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Dell Inspiron doesn't recognize hard drive

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Old 04-21-2008, 03:27 PM   #1
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Hi, I have a Dell Inspiron laptop that I purchased refurbished from an eBay seller. I used it for a couple of months, then something happened to the hard drive.

Now, when I try to boot up, I get the following error message:

"Primary hard disk drive not found" and "no bootable device".

Thinking it was a bad hard drive, I purchased an identical one to the one in the laptop (a Fujitsu MHT2080AT 80 GB laptop HDD Hard Disk Drive). When I replaced the hard drive, I got the same error message, leading me to conclude it must be something else.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Jeff

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Old 04-21-2008, 03:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the6ofus6 View Post
Hi, I have a Dell Inspiron laptop that I purchased refurbished from an eBay seller. I used it for a couple of months, then something happened to the hard drive.

Now, when I try to boot up, I get the following error message:

"Primary hard disk drive not found" and "no bootable device".

Thinking it was a bad hard drive, I purchased an identical one to the one in the laptop (a Fujitsu MHT2080AT 80 GB laptop HDD Hard Disk Drive). When I replaced the hard drive, I got the same error message, leading me to conclude it must be something else.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Jeff
Hi Jeff,

do you mean with the new HDD you still get the same error? hmmm how did you install the operating system in the new one by the way? try to boot with an XP installer and see if it you get the error. you may have to change the boot order in the bios settings so you can boot from the CD drive.

anyhow, do post back any results...

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Old 06-13-2008, 08:49 PM   #3
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Hi, I'd like to resurrect this issue. Same as before. I had to replace the AC adapter (lost it, darn kids!), just hadn't gotten around to it. The error message I am now getting is basically the same, as follows:

"Primary hard disk drive not found
Fixed optical drive not found

No bootable devices--strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility"

When I retry, no success. I did as you originally suggested, making CD drive first boot in the bios, then trying to reinstall operating system--again, no success.

What's next?

Thanks, Jeff
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:40 PM   #4
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Hi Jeff,

so were you able to boot from the CD drive (using XP install CD)? if you did, were you able to see the XP install menu and may start the installation?

if you have not done so yet, pop your XP install CD in your CD drive and boot from your CD drive. change the boot order/boot sequence to make this possible.
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:48 PM   #5
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Trigger, thanks for the quick response--I appreciate it. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was NOT able to boot up at all. When I tried to boot up using the Windows XP CD, it took me to the same black screen as before. I did switch the boot up order in the bios, but to no avail.

Where do we go from here?
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the6ofus6 View Post
Trigger, thanks for the quick response--I appreciate it. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was NOT able to boot up at all. When I tried to boot up using the Windows XP CD, it took me to the same black screen -- please explain on this a little as before. I did switch the boot up order in the bios, but to no avail. -- what do you mean to no avail? any errors?

Where do we go from here?
Hi Jeff,

just need a clearer picture, apologies for the 20 questions...
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:02 PM   #7
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When I turn on the computer, regardless of whether I try to boot up from hard drive (which the laptop cannot see), or from the CD, I get the same error message:

Primary hard disk drive not found
Fixed optical drive not found

No bootable devices--strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility"


This appears on a black screen. I cannot get to any kind of an install screen using the CD, and since it can't see the hard drive, it doesn't detect on OS.

I can get to the bios using F2 (set up), but there it also shows "no hard drive".
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:04 PM   #8
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Additional note: The CD drive is the first bootable drive in the bios. I changed it before trying to boot from the CD. That's what I meant by "to no avail".
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:18 PM   #9
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Hi Jeff,

thanks for clarifying...

i see two problems here (initially).

first is that you have a faulty CD drive, here you can test your CD drive on another laptop or via an external enclosure or may be you can use a working CD drive in your laptop. if your CD drive works on another computer or if the working CD drive does NOT work in your laptop, it may be bad news.

second is the hard drive. basically if your hard drive is new, it should be recognized immediately. assuming it is new but it is defective, you can test this just like how you test the CD drive (see above). now if you have confirmed that the HDD is working but still cannot be recognized by your laptop, it may be (again) bad news.

THE BAD NEWS:
both CD drive and HDD plugs into connectors that are directly mounted on the motherboard. i suggest you check these connections. try reseating the drives if necessary. also clear your CMOS (sometimes this helps).

as you can see the common part here is the motherboard. this is your worst case scenario.
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:56 PM   #10
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I'm thinking we may be moving to worst case scenario. I don't think the problem is the CD drive, though I don't know how I'd test--it is an internal drive.

The problem started with the hard drive not being recognized. Thinking it may have been a defective or crashed hard drive, I purchased another one. I inserted the new hard drive and continue to get the same message. Therefore, I think the hard drive is OK, just the laptop can't recognize it.

Does that sound like the motherboard to you?

Your suggestions about reseating the drives and clearing out the CMOS are out of my technical league. Can you provide detailed instructions on how to do that, or should I look to take into a local computer repair shop?
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Old 06-14-2008, 12:23 AM   #11
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what Dell Inspiron model do you have? i ask so i can help you find a service manual. the manual is your guide for removal and replacement. i believe it has instructions on how the clear the CMOS too.

like all the other laptops, the CD drive can be removed just like the hard drive except that removal of the hard drive is easier. the service manual may come in handy in both cases.

assuming your CD drive and motherboard is OK, you can boot from the CD drive with or without the HDD attached. if you want you can try this. remove your HDD, pop in your XP install CD in your CD drive and boot from it. if it does not recognizes your CD drive (you will get same error) then there could be a problem with your CD drive or your motherboard.

opening the laptop is easy BUT can be a little bit tricky (yes, even with the manual). sometimes you will need a LOT OF PATIENCE in just the opening part. if somehow you are not comfortable doing this, a repair shop is the next best option.

to answer your question if i think it is the motherboard... yes, i think it is the motherboard but too early to tell since the HDD and CD drive have not been tested yet.
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Old 06-14-2008, 12:34 AM   #12
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Inspiron 8200. Just tried to boot from CD w/o HD in. Same problem. Doesn't look like CD drive is removable. It's screwed in. I'll try to remove in the AM, then let you know if I can test. Thanks.
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Old 06-14-2008, 12:37 AM   #13
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here's the link for the service manual:

http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...0/en/index.htm

here's the part on removing HDD and CD drive:
http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...dd.htm#1084976
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:20 PM   #14
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Removed HDD and CD drive. How do I test? I have another laptop. Do I need to connect the CD drive as an external drive using a cable? And how would I test the HD? This one is only compatible with the Dell laptop that is not working.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:31 PM   #15
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if they are not compatible with the other laptop that you have, then you may need an external enclosure via USB.

what is your other laptop by the way? have you checked the connectors of the hard drive and the CD drive?
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:12 AM   #16
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Hi, 2 things:

1) Haven't had a chance to get a USB cord to try the CD drive yet. Will try to do this week. I did not (was not able) to check connections. The Dell manual you provided link for did not have instructions on how to check. My other laptop is a Toshiba Satellite.

2) Speaking of which, I am having all sorts of performance issues with the Toshiba. Hoping you can provide an assist. I submitted a thread twice on the HJT Help forum, and have not gotten a response, the latest 3 days ago. I think that somehow my posts on HJT are not alerting the techs that I posted, or they are falling into a black hole, because I'm not getting any response.

Can you take a look at it and see what the problem might be?

I'd appreciate it. Thanks, Jeff
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:17 AM   #17
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Hi Jeff,

as for the HJT forum, I know someone will take care of it. Their team is so busy, that I know for sure. i will take a look at though but since i am not a security analyst, i am not allowed to analyze/advise on security matters (this is for the good of the members).

as for your Toshiba, please post exact model/type. I could try some search for the manuals.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:36 PM   #18
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I've been doing some Google searching for the past week for this identical problem on my Dell Inspiron e1505 (6400). This past weekend, I started getting various blue screens of death (BSOD) that forced my computer to shut down. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out hard ware issues but am up against the wall so far.

I have tried replacing the existing hard drive with two different hard drives from Best Buy ... I received the BSODs while installing a fresh install of dell Media Direct and XP on the new hard drives -- that's if my computer even recognized having a hard drive attached to the machine. I intermittently receive the same errors about "no bootable device" and "primary hard disk not found" as well when booting up the machine. It also shows in the bios settings that there is no hard drive.

After getting no where with the hard drive solutions, I took one of the new drives back to Best Buy and bought two new sticks of DDR2 1gb RAM. After I replaced the RAM, the computer seemed to fly. I was back into the fresh installation of XP on the new hard drive. I was running Windows Updates when the computer blue screened again, forcing me to power down the computer, reboot, only to encounter the "no bootable device" error again.

It has been a very frustrating past week trying to resolve these problems. I'm assuming at this point that it's either a problem with the motherboard or something else since I've encountered the problem with different hard drives, with the optical drive removed, etc. I'm assuming it's not the graphics card since I haven't had any display issues.

It seems that I keep encountering people talking about this problem via my searches on Google. It seems to be a common problem with Inspirons (or Dells in general). My search results seem to frequently return pages discussing dell products, particularly inspirons, while I'm doing generic searches (i.e. minus keywords relating to Dell) pertaining to the problems I'm experiencing. Or that could just be that Dells and Inspirons have been around for so long that their market share is greater than most.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:45 PM   #19
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I also meant to mention that I've run the diagnostics from the F12 boot menu in addition to the Dell diagnostics disk which runs a more extensive list of tests. Everything passes. Occasionally/Randomly the hard drive test fails -- but only because it doesn't detect a hard drive. If it does detect the hard drive, the hard drive tests pass as well.

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