Common hard disk drive (HDD) problems

A problem with an old IDE hard disk drive and a new SATA hard disk drive running from a PCI SATA adapter card

Hard disk drive problem

I cloned the system on my old IDE hard disk drive on to my new SATA hard disk drive that runs from a PCI SATA adapter card. I jumpered and installed the old drive as a slave drive. Unfortunately, when I boot the system from the new SATA drive, a message comes up saying that there is no operating system (Windows XP).


The old hard drive might not be attached to the correct connector on the ribbon 80-conductor IDE ribbon cable. A slave drive has to be connected to the middle connector on the cable, not the end connector. Click here! to read an illustrated article on installing an IDE or SATA hard disk drive on the Build Your Own PC section of this site.

When you boot the computer, enter the BIOS (press the key that the first window says enters Setup). Under the menu item that is usually called Advanced BIOS Features, there is a setting called Boot Sequence or Boot Order. Look for an option to boot from an external controller. If there isn’t such an option there should be one called Boot from an SCSI controller. An SCSI controller for SCSI drives works in a similar way to an IDE adapter card. Enable it. Doing that should enable the system to boot from the SATA drive instead of from the motherboard’s IDE controller.

You should also use your partitioning utility (Partition Magic, etc) to make sure that the primary partition on the new SATA drive is set as Active. You can use Disk Management in Windows XP to make it active. Enter diskmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box to open Disk Management. Right-click on the drive to bring up the menu options.

[Note that Disk Management in Windows Vista and also in Windows 7 can be accessed by entering diskmgmt.msc in its Start => Start Search (Vista) and Start => Search programs and files (Win7) box. Disk Management in Vista and Win7 allow the resizing of partitions on-the-fly without data loss.

Note that it can be tricky connecting both IDE drives and SATA drives to the motherboard. If, say, you install a SATA drive and then install an IDE drive, unless the BIOS is programmed to know the difference, the system will usually try to boot from an IDE drive first. If a BIOS update isn’t available that allows the two types of drive on the motherboard to be installed so that the system can boot from the SATA drive, a PCI SATA adapter card is required (such as the one you are using). The BIOS is set as instructed above.Note that PCI Express x1 SATA controller adapter cards are available for use if the motherboard has a free PCI Express x1 slot.

About Eric Legge 269 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.