Drive Errors

If you see a hard drive error during POST, you have a serious problem. Of course, you don't panic, because you back up every night, right? Actually, I've found that at least half the time the problem is the controller, not the drive, and replacing the controller lets the drive boot normally, with all data intact. If an embedded controller dies, you don't have to buy a new motherboard, because you can buy a controller card. Check the documentation for the motherboard to see the tasks required to make the BIOS see the card instead of looking for the embedded chip.

If the problem is indeed the drive, you have more work to do than merely replacing a controller. In addition to replacing the hardware, you have to reinstall the operating system and applications, and restore the last backup.

Sometimes it's a bit difficult to tell whether the hard drive problem is a hardware problem or an operating system problem, because the point at which the BIOS turns the boot process over to the hard drive is also the point at which the operating system is beginning its own boot process. If the operating system boot files can't be opened, the problem could be a corrupt file (an operating system problem), or a missing file (which could be a hardware problem if the drive is corrupt). To identify the source of the problem, use a bootable floppy to see whether you can access the hard drive.

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The Ultimate Computer Repair Guide

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