Ok, so three months ago a customer contacted us saying that her emachine was freezing. A technician evaluated the machine and concluded via process of elimination (minus an actual HDD test) that the freezing was due to HDD failure, as it was the only thing left. The customer didn't want to pay us to transfer her data to a new drive, so she did it herself. Upon completing the data transfer, she then physically disconnected the old SATA drive, which then resulted in Windows taking a dump and screaming about a boot medium. Long story short: The previous tech told her that she would be able to transfer her data, disconnect the old (failing) HDD and move on with her life, and this did not turn out to be the case.
The machine was brought back yesterday, roughly four months later (She hasn't had any freezing issues since the other tech assessed it) wanting it set the way she was promised.
My assessment concludes: Both HDD's (new and old) were present in the system at the time the fresh Windows 7 install was performed on the new HDD. For some reason, 7 stuck at least part of the MBR on the old HDD, creating a dependency on the presence of the old drive in order to boot at all.
I used a Windows 7 repair disc to repair the MBR on the new drive so that the old one could be removed. The box that should have presented at least one OS to select and perform the repair on was empty. The only other option at that point is to point the application to the driver for the HDD so that it can load the OS. I pointed to the HDD driver using the direct file path, and it was treated as though it was an empty file (and it wasn't).
I attempted dong the repair manually from CMD (on the repair disc). From CMD, "bootrec \RebuildBcd", which located every present installation of Windows 7 (both HDD's have a copy) The utility prompted me to choose either or all installations followed by a confirmation (Y/N). After selecting "Y" and pressing "ENTER", it goes to town and takes another dump (nothing happens).
Finally, I downloaded EasyBCD 2.1.2, used it to recognize EVERY boot record, deleted the MBR on the old HDD, and rebooted.
Now, the system boots straight to the new HDD without prompt from bootloader (which is good) but still requires the presence of the old HDD (I disconnected it, alas...)
In the end: I called and told the customer that "I'd be happy to GHOST all her data and slap a fresh Windows 7 install on the new HDD (with a fresh/whole MBR) and then drop all her data back onto it. However, this would require more time; the other option being that she accepts the machine for what it is, perfectly functional minus the dependency on the old HDD."
Typically, I wouldn't have considered this option, but I found ZERO indication of the old HDD failing, other than "BAD" written on the drive with Sharpie. The customer was happy yesterday and accepted the current state (she didn't want to invest more time/money into it) but today when she picks it up she isn't happy because she was told four months ago that the drive was bad and now I'm saying I don't see an indication of it.
Anyone have a solid solution for this? Other than pulling the data, installing fresh OS, then dropping data back on; or not installing OS with two drives present in the first place
Why would Windows do this at the presence of two drives in the first place??