Why doesn’t my computer detect its hard drive?

Alvin Stein July 7, 2012
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My computer was fine just a short time before, but now when I try to but it, it does not find its hard disk drive. When I enter BIOS setup I cannot see the hard drive or the CD drive. I have tried rebooting repeatedly and have disconnected/reconnected the hard drive without benefit. What is wrong?

It is a Dell Dimension 5150 running Windows 7.

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  1. angelique
    October 23, 2012 at 4:37 am

    in bios i cannot see my hard disk?what should i do?i can only see my cd/dvd :( please help me.

  2. lore
    October 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    i have something like that with my pc, it was fine till yesterday when it said ntldr missing and it doent detect my hd, but when i turn it off and on it appears and i can enter again but after a while my pc for some reason starts to freeze completelly

  3. Tim
    October 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, I've been having the same problem for a while now, and have tried the same things you have. It's very annoying, and happens sporadically. Sometimes it will only have the first time I startup, restarting fixes. Other times, I'll go entire days of restarting before it works again.

  4. ssmonss
    September 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

    My BIOS can't detect my IDE hard drive and I strongly believe this is due to electrical outrage because i left my laptop connected to the power extension while I was vacuum cleaning. Everytime When I tried to on my laptop again, I heard strange sound from the hard drive and then "operating system not found" was displayed on the screen..my question is do you think my data is still safe and retrievable? I am not sure because I don't have the IDE TO USB converter...what should I do? Should I look for experts to recover my data? I heard they normally charge a lot for these service...pls help! Thanks

  5. Dayaanand1
    August 7, 2012 at 3:40 am

    If your computer uses the older IDE ports, try checking the jumper settings at the back of the HDD, and CD/DVD drive. You will have such problems if both the drives are configured as a SLAVE or MASTER. The HDD should be configured as a MASTER and the CD/DVD drive should be configured as a SLAVE. If everything is okay, then try replacing the cable and or the IDE slot on the motherboard from IDE1 to IDE2.
    If your computer's board uses a SATA connection then your BIOS has to be reset or re flashed.

    • Alvin Stein
      August 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

      My correction: all drives are PATA. I'll see I I can flash bios with download from Gateway website. Many thanks to all!

  6. ferdinan Sitohang
    July 9, 2012 at 4:42 am

    If you have another good PATA drive, change the current drive into the new PATA drive. See the bios, whether it can detect and read the drive. If it can read the drive then your previous disk is already have some problem, if no, then your motherboard has some short circuit. Hope this can help

  7. Mike
    July 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Are the hard disk and CD drive using the IDE or SATA interface?

    If they are IDE make sure they are jumpered correctly i.e. the device at the end of the cable is master, the one in the middle slave or both at CS (cable select)

    if they are SATA there shouldn't be any problems as long as the data and power cables are properly connected.
    In that case I suggest to reset your BIOS to it's defaults - maybe some setting was accidentally changed or is corrupted causing your SATA controller to be disabled.

    • Alvin Stein
      July 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm


      follow-up: HDDs are PATA, so error message saying “error sensing secondary slave HDD" is puzzling. In boot sequence onboard SATA and onboard CD-ROM, only one of each rather than two are "not present. An IDE HDD is listed with no comment. I switched the HDDs with no change in error message.
      BTW time in Setup is jan 8 2007, originally setup, CMOS battery failure?

      how to reset BIOS if I can only go into setup.

      Thanks for you comments

  8. ha14
    July 7, 2012 at 8:05 am

    No cd/dvd rom drive in bios detected

    perhpas you need to update BIOS and to reset CMOS battery

    • Alvin Stein
      July 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Update/clarification: error message: "error sensing secondary slave HDD, strike F1 to continue, F2 for setup". F1 causes repeat of message. F2 setup "boot sequence" shows 2 HDD and 2CD/DVD "not detected", but "drives" shows all 4 with with IDs.
      BTW HDDs are PATA, CD/RWs SATA.

      Thanks for rapid replies: No power outages. All drives cables and RAM reconnected firmly No drive noises or overheating. Desktop 4-5 rears old. Cannot replace CMOS battery today, though I noted date incorrect when I boooted prior to failure.

      Thanks to all for prompt reply

  9. Vipul Jain
    July 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

    If you are a little technically sound,
    open CPU, plug out and then plug back in Cables for HDD & CD & also just to be sure plug out and plug in the RAM.

    If still no result, motherboard needs some checking..

    • paul
      July 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Vipul's suggestion worked. unplugged HD and RAM sticks for 5min.
      Vacuumed out 2years of dust.
      Pugged all back in and turned on.
      Machine went thru setup cause it said it had been thru thermal event--overheat????
      It shut down normal 2 days ago???
      I accepted defaults.
      It found hard drive. Windows xp is running.
      All seems well.
      Thank-you very much.

    • J
      November 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      This also worked for me...said it couldn't find os wheni turned it on...bios was showing no hdd, no optical drive - unplugged hd, optical, and ram as suggested and now it works. Thank you!

      • Vipul Jain
        November 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

        Glad it worked :D

  10. iStoopKid
    July 7, 2012 at 4:52 am

    That is odd. I was going to jump to a conclusion and say that your HDD is dead (probably is), but you said your cd drive isn't detected in BIOS as well and that you tried disconnecting and reconnecting the HDD. Maybe your cables have gone bad. Have you experienced any kind of recent power outages/surges around the time it stopped working even for a second? Also, make sure that all of the cables are firmly reconnected to the hardware. I've had HDD's die on me a lot in the past, but it never took the CD drive (or any other drive) down with it. Also, if posible, could you give us a little more info: Even though the hard drive and Cd drive aren't detected, are they making any kind of strange noises? What error message are you getting when you boot up your computer? How long have you had the computer? Has it been overheating? I'm going to keep looking around to see if anyone else has the same issue and see if I can find a solution.

    • ssmonss
      September 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Hi, my BIOS can't detect my IDE hard drive and I believe it is due to electric outrage because my laptop was connected to the power extension while I was using the vacuum cleaner. When I tried to on my laptop, I heard some strange noise coming from the hard drive and then "operating system not found" was displayed on the screen..my question is do you think my data is still safe and retrieve able? I don't have a IDE to USB converter so I am not sure, what should I do? So I go and look for expert? I heard they normally charge you a lot for data recovery...pls help!! Thanks

  11. Bruce Epper
    July 7, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Since the HDD and CD drive "disappeared" at the same time, so I am assuming that both use the same type of interface; either IDE (PATA) or SATA. In either case, it is probable that the associated controller on the motherboard has failed.

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