally, when the computer is booting, there will be instructions like: "To enter setup press <key>." Most will use the ESC, F1, DELETE, or F10 key.

Once you are in the BIOS, make sure all of the drive information (primary master, primary slave, second master, second slave) are all set to 'Automatic'. Now, find the Advanced setup. You need to look for the S.M.A.R.T. test. (S.M.A.R.T. stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology). Make sure the S.M.A.R.T. test is turned on. Save the configuration and reboot your computer.

You'll have to watch, because it can go by fast, but you should receive a statement to the effect of S.M.A.R.T. capable and... If it does not state "...and okay" then your problem is the hard drive itself. Check your warranty and see if it is still covered. Otherwise, keep an eye in the local sales papers or online for a new one.

If it does state "...and okay" (or something to that affect), there are 2 options you can try. What I would try myself is to get a copy of the "Ultimate Boot CD" and run some of the diagnostics, such as the disk scan that looks for bad/corrupt sectors. This can be downloaded from and it is freeware, so you can download and burn to disk. Another option would be using your recovery CD that you stated you had or getting the actual Windows XP CD. Since I don't know what your recovery CD has, most of the ones I have dealt with basically reformat your hard drive and reinstalls the programs that were on your computer when you bought it.

But if you have the Windows XP CD, place it in your CD drive and boot the computer. Once it loads, it should give you an option to Install or use the recovery console. At this point, you would need to press 'C' to continue to install. I believe next, you would need to press 'F8' to agree to the EULA (End User License Agreement). Your CD should find a copy of Windows on the hard drive. From here you would select to repair the Windows files.

At this point, if none of the above had worked, I would buy a new, or another, hard drive. Fortunately, you had the foresight to back up your data and can reload it on to your computer.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Submitted by: Batanen



Hello Coach,

Before I answer your question let me say that I can only imagine the situation you have come home to. You are to be commended for having the foresight to take your HD with you. Not many would have been so clear thinking in such an emergency.

In regard to your question however, I will need to make some assumptions and pose possible solutions based on those assumptions.

First you said that when you reached safety you uploaded your data to a laptop. If you connected your HD directly to the laptop you would need to have been using some sort of IDE to USB adapter to make that work which would have required no change of the jumper settings for Master/Slave/Cable Select ( if you are not familiar, the jumper(s) are located on the head of the HD between the power plug and IDE plugs ). If you slaved the your HD to the master on someone Else's PC and moved the data to the laptop over a network then your jumper setting may have been changed from master to slave or cable select. Check your setting at any rate and make sure you are set to master if this is the only HD in your PC. If you have another HD in the configuration make sure the second drive is set to slave.

If this does not work, your system does not recognize the HD still, You may have experienced some damage to the HD due to vibration or jarring after you copied the data from it. It is also possible that your PC took some type of damage from moisture or a power surge or any other variable associated with a hurricane.

At this point I would try to connect the hard drive to another PC if one was available and see if it could recognize the drive. You may be able to get another PC to recognize the drive but not read the data. You might get a paging error or the drive format may no longer be recognized.

If this happens you may be able to format the drive since you have already backed up your data and then see if the HD can be seen from both the bios and windows.

If another PC recognizes and reads your data just fine then the problem may be back in your tower. If you still experience any of the problems I mentioned above or the drive isn't recognized there either then you may have lost the drive.

Assuming the drive to be OK, and reformatted if needed, with jumpers correctly set, your PC should now recognize the drive. If needed you can repair or reinstall Windows.

If your HD appears to be fine but Your PC still won't recognize it you may want to check the tower for any visible water damage from flooding or high humidity. Try replacing the IDE cable. Humidity can cause corrosion that leads to poor connections.

As a last possible solution if you have tried all this would be to check the mainboard for a clear cmos jumper. This would be a jumper located near the battery on your mainboard. You should check the documentation for your mainbord for the correct use of this jumper if yours has one. ( some only clear system passwords nowadays )

I hope your hardware is sound and this gets you back up and running again, If it doesn't I hope it shows you where the hardware problem lies.

Good luck with all your recovery efforts!

Submitted by: Al W. of Danielson, CT




The first thing I would do is check the jumper settings. Chances are one of two things could have happened.

1.) You changed the jumpers around when you connected the hard drive to the laptop.

2.) Somehow or other, the jumper may have worked it's way loose or got snagged on something while you were on the move and is no longer where it should be.

Either way, the computer's BiOS will not recognize a hard drive properly if the jumper is not set properly for Master, Master w/Slave, Slave or Cable Select. Given you haven't given us the make and model of hard drive, and what other drives may be lurking in your computer, I can't give you the exact specifics on which setting it should be in.

You'll need to check the label on the drive for the proper setting. Most hard drives have a graphic on top that will tell you where it needs to be.

You'll also need to check the drive cable to see if there is another drive on the chain. If there is, you'll definitely want to check the other drive's (probably a CD or DVD drive) jumper to make sure it's set properly.

Each EIDE or Parallel (PATA) ATA chain can support up to two drives per cable. Most modern motherboards have two EIDE/PATA ports. There's a Master and a Slave drive on each chain. You'll also have to make sure that the drive is connected to the correct port on the cable as some systems are sensitive to which drive is which.

If you can't find the jumper settings on the drive's top cover, you can usually go to the manufacturer's web site and grab the info from there.

Now then, if it's configured correctly and the BIOS still won't recognize it, then the next step would be to try the drive in another machine.

Bouncing around in a suitcase or whatever is NOT a good thing for a hard drive. Laptop HDs are generally better about it all as they're designed to take abuse that a desktop usually would never see in its lifespan.

Submitted by: Pete Z.



Well it first of all, it may cost you $45-200 to have a professional help you if you drop off your computer. But your problem is a step by step process. There is no canned solution but I'll try to help and I am not a professional I've just had my own share of problems and have managed to fix them.

1. You need to buy a used hard drive - not something large, just 1.2 to 2.1 MB, which you can buy for less than $10 at a used computer store or go to

where you can get one for $7.99. The jumpers in the back of the drive should already be set to be the master not the slave? Make your old drive a slave...hopefully your drive has a diagram on the face of the drive to set the jumper pin correctly.

2.Then boot up from your start up disk you'll get the c: prompt. Hopefully you have XP on CD. Then get the D: prompt type setup. You may not be able to install from dos so this is the tricky part, depending on the message you get.

3. Once you installed XP on the small master and you can see your old drive. You need to partition that old drive with a 1G partition min. using Partition Magic you can get a 30-day trial from

Don't buy this cuz you'll never really ever use it again!

4. Now you need can install XP on your old drive The reason you want to do this because if you reinstall XP on the same drive you may lose some files? so you want to install XP on the small partition on your old drive the first screen you will see is a screen and there is a check box on the bottom of one of these start up screens that reads "let me choose where you want to install XP". choose repair installation. Don't change the format of your drive to NTFS or FAT32 keep it in the format you have!!!Then sometime while installing XP it will bring you to a screen that will allow you to choose the parition you want to repair. If that doen't work go on to new installation...step 5...

5. Finally, the first screen you will see is a screen and there is a check box on the bottom of one of these start up screens that reads "let me choose where you want to install XP". Install new installation. Don't change the format of your drive to NTFS or FAT32 keep it in the format you have!!! Then sometime while installing XP it will bring you to a screen that will allow you to choose the partition you want to install XP. Then the rest should be self explanatory.
Good Luck!

Submitted by: Joe V.



Hi, first of all, glad to hear you made it ok! Now let's see if we can do the same for your computer.

You mentioned you have a recovery CD and didn't say you had the actual XP CD. This makes a world of difference. You may have created it yourself using a back up program or this is an OEM version that came with the preinstalled version of Windows on your pc. In this case, I would need more information as to what type, version, etc... Also, not knowing what type of PC you have, exact Windows version and hard drive type, make this a bit more challenging. I will do my best though.

Some steps

First of all, this sounds like a GoBack issue. If you have GoBack installed, it seems to rename the MBR(master boot record)to 44, and hard drives taken out of a pc are not recognized due to these changes. There are steps to fix this but first let's try these...

If you have an IDE drive, check the jumper settings, make sure they are set to master, (not being sure you changed them or not.) For SCSI drives, check the jumper settings. You should make sure your primary hard disk is set to SCSI ID 0. Also for SCSI, you may have to reset, unplug, all at the same time.

Make sure that the hard drive power connector and ribbon cable are connected (have to mention that). Also, make sure the drive has the correct parameters. In order to do this, first access the CMOS screen by tapping the (del), (F1), (F10) key or another if specified on your boot screen. These are some common keys to enter the CMOS but it varies per PC. You must tap this key (I do a few times to make sure it hits) right as the POST, (power on self test) the first black screen that comes up when you turn on your pc.

Now, you will have a number of options here, and be very careful in here, changing the wrong settings will do more harm than good. You should see something similar to IDE HARD DISK AUTO DETECTION. This may vary from pc to pc as will the options. Choose to auto detect hard drive. Usually if it's your primary drive, you will see it as IDE hard drive0 and make\brand of hard drive.

Commonly you hit the (ESC) button to exit and then hit (F10) to exit and save. You may be asked ...(save settings to cmos and exit? Y\N) hit the (Y) button and continue. The PC should now reboot. See if you can finally boot your system. Make sure you don't have a CD in the drive though because it may attempt to boot to the windows CD instead.

You may also try tapping the (F8) key during boot, to enter the recover\safe mode option screen. Here you can select to do a recovery on your system, or boot into safe mode. Do not do this with the recovery CD in. Chances are you won't be able to access it given your situation but we can try. If you are able to boot into safe mode, you may be able to do a system restore from there or choose to do a repair\recover. Once again, this depends highly if you have an OEM or not.

There is another way you may try and fix your drive problem. You said you could detect windows from the CD but could not boot. Do you have the original XP CD? If you do, insert it and let's try another option. When you boot from the CD, it will say, welcome to windows setup. Choose the (R) recovery option and follow the instructions. You can then type HELP and FIXMBR or the FIXBOOT option. Many times this repairs the MBR and makes the drive functionable again.

If you can't boot from CD, read the above to access CMOS and set it to boot from CDROM, this time look for the BIOS FEATURE SETUP . This will vary in pc's also but when you access it, it should give you an option to use the (up or down arrow keys, or page up page down ) to change the boot device list. It will say first boot device, second, may set the first device to CDROM, (however) in many cases I have seen the need to set all three to CDROM or it will still boot from a different device. This is not common but happens. (Then retry the above repair options. )

If this doesn't work, then as the above mentioned, it may be a GoBack issue. Here are the steps...

Reboot the computer and tap the spacebar during booting to access the Goback menu. Once accessed, disable GoBack, save the settings and exit. When you reboot, you will hopefully be able to get into XP. If you can then you should uninstall the GoBack feature, and then reboot. ( If possible , get into the recovery console \options screen and do this in safe mode, uninstalling goback may work better in safe mode.) You should now be able to boot normally. It will be advisable to get the latest fixes, etc...for GoBack if you choose to reinstall. I beleive goback comes with Norton and \or Roxio, so this would be a good indication you may have it. If you have an OEM version, it may have been pre-packaged.

There are also 3rd party softwares you can use if you have access to another pc, to repair your MBR or troubleshoot the drive.

One last issue, you said you evacuated. Was there perhaps moisture, cold, or other conditions to effect your PC? A little moisture can cause havok on a PC. One tiny drop between bus lines, circuits , etc... can cripple a system. This may be a consideration. With all that going on, the humidity and dewpoints must have been pretty high at the time. There is also a possibility that you may have bumped, or accidentally damaged the drive.

Shaking it etc... can damage a drive. (Understand , I am not saying you did, but inadvertantly it may happen.) Also, how did you back up to a laptop? There are adapters and software for this and not knowing if your drive is removable, or internal, this makes a difference. I have seen kits for attaching a hard drive to laptop but mostly for external removable drives, so obviously you had to use something. In either case, I hope something I mentioned helped. And good luck to you, PC and otherwise.

Submitted by: Paul K.



Dear Friend,

One of the common causes when you move a hard drive to another computer is that the hard drive has the old system configurations written to the drive so that when you replace it onto another machine it will have to recognize the hardware and the software conditions of the new one. This can cause conflicts within the installed old configurations from the old machine onto the new.

This is one of the reasons as to why important information needs to be saved first before you move the drive. That way you can install a fresh boot, defrag the disk, format and then install you old system files to your new machine once the Windows XP is reinstalled from backup copies, CD's, Floppy's, etc.

This does not solve your problem though, it is for future information so you know the next time you have to perform something like this. Well, I've come across, (after many hours of attempting to derive a way to move my copy of windows XP home to a newer PC, and also on a different hard drive) a way to succeed and get the disk to actually boot. First, Ill address the problem. XP wouldn't boot on the new PC, using the new hard drive, or the old one for that matter. OK now here's what I did, I found a program called Casper XP, great utility to copy a HD or create partitions and such. I used that on the old PC to copy the old HD to the new HD by connecting the new HD as a slave. After I copied it, I tested it on the old PC, it worked fine. But when i switched it to the new PC, it wouldn't boot. Scratched my head for bout 4 hours and finally thought "well, the PC wasn't booting most likely cause the motherboard didn't recognize or cant find the right drivers" so, I hooked the new HD back to the old PC, booted it, went to device manager and deleted all of the system components. Thus the new PC wouldn't try to load them, it would use the default settings and bios of the new machine. I hooked it up and EUREKA ! it worked!

I have done it yesterday with Win XP SP 2, so it's possible but it took me ~20 hours to find out why just cloning the partition didn't work correctly. The recipe below did work for my PC and I expect it will work for others too but use it at your own risk Happy
If reinstalling the OS from scratch is a valid option for you do that instead of cloning as you get rid of unused files/programs/accounts.

steps taken:
0) Backup all relevant data (user accounts)
1) Add second disk with a partition for windows. 2) Make the disk basic primary and bootable
3) Make the partition active.
4) Format the partition (allocate bad sectors)
- do NOT assign a drive letter
- do NOT label it
5) Clone the windows partition to the new disk
6) Remove both disks
7) Make 2nd disk the master, 1st disk slave
Cool Put disks back (I had to switch them as I poked my bios settings too much)
9) Reboot, the new disk is now the windows disk
[optionally you need to patch boot.ini]

So far as tested all applications run well.

Most important 'learning' steps:
Biggest error was assigning of a drive letter to the new partition on the 2nd disk. In one of the first tries I rebooted with only the second disk, no success. Tried to fix it by adding the first disk (patched nboot.ini so I could boot from the second disk)and rebooted again. XP started and I logged on. The process explorer from (great tools) showed me that XP was running from disk F: but part of the processes/services we started from the original C: disk. Explained a lot!

Rebooted with only the new disk and tried to repair the partition with help of the original XP boot CD. This improves things a lot but not enough, the drive was still F: and none of the installed programs had the right path not to mention the registry Happy
I understood the problem now, the 2nd disk must be assigned C: so I put in the 1st disk again and booted, formatted again but I was unable to assign it the letter C: as this was in use already and the system drive letter could not be removed or changed. This left me the only choice to delete the drive letter completely and let the OS assign it automatically at boot time. And then it started to work again (finally).

I do hope this assists you, it is difficult and there may be easier methods to do this and let me know if you find one.

Submitted by: John C.



I?m glad that you are back in your home now, and I hope that the rebuilding is going well. The problem that you have mentioned has happened to me before. Make sure that you know how to hook up your cables on the mother board and have a little knowledge about the Bios system. Here are the steps that I used to repair my system.

First make sure that the HDD is connected to the primary IDE port located on the motherboard. Check the HDD pins and make sure that it is configured to master and if any other device is on the same cable set it to slave. Now go into the Bios and check if it sees the HDD, even if XP won?t boot it should see the HDD.

Now the next step if it doesn?t boot or setup correctly, install the recovery CD and let it reinstall all of the systems and drivers needed to run on the current PC. This step should allow the current PC to use and boot to the HDD. Once installed and operating, check in the System Properties, Hardware and look for duplicated drivers or drivers that are not on your current PC, also run a good registry editor to clean out all of the mess.

And there you have it. Sounds simple but take your time and your HDD should be up and running correctly. Hopefully this helps you along your way to getting your recovery from Katrina finished. Happy

Submitted by: The Clue



. If you took the hard drive from that machine and just reinstalled it back into the same machine, there should be no reason for it not to work just as before. You did not write to that drive while it was attached to your laptop, did you?

. Did your computer suffer any water damage? Was there water inside your building? Perhaps you need to go thru your computer thoroughly and treat the connections (both power and data) for corrosion. I use Caig Labs products for cleaning contacts and preserving and protecting them from the elements. I use 5% Deoxit for cleaning contacts and 5% Pro Gold (soon to change name to Deoxit Gold) for preserving and enhancing them.

Here is a link to their site: . And here is a link to a site where you can buy some Caig products at a discount: .

Here is a table of part no. equivalents:

McMaster Caig
Number Number
8381T11 = D5S-6

8381T12 = DN5S-6N

8381T13 = D100L-25C

8381T14 = P5S-6

8381T16 = P100L-25C

8381T17 = G5S-6

8381T18 = GN5S-6N

8381T19 = G100L-25C

8381T21 = SK-IN30

. I would also clear the CMOS just to cover all the bases. Follow the instructions in your motherboard manual.

Submitted by: Bill H. of Groton, NY



Possible Answer: First of all, a computer can't have 2 drives with the same letter designation, ie you had your computer and then a laptop both with their main hard drives most likely labled as the "c" drive. as you tell us, you somehow attached your computer "c" hard drive to a laptop which also had a "c" drive and transferred data. Since the laptop can only have 1 "c" drive it may have assigned a new drive letter for your drive , ie., D, E , F,.........etc.

Since your computer at home was probably without power for a while, the battery that keeps the bios setting when the power is off may have gone dead. If this happened your bios settings would go back to basic settings which may not work well with your computer including not telling the computer where to look for the boot drive, which may not have the letter "c" assigned to it now. So you should enter the bios( see your computer manuals to find out how to do this or sometimes they give instructions on the boot screen.

Among other things in the bios there is an area where you can set the order of boot devices...Generally you set the floppy as the first , the cd rom as the second and hard drive 0 as the third (hard drive 0 is looking generally for the "c" drive). There is also generally another option to boot from other devices ( if your hard drive is no longer labeled as the "c" drive this will allow it to boot).

If this finally allows your computer to boot into Windows and assuming you have Windows XP, (Go to programs or the control panel) , Administrative tools, Computer Management, then Disk this point you will see your drive information. If your hard drive no longer is assigned the letter "c" you can change the letter back to "C" To do this Right click on the drive you will see a "change drive letter....

Hope this helps

Submitted by: Don F.



First I must ask a silly question. Have you put the drive back into its original computer.
I am assuming not. Well this is a difficult issue to resolve but here goes.

XP checks devices and computer details on start up. If it does not recognise motherboards etc it will not boot. The only possible way round this is when you know you want to install the hard drive on another system, Before you shut down, go to device manager and uninstall every thing. Then shut down. DO NOT REBOOT.

Install the hard drive in what ever system at a future date. On boot up windows will find nothing, but will search and find all the details and drivers it requires and will start. Should the drive be in its original system and not boot, then you could use a dos boot disk, which would allow you to remove windows in dos. You would the need a bootable windows XP to re install the os system.
Which ever way you do it allow plenty of time and more, after all at this stage one mistake and you loose all.

There is now no reason for not doing a backup of your essential files either on CD or a USB Device. I replied as I have had the same problem, and solved it I am no expert but I managed what others told me I could not do.

Best Regards

Submitted by: Vic C. of the United Kingdom



There are several possibilities that could cause your hard drive to stop working. First if the hard drive was subjected to electric shock ( static electricity) or a magnetic field (even from a house hold magnet) your hard drive could have been damaged or destroyed. But assuming that it works here's the solution: every internal hard drive I have seen requires a power and a data cable. Check to see if both are connected. For older hard drives (non serial ATA) look for a elongated rectangular (it will have a curved top to prevent you from plugging it in incorrectly) power plug with 4 colored wires hanging out of it. After you find the power cable plug it into the hard drive.

Next, find a wide (40 pin) rectangular ribbon cable ( the some type of cables that are connected to your cd-rom drive). Look for the notch or missing pin to help you plug in the cable. Plugging in the cable in the opposite way might harm the hard drive by bending pins and will
prevent it from working.

If you have a newer hard drive, serial ATA you will need a different power connector and data cable. To find the power cable look for a thin rectangular (usually black) plug with colored wires protruding from the back of it. Plug it in. then find the data cable (usually red) and plug it into the hard drive. The cable is keyed so you can't plug it in wrong.

If the hard drive is connected and you still can't boot try tracing the data cable to see if it is connected to the motherboard. If all the cable are connected boot into the BIOS and see if your hard drive shows up. To get into the BIOS restart you computer and at the first screen hit the following keys one at a time: "delete" "F1" "f2". You computer manual should tell you what key to press but I have found that those three keys will work for most computers. If your computer see the hard drive, reboot and enjoy if not your hard drive may be fried.

If you can see it but you still can't boot off of it load the recovery cd and instead of installing windows enter the recovery console ( to do so you might have to hit f1, look at the bottom the screen for details) and type "fixmbr" and hit enter. If you still can't boot call tech support.

Good luck

Submitted by: Alan M. of Moscow, ID



Hi there Coach Alan ,

Well , maybe the harddisk is broken or the BIOS system doesn't recognize it. Reboot your computer and at boot up you should see something like this : "Press F10 to enter Setup" or something similar. If you don't see some message like that , I suggest you start pressing the function keys to see how you can get to the BIOS of the computer. Or read the manual of the computer , if you still have it.

From there you are able to see if the harddisk is set up correctly there. If not , I suggest you shut down the computer and open up the case to see if the connections are firmly attached to the harddisk. Also check the connections from the cable to the motherboard. It will probably be a PATA cable , unless you use a SATA harddisk.

The PATA cable is larger and mostly colored gray with a black connection. SATA cables are smaller , mostly red colored or another color , with also a black connection at the end , but it's just smaller. If the cables are firmly connected to the harddisk , you know it's not the connection that causes the problem.

Close the case when you are done and restart your computer.

Go back to the BIOS and see if it finds the harddisk.
If it finds it , just set it to "Autodetect" the harddrive and also set other harddisks you have that way. This is the easiest to do , because then the computer can detect all harddisks automatically.

Don't forget to save the settings before exiting the BIOS ! Otherwise your settings will not be saved ! If the BIOS doesn't detect your harddisk , well, I guess it is either broken/corrupted or something. Also try to set the jumper of the harddrive to the autodetect setting , that way Windows XP will be able to set the driveletters and stuff like that.

Just remember , if you adjust the jumpers , always set one harddisk to "Master" and the additional ones to "Slave". Don't put all of them to "Master" , because that might cause even more problems ! If you are only using that harddisk and no additional harddisks , it's ok to set it as a "Master" drive.

It's good you still have the recovery cd and a cd with Windows XP on it. If you have a backup on cd , it's even better. But you mentioned you had it on the laptop , so , that's perfectly ok. You can transfer it to the other drive if you want to.

I hope you can get it fixed.

Submitted by: Pcfreakske2000



For Coach Alan,

There are a number of things that could be wrong here, but as always you have to start with the basics... Is the drive working at all? It worked last week, but it could be dead this week. Does it power up? Can you hear it when it is plugged in? Most drives make some noise, seagates for instance sound vaguely like a truck rolling through your living room when they are booted up.

Check the bios, is the pc's hardware recognizing that the drive is connected? Sometimes just telling the system to auto detect the drives will straighten things out. Be sure to double check all cables, maybe swap them out just in case, even when not obvious a cable can be bad and you should be aware that some cables demand a particular jumper setting, many newer cables require that the main drive be set to cable select as opposed to the standard master setting, that one has got me more than once.

All else failing, strip the system down, disconnect anything that isn't needed to boot the system, unplug every other drive except the one you are trying to boot to. Also be sure to try a different drive power cable too, even a little bit of a loose connection can cause the drive not to boot or to fail after boot. With the assumption that all parts are in working condition and no changes were made to the operating system after the drive was removed, odds are it is something simple like the jumper, bios, or power/data cables that are causing the problem.

Hope that helps,

Submitted by: Michael T.
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by csbk / November 10, 2005 8:56 PM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

All of the information so far is very good. I am not one of the savvy. Please forgive me though, the answers seem to be very long and may result in a undesired recovery. The answer to the original problem probably answered.

I have more questions about this.

Coach Alan said that he took the hard drive out of his [desktop] computer when evacuating so that her data would not be lost. (Very Smart). Next he said he I uploaded it on a laptop when I reached safety. Probably he used an external casing that hooked to the USB or something.

1. When he did this, did this do something to the hard drive, like edit the boot sector, so the laptop could read the data?
2. What can be done now so that all of the programs and program settings will work exactly the same as before?
3. What can be done to prevent this from happening again?

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usually no problemo`
by stiv6 / November 10, 2005 9:15 PM PST
In reply to: Answer:

a drive placed in usb external (sub)enclosure can most always be copied(uploaded) without changing it in any way that would be noticed upon placing back into the original computer.

forget about all of the many discussions having arisen here, this is a minor cabling and or hard drive pin issue as it was originally put forth.
no more, no less. and again as an electrician as well as technician, please physically unplug your unit before opening the case.

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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 10, 2005 2:20 AM PST

1. Turn your system off
2. Remove the cables from the motherboard & the drives, and any
CD etc.
3. Check your jumpers are set correctly, Slave, Master etc.
4. Insert a boot disk into your floppy if you have one, turn the
system on, allow it to run for a few minutes, then turn it off.
5. Replace the cables, making sure they are firmly seated in the
motherboard and the drive/s. Your motherboard and drives should
have a slot with a missing piece, which matches a slight bulge on
the cable ends. If not, generally the red stripe goes to the
6. On startup go to setup, generally either press F1, F3 or F8
7. Go to Hardware settings & either select automatic detection or
specify the type of drive/s
8. Save settings
9. Continue with startup
10. If that doesn't work, try the drive with another computer, it may
be faulty.
11. Ongoing, always have two HDDs, one as Master & the other as
Backup, so that when (not if) the Master dies, you're able to
12. If the HDD is dead there are various companies who specialise
in data retrieval, for a fee, just search the 'Net or your local
phone book.


Submitted by: Paul D. of Balmoral Beach, New South Wales, Australia



Not enough information:

I'm going to assume that we are talking about a desktop machine with an operating system (file structure) that was compatible with the laptop.

How did you upload it to your laptop? Are you sure you got the same hd back?
Did you load or attempt to load anything to the drive while it was connected to the laptop?
How was the drive handled during all this swapping and uploading? Secure from static, temp, water?

Was your computer damaged in any way by the flood or the possibility of electrical shorting? What error messages did you see when you turned the computer back on? Any?
Did you go into the Bios and see if it was recognizing it there?
Is the drive in the boot order? Are you receiving any other errors?

Submitted by: Steve L.



Dear Alan.
Hard drives are very sensitive things. I tried to take one out of a computer and board a plane in Oklahoma and when i got to LA i tried to put it in my son's computer. The entire hard drive was ruined, simply from being unlevel for most of the ride.

Was the laptop that you uploaded to also running xp? So there were not different operating systems between the laptop and your home computer, right? If there was, the hard drive could have copied the files from the laptop operating system. Or it could have copied some other files from the laptop that are incompatible with your home computer.
I would suggest going to the win xp website and make yourself the floppy boot disks for xp. That will overcome any hard drive or CD ROM that doesn't want to boot.

Once you get the system to boot up using your new boot disks, start out by reinstalling to your hard drive any saved data or back ups you might have. I'm referring to those files we make when we use software to clean the registry, or any other system cleaning tools that may have made backups. By doing this, hopefully it will function again for you.
This is all i can suggest. There are people out there who know a whole lot more than I do.

Good luck, I hope all is well for you, and dry. We are still busy getting folks settled here in Tulsa from Katrina. I hope they like it here. The only problem is the unemployment rate is already pretty high.

Submitted by: Micah M.




Remove the harddisk first and put it back and make sure all the data and power cables are properly attached and then boot the computer.

if it refuse to boot find a good bootable cd and try to boot the computer from it and select boot with cd rom suffort then try and view hard disk from dos so if it sees the hard disk then shut down it and boot it again with out cd rom support.

if it refuse to boot try and slave it to another computer and extract your datas and then re install another operating system

Submitted by: Abubakar M.



Chances are, it is your Motherboard. On the motherboard, there is a special chip known as the bios chip that contains all the information on what your computer has. If this chip is in the slightest bit damaged, you could be looking at a dead computer. The other possible problem that it could be is that your IDE ribbon is damaged and cannot transfer data, or if you use Serial ATA then that cable is damaged. What I'm saying is, is check you cables and check your bios. If those things check out then the only other thing could be a dead hard drive.

Submitted by: Brandon M.



hi, re. recognising your hard drive. xp does some strange things, i donnot want to suggest to you that you do what i have done, because it means opening your computer box...while it is all live and running..and whilst it is pretty low power, there is the chance that you might get an electric shock off the power plugs to your hard drive(especially if there is any dampness around)....but...xp seems to need the new drive to be plugged in when it is running. 'Plugged in' meaning the IDE cable..the wide flat one....not the power plug. the power plug can be plugged in before you switch on the mains...Do not pull the power plug out or push it in while the machine is connected to the mains.
make sure your jumper settings are set to CS (cable select) ..thats those little pins between the power and the IDE socket..they have a small plastic boxed copper link that slides off the pins...dont drop it, its tiny and hard to find.

Your drive will have to be plugged in as a slave first, to another drive that is running XP, presumably because the drive recognition software has to be running, so you may have to do this on another machine, or buy a new hard drive, load it up with xp operating system, then plug that in first(with the power OFF )...making sure that the jumpers on that are set to either CS or Master...and also be sure to connect it to the END IDE plug, the system recognises the last drive on the cable first, then the 'slave' (your old drive in the middle of the cable, second).However, at this stage, you have not connected that yet.
Note: fit the drive carefully as per machine specs, in the right place, using the securing screws and ensure that it is EARTHED to the metal PC casing.hopfully you will still have room to push the IDE cables plug onto your drive....carefully..straight and dont bend any of the little pins...get it the right way up..usually the red line on the flat cable goes to the power input side, but check for the squared raised bit on the plug and should slide on easily when matched correctly.

So, you should aim to have a boring but simple new xp op. system running windows, that will show the My Computer icon, which if clicked will show you your drives as a list. eg. "C:/blabla....H:/removable drive...I:/3.5Floppy disk ...etc. etc." depending on your system. comes the dodgy bit...and this is how i did it, not necessarily the right way...and doubtfull if anyone in the Tec world would support this method....but, it worked for me.

With the machine running, the case open! The New drive operational, the power socket plugged into your old drive before you started your machine(but not the IDE cable yet), and My Computer icon list of drives up on screen...

carefully line up the IDE plug and in one smooth motion....push it on. DONT grubble it around , either push it straight on or STOP and start again, really all the pins should connect at the same time, but it can be done with a bit of care, not exactly to specification.
NOTE.....i am sure that somone will be only too happy to tell you a better way, highlighting the fact that it is perfectly possible that you could damage your disk, wipe out all your data, or worse still you could electrocute yourself! but if you understand the necessity to avoid contact with RED power cords, and do it all in a very controlled way...well maybe just as a last resort then.

ANYWAY....what should happen is that you get that nice little'Found New Hardware' sound and your drive, in whatever state, should appear on the drive list under My can then go to scan my computer for hardware changes(DEVICE manager)and scan for hardware changes(that grubby little icon third from right in task bar at top).
But you shouldnt have to, if xp didnt find it immediately then its probably not going to, or somthing else is wrong.If you got the nice little sound ,then your almost there.Dont let xp reformat your disk, no, no, no. Try to just open it normally....but it might be a good idea to Defrag.exe , RUN command box, also Debug.exe in the same RUN box(start menu)....try and clean it all ....defrag NOT delete old files, put all the bits back together.Think carefully before you take an action...if in doubt, STOP and nut it out.

Well, i hope you found this entertaining if nothing else, this is only a suggestion, im no expert, but as i said, it did work for me...I may do it the same way again myself...unless of course somone has a better suggestion.

Good luck, keep looking forwards and hold your head up high...your a have friends.

Submitted by: Andy B.



Hi Coach Alan, sorry to hear you was a victim of Katrina as all of us in the U.K.was. As to your hard drive,you could try, as your computer srarts hold F10 and with a bit of luck it should do a none destructive recovery if it responds then back up all the data files on to CD-WR or the like then restart the computer , F1 should take you into bios and you could work from there .Kind Regards .

Submitted by: Yohan



hi the same problem i was facing a year ago but then i found a solution.

some time when we plug our HDD to some other machine (either it is a lap top or PC)
every machine install new hardware's supporting drivers so whenever you unplug you hardrive RIGHT CLICK ON "MY COMPUTER" ICON>CHOOSE "PROPERTIES" a new window will open then CLICK ON "HARDWARE" >CHOOSE "DEVICE MANAGER" then expand "DISK DRIVES" this will show you the id of you hard disk right click on it and choose "UNINSTALL".

Now it is safe to unplug your hardrive use the same method every time whenever you unplug your hard disk from any machine.

Hope this will help you.

Submitted by: Sardar J.



About the hard drive. I suggest you make it a 'slave' drive on your computer. You also have to tell the computer you have this new hard drive in it. Use the Bios screen. When the computer comes up try the delete button to enter the bios setup screen. Most computers 'find' the new hard drive that way.

You can also buy a separate case for the hard drive that has a USB connector, now the computer will see the new hard drive that way.
Windows XP does not let you put a hard drive into a 'new' computer and just start up. You really should use your hard drive as a second hard drive and just get your data off of it as soon as possible.

Submitted by: Wayne W.



You did not mention HOW you uploaded the hard drive to your laptop. I can only surmise that you changed the jumpers on the back of the hard drive. Either that or the jumper designating it as a master hard drive became dislodged and was lost. To correct just replace the jumper or correct the position.

Submitted by: Dwight G.



If the system BIOS does not recognize the HDD then it is lost. However if the BIOS is OK with it and the problem begins when the system boots to windows, try doing a windows repair using your original XP CD. It sounds like the boot sector may be corrupt. Good Luck.

Submitted by: Bob H.



Set up the hard drive that you brought from your old pc, on slave mode, the reason why xp won?t work is because all the hardware you have on your new laptop is not the same that from your old computer, so when it starts to boot up, it looks for the old hardware instead of your new computer. On slave mode you will only be able to read the files from your old hard drive, such an email, docs, music, and other applications that you have install before.

Submitted by: Ramiro of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico



Sounds like you have hooked up the hard drive on the wrong connection on the EIDE ribbon . There are jumpers on the Hard drive next to the spot where the ribbon connects and the spot where the sound comes out . . If its set for MASTER the hard drive must be added to the end of the ribbon if its set for SLAVE it must be connected to the second plug in from the end .

Sounds like you should get a SCSI Drive and a SCSI card plus a ribbon to use for back up ! ! Say a 73 GIG SCSI drive and let it be the hard drive for back up of the files you want to keep . .

Submitted by: Lynne S.



unplug it, put in a plastic bag, put it in the freezer for an hour, or two, and re-install it. if it works for a while back it all up. it may not work again. there may have been too much humidity, shocks, or the PC motherboard may have become damp, or the battery might be low. if it`s old the spindle may be stuck. so many problems.

Submitted by: Joe V.
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BIOS Setup?
by Romasteve / November 10, 2005 6:30 PM PST

I might be that the Bios has lost the parameters of the HD? Try the BIOS setup first, see if automatically determine drive is enabled and if not try it. On all drives there is heads/cylinders/sectors written if not check on the manufacturers web site for correct settings.

Stephen in Rome

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HD wont be recognized
by grzzled / November 10, 2005 7:47 PM PST
In reply to: BIOS Setup?

its obviously the bios that first needs addressed.
the bios has placed your HD in "disabled" mode just go in to HD configs of your bios and select the hd VRs the disabled label. dont forget to use f-10 to except the changes then reboot walla your rolling


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Unplug to prevent static??
by ktwilson86 / November 10, 2005 6:44 PM PST

The suggestion to unplug the power cord to prevent a static discharge is completely backwards. Without the power cord, the case is not properly grounded, and any static that might be released will assuredly go into the components. I would recommend leaving the power cord in, and, if yours has one, turn the switch on the power supply to off. This should keep the case grounded, and prevent the risk of accidentally turning on the computer. Then, when you're touching anything that is static sensitive, make sure you're touching a part of the computer case to make sure you're grounded.

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Everyone Means Well But Static Risk Is All About YOU
by tnhiker865 / November 10, 2005 7:22 PM PST

The advice about unplugging to prevent static was dead wrong. It is good advice to unplug the PC but for reasons involving risk of electrical shock to the user--not to prevent static discharge damage.

Likewise, leaving the PC plugged-in doesn't do diddly squat to prevent damage from static discharge. It is true that leaving it plugged-in should electrically ground the PC's electrical circuitry--including its metal chassis (case).

Risk of damage to electronic components from static discharge is primarily caused by the person who is working on the innards of the device. Our world is full of non-conductive materials such as carpeting, vinyl seats, rubber-soled shoes, the plastic case for your computer, etc. When you rub two non-conductive surfaces together then static charges build-up in one or both of those surfaces and usually anything they are connected to. These charges are 'out of balance' with their surrounding world and at their first chance they'll jump to a conductive surface (like the electronic components in a PC), This is called static discharge and is often several thousand volts of electricity. That is what damages electronic components.

How to avoid this problem? It isn't easy. Be sure you have touched something that is electrically grounded like a metal appliance case. Often it is the metal chassis of the PC that is the closest source of electrical grounding but one must be very careful that no contact is made with or even near any electronic circuitry for the PC until you've 'grounded' yourself to equalize static charges. If you Slide around in your seat, shuffle your feet on a carpet or roll your office chair across the floor or protective mat then you'll build up another static charge. This is very likely in dry air like we often have in the winter due to our indoor heating systems. Each time you get ready to touch an electronic component be sure you ground yourself first to take care of those pesky static charges. This is such a big problem that electronics service personnel when at their workplace use conductive rubber work mats and wear electrically grounded wrist straps.

Ever hear that little 'pop' and feel the sting of a static discharge after sliding out of the car seat and then touching the door to close it? That would have been fatal to a PC's circuitry. Be careful. Ground yourself first & often when working on your electronics.

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More on static
by Marv99 / November 16, 2005 1:55 PM PST

Most of the info in the orginal post was very good. Static is about differenes in potential. Worst case is typically one person handing a board or chip to another person. Generally you get a discharge between the two people. However what ever is closest will take the current. Since electrons tend to take the shortest path. In that case "reach out and touch someone" first is a good plan. All the while keeping the part in the other hand.

On actually working on computors. The ground straps can be bought at Radio Shack or most parts stores. They don't cost much. Also they should have (if UL listed) a 1 Mohm resitor in it. This protects you in case you do somehow come in contact with AC. I do agree with the last poster that a power strip with a switch is a good thing. This assumes the power is all polerized in the right direction such that hot is hot and neutral is neutral.
As far as the ground being conected being a good thing...
It doesn't matter. As long as you and the case are at the same potential.

A sidebar here... TV chassies and displays may be hot. Don't try this with them. Even though they too have static sensitive devices in them.

:::looks at bootstraps and wriststraps::::
"I love my job <G>"

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My first bet
by mackdl / November 10, 2005 8:00 PM PST

Since you mentioned uploading the data to another machine once at a safe place I suspect you had to change the drive jumper to be a slave hence a good reason your old computer would not rcognize it unless you switched it back.

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Not recognized? =Cabling error
by stiv6 / November 10, 2005 8:07 PM PST

I will respond only to your most basic problem as you expressed- hard drive is not recognized. I will assume
since you were able to check the data on your drive already that the drive itself is ok and has not been damaged by physical pounding or static shock.

The only reason why hard drive will not be recognized if it was put back securely into the same computer from where it came and the entire unit is undamaged
is some minor cabling error has been made.

here is the solution simply and quickly:
a) you have likely overlooked a data or power cable that must be attached. with the power off and the ac plug removed from the back of case for safety please reconnect the cables to the hard drive only after you have checked the back of the drive to make sure of the little plastic pin which sets the drive as a cable select or master. i recommend cable select and then you must use the very end of the data cable. Please be sure the motherboard end of the cable has not come slightly loose, this is most commonly the problem. REMOVE all CD's while trying to boot up.

b) if this fails you would be wise to try getting a hold of an old unimportant but known to be functional hard drive, from a friend perhaps, and see if that one is recognized.

c) it is also vaguely possible that you will need to empty or flush the bios cache before you will be succesful. a simple procedure but i will not go into it here and now.

d) if still you are stumped it is time to stop and take the unit carefully to a service center. It runs
about $40 to $100 to either fix or install new drive.

d)If you were in S.E. PA area I would do this for under $30 as I do all the time. As a Katrina survivor
if i could get to you I would do it free of course.
Someone in your local area can probably help out.

All the best to you with recovery in all things.

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thin faint red stripe on cable
by stiv6 / November 10, 2005 8:49 PM PST

please do check to see that the faint red edge stripe on your data cable is facing towards the power connector. sometimes they can easily be plugged in upside down.

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Hello Alan, so other questions and thoughts on this issue.
by gjohns28 / November 10, 2005 8:09 PM PST

Hello Alan, I have some other questions and thoughts on this issue.

1. You mention that you uploaded the data to a laptop computer, how did you connect it to that laptop? You didn't mention if your computer was also a laptop, I'm assuming it must have been but otherwise what method did you use to connect it to the laptop?

2. Be sure to take a look at the connection the drive plugs into and make sure it's not dirty or some foreign material got down into the connection and is preventing it from making a proper fit.

3. What is the exact make, model of the computer your putting this back into?

4. What do the computer lights display as the computer is trying to boot up? Amber, Green, Red?

Just some other thoughts, hope your able to get this resolved soon.

Hope this helps!

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by terryfowler / November 10, 2005 8:09 PM PST

Here in the UK, it is wise to leave the main power plug in when you take the cover off your system because this ensures that the case of the computer is grounded and touching the case means that you are grounded as well before touching components. Of course you should make sure that the wall socket is switched off.

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You don't understand static discharge... *sigh*
by edge_bit / November 10, 2005 8:10 PM PST

"Remember, whenever you're working on a computer, you must power the machine down and physically disconnect the power cord every time you make a change. If you do not, static discharge can easily damage or destroy your computer. With that said, here are a few things to try:"

Even if you power down your PC and disconnect it you will still run the risk of static discharge. Static discharge is when you shock the components of your computer with static electricity (duh!).

In fact, unplugging it completely makes the case no longer grounded - so it won't absorb any potential damage as it should.

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static? hmmmm did someone say static
by stiv6 / November 10, 2005 8:21 PM PST

please do ignore the well meaning discussion of static here since this is not what you asked about and only serves to obscure the issue at hand.
afterall you just recently survived the storm of the century and a tiny bit of static is the least of concerns at this point. handle your hard drive carefully of course should be obvious.

do be concerned with this though- as a rule of thumb
100% of the time, as an electrician and computer
hardware repair tecnician person, i advise strongly to always remove the AC cord from the back of the case when opening the case and or touching anything inside of it due to potential for electrocution or other serious hazard to you yourself. Enough said. Thank you.

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No offense but so is yours.
by PKsteven / November 11, 2005 4:15 AM PST

By the book, you should unplug the pc, more for safety issues than static discharge.Talk to an electrician though and they will agree that leaving the device plugged in say to a power strip that is turned off, allows for static to redirect away from a pc. Even if a pc is unplugged, it may still ground in which you can create a static discharge into the pc. This is why they say to wear a static wrist band and to put the pc on a static mat or keep your hand on the chasis, which is the best available static ground to discharge static. When you rub your feet on carpet and touch a doorknob, is the doorknob plugged in to your outlet? I hope not, but you will still create a discharge. So (once again, not putting you down) but you are very wrong also.
Here, you contradict yourself...

<Even if you power down your PC and disconnect it you will still run the risk of static discharge. Static discharge is when you shock the components of your computer with static electricity (duh!).

In fact, unplugging it completely makes the case no longer grounded - so it won't absorb any potential damage as it should. >

You say two different things, plus the case isn't what becomes important here, the chasis is. So actually, you are both wrong in these regards. If you stay plugged in to a live socket, yes you run the risk of electric shock, a power strip is the best advice if leaving it plugged in, BUT going by the guide lines , you should unplug the pc and be properly grounded to the chasis. Electricity in any form takes the route with least resistance. Also, there is residule energy in any electric appliance, pc whatever. What most people never think to do, even if pc is unplugged, is hit the power button once or twice to dispurse the residule energy purging most of it from a system. This helps to minimize the ESD, not cure it. One mor time on this...
<In fact, unplugging it completely makes the case no longer grounded - so it won't absorb any potential damage as it should. >

This is completely wrong and again, I am not just saying this to make you look bad, I simply want to say this is very bad advice. This is also why pc cards, motherboards, etc.. come in static bags. It does not have to be plugged in to recieve damage.


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by PKsteven / November 11, 2005 4:23 AM PST

When I said, power strip, should have been (turned off), power strip.

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well intentioned, incorrect
by stiv6 / November 11, 2005 4:33 AM PST

it's not that you or i are wrong but one of us is incorrect in this type of situation specifically and in general when folks are fiddling around with their own PC. It makes no difference what's plugged into what when you or anybody picks up a hard drive off the table to get ready to attempt to check it's pins or what have you.

get my point? did you know that a number of folks have been electrocuted over the years with thier
PC's being left plugged in when they touched the
modem for example even though the computer unit was off? yes, it is acceptable to use a good surge/power strip and shut it off and therefore leaving the unit plugged in but any expert will tell you this is no substitute for a proper ground strap and other protective antistatic gear. these things will not often be used by the home pc user.

you are lost in a theoretical mode that is not wrong but yet incorrect within the context being discussed...
we are speaking here of loose cables and lost pins, ok? thanks for your insightful thoughts just the same.

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you should read this
by PKsteven / November 11, 2005 4:44 AM PST

Well for one, this is why i stated that by the book, you should unplug the pc. For two, this was a reply to the post above yours, not you. Also you did reply to the static post also, if this issue should have been left alone, then none of us should have replied. correct? Sorry you misunderstood my post.


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sorry, no offense
by stiv6 / November 11, 2005 5:02 AM PST
In reply to: you should read this

it should be noted that the very methods some suggest, i.e. leaving the plug plugged in, for preventing static discharge to harm PC hardware is contributing to the cause of an occasional but often very painful and possibly life threatening risk
risk from high voltage AC which is we all would agree more worrisome that static which never will kill you or burn your finger. also, PC's left plugged in while being tinkered with, especially touching a cheapie modem(aren't they all though), can also be accidentally turned on, and other potential dangers. so i am perhaps overeacting and finding myself in an old rerun of Tim Allen's Tool Time sitcom but then life is nothing if not entertaining and i wasn't very busy today obviously. I wish you and everyone here well... let's just realize that static doesn't kill and AC voltage can do that, rarely i'll add but has been documented. by the way, are you an electrician?

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I don't know how else to say this...
by PKsteven / November 11, 2005 5:19 AM PST
In reply to: sorry, no offense

I don't know how much clearer I can be than to say, my reply WAS NOT TO YOUR POST, it was to the ones above it. Also this is from that reply, ( If you stay plugged in to a live socket, yes you run the risk of electric shock, a power strip is the best advice if leaving it plugged in, BUT going by the guide lines , you should unplug the pc and be properly grounded to the chasis. Electricity in any form takes the route with least resistance.)
Did I not acknowlege this? I honestly don't know how else to tell you this. I am not trying to argue here, ok? But you mistook my reply as being to you and make it sound as if I am saying you should leave a pc plugged in. Neither are true. Please re-read my post and look at which arrow my reply is to. I was simply trying to correct the other two with the facts. And no I am not an electrician but I have many classes from a man who has 35 years working on nuclear subs, plants, power companies and has more awards and certs on his office walls than I would ever hope to achieve. But if you want to know atomically how electricity works along with Ohm's law etc...just ask, i'll let you know.

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just to say
by PKsteven / November 11, 2005 6:15 AM PST
In reply to: sorry, no offense

I should have added, you were not replying ignorantly to me and I respect that, and please don't take my reply as being so either. As far as I see it, it was a simple mistake and I understand the concern with leaving any device plugged in. I wish you well also.

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Static, Unplugging & Risk
by alex_j / November 13, 2005 12:11 PM PST

I have often done work on PC's with them plugged in, but with the power strip off, and with a grounding strap clipped to the case. Still, considering that the output is only 12 volts, a significant shock from a component connected to the motherboard or directly to a 12V power plug seems unlikely. At the very least, it's good to touch a fully grounded metal case before handling sensitive components.

Obviously, it's particularly wise to switch off the power supply or surge protector when removing/inserting hardware in systems like ATX, in which power is applied to the motherboard even when it's "off".

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Caught up in this non-static chat about static
by Marv99 / November 16, 2005 2:35 PM PST

For those who might be interested more about static. BTW in the industry it's called ESD. Parts stressed by residual electric charge while still damaged is something else although still a concern. Someone here mentined "Static never killed anyone" which is probably true when talking about computors. That is unless working on one in explosive air. Anyway the statement isn't strickly true. Check out the FAA paper on this which also covers working with electronics.

ESD Association web page. Some of the industry uses this site for refence on this topic.

I might mention here I have 30 years in electronics not power. So shoot me if the above pages are too technical <G>

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The selected answer is complete and utter hooey.
by yourpcmedic / November 10, 2005 8:26 PM PST

This answer is filled with misinformation and is about as helpfull as a styrofoam cue ball. The drive is sensative to its orientation? Give me a break. What, should I try facing it towards mecca? The first real question here should have been...what the heck does the "customer" mean when they say they uploaded it to a laptop. Assuming this is a desktop ide or sata drive, this deserves some explanation. It's not like you can just pop a cable out of the side of the laptop and hook up a desktop hard drive without something like an external usb/firewire enlosure. Did they erase the data when "uploading" it. Did they boot the laptop with this drive as the boot partition somehow?

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thank goodness
by stiv6 / November 10, 2005 8:40 PM PST

thanks for providing a professional and a good answer.
where did we ever tap into the other stuff here. maybe the tech folks are on vacation for Vets Day?

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Selected answer didn't read question carefully
by jazzi / November 10, 2005 9:59 PM PST

The selected "best answer" says something about whether the computer had gotten wet. Well, the poster said that he took the drive with him "when he evacuated", so unless he got wet where he "landed" after evacuating, it probably didn't get wet!

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(AGREED!)The selected answer is complete and utter hooey.
by mikeman400 / November 11, 2005 1:06 AM PST

This answer is a load of crap. It doesn't even cover basic trobleshooting until the very end, after you buy a new cable and try cleaning your IDE cables!!???

I made a post down the line that says everything I could think it might be under "You listed all sorts of things but neglected basics" Message 26

Orientation!!??? Give me a break. The only time I've had a drive sensitive to orientation is when it was failing. I had to put one upside down and at an angle to make it work.. But it was very noisy and probably about to fail.

Makes me wonder if this guy giving the info has actually ever worked on a computer...

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Check the pins
by halogen3 / November 10, 2005 8:55 PM PST

I had a similar problem with a cd-rom drive. Turned out that when I removed the cable one of the pins had broken off. Took forever to figure that one out.

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