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Cannot boot to any device, unless HDD is removed


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#1 mstap42

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 02:07 PM

Hello, first post to this forum. Hoping to tap the collective wisdom on something I have not seen before.

My Dell M6500 black screens from time to time. I power off un-gracefully, then power on and boot normally. Until yesterday, when it stopped booting to any device (except when the HDD is removed).

Symptoms -
HDD spins up.

After the POST, I see the Intel Matrix Storage Manager splash with a blinking cursor. And there it sits until I hit the power switch.

As long as the HDD is in either drive bay (this box has two), all attempts to boot from any device fail.

No F8.

F12 menu loads, but I cannot boot from either a USB (Ubuntu iso) or the optical drive.
No luck in tests with Win7 install disk; Trinity Rescue Kit (3.3 and 3.4); and SpinRite 6.

F12 diagnostics do not load.

The only F12 that works is the BIOS Setup. But no combination of Boot Sequence settings made any difference, including eliminating all but USB and all but ODD.

Here's another twist: When I remove the HDD, I can boot from the USB and optical media listed above, no problem.

The HDD was installed new about 8 months ago. It spins up, so I suspect a possible issue with boot sector or MFT. But I cannot boot from the Win7 install media to get to Bootrec. (I have no guarantee that that would work, but I would at least like the chance to test it.)

What do you all make of this?

Thanks!

BTW...
Someone else asked here about a very similar problem a while back, but no definitive solution:
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/129939/

Win7 Enterprise, current SP and the updates pushed out by our GPO admins.
Dell Precision M6500


Edited by hamluis, 25 March 2013 - 11:41 AM.
Merged topics - Hamluis.


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#2 mstap42

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 02:37 PM

I forgot to mention... I tested the HDD in a second machine, recently serviced/tested by Dell on-site. Same results. The only known difference between machines is BIOS level. The one above is at Dell A09, and the second machine is A06.

Thanks!

#3 hamluis

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 04:16 PM

Please run the Dell Diagnostics on the hard drive.

 

IME...a system that won't boot with...buts boots minus a drive...indicates that Windows doesn't even pick up the hardware and cannot complete the boot process/hardware detection.

 

Louis



#4 mstap42

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:20 PM

Thanks, Louis.  I understand you to be saying that Windows is not detecting the HDD.  And to use Dell Diagnostics to test it.

 

If you don't mind, because of the boot problem described earlier, I could use some guidance on using Dell Diagnostics to test this HDD, 

 

Here's what I'm thinking:  Remove the HDD and connect it another Windows box via SATA to USB.  Then run Dell Diagnostics against it from there.

 

What do you think?  Would that work?

 

This is new to me...not being able to boot from any external media to anything--Windows Install disk, Dell Diagnostics, anything.  Last summer, on this M6500, I successfully used some linux diagnostic tools booted from CD-R to recover files from a different failing HDD.

 

But this time, it is as if the BIOS ignores USB and optical drive and goes straight to the HDD.  No external media boots--even known bootable USB and CD-R with Dell Diagnostics on them, nor Windows install disk.

 

What a saga!  Thanks for hanging with me.  Will appreciate your thoughts.

 

Cheers!



#5 hamluis

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 02:42 PM

If you can get into the BIOS...all you have to do is remove the hard drive from the boot options.  Once removed from those, it should not be an issue...since you are not booting into Windows and you are running the diagnostic from the optical drive.  Boot options can be changed anytime, as long as you can get into BIOS.

 

As for Dell Diagnostics, it's an .iso file which does not depend on whether the hard drive boots or not.

 

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/19/DriverDetails?driverId=GTW03

 

Louis

 



#6 mstap42

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 03:43 PM

If you can get into the BIOS...

 

yes... in F12...

 

all you have to do is remove the hard drive from the boot options.  Once removed from those, it should not be an issue...

 

... but it *is* an issue, for some reason.  As I mentioned briefly in my list of symptoms:

 

...no combination of Boot Sequence settings made any difference...

 

...as long as the HDD is in the box.  Take it out, and I can boot from whatever external device I choose.

 

Dell Diagnostics...it's an .iso file which does not depend on whether the hard drive boots or not

 

Except as noted above.  Bootable with HDD out.  Otherwise, not, even with explicit instructions to boot only from USB (or optical drive).

 

Here's some new info:

My Precision M6500 has two HDD drive bays.  I tested all this with a second M6500, identically configured to mine, except the BIOS is an earlier rev.

 

Same symptoms in the second box:  As long as the suspect HDD is in either bay, the box will not boot to external -- even if that is the only device selected in the BIOS boot sequence.

 

I can put a known good HDD into either bay (on either box).  It will boot up fine until I install the messed up HDD.  Then no matter what the BIOS setting...nothing.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and respond.  I am finally figuring out that this is not a Windows 7 issue after all.  Apologies for not understanding sooner, or I would have posted in a different forum.

 

Next steps:  I ordered an adapter to see if I can read the drive when I connect it to a working box via USB.

 

Also looking into data recovery service.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to help me think about this.



#7 mstap42

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 05:48 PM

Hi folks,

 

The HDD in my Dell Precision M6500 failed to boot back up after a black-screen event.  Usually, after that happens (yes, it isn't uncommon), I power off, then back on, and I can boot back into Windows after a prompt offering to start normally.

 

This time, though, it hung at the Intel software RAID splash.

 

The drive spins up, so I wanted to try a boot sector repair.  Simple, right?  Boot to Windows 7 install disk, run bootrec, etc etc.

 

I did some testing in this M6500 and a second one, identical except with an earlier BIOS rev:  As long as the drive is in the box (either M6500)...I can't boot to *any* device.  Remove the HDD, and I can boot to external device or to a known good HDD.

 

I tested external, known bootable .iso files on USB and CD-R.  I tested every BIOS startup device boot order available, including deselecting the HDD.  I tested selecting USB and optical drive explicitly in F12.  I tested the HDD in both drive bays.

 

In every test, in either of the two boxes, nothing will boot - until I remove the original HDD.  When it's out, everything works normally.

 

After testing with just the bad HDD, I removed it and put in a known good HDD (boots from either bay).  No problems.

 

But when I dropped the bad drive back in the box, instructing the BIOS to boot to the good drive, same result as above...blinking cursor on black screen.

 

That means I cannot run Windows 7 bootrec, Dell Diagnostics .iso, or Trinity Rescue Kit (3.4) to see what's going on.

 

I sure would like to recover my Outlook personal archive and some files I updated recently but haven't backed up since February.  I know better than to wait that long.  Have recovered stuff from failed HDDs before but never had one fail this way.

 

Any other way I can try to read the disk?

 

Thanks!

 

The drive spins up.  It is 2.5" Toshiba 250GB SATA, installed new about 8 months ago.


Edited by hamluis, 25 March 2013 - 11:40 AM.
Merged dupe topic - Hamluis.


#8 Chris Charles007

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 11:05 PM

Hi,

Is your bad hard disk detected correctly in bios?? Some times bios takes forever to detect the hdd(usully faulty). I think cos of this you could not able to boot into windows when you plug in bad hdd.
Also connect both good and bad hdd,and boot from good hdd. If your hdd is still good u could see your hdd in windows and copy the files.

Chris
Regards,
Chris
tokeepmypcup.com

#9 mstap42

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 07:00 PM

Hi Chris, sorry for delayed reply.

BIOS correctly sees HDD. Also, I installed good and bad, one in each bay. Cannot boot to good HDD. As before, as long as the bad HDD is in the machine, I cannot boot to any device--even if I explicitly select a known good device in F12. Even if I remove all devices from BIOS boot sequence except known good device.

Stumped.

So I sent it off to a service. Analysis with DeepSpar indicated logical problem, but heads and platter OK. No bad sectors, looks good for full data recovery!

Thank you very much for your help.

When I get a complete report, I will post the results here.

Cheers!




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