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?WinXP Pro: boot error "Primary hard disk drive not found"

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#1 EdSanDiego


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Posted 12 March 2013 - 05:44 PM

Hdwr: Dell Dimension 8200, WinXP Pro.

System failed with no warning or performance problems.

Can't recall a single warning sign.

Current situation: Can't get past BIOS setup. Drives are not recognized.

an't access CD Rom drive or Hard Drive so I can't use solutions that are CD based.

Attempted fixes:

- battery tested ok, but I replaced it anyway

-downloaded MS XP boot disk. It renamed the CD drive R: and I could read CD's, but it is in Win98 format (dos) and "could not create swap files" to access I386 files

- tried floppy boot with selected I386 files... no good.

- tried switching boot order.

- tried unplugging ribbon cables and power cables

-tried holding "on" button for 30 sec. to "reset"

The hard drive is spinning and the light is on

The CD drive starts, as if in auto run mode, but then stops without reading boot files

The CD drive will run from the Microsoft XP boot floppy, so the drive is ok

Someone a lot smarter than I must have the solution. (No, I don't want to buy a new box right now).




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#2 Chris Cosgrove

Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 08:27 PM

Hi, Ed from San Diego,


A couple of things that might help.

You say "The CD drive starts, as if in auto run mode, but then stops without reading boot files. The CD drive will run from the Microsoft XP boot floppy, so the drive is ok.". This ain't necessarily so !  Just because the drive is spinning it doesn't mean it is reading. Can you borrow a drive and swap it for your own ?

It's not holding in the 'On' button for 30 seconds that resets it, it is turning the power off from the computer for 30+ seconds that does this. You can turn it off either at the wall or at the switch on the back of the computer's power supply, both have the same effect.


I will admit that I am as much in the dark as you are about what has caused your problem. I have had computers crash and / or just stop running for a number of reasons over the years, but never a time when the BIOS refused to recognise drives. I do have the situation on my own computer, where I have three HDDs two of which are the same model, and the BIOS occasionally has got confused about which is which. All this results in is a message at boot time 'No operating system found'. And all this entails is going into the BIOS and swapping the drive order around.


Best of luck,


Chris Cosgrove

#3 K6567


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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:31 PM

Have you tried a reset of the BIOS & CMOS, to reload the factory defaults.

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