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Windows 7: Dell XPS crashed, now Windows can't find hard drive, but Linux can

30 Jul 2013   #1
Arcite

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 
Dell XPS crashed, now Windows can't find hard drive, but Linux can

3 days ago, I went to boot up my Dell XPS 8500 running Windows 7 Professional 64 bit (after having booted it up and used it earlier in the day with no problem, not having recently installed any software or made any configuration changes.) The result was a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left-hand corner. If I reset the computer, I got the Dell splash screen, but the F2 option to enter setup and the F12 option to choose boot devices did nothing--still got the black screen. I opened the case, removed and replaced the CMOS battery. This allowed me to get into BIOS. I then found that if I change the hard drive from RAID mode (what it's supposed to be, as I have a drive with an SSD cache) to AHCI, I could start to boot Windows, but after a few seconds of the "Starting Windows" screen, I would get a quick flash of a BSOD. I was able to see that the error was STOP, 7B. I was also able to get into the onboard Dell ePSA diagnostics, in which every test passed fine. I was able to boot from a Windows installation USB drive, and use the bootrec tool as many online guides describe. I used all the options and they all reported successful completion, but I still got the BSOD. I also downloaded a bootable standalone ISO of Windows Defender and ran it, and it cleaned up a few malicious files, but this had no effect on booting. Startup Repair and System Restore accomplished nothing, though it did show my Windows installation in the list. Chkdsk /f /r ran totally fine. At this point I decided to go back to square one, reset the hard drive mode to RAID, and contact Dell tech support through online chat.


When the Dell tech support agent tried to walk me through using F2 or F12, and I reported they had no effect, just the black screen with blinking cursor, her response was to say she's sending out a technician to try replacing the motherboard. (She also told me booting in AHCI mode would lead to the BSOD.) Because the ePSA diagnostics all passed, and I was able to boot from USB (and at that point the installation copy of Windows could access the hard drive,) I was skeptical that the motherboard was the problem, so I kept trying. My next step was to use another bootable USB drive to update the BIOS from A06 to A10. At first, things appeared to start to boot normally. Before loading, Windows ran CHKDSK automatically, and reported no errors, when it rebooted, however, it went straight into repair mode, and that is where I am stuck. It now shows no Windows installations. Startup Repair said it could not find a hard drive. If I go into Command Prompt and try to change to the hard drive, it says "device not ready." If I boot from my Windows installation media, I get the same result. If I go back into BIOS and change boot mode from Legacy to UEFI, then before Windows boots I get a message that there was no bootable media found (even though it shows my hard drive listed right below the message.) I downloaded and ran a bootable ISO of Seatools from Seagate, and it says my hard drive checks out fine. I then downloaded Ubuntu Linux and made a bootable USB stick out of it. When I boot it, it can see my hard drive with all the files on it. I am currently using the USB-booted Linux to copy the entire contents of my hard drive over to an external hard drive just so I have my data.


Is there something else I could be missing? Since I'm able to boot Windows Installation and Linux USB sticks and run them just fine, I'm skeptical it's the motherboard. Since all these diagnostic tools are saying my hard drive checks out, and Linux is able to access it, I'm skeptical it's the hard drive. But I can't even attempt to repair my Windows installation anymore, because even when I boot from the Windows installation media, it says there is no hard drive. What is going on here?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
31 Jul 2013   #2
SandeepP

Winndows 7 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Arcite View Post
3 days ago, I went to boot up my Dell XPS 8500 running Windows 7 Professional 64 bit (after having booted it up and used it earlier in the day with no problem, not having recently installed any software or made any configuration changes.) The result was a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left-hand corner. If I reset the computer, I got the Dell splash screen, but the F2 option to enter setup and the F12 option to choose boot devices did nothing--still got the black screen. I opened the case, removed and replaced the CMOS battery. This allowed me to get into BIOS. I then found that if I change the hard drive from RAID mode (what it's supposed to be, as I have a drive with an SSD cache) to AHCI, I could start to boot Windows, but after a few seconds of the "Starting Windows" screen, I would get a quick flash of a BSOD. I was able to see that the error was STOP, 7B. I was also able to get into the onboard Dell ePSA diagnostics, in which every test passed fine. I was able to boot from a Windows installation USB drive, and use the bootrec tool as many online guides describe. I used all the options and they all reported successful completion, but I still got the BSOD. I also downloaded a bootable standalone ISO of Windows Defender and ran it, and it cleaned up a few malicious files, but this had no effect on booting. Startup Repair and System Restore accomplished nothing, though it did show my Windows installation in the list. Chkdsk /f /r ran totally fine. At this point I decided to go back to square one, reset the hard drive mode to RAID, and contact Dell tech support through online chat.


When the Dell tech support agent tried to walk me through using F2 or F12, and I reported they had no effect, just the black screen with blinking cursor, her response was to say she's sending out a technician to try replacing the motherboard. (She also told me booting in AHCI mode would lead to the BSOD.) Because the ePSA diagnostics all passed, and I was able to boot from USB (and at that point the installation copy of Windows could access the hard drive,) I was skeptical that the motherboard was the problem, so I kept trying. My next step was to use another bootable USB drive to update the BIOS from A06 to A10. At first, things appeared to start to boot normally. Before loading, Windows ran CHKDSK automatically, and reported no errors, when it rebooted, however, it went straight into repair mode, and that is where I am stuck. It now shows no Windows installations. Startup Repair said it could not find a hard drive. If I go into Command Prompt and try to change to the hard drive, it says "device not ready." If I boot from my Windows installation media, I get the same result. If I go back into BIOS and change boot mode from Legacy to UEFI, then before Windows boots I get a message that there was no bootable media found (even though it shows my hard drive listed right below the message.) I downloaded and ran a bootable ISO of Seatools from Seagate, and it says my hard drive checks out fine. I then downloaded Ubuntu Linux and made a bootable USB stick out of it. When I boot it, it can see my hard drive with all the files on it. I am currently using the USB-booted Linux to copy the entire contents of my hard drive over to an external hard drive just so I have my data.


Is there something else I could be missing? Since I'm able to boot Windows Installation and Linux USB sticks and run them just fine, I'm skeptical it's the motherboard. Since all these diagnostic tools are saying my hard drive checks out, and Linux is able to access it, I'm skeptical it's the hard drive. But I can't even attempt to repair my Windows installation anymore, because even when I boot from the Windows installation media, it says there is no hard drive. What is going on here?
Hi Arcite.

Welcome to Seven forums.

We appreciate the efforts that you have put in to resolve this issue yourself.

As your using the SSD as cache device make sure that in BIOS it is set to ISRT enabled and also secure boot should be enabled on the system.

If the issue still persists check this link below which would helpful in resolving this issue:

Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Boot

Keep us posted with the results so we can advise you further.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Jul 2013   #3
Arcite

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 

How do I set it to ISRT enabled? I don't see that option in BIOS. The only 2 options I have are RAID and AHCI.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

31 Jul 2013   #4
Arcite

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 

I solved this myself. Upon booting, after getting the Dell splash screen, I was getting an Intel RST screen (as I always got when the computer worked) which had an option to quickly press Ctrl-I to bring up a configuration menu. With that menu, I disabled RAID (i.e., disabled the SSD as a cache.) Windows was then able to boot into recovery mode. After a long time (>1 hour) saying it was fixing disk errors, it offered to do a System Restore. This worked, and Windows booted normally. I was then able to use the Intel RST tool within Windows to re-enable the SSD as a cache. Everything seems to be working now. Still don't know what initially caused the problem, though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Aug 2013   #5
SandeepP

Winndows 7 32 bit
 
 

Hi Arcite,

Its great to hear that the system is working fine now. Some of the BIOS have the option to under SATA operating to set for ISRT. Check this image:

Dell XPS crashed, now Windows can't find hard drive, but Linux can-isrt.png

Also, this issue might have occurred due to issues with the harddrive. You can run the diagnostics on the harddrive by following the link below:

http://dell.to/11NpLCy

Keep us posted with the results so we can advise you further.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Aug 2013   #6
Arcite

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 

Sandeep, as mentioned in my OP, I ran the ePSA diagnostics, chkdsk /f /r, and SeaTools, and all reported no errors.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2013   #7
SandeepP

Winndows 7 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Arcite View Post
Sandeep, as mentioned in my OP, I ran the ePSA diagnostics, chkdsk /f /r, and SeaTools, and all reported no errors.
Hi Arcite,

I believe there is no certain way to identify now regarding why this issue occurred with the system. It could have been either SSD cache drive not working properly can also cause the system to not boot.

However, we would advise you kindly use the system for sometime and let us know if the issue occurs again.

Keep us posted with the results so that if required we can advise you further.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 Dell XPS crashed, now Windows can't find hard drive, but Linux can




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