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BIOS doesn't find HDD but UEFI does!


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#1 andy_power

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 03:32 AM

Hello All

I have a HP Pavilion 23 All in One PC with Intel i5, 8 Gb RAM and a 1 Tb Seagate 3.5" HDD.  A week ago I had a system crash with a BSOD saying hard drive error.  On trying to re-boot the BIOS was unable to find the HDD at all so I was resigned to a new HDD and a complete installation of Windows 10 and all my programs - lot of effort.

 

My boot options include hitting F2 to load HP's UEFI Diagnostics and these have system and component tests.  I ran the HDD tests - even one that lasted 90 mins and these completely passed.  So now I'm thinking my HDD is fine after all.  I tried all sorts of BIOS and power on combinations and really not sure how but after an hour or so of messing with bootable USB Recovery and CD I then got the BIOS to boot ok into Windows 10.

 

Sure enough the HDD passed the disk scan in Windows 10 without finding any errors.

 

The PC ran for a couple of days then failed to re-boot after shutdown - again with the BIOS not finding any boot device.  The BIOS has its own simple memory or hard drive tests - and the hard drive test fails with an error of no drive installed.  I power on, hit F2 to go into the UEFI diagnostics and the hark drive passes all the tests!!  Crazy

 

After trawling many sites including Seagate's own advice forum I decided to buy a new HDD and clone it.  I did this and used Macrium to clone the HDD - again it took me an hour or so to boot my PC with the original HDD and still not sure what series of actions got the BIOS to see the bootable device.

 

The clone worked and I installed the new HDD.  All seemed fine but once again after a shutdown the exact same errors came back.  The BIOS could not find my new HDD and yet the UEFI diagonstics run no problem at all - on the exact same drive!

 

So I'm really really confused about why the BIOS and the UEFI interface to my SATA drive are different - I don't really understand how they interact and what 'drivers' they use to talk to the SATA interface.

 

Currently I'm suspecting that my BIOS may be the issue, maybe the motherboard or maybe some drivers.  The new HDD has not shifted the problem at all so I can rule out HDD.

 

I'm really stuck so would appreciate any help!!

 

Thanks,

Andy, UK



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#2 SleepyDude

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 09:51 AM

Hi Andy,

 

With a strange problem like that I would start by checking the HP website for any new BIOS/UEFI update for your machine. You will need to identify the exact model you have...

 

Was Windows 10 installed originally by HP on that machine?


Edited by SleepyDude, 11 August 2018 - 09:52 AM.

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#3 britechguy

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 10:12 AM

SleepyDude has given the advice I would have given as well.

 

The following is hair splitting, but important hair splitting as far as I'm concerned.   A system has either UEFI or BIOS, not both.   UEFI includes the functions that good, old-fashioned BIOS did and they even get labeled that way, but they are not true BIOS as it existed pre-UEFI.

 

This indicates even more strongly that "something's up" with the UEFI installation on your system.  Even if there is no update past the version that's shown when booting I would "re-update" the current version, and most of the update installers will allow you to do that.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

     . . . the presumption of innocence, while essential in the legal realm, does not mean the elimination of common sense outside it.  The willing suspension of disbelief has its limits, or should.

    ~ Ruth Marcus,  November 10, 2017, in Washington Post article, Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story


 

 

 

              

 


#4 andy_power

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 10:53 AM

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the responses.  I've used HP's own discovery tool to check my exact model of PC and there are no BIOS updates available on the support pages.  Just old drivers that I have generally got over time because my PC shipped with 8.1 and I upgraded to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period from Microsoft which is some years back now.  

 

What is extremely consistent is that when I re-boot the BIOS kicks in and fails to find my hard drive every time.  And every time I hit F2 I go into HP's UEFI diagnostics page and select the Component Test > Hard Drive and it passes no problem at all - so there is 100% a different method that the BIOS is using to the UEFI diagnostics as this is totally repeatable.

 

On their support site HP gives a picture showing BIOS and UEFI running side by side which suggests the same thing - different access methods?  I am attaching a screenshot showing this block diagram.  It is on this page 

 

https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c03801890

 

 

I think I have found a way of getting my BIOS to find the hard drive - I am on my PC now and it runs fine until I try to re-boot.  I plug in a Windows recovery USB stick then go through to advanced and then to reboot into UEFI diagnostics then when I reboot from there it somehow decides it can indeed find my hard drive.  I think this somehow alters the BIOS configuration - the BIOS saves names of devices etc so it must be in the dynamic part of the BIOS memory.

 

I think maybe somehow the BIOS path to SATA is corrupted or maybe some other config issue - whereas the UEFI diagnostic never ever has any issue.  The HP diagram attached seems to confirm what I am seeing in practice - that the BIOS has one way of talking to the drive and the UEFI diagnostic has another.  I have tried just about every BIOS config option such as disabling/enabling secure boot, disabling/enabling legacy boot etc but nothing seems to change.

 

One odd extra thing is that I noticed that when I put my new cloned Seagate drive in the BIOS still had the old model name in the boot order and there was nothing I could do to get it to change to the new model name.  Not sure if this is related or a red herring.  Both original HDD and brand new cloned HDD exhibit the exact same problem.  And once the PC is booted into Windows 10 everything works and no disk errors are found.  Disk management reports all partitions as healthy.

 

Very, very confusing.  I am trying to find a BIOS for my PC but can't find one - I was thinking of trying to re-flash it but HP don't have one on my support page.

 

Many thanks,

Andy

 

 

Attached Files



#5 britechguy

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 11:30 AM

Nothing you've posted conflicts with what I said earlier.   BIOS under UEFI is still a part of the "big ball that is UEFI/BIOS."    You don't update or reflash one without the other on machines with UEFI.

 

Without having the exact model number I cannot get to the support page for your computer, but here's a screenshot of the one for mine, and all of them have a BIOS section:

 

hp_software%26drivers_page.jpg 

 

 

I would download and reinstall whatever version happens to be there that's applicable for your machine, and if you get a message saying that's the version you have, do you want to update anyway, say yes.

 

If, by some bizarre chance, your only option being offered is the HP Support Assistant for your machine then download and install that and see what it detects in terms of updates.  Their update assistant works well, and you can always uninstall it if you don't want to keep it.


Edited by britechguy, 11 August 2018 - 11:35 AM.
Added note about HP Update Assistant

Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

     . . . the presumption of innocence, while essential in the legal realm, does not mean the elimination of common sense outside it.  The willing suspension of disbelief has its limits, or should.

    ~ Ruth Marcus,  November 10, 2017, in Washington Post article, Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story


 

 

 

              

 


#6 andy_power

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 01:50 PM

Thanks for the reply.  I went back to my support page for my Pavilion 23-p030na and looked again for a BIOS.  Even though I now have Windows 10 (64-bit) installed I changed the OS option to 8.1 and two new BIOS releases appeared - the latest being very new from just last month.  So even though I have Windows 10 (not sure why BIOS would care what OS release I have) I gave this update a try - it has installed no problem and runs slightly differently with network boot options but other than that the good old hard drive not found came straight back again.  Again I boot from my USB recovery stick, then go to Advanced then boot to UEFI diagnostics then exit that and sure enough my PC boots again.   Very very weird.  Somehow the old BIOS part can'e see my hard drive and the new UEFI part can.  I think the old BIOS code must use a different disk drive code stack to the UEFI stack and once the UEFI diagnostics have been invoked somehow the BIOS part seems to have the correct path to the hard drive.

 

Whilst its a very odd problem it is totally repeatable.  At no stage will a simple BIOS boot find my hard drive.  At no stage will the UEFI diagnostics fail to find the exact drive the BIOS claims can't be found.  And once booted as I am now the whole computer runs fine until I try to re-start.  Totally weird and very frustrating. 

 

I still can't find any articles that explain how a BIOS and UEFI code set run side by side as the HP site describes it - so I can maybe understand how the UEFI always finds my drive but the BIOS side won't.

 

I'm quite close to re-programming this PC with an axe! 

 

Thanks

Andy



#7 britechguy

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 01:57 PM

Well, what follows is only a theory, but how do you have the boot record formatted:  MBR vs GPT.

 

There could be some sort of weird bug that's rejecting one or the other on your machine.  This really is one of those situations that make no sense.

 

If there's "nothing to lose" you could literally wipe the drive clean and reinstall Windows 10 to see if that might fix it.  I just really don't know what else to suggest.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

     . . . the presumption of innocence, while essential in the legal realm, does not mean the elimination of common sense outside it.  The willing suspension of disbelief has its limits, or should.

    ~ Ruth Marcus,  November 10, 2017, in Washington Post article, Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story


 

 

 

              

 


#8 andy_power

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 02:38 PM

Thanks again for the reply

 

I'm with you on that line of thinking - when the BIOS says no disk found I'm guessing it may really mean that no disk found with a valid boot sector.  Maybe the UEFI diagnostic code is more intelligent and makes more sense of the boot sector. Before this problem I had no knowledge of the newer GPT format.  Having said this when I click on disk management in Windows it shows my partition 2 as a healthy EFI System Partition.

 

Having replaced the HDD with a brand new Seagate drive and having flashed my BIOS with a new release it would seem to be pointing at the disk boot sector.  Having cloned my original disk then I guess I have just cloned any boot software so a new disk will have any issues the old one had.

 

I am super reluctant to re-install Windows 10 as my PC shipped with 8.1.  I strongly suspect that a new Windows 10 install would throw up on my 8.1 key.  Not to mention having to re-install everything else I've installed over the last 4 years.  I have full backups of all my data so that's not an issue

 

I'm struggling to find anything out there that helps me understand if I there is a health check for the disk boot sector and/or the differences between how the old BIOS code works versus the newer UEFI on this boot sector.

 

Thanks,

Andy



#9 britechguy

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 02:51 PM

As an important aside:  It is dead simple to reinstall Windows 10 on any machine on which it was previously installed and activated.

 

The licensing paradigm for Windows 10 is that the license is tied to the hardware (motherboard) and the digital license (formerly digital entitlement) is maintained on Microsoft's servers.  Once you have had a valid install of Windows 10 you can install Linux, go back to Windows 7 or 8.1, or put in some entirely different OS [no, I don't know of any, ignoring Chrome OS that I don't think you can download and install] and later use the instructions for Doing a Completely Clean Install of Windows 10 or Installing Windows 10 on a Replacement Drive When The System Had Been Running Win10.  You should not even be prompted for a license key, but if you are, you just hit Enter and the install will roll merrily along, as the digital license will be located.  Even if you're offline, the install will roll merrily along and Windows 10 will be in 30-day demo mode until you either supply a new license key (which you would do if you were, say, upgrading from Home to Pro) or just go online again so it can pull the digital license key for the version that had previously been installed on that machine.

 

There is also the Refresh Windows option, but that wouldn't work for boot record problems, or at least I wouldn't think it would.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

     . . . the presumption of innocence, while essential in the legal realm, does not mean the elimination of common sense outside it.  The willing suspension of disbelief has its limits, or should.

    ~ Ruth Marcus,  November 10, 2017, in Washington Post article, Bannon is right: It’s no coincidence The Post broke the Moore story


 

 

 

              

 


#10 SleepyDude

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 03:40 PM

May I ask how is the Boot order set on the BIOS/UEFI?


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#11 andy_power

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 03:49 PM

I have spent a HUGE amount of time in the boot order menu item.  My BIOS always sees my ST drive but once it has failed it boot from it the order gets changed to put it to the bottom on the UEFI list below USB, CD etc.  I can use the keys to move it to the top of the boot order but it makes no difference.  Once the BIOS has failed to boot from the drive it gets moved to the bottom of the list.  I drag it to the top but the BIOS just fails to boot from it.  That is until I boot to the USB RE then UEFI diags then exit and it seems to jog the BIOS into life.

 

My current line of thinking is to try to repair the boot sector on my drive - assuming that it is damaged in such a way that the BIOS can't work with it but the UEFI diags can!!



#12 SleepyDude

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 04:19 PM

Make sure you have the BIOS set for UEFI and not CSM, if you see there some option for Fast Boot disable that also.

 

You may try to write a new boot sector on the disk

https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/sln300987/how-to-repair-the-efi-bootloader-on-a-gpt-hdd-for-windows-7-8-81-and-10-on-your-dell-pc?lang=en

 

 

Edit: Link corrected


Edited by SleepyDude, 11 August 2018 - 04:23 PM.

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#13 andy_power

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Posted 13 August 2018 - 02:57 AM

OK well the good news for me is that the PC is now fully operational again.  The semi bad news is that I'm left really wondering what has made the fix so complicated.  
 
It turns out that with a new BIOS and a HDD cloned from the old everything works fine.  
 
 
The fact that I was even able to clone the old drive is weird because the old BIOS would not even find it.  Only by using the UEFI diagnostics to 'jog' it into action was I able to boot off the old drive to make the clone.
 
 
What is very obvious is that my PC was made at a time (2014) when HP was transitioning between the old BIOS style and UEFI because I had the old BIOS (keyboard and simple arrow driven monochrome menus) that talks to the HDD in one way - never able to see my HDD and diagnostics using the UEFI (mouse driven graphics interface) - never failed to see the exact same old HDD.
 
Once I got the old HDD booted WIndows 10 never found and sector or any other errors.  Each time I re-booted the BIOS barfed and said there was no boot device installed.  UEFI ran each time happily declaring no errors.  Totally odd and probably unique to a certain cross-over generation of PC's built with hybrid BIOS and UEFI.   
 
I am thinking that the old drive had some form of power on error because once actually booted the drive would run no problem and no sector errors were ever found with disk scan.
 
HP further hampered my progress by hiding a new BIOS release - their discovery program detected my OS as Windows 10 and correct PC model and failed to display a new BIOS as being available.  After many visits to the support site and out of curiosity I switched the OS to Windows 8.1 and a very new (July 2018) BIOS release appeared as available.
 
This was the breakthrough as I installed this using the firmware management option in the UEFI diagnostic page and it flashed no problem.  Still the old drive had all the same problems but when I put the new drive into my PC eveything works fine.  I have re-booted many times to check it's not just short term luck.
 
So it seems I had two or three problems - and totally complicated by the BIOS/UEFI implementation with each part failing and then passing the drive tests.  Then it seems my old BIOS could not work out the new HDD because I could never get it to stop labelling the HDD with old drive model - which it seems stopped the new drive working correctly.
 
I suspect that quite a few PC's shipped with this messed up BIOS/UEFI hybrid firmware - where it's toally odd that side by side the BIOS can't fnd a drive and UEFI passes all tests.
 
Anyway the massive learning for anyone reading this is that even if the old BIOS won't boot the HDD then the UEFI diagnostics may do and in my case this allowed me to get my old HDD booted so that I could clone it and then save a massive effort by not having to do any re-installation of OS and programs.
 
Also Seagates tool requires a re-boot of the PC before starting the clone process - which in my case was destructive because it would never ever re-boot without using UEFI diags.  Macrium was free and did a great job on my 1 Tb HDD.
 
Thanks for the help and hope this detail saves someone else a lot of pain!





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