Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:32 PM
Thank you Baltboy and jhayz for your suggestions.
I apologize for my slow responses--I'm also trying to repair a car so it can pass smog test before it is overdue.
Initially I had thought that, since the computer didn't lose track of system time, that the mobo battery was probably fine, and that since there was a problem recognizing all 4 IDE drives, that it probably wasn't the cables or the individual drives. However, after fiddling for a while and still being unable to solve the problem quickly, I figured maybe it was smarter to just try your advice anyway.
So, taking your suggestions to heart, I decided to start over from the beginning. I replaced the motherboard battery (which was quite a few years old anyway), reset the CMOS memory via the clear CMOS jumper, changed out the IDE cables (I actually even had brand new cables still in packaging), removed all 4 drives, and tested each drive one at a time in another machine. Both optical drives and the system hard drive seemed fine, and the one data hard disk drive seemed bad (I couldn't get it to be recognized on the other machine). I placed the system drive and the two opticals back into the original machine, did system setup again, and the machine booted fine.
So, except for my apparently dead data drive, my problem is solved. Thank you both. I think I was initially distracted by what seemed to me to be more complicated that it maybe was. Following all of your suggestions was all it took. Thank you very much again.
I think I will open a separate thread to figure out how to deal with the apparently dead drive.