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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Inspiron 8200 laptop, XP.

On startup I am getting an error message directly after POST:
Primary HDD not found. Optical drive not found. No bootable device found.

The OS does not load.
The BIOS does not list any primary drive or optical drive. BUT I can run a drive diagnostic from floppy and it says the IDE drive is working fine. After I run the diagnostic the drive will show up in the BIOS for a short time. But the computer still will not boot. I can sometimes boot with the XP setup disk but it stops before I can get to the repair screen.

Does this sound like a dead CMOS battery? I unplugged it overnight. When I plugged it back in this morning the BIOS saw the drives for a very short time but still had the same boot message. Now it doesn't show them anymore.

Thanks

BTW: I flashed the BIOS to no avail.
 

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It could and probably is the battery. I just could not believe it when I read that you flashed your bios before even trying another, what, $2 battery. LOL. Not that the flashing is as bad as some make it sound, just perhaps step 4 or 5 of POSSIBLE fixes I think I may have tried BEFORE I flashed anything, including the neighbors. LOL.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response NotRite².

Trying another battery is of course the logical thing to do first.
However, it is not a standard cmos battery. I haven't even yet been able to find the exact match for this one. But the closest one I could find to it was $16 (US) and it had to be special ordered.
I wanted to flash the BIOS to be sure before I spent $20 (after shipping).
 

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What drive diagnostic are you running?

Quite frankly, even without a cmos battery, after you enter the bios setup, the drives should be there. All the cmos battery does is to 'remember' those settings when the computer is turned off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
AcaCandy, I am using dell utilities from their website and hitachi drive utilities.

Both tools see both drives and they both pass tests with no problems.
Also if I do an IDE test by hitting Ctrl-Alt-D at startup both drives are seen and pass the IDE test.

So the only place the drives are not being seen is in the BIOS.

Occasionally I can get to the XP splash screen and it loads until a BSOD giving me "unmountable_boot_volume" and the OS stops loading. I cannot fix this problem because the optical drive won't load the XP setup disk for the recovery console.

If it's not the battery what else should I be looking at? I'm kinda at the end of ideas here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, that is the boot_volume error.

I've fixed that problem a few times in the past, but of course it relies on needing the optical drive to load the recovery console. Which I can't do because the BIOS won't see the optical drive. :confused:


So you don't think it would be the battery? It makes sense why it wouldn't be, but it still leaves me with a strange BIOS problem.

Any thoughts?
 

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Does the laptop have a floppy drive? If the bios is seeing the hard drive as you indicated earlier, there is no reason it should't see the cdrom drive. Are you sure things are connected securely?

As to the battery, I can't say for sure, but on desktops even with a dead battery, on every start up, you have to go to the bios and re-recognize the drives, set the time and date, etc. It doesn't prohibit the system from starting up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, the laptop has a working floppy drive. That is what I am loading the diagnostic tools from.

The HDD will very randomly be seen in the BIOS. It was seen right after I flashed it. But it was only once then it went away. It has popped up two or three times since then. And if it does show in the BIOS the cd drive is seen as well. And then they go away at the same time.

I was thinking a bad IDE channel but that doesn't make sense either because it passed the IDE test. Even when there is nothing seen in the BIOS.

Things are connected securely. I resat both drives a number of times and I also took the HDD off the carriage and resat that as well. When I open the case I can see contact with the pins on both drives to the mobo.

This is definitely a head scratcher. Thanks for your input. Any other ideas would be great.
 

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Try the boot floppies for XP then as noted in the link I pasted.

You do know that flashing the bios probably wasn't the wisest thing to do. Bios flashes are only recommended to fix a specific problem, not for troubleshooting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, no luck with the boot floppies. It reads from the disk for a moment then restarts then computer. It doesn't get anywhere. I tried a few different blank floppy's for the first disk. No go.

As for the BIOS flash it was suggested in a Dell knowledge base article. Apparently this is an ongoing problem for this dell model. Many are fixed by reseating the drive. The ones without that simple fix are left with a question mark over their head. Lot's of advice yet little success.

What else could I be looking at now that the floppy's won't work? Bad mobo?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
UPDATE:

Well, I tracked down another drive from another inspiron and threw it in.
It booted without a problem.
I will pick up a new drive tomorrow and see what happens.


Why would this drive pass every diagnostic if it was bad?


Thanks for the help :up: I will post back tomorrow and mark as solved if all is well.
 
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