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Here's the deal:

I cleaned a hard drive of some viruses (externally) and put it back into the original pc. This hard drive will boot in any other pc except the original pc. When I try other hard drives in the original pc, they are able to boot. The drive has Windows XP.

What is the problem? How can I get this hard drive to work properly?

  • The original hard drive works in other PCs.
  • The PC boots with other hard drives acting as the master.
  • If I boot with no hard drive, I still can't get into the BIOS
  • These are all IDE hard drives
  • The PC doesn't beep, it just boots into a black screen with a cursor blinking in the upper left of the screen

Edit: problem was a bad MBR. Thanks to everyone who replied in this question!

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If you disconnect the original HDD, can you boot into the BIOS then? Did you try hooking up the original HDD to another computer to see if it's recognized? – ngen Dec 27 '10 at 19:07
Are the hard drives you are swapping all the same type (SATA or IDE)? – th3dude Dec 27 '10 at 19:09
"PC won't boot, even into bios" Does the PC beeb? If not, maybe the BIOS was infected? – Aki Dec 27 '10 at 19:24
divided mentioned when swapping out HDD, they are able to boot...but not sure how far in the boot process. – ngen Dec 27 '10 at 19:34
Question title seems to conflict with the details. can you be more specific about how far the boot proceeds in each case on the original PC (i.e. with the original HDD when does the process halt, with new HDDs how far does it get) – Xantec Dec 27 '10 at 22:42
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Ok you said you the hard drive out of the original PC and put it in another. I am assuming it wasn't as a boot drive but as a second drive that you scanned for viruses. Ok, now you put it back into the original machine and it would not boot. Assuming that you put the jumpers back to the original setting that it was when it was in the first computer and nothing else on that first machine has changed...then maybe, just maybe there is something wrong with the boot partition possibly caused by whatever happened when it was put into the second machine. So you could try using the Windows Intall disk that came with your system, go to the recovery console and do a fixboot or fixmbr or how about doing a window repair install. Googling this will give you tons of info on how to do this.


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Danbo - the hard drive was actually a boot drive (and it booted!) which is why I was confused. I was able to boot into recovery mode and the problem was that there was a bad MBR. I fixed that and it now works. – divided Jan 17 '11 at 16:20

The cursor blinking in the top left hand corner means its looking for an OS to boot possible due to a corrupted boot file. However, I have seen this same issue when their are USB drives (and maybe even devices) plugged in while booting up. You should double check the boot sequence. While you are at it, you should also check to make sure the IDE drive is set properly as the master or slave.

I should mention after reading some forums, the blinking cursor could be do to faulty drivers such as display drivers. However, only time I seen this issue was due to USB devices or improper boot sequence.

Since you are able to see the blinking cursor then this doesn't apply: Chances are it's related to your memory. Start by booting with just one stick of memory and switch it with another if that one doesn't work. Another reason could be a faulty power supply unit.

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If other drives boot properly in the system, it most likely isn't the memory or PSU. – th3dude Dec 27 '10 at 19:16
It might be the PSU but most likely not. The original HDD could require more power to operate, more than the PSU can provide. But since it worked before and it seems like nothing hardware related has changed, this is not the case. – ngen Dec 27 '10 at 19:21
@th3dude - Correct. He doesn't mention that other HDs work in the same PC. Just that the HD works in other PCs. My answer is based off the limited information provided. – SgtOJ Dec 27 '10 at 19:24
@Brian Ojeda - well, except he did say other drives work: When I try other hard drives in the original pc, they are able to boot. – Xantec Dec 27 '10 at 22:38
@th3dude - Yes I see what you mean. I didn't say that. I have not other thoughts than what I have provided. I will update my answer when more information provided. Other users have already asked for more information, so I shall wait. – SgtOJ Dec 27 '10 at 22:48

What drive interface? If it's IDE, the first thing I would check is the jumpers for Master/Slave. If it's on Carrier Select, try manually setting it.

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Thanks for the reply. It is an IDE drive and I've tried setting the jumpers for master and other combinations, but nothing works. – divided Dec 29 '10 at 14:00

I'll add on to Danbo's comment suggestion.

If you leave the questionable drive in it's original PC, but boot from a live Linux CD of some sort, you'll know straight away whether or not the PC sees it, but just can't boot it.

In more detail:

  1. Put the drive in the original PC
  2. Get yourself a linux live CD boot CD (* see note below) and put that in your optical drive.
  3. Adjust your BIOS settings to boot from CD before Hard drive (or hit the Function-whatever button to bring up a boot selection screen)
  4. Choose "Try Ubuntu without installing" or something to that effect.
  5. Wait for the linux distro to boot to the desktop.
  6. Once you've got a linux desktop, browse/explore to "Computer" and see if you can find the hard drive in question.

If it's there, and you can see the folder structure, you're almost certainly dealing with a damaged boot sector.

Note": I'm going to recommend an Ubuntu CD, simply because that's what I use most, but there are plenty of choices, the only important thing is to make sure it's a live-CD, that can boot without touching the data your hard drive. You can get one here: The 32 bit i386 disc will most likely work, although you may need the AMD64 disc if that suits your system better.

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