Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a machine who's mother board is failing to detect the installed hard drives.

I can boot off a live CD (Ubuntu 11.10 or system rescue 2.4.1) and mount the partitions and the hard drives seem fine.

It seems that what ever check the machine does during boot does not find the drives (it hangs for a long time 'detecting SATA-1 through SATA-N' and then eventually fails. I've also flashed to the latest bios as well as killed the power and removed the battery from the motherboard (thinking maybe it was somekind of electrical short or static problem).

The drives read fine from a loaded os however.

Because the motherboard will boot off the optical drive I'd like to find a command I can use to choose manually which hard-drive to boot off of.

I've got lots of live CD's on hand or can grab another. The installed hard-dives have Linux varieties and windows7 installations.

Thanks in advance.


I disabled all boot options in the bios except for my optical drive.

I tried using Rescatux 0.30b4 which loaded but failed to repair the problem (though it claimed it could and did repair the file system on several drives).

I booted off a win7 DVD and that managed to find an install of win7 which it claimed it could repair. After reboot the DVD loaded again a asked me if I wanted to boot the os on the restored partition. I managed to load win7 in this way.

I'm in the process of moving anything from NTFS partitions that is critical to a network share.

I may be able to use the win7 DVD as a boot disk for the foreseeable future. It would be nice to have an option to do something similar with the Linux installations on the machine. I'm going to see if supergrub disk will let me select from my Linux installations.

So long as I can use the optical drive to use this machine when needed that should be good enough until I get around to replacing the motherboard (or the whole thing) outright.

If anyone has more suggestions I'm happy to hear them.

Thanks again.

share|improve this question
If you can see the drives in a live system, that means the motherboard generally "detects" them. So is the problem that you can't select them as boot devices from BIOS or that they will not boot when selected as boot devices? – Oliver Salzburg Jan 28 '12 at 23:58
@OliverSalzburg Updated question to clarify – SMTF Jan 29 '12 at 0:22
There's Super Grub Disk. I've not used it myself but it seems like exactly what you're looking for (a live CD with a configurable boot loader.) – Andrew Lambert Jan 29 '12 at 0:46
See if the motherboard has an option to let you choose your boot device; it will usually be a hotkey like F8 or something. If so, try pressing that and see if it displays the drive in the list of boot devices. Also, try putting the drive in question in an external enclosure and plug it into a USB port to see what results you can get (you should be able to choose to boot from the now-USB drive). – Synetech Jan 29 '12 at 3:57

Sounds to me like you might be over thinking quite a few things here. Flashing or re-flashing a BIOS is obviously not the problem if your BIOS already sees your hard drive(s) - so stop playing with fire. About the only things you might want to check in your BIOS "settings" may be if your hard drive is not being addressed correctly such as if RAID is enabled/disabled or if you're trying to force NCQ/TCQ on a drive that doesn't support it or something like that. Then again, if you have PATA drives you may have simply forgot to set/remove jumpers pertaining to master/slave/cable-select settings.

But personally, it sounds to me like you most likely have some hard drive boot problems where your master boot record has possibly been messed up. And no matter how you look at it, those kind of problems are not BIOS related.

I might have other better suggestions. But if any of this sounds too complicated then have you tried the PLoP boot manager to do what you've pretty much been doing all along? PLoP is a very simple chain loader that will allow you to select your boot device and then boot your OS. You can even run PLoP from a floppy disk or use it to boot a real thumb drive in a virtual environment too (assuming you understand your VM client). It's a very handy thing to have since you can use PLoP to force older computers to boot from more modern devices that they were never designed to boot from - like USB devices or even other hard drives. PLoP still won't allow network booting which is about it's only shortfall, but I still think PLoP may be worth considering especially when you see how tiny it is.

For instructions on how to make your PLoP boot disk see section 7 in that link. To install PLoP on a hard drive see section 6 (although I don't recommend it).

Good luck.

share|improve this answer

If your motherboard is failing replace your motherboard, then you will be able to boot from all your drives. Working with damaged gear is never recommended.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.