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After I have successively and successfully installed 3 Windows XP's on the same partition (Don't ask why...), I restarted my computer again and the BIOS just froze when it loaded the video card.
Together with my uncle, we tracked down the problem and found out it's the hard drive's fault.
We tried booting without the hard drive and it worked! (No other hard drive (I have only one) but with a Ubuntu Live CD in.)
We tried the hard drive with a different data bus (It was from an identical computer) but that one didn't let my BIOS recognize the hard drive.
We also put the hard drive in another computer as the second hard drive and it DID recognize it but Windows XP kept saying it cannot install a driver and that it installed successfully. Happily, I have managed to backup some of my most important files in that other computer.



The following is a list of tests that we have run.

  1. With the hard drive
    Original data bus
    Original computer
    Result: BIOS freezes

  2. WITHOUT the hard drive
    Original data bus
    Original computer
    Result: Everything works just fine!

  3. With the hard drive
    ANOTHER data bus
    Original computer
    Result: Cannot see the hard drive

  4. With the hard drive
    Original data bus
    ANOTHER computer
    Result: It worked!

  5. With the hard drive
    ANOTHER data bus
    ANOTHER computer
    Result: It worked!

During the tests, we had only two data buses and two computers. (each data bus from it's own computer)

Strange thing is that the second data bus cannot let the BIOS see the hard drive in my computer but works just fine with the other computer.

Funny thing is that the computer can't recognize any hard drive but it's original, with which it doesn't start.

I have my most important data on that hard drive and I really cannot afford to buy another decent IDE hard drive now!

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I had a similar problem and by chance found out that for some reason my computer wouldn't pass POST if it had a hard drive attached that didn't have a valid boot loader. It seems to be a BIOS issue specific to this particular BIOS/Motherboard (MSI MS-6580 if I remember correctly).

Anyway, the solution that worked for me was simply to install GRUB onto that hard drive (even though it was a secondary hard drive with no operating system on - neither did I want an operating system installed on the second hard drive) and hey-presto the computer booted again without any problem (from the primary hard drive, obviously).

Hope this helps someone.

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My motherboard is ASUS K8U-X, first of all, and this cannot be the problem because my HDD had no OS before and it worked. – Vercas Jan 18 '11 at 17:59
up vote 0 down vote accepted

After much more time... I figured it out. Not only the HDD broke, but the motherboard and a RAM plate too... Plus the power source. We smelt smoke when we opened it.
It must have been a power surge... At the right time... And stroke in the right place.

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Cheap power supplies tend to kill a lot of components when they die. It's usually a computer's weakest link in terms of quality. – Nelson Feb 14 '15 at 9:25
@NelsonChan Perhaps it was cheap, but it was definitely ancient. – Vercas Feb 14 '15 at 15:46

I had a similar problem and solved it by going into the BIOS setup on boot and checking my peripheral settings. Make sure the settings there match what is actually in your system. If you have a SATA drive installed, make sure that's what the BIOS settings are expecting then do the same for everything else the BIOS will look for.

My computer kept looking for a floppy drive that wasn't there but appeared in the BIOS boot order. It kept freezing on startup and not letting me into the setup menu at all or giving me a boot disk error. I've also run into cases with similar symptoms when I had two IDE drives both jumpered as master or slaves. One doesn't get recognized on one bus and then freezes things on the other. Hope this helps some.

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Well, my computer freezes as soon as it starts like it was the processor's fault... But I will try this. – Vercas Jan 18 '11 at 17:57

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