General discussion

Disk boot failure: What is it and what can I do to resolve it


I'm receiving a "disk boot failure" error each day when I try to boot up my desktop. What does this mean exactly? It appears, with rare exceptions, only when the PC is started each morning. Once or twice in the six weeks since I purchased the computer, the error did not appear. If I shut the PC down and restart it, everything appears to run OK. I've run diagnostics on all the hardware, followed the recommendations on the HP site to correct this error, run chkdsk and talked to the HP tech support. The only thing left is to wipe my hard drive and do a system recovery. Before doing that, I need to know if there is anything else I can try.

Submitted by: Marlene O.

This answer was voted most helpful by our community members


Disk Boot Failure - Some Things To Try


The disk boot failure could come from a number of sources. As an ex-HP tech, I can offer some solutions one or a combination of which will hopefully correct the error.

First, check your BIOS settings to see if S.M.A.R.T drive reporting is enabled. If it is, disable it and give it a test run of 2-3 days under a regular rebooting cycle to see if the error persists. S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology)is a somewhat outdated standard developed as an "early warning" system to detect hard disk issues. If your desktop is newer, it may not even be available as an option as it is not widely used these days. The SMART technology while useful under certain circumstances had an extremely wide margin of error and would throw errors on boot occasionally when there would be nothing from either a physical or configuration standpoint failing or pending failing in the drive.

While we're in the BIOS, I'd recommend that you ensure that it is recognizing the drive correctly on each startup. The easiest way to ensure this is to reset your BIOS default settings. While on the BIOS screen, look for an indication either along the top or bottom designated by one of the function keys (I believe it used to be F10 to restore defaults). Be sure to save your changes and exit. Again, where you did not get the error every time, you may need to monitor it's progress to see if the error returns.

Second, physically check all cabling. A loose or in some cases failing IDE cable (assuming it is an IDE and not SATA connection) will produce these errors in the Pavilion line (and most others I would well imagine). Power everything completely down, remove the side of the case to give access to the drives and start with reseating the cable both at the drive end and the controller (where they plug into the motherboard) ends. Ultimately, if you were to pick up (or could somehow borrow) a different IDE cable to test for a short time it may also call out a failed or failing cable as well.

Third, we can't overlook the possibility of a failed drive itself. Formatting and/or recovering the drive will most likely not correct an error of this type. If any of the steps on the HP forums resemble those suggested above and have already been attempted, the issue may well point to the disk itself. How old is your system out of curiosity. HP had a now-infamous recall issue back at the early part of 2001-2002 with a batch of Fujitsu brand hard disks. Although I am skeptical that there are still some of those offending drives floating around (and if so that you are only receiving errors 6 years later Happy), the company *are* still obligated to replace should the drive be determined to be part of this recall. I realize this option is quite a stretch given the timeframe.

Keeping with issues with the drive itself however, if all steps listed above don't correct the errors, there could be a strong possibility of a failing disk. Since you say it will boot on occasion the failure may not be severe enough at this stage to completely fail, but a total inability to boot may be looming on the horizon. If the system is still within the warranty, HP will replace the drive for you (you will most likely have to ship the tower to them in a postage-paid box they will send you if you are unfamiliar with the repair process).

Should the system be outside of any manufacturer or extended warranty you may have purchased additionally, you will need to purchase and have a new hard drive installed. Some facilities may be able to salvage information off your original disk for transfer (although where you are still at a point where your OS boots occasionaly, backing up data important to you is something I would go about starting ASAP) before installing the new one.

I hope one or a combination of the recommendations I've made correct your issue. Keep me posted if possible.

Submitted by: H41N

Please see below for additional advice from our members. If you have any additional recommendations for Marlene, let's hear them! Click on the "Reply" link to post. Please be detailed as possible in your answer. Thanks!

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I disagree with 3 of them and yours!

The ex HP tech guy is the only one that speaks with a proper air of diagnostic ability, everyone else seems to start with "I had a similar problem" and seems to be just comparing their experiences. HP have good build quality and good technical support. They tend not to build one off systems so I doubt they have built this one with the wrong settings, or hardware compatibility. I think my previous answer was the best, and thats to simply take it back to the shop. Don't mess with things under warrantee you only invalidate them.

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Boot Failure

Look for a BIOS setting that causes a 1 or 2 second delay before booting the hard disk. If that works or not, I'd get a new drive.

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I, too, disagree; but, will add some nuts and bolts......

The message "disk boot failure" is only found in the ROM BIOS and is displayed when the boot code in the partition table is corrupt (Head 0, Cylinder 0, Sector 0). Errors in the MBR (Head 1, Cylinder 0, Sector 0) will result in "Non System Disk" errors.
If the drive has not spun up and reported as ready to the BIOS during POST, most newer BIOS's will report that no bootable device was found; a different error altogether.
If it were an older system, I would be suspicious of bad capacitors; but, most reputable manufacturers got burned badly by that one in 2000-2002 and are more careful, these days. The same is true of subspec power supplies (though the burn was in the late 1990's) and, unless you have added something like a $600 gaming video adapter, I doubt it to be the cause, either.
What's left is the hard disk drive itself and first, I'll contradict the HP support. Please (!!!!), everybody, enable the SMART reporting in your BIOS. I have been doing data recoveries since 1979 and regularly find that the SMART data in the drive indicated impending doom months before the catastrophe. What bugs me is that Microsoft hasn't built it into Windows. Wouldn't any of you who had a drive fail love to have had a message pop up saying "Your Hard Disk Drive is Failing"? Windows has supported it since Win95!
My suggestion is that you go get It is a freeware utility to let you inspect the SMART attributes of the drive and to perform a low level error scan. From the way you describe things, I'll bet the only shows a decided pause in the first block during the error scan; but, I'll bet it is there nevertheless.
If you have not already done so, make the recovery CD's now so you can replace the hard disk drive. They don't come with new computers, you have to make them. Back up anything you have done (spreadsheets, documents, pictures, etc.) while you are at it.
After you have done those things, you ought to be able to get a new drive from HP by being cranky about it or, at least when it fails completely, you'll be ready.
As a final note; there is the chance that Spinrite might fix the problem if it is due to a marginal write on the media. Reading the partition table and writing it back may actually fix it; BUT, if it is due to an actual defect in the drive, it will never boot again afterwards so, please, make the recovery CD's and backups before you try it.

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Disk Boot Failure

My vote goes to Wolfie2k5. Although many of the replies were excellent, I felt Wolfie2k5's response was the most direct and simple for a regular user. Many of us don't like to impose or prefer to do things ourselves, but I agree that if it's under warranty, the manufacturer should correct the issue, not the end user.

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All the suggestions in here are good, but I have one other.

Two weeks ago when the San Francisco power outage occurred, I suffered a disk boot error of sorts, except the message I got was "unmountable drive" which I will explain below.

Over the years I have got that "disk boot error" message only once. What was causing it was the master boot record [MBR] was corrupt. I replaced it and the disk was fine after that.

So the post that talks about fixing the MBR seems right on in terms of a fix.

The MBR is a small set of instructions on a hard disk that tell the disk how to operate [or boot up]. If the code becomes corrupt, the disk can fail to work or in your case, will give a message about the error.

Now about my problem and precautions I am taking. My error "unmountable drive" was actually an error pertaining to Windows XP not initializing or getting started correctly. What happened with the power outages [there were four on that day] is that the abrupt shut down eventually fried my Windows XP initialization [or startup] instructions. So no matter what I tried I could not get the past the blue screen of death message that said I had an "unmountable drive."

The fix was to put in my original WIN XP operating disk, get a DOS prompt, and enter chkdsk/r and some other codes that told the WIN XP disk to restore ONLY the WinIni files.

To my amazement the process worked and I was able to boot up and everything was back to normal, pre-crash.

But here is my point. One never knows what can happen with these damn computers. The worst though is losing one's data [on my D drive I had 300GB of data that was acting as a backup. From the go figure dept, I had removed that drive to install it in a USB enclosure and it would not work, for some reason the C drive being screwed up also screwed up the D drive. Later I found out it could have been my switch settings, had it on cable select, not master. But I don't think that was the problem].

Anyway, what I suggest is what I am doing now, in terms of backup. I now have two external 500GB hard disks in external enclosures. I also have a third 500GB USB enclosure that has the same data, but I keep that disk in a fireproof safe.

On my C drive I only have my programs and operating system. I have limited my C drive to 160GB so I am not tempted to start storing files on the C drive [if I had a 500GB C drive I could start lazily storing files on it. With only a 160GB drive I can't store files on it because there is no room].

All my videos, data, pictures, music, web pages, graphics and downloaded programs are kept on the USB enclosure drives. That way if I ever suffer another crash, or even a virus attack, my USB drives will be safe, at least safer than if the files were on the C drive.

So in reading your post, guess my main point is that you better back up or transfer the data on the C drive ASAP.

After that is done then you can tinker with all the suggestions given in here. Some of them are very good.

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Hard Disk Boot to Laptop Issue

Rather than repeat the replies from others also make sure you check these things out.

1. Leaving a USB Memory stick in a USB drive when powered up /down especially if it has not been formatted to run an operating system can sometimes produce a no disk or disk error.

2. Leaving a floppy disk in the floppy drive or CD in the CD Drive also can produce a boot error message

3. The Hard Disk has actually failed .. so this would ideally need to be replaced under warranty.

4. A Corrupt BIOS can also produce strange results so IF its still under warranty I would give it back to the supplier to resolve. Don't make it your problem when such a new product should at least last 12 months.

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DBoot 2(first in the Bit Bucket in the Sky)

Try these time tested, simple pervasively used procedures:

1. Turn everything off, then back on.
3. RTF
4. Don't let a SNAFU become worse, morphing into FUBAR (FOOBAR).

Perhaps best of all: Providing you are not told you have a 1D10T error by tech support, have a t.s. person come and fix it.

Do not forget that in NY state there is a law called The Warranty of Merchantability that says the manufacturer must fix or replace a broken product free of charge. HP, even Emachines, will send you a box and shipping labels.

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Most Likely and less likely reasons for Disk boot failure

Sata Leads are often at the root of this kind of problem although the fact that a re-boot cures the problem until the next cold boot suggests a failing Bios Battery. Simply put the computer forgets everything when it is switched off and when you reboot its loading its fail safe options. As its such a new machine the manufacturer's really should sort the machine for you. I have seen this error before and so far its been down to a sata lead in one case and a failing BIOS battery in the other. A 6 weeks old computers bios battery should be OK, but you would be surprised how often a duff battery gets through. Unless your happy messing around inside you expensive and vital computer get it fixed by the shop or outlet that sold you the machine.

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Disk Boot Failure

Before you do as recommended by any one else. My mother's Compaq or HP had the same problem. HP directed her to save all her files and then complete a systems recovery of her system - it worked. If you chose to respond to this it would be nice to have whjat type of HP it is memory size etc.. If that does not work it could be as simple as your battery needs to be replaced. If you still have this problem, call Best Buy's Geek Squad thay are very knowledgeable; and no I do not work for them, but they are very good at what they do. If your repair is going to cost you over $500, just start looking for a new computer - my mother refused and she ended up with a corrupted account from HP website from downloading one of their updates.

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Boot Disk

Oh, the whole point of a system recovery is to fix the possible problems everyone is suggesting (like updating your drivers).

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Use of a power strip

One question - do you use a external power strip (or surge protector) that all of your equipment (monitor, PC, printer, etc.) is plugged into? If so, is it rated for use with a PC? If not, the activation of the power supply could be "too slow" for your PC. One solution - purchase a power strip rated for use with a PC. Another - make sure your PC is powered down before shutting off the power strip, and, when you turn on the strip, wait a minute before turning on the PC (let the monitor, printer, etc. power up first). Finally - just don't use the power switch on the strip - instead turn the individual components off. Of course, the best solution is to buy a PC rated power strip/surge protector, as inexpensive power strips may not have the surge protection needed to protect your PC in the event of a power surge.

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Occum's razor, the simplest answer

It is only very occationally that the error message relates to what is wrong. Have you checked your cmos memory batteries? All computers have some data that is vital (the number of hard disk heads, and cylinders for example) that is stored "permanently" in battery backed up memory. In laptops, this data is most likely stored in cmos ram, backed up by "button" batteries. Unless you are mechaniclly inclined, I would call whatever 800 number you have for technical support, and ask them how to change the cmos batteries. You also might look at whatever manuals for "cmos batteries". If this is indeed you problem, won't you look great, and feel smart, when after replacing the batteries, it just boots right up! Modern bios auto detect and configure any settings, and there is no need to get more technical than that. I read all the answers you have received already, and the Michael Crichton novel, The Andromeda Strain, is largley based on this sort of problem. A group of highly trained scientists is stumped because a piece of paper is lodged between a bell and clapper, preventing it from ringing. I hope this is your problem, as it would be easily fixed.

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you bought the pc 6 weeks ago from HP????

you stated in your original message quote "Once or twice in the six weeks since I purchased the computer"

I would take the pc back to where you purchased it from, i know they say you must return for reair within 30 days of buying but you should additionally be covered by hardware warranty for internal components for at least 12 months,

thats assuming you bought the pc as 'new' and not a refurbished machine.....

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Disk Boot Failure

Have you tried going into the Windows Advanced Options (Hit F8 after the HP splash screen) and either going into Safe Mode or choose Last Known Good Configuration?

If neither of these options works and you've already ran Checkdisk then call HP if its still under warranty.

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Boot disk failure

Just take it back and get another laptop.

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Copy the Data First, then reinstall the operating System

Best thing if your computer giving you boot problem, First copy all your important Data from your Hard drive to another normal computer, to do that without windows, is to take out the Hard drive, and then change your drive Jumper Master ? to Slave, then attached with running computer now the running computer run from his hard drive, but you will see one more drive which is your drive on slave, then copy all the data from slave to master drive,
second take the drive out make it master again then put it back to your computer. then reinstall the operating system, Hope fully your problem will be resolved, but if after that it give your same problem, then you can send you system to replace your drive. And in this way you don't have to worry about your data, because it is already saved in the different computer.

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make sure it's breathing!

I had the same issue with a Compaq SR1910NX desktop. I was looking things up on the internet and susequently logged off, leaving the computer idle while I took a nap. When I awoke, The screen was black (after taking the computer out of sleep mode (to which HP has a bios update for certain motherboards that can't wake out of sleep mode with either the keyboard or mouse)) and at the top was the phrase "boot disk failure". I almost went ballistic because my computer is less than a year old as well. I had just loaded new programs for school, and I thought, "great, I just lost all my assignments, everything". I figured at first that one of them was 'bugged'.

Anyway, I shut everything down for the night. I started it up the next day and it worked just fine for a week. I ran the scan with Norton Internet Security 2007 and found nothing. Checkdisk found nothing. At the end of the week, it happend again. This time I was able to at least go in to Bios (after trying to boot from disk and failing) and I noticed that the Bios did not "see" my hard-drive. But, what I also found was that the case was warmer than usual. So, I shut it down again and let it cool. I figured it was just a case of overheating.

Point after all this is that in my case, these were 90+ degree days. My ceiling fan was turned off as well as the AC. But perhaps more importantly, the desk where my tower resides was fully encased. Airflow is critical. I cut out the panel at the rear of the desk, behind the tower to help it to breathe. Turned the ceiling fan and AC on and my issue went away. So far it's been over a month without issue. Yes, I had already tried the cleaning method the first time. But, I am still considering a higher flow internal fan set. I was also fortunate that none of my data was lost. Thank God for Norton Ghost!

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Disk boot failure

check 2 things
1 = that no cd (or floppy) is in the roms
2 = unplug and ensure all cards are set properly.

- Collapse - HP computer...boot errors

I had purchased an HP laptop and had problems with it. I no longer have it. Enclosed was a program to backup my laptop (only one time), to make an exact copy of my drive incase I needed to restore it for any reason. I'm not sure if you are running Vista or if this was included in your desktop. I would recommend doing this backup - before - you start doing other things. After you do this backup, try a restore. Mine worked fine for me, everytime (I did it about 6 times). Your computer should be under warrenty and you should not have a problem getting it replaced. If you have a backup of this system, you can then restore it on your new system (must be the same type), which I have done. The reason why I know this, is because each laptop I got had problems. One was a "video display" problem, another had a head phone jack problem. What I'm getting at, is that I was able to take my original back up and restore it to the new computer I got with out any problems. The problem is that you only get one backup for you computer. So, get your computer the way you like it, and THEN burn your backup to DVD. Hope this helps!

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Boot failure

My PC is about 4 years old, Pentium 2.4, Rambus 800 memory, and I've had the same boot failure since day 1. It has actually gotten better over time, but still does it occaisonally, once every few months, and I have to boot from the CD. It used to happen every 5 to 10 boots. I first had W2K and now I have XP, and still have the problem. I have changed power supplies and hard drives for other reasons and it didn't affect the boot problem at all. Seems like it could be something in the Intel motherboard or the bios. It seemed to improve when I upgraded to SP2, but other than that I've just lived with it.

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Take it back to Dell!!

If you have On site warranty, call it n now. My guess is that its a loose cable or something easy BUT you will invalidate the warranty if you go messing about inside. Trust me, DELL will very quickly use that excuse to drop you from the warranty program. I know a bunch of people its happened to.
Since its brand new, let Dell fix once and for all.
Good luck to you Happy

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Solution to Disk Boot Failure

Disk Boot Failure occurs (1)when your hard drive is not detectable, so there is no need to wipe out your HDD. You can go through the connections check once and check for the HDD detection in the boot menu(by pressing Del key at the time of starting), if HDD is proper;y detected, then again check by removing all Secondary Memories(CD-Rom/RW etc but not RAM) except HDD.(2) when some of your system files get damaged or corrupted, for this problem, you just re-install your Operating System.

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Disk boot failure on startup

First be sure there is no floppy drive in a floppy drive if you have one.
Next be sure there is no CD left in your CD player. I have read that certain
CD drives will cause boot errors if there is a CD in them when you boot, and
have experienced this problem with my lighton CD drive. It is a periodic
problem andnot consistent. If these solutions are not your problem,
find directions on entering your System Bios and double check your boot
selections. A possible problem might be that even though you have no
Floppy Drive (like most new computers) your BIOS may still be looking for
a floppy drive to boot from.

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change the bios boot order

you need to enter the bios menu (hold F8 or is it F10 during boot up) and change the disk used fo boot up....I'm not an expert but that is what I did and it fixed mine, my pc boots on c drive primarily then CD rom as a secondary.

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Accident might be the cause

hello Marlene

Well i should say it's very strange for me to hear about HP's computer having such a problem specialy only a couple of months after porchasing it.

As other friends said it might be the motherboard problem, hard drive failure or power supply issue BUT why this might happen?

The answer is one word : Accident ! Make sure that your computer didn't have any strong shock in the past few months.

Ofcourse if HP doesn't see any sign of shock or scratch on the system, they'll fix it under garantie but verify this for yourself to find out the real cause of this problem.


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different ways to tackle!

system bios/ boot order configuration may help! or maybe you might have a floppy disk inserted (check this first). i personally have 7 pc's and a 3 yr old i had the same problem with 1 desktop. i found that after several attempts to irradicate the problem all i had to do was stay near the pc or hide floppys where he couldn't reach them.
make sure there are no discs in pc, but if you're like me you might forget from time to time if so you may need to tweek your boot order to put your hard drive first to make sure you will be booting from your system and not your favorite or newest cd, or a dos floppy.

if you have added hardware to your new pc you may need to upgrade your power supply (not likely but something to consider).

last resort!!! --- complete re-install b4 you do this you are going to want to know ur pc very well and attempt to download any drivers from the hardware manufacturers website(s) (make sure you save the install files on an external drive or a disc so as not to lose them during your install) most important will be nic (ethernet), video, or usb,firewire (if you are saving on an external usb,firewire may not do any good considering you would have to plug into one or other) nic drivers will be crucial considering you will probably have to download other drivers you will overlook (not ur fault) video, just as important, if you can't see you can't do anything, usb-not to worry almost always plug and play

also video will probably work unless it has been upgraded by manufacturer or you manually, so typically only worry if your resolution is rediculous or you have a gaming pc

trial and error may play a factor no matter what look for as many answers as possible for this problem. consider least invasive, most direct approach first. also consider boot sequence order if you are forgetful or spend late nights on pc to avoid booting from a disk.

one more note: pc's do not like cold, if your pc is in a cold room or tower on carpet you will want to consider moving it up off of floor or into another room altogether. if you keep your house cool you may want to password protect and just log-off instead of turning off keeping ur new baby warm like swaddling an infant. (they don't like to be turned off at all, doing so may reduce life of ur pc)

good luck

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boot drive sequence?

Check the sequence your BIOS is using to detect a boot disk. If the first place it looks is the CD drive, and you have no bootable CD in it, you may get an error message.

However the message that I get with my Toshiba laptop in this case has to do with cabling, so this may not be the explanation for your situation.

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My problem solved easily

I was disturbed by the message at bootup and even re-ran XP to see if repair would do the fix. Nothing. I read many of the comments here and then shut down with notes to check bios or whatever. I noticed I had disconnected one HD and the one I was booting from had the slave part of the cable inserted instead of the primary. I remedied that and voila! problem solved. I hope yours is as simple.

Juanito Verde

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Does not like the cold weather

Hi all, i too have this problem that Marlene has had & have read through this thread & tried most of the suggestions but with out success, my situation is that it only happens on cold mornings anything around 5 degrees & bingo will not go past the boot-up stage, turn power off then try again & starts up as normal.

Been back to the shop for a week but unfortunately it behaved itself,

Strange happenings indeed.

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Error Messge: "DISK BOOT FAILURE", while booting the system.

There are several causes for this error message. The boot sequence may not be properly set in the system BIOS. Another cause is the presence of non-bootable media in the floppy or CD-ROM drives. The drive may not be properly configured or detected in the system BIOS. Incorrect Jumper Settings or a defective IDE cable may also be responsible.


* Make sure that your boot sequence is correctly set. Generally, you should set the boot sequence to boot to the floppy drive first, then the hard drive, and the CD-ROM drive last.
* Check your floppy drive and CD-ROM drive for media and remove any that you find.
* Verify that your drive is properly detected in the system BIOS.
* Verify that your Jumper Settings are correct.
* Power off the system, replace the IDE data cable and try to boot again.


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