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Primary HD not found,No boot device avalible,please help!!!

by stinman / November 11, 2006 9:12 PM PST

Inspiron-1100,dell laptop,level 2 cache 128kb,mem 256mb,
My niece has never defraged the drive or any cleaning out old files or
anything.I put spywareblaster,defender on it,ccleaner and cleaned up some old temp files(346mb)got rid of some old programs that didn't work
used issues in ccleaner to remove only those reg keys.Preformed check for errors and recover bad sectors.when restarted after the check it never came back on,then it showed a error message in blue screen,saying
it ran into a problem and shut down before any damage came to system.
Upon rebooting I get the same message as subject title.Did I cause this,
my sister is mad,said I should of never touched it.Is there anyway to try to get the mbios to read it again?please help I feel guilty?

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A couple of options. . .
by Coryphaeus / November 11, 2006 10:46 PM PST

1.) Can you restart in Safe Mode? If so, from a command prompt, type this:

sfc /scannow

This command will have XP look at all the critical and system files for any that are missing or corrupted. You'll need the XP CD if the program asks for it.

2.) If you/she has the XP CD you can boot from it and do a repair install.


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how do you start in safe mode-f8 on re-boot?
by stinman / November 12, 2006 12:27 AM PST

I have tried to boot with recovery cd.Still says no primary hard drive,
No boot device avalible.I learned on line at dell about rebooting holding in fn and letting go at same time to preform some test that came up with not able to read hd.Also after rebooting from check disk for errors windows was trying to update.I never got to go to event viewer
or anything the laptop never came back on to the desk top.I have learned alot from all you guy's here on c-net,especially john(moderator)I do
appreciate everybody's help!But I have along way to go!!

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Re: booting from recovery CD
by Kees Bakker / November 12, 2006 5:03 AM PST

If all is well, the CD is the boot device, and it shoot be found. So I see 3 possibilities:
1. The boot sequence is NOT defined as first CD, then harddisk (with possibly the diskette in between). Although it should try the CD if it can't find a hard disk, so it strange anyway.
2. You can't only reach your hard disk, but the CD is unreachable also. That's either a loose cable (assuming the CD is a slave on the cable where the disk is the master), or a serious problem on the motherboard (IDE interface gone south).
3. The error message is wrong. It does boot from the CD but can't continue because there's no hard drive, and gives this erroneous message.

It sure looks the machine needs repair. I'm not 100% sure right now that a new hard disk, as suggested by retired below, is the solution. Maybe better have a Dell tech look at it.

Sorry for your sister. And we all hope she DID backup everything she doesn't want to lose.
Still, unless you dropped the laptop or did other things you didn't tell, this does NOT seem to be your error. Just a machine that happened to fail, as they sometimes do. She might not believe you, if you say so, and she might not believe me, but she might believe the Dell tech, so she should surely ask him to restore the peace between you two.

Hope this helps.


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How to start in safe mode.
by Kees Bakker / November 12, 2006 5:07 AM PST
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by Hagrun / November 15, 2006 5:05 AM PST

You may need to repartition the hard drive and make SURE there is an active partition. Without an active partition the computer won't boot.

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Re: primary hard disk not found.
by Kees Bakker / November 12, 2006 12:09 AM PST

This can't be caused by removing of files, I'd say.
But I wonder if "check for errors and recover bad sectors", especially the last one, was such a good idea. What program did you use for that? Were there any bad sectors on the hard disk? And how did you get rid of "some old programs that didn't work"? What programs?

To me, this sounds as a hardware failure, not something caused by you. Remarkably enough, however, I find mentioning the same cause (a cleaning up operation) and, curiously, a work-around also, namely pressing ctrl-alt-del somewhere (not clear when exactly).

So, all in all, this is a mystery to me.
Please post the result of following Wayne's suggestions above.


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answer to Baker's questions
by stinman / November 12, 2006 3:01 AM PST

The only program I got rid of was the old windows spyware.It did not work and you could not use it.I removed it from control panal(add+remove).Then with ccleaner,issues,I removed only the register keys pertaining to that program and some disney programs that she removed months ago.As far as check disk,I used the basic tool that windows uses.C-disk properties/tools/error checker/then checked off both things,check volume for errors and check for and recover bad sectors.It
does it on restart.Which it did,when it was done and restarted the desk
top never came back,I could never go to event viewer and see if there
was any bad sectors or how many other errors were on the drive.I read
the posts on the geeks to go site and that is my problem but it stops
there on that page and don't give any more advice.I will try con-alt-del but like you when?thanks for your help!! Stinman

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I recently repaired a dell laptop
by retired / November 12, 2006 4:20 AM PST

with the same error message and had to replace the HDD, did you hear any clicking sounds?. Maybe the cleaning that was done was enough to break a weak drive. With dell one can get a new drive, remove a small screw from the bottom of the case and replace the drive. if you still have all the recovery disks simply reload the OS, drivers and programs.

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Reply to retired- recently repaired a dell laptop
by stinman / November 12, 2006 9:14 AM PST

I believe you are right.I took out the HDD and tried to boot it up from another machine.My friend actually did I watched.Anyway,it would'nt work
He tried to recover my nieces portfolio for high school tomorrow to no avail.Question,where do I get one for them.I can put it in and reload all her disks,but I had trouble finding the HDD.It is a hitachie with a
funny looking adapter.I assume I will need to keep the adapter.I called best buy,but the kid I talked to did'nt know anything.Thanks for your time and help.

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(NT) Retired-Oh Yea,Big clicking sounds when first start up!!
by stinman / November 12, 2006 9:24 AM PST
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See what you get for helping ? You're doing your
by VAPCMD / November 12, 2006 4:54 AM PST

best to straighten out a mess, you're catchin' heck and probably feelin' lousy about it to boot! Been there . . . done that.

Just hope they've got the restore disks.

Good Luck


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VAPCMD-Thanks,I do feel a bit responsible ...
by stinman / November 12, 2006 9:39 AM PST

because if I had not of defraged and the other it would still be chuckin
along and my niece would be able to turn in her portfolio in high school
tomorrow.But it was gonna crash just might of been next week or later.
HAHA.When I analized defrag there was maybe 5 blue skinny stripes,the rest red across the whole bar graph in skinny stripes and of course the pg files.Also tons of adware and bad cookies.So thanks for the pat on the back.When they get a new HDD I will install and everything else plus
teach my niece about defrag and other basic stuff,this kid takin calculus and physics little slow on dumb stuff,HA HA!!

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Let us know how it works out and when you get forgiven..
by VAPCMD / November 12, 2006 10:18 AM PST

Definitely makes most feel responsible ... even though it's nothing they did.

Was the HDD still spining ? If yes, might have been a perfect opportunity to try SpinRite.


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Common Issue, Simple or Difficult Resolution
by SIRKGM14vg / November 12, 2006 9:23 PM PST


The Primary HDD not found is a common error that occurs on Dell Machines, that sometimes can be linked to an error in the operating system. After your Dell system "Posts" (The black screen with white text" it looks in a special location called a MBR or Master Boot Record for information about which operating system is installed and where.

There are two things that I suspect is wrong with your system.

#1 - You have a software or configuration error that is causing your MBR to be read incorrectly. Windows maybe corrupt, or another related issue.

Test: If you have your Windows Install CD, place it in your CD-ROM and try to install windows... Do not initiate the install but see if it detects your Operating System. You may have to go through a couple of "screens".

#2 - You have a HD that has physical damage (Bad Sectors) that have affected the MBR or Operating Systen boot.ini file.

Test: If you have a second computer available, remove the HD from this computer and insert it into the other. Load your operating system (Windows) and go to There you will find Guided Help on how to run error checking on the disk.


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SIRKGM14vg-I tried some of these things you sugest earlier..
by stinman / November 13, 2006 6:22 AM PST

I did place the CD in the CD-rom and it read it.It loaded everything
and went all the way to the screen where it says,in short-1 load windows
2 repair windows 3 exit without doing anything.I tried all 3 20 times
different ways to no avail.I then took the hard drive to a friends who
knows quite alot about computers.We put the hard drive in another laptop
and he had something to do what you said about firing it up there.But it said the same thing on his also.Can not read,we could not even extract
the info on it.As far as test,you can hold down fn on the keyboard while booting up the system and letting go at the same time and it goes into some test mode.It then ran some test and stopped at the HDD and said it could not read it or something like that.Thanks for your time!!

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Does your friend have SpinRite ....might be worth a try.
by VAPCMD / November 13, 2006 12:36 PM PST

Did you try it with the mfgs DIAGs ??


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In order to try data recovery from the old HDD
by lacsr / November 13, 2006 8:58 PM PST

Try booting from a Linux Live CD
or try some of the recovery utilities from the Ultimate Boot CD
If the HDD is not completely fried, you can still recover the data. There are some HDD manufacturer's files that can check the HDD on the ultimate Boot CD if you know the manufacturer. It could possibly even restore the HDD.
When booting in Linux, it will show you what it is doing as it loads and may point to the problem besides looking at the files on the HDD. Give them a try before throwing in the towel.

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Hardware problem...
by SIRKGM14vg / November 14, 2006 12:25 AM PST looks like the drive has failed. I'm a little bit unsure that what you did earlier caused this to happen.

In this case recovery is not a, pheasable option. It can be done, but it's going to cost you some $$$. (Whoops forgot a $; $$$$).

I just noticed you said it was a notebook drive. These drives have a high failure rate under extreme conditions (heat, access, use).

Hopefully you have your personal files backed up to another drive.


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HDD not found is a bios issue
by Seaspray0 / November 14, 2006 7:06 AM PST

You are getting the message just after the Dell logo screen and before windows starts. What is happening: The computer is not finding the hard drive. This has nothing to do with any files contained on the hard drive, the computer can't see the hard drive period. Open the case and make sure the power and interface cables are still connected. When you start the computer, hit the key that will take to to setup. Look in the BIOS setup screens to see what the computer says is connected to it (does it say there is a hard drive?). You are not going to get anywhere until the PC finds the hard drive. It may be that the hard drive has crashed... it happens. Try installing the hard drive on another computer into the cables used for the CD drive. Does the other computer see the hard drive? Troubleshoot the issue... is the the cable, the hard drive, or the original mother board? If you can't get another PC to see the hard drive, then you are looking at replacing the hard drive.

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