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I have a Windows 7 PC (call it New7) that I built about a year and a half ago. Initially, I moved the hard drive from my wife's old PC (call it XP32) into New7 as a second drive. I also had a new DVD drive. The new hard drive is SATA; both the old drives are IDE. There were no problems recognizing anything.

I also had my own PC (call it XP64) that had three hard drives, two of which were from a previous PC. That computer died and I was unable to correct the issue. My wife has moved on to a new laptop, so I decided to combine the two PCs into one.

I added XP64's main drive (which was SATA) to New7. So at this point, New7 had three hard drives. No problem.

Well, I decided I didn't really need my wife's old drive XP32 drive in New7, so I pulled it and moved one of the other two old XP64 drives (both of which are IDE) to New7. I had some problems getting it connected right, from forgetfulness more or less. I left both the DVD and the HD with the same cable setting (slave). When I booted, it didn't seem to recognize either device correctly, instead showing some weird hybrid object in Explorer. I'm not sure if Windows 7 did something to this unknown device at that time. I shut down, changed the hard drive to master, and rebooted. It didn't see the DVD drive, and now it is showing the hard drive as totally blank. Then I tried pulling both IDE devices, and setting both to cable select, which ended up making the DVD drive the master. It was able to detect the DVD drive normally in that state, but for the slave hard drive, it is saying ATAPI incompatible during boot, and still saying it's 100% free space blank in Windows 7.

I did check all the cables, and everything seems to be connected correctly. It also was trying to do strange things to the hard drive (thinking it was a different type of device) until I realized I'd left the BIOS setting for the slave set to CDROM. Changing it to auto fixed that minor issue.

What's weird is that all three of these IDE hard drives (the one from XP32, and both from XP64) were originally system drives for 32-bit XP systems that I migrated to new PCs over the years. So I can't understand why Win7 would recognize the first one, but now think this one is blank, unless it formatted it or some like that.

So, my final question is, could I have accidentally formatted the drive under Windows 7? Or could Win7 just be having problems recognizing the content because of another problem? I'd really like to recover, or make viewable, the contents of this drive, if only I knew what had caused the problem in the first place.

Thanks for reading this, and for all replies.

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Does the dir command find any files? Try: dir X:\* /a /s /b where X is the drive letter. – iglvzx May 26 '12 at 4:44
try mounting it in a linux environment - some kinds of corruption results in drives being empty in windows, and with data in linux – Journeyman Geek May 26 '12 at 8:57
dir shows nothing other than a system volume information folder, a $RECYCLE BIN folder, a subfolder of that with a really long number name, and one file in that last folder called desktop.ini. The ini file just has one clsid for the shell32.dll, like a registry entry to be installed. One other thing is the drive had been named something like Outpost 1, but now is showing a generic wd20005 for its volume name. I will see about running a linux environment. – Joe M May 26 '12 at 10:10
I finally found my ubuntu disk, 10.10, and booted from that. Same results: nothing. – Joe M Aug 12 '12 at 0:15
This drive started having errors and was preventing my Win7 machine from even booting successfully. I've now disconnected it, so I'm afraid it's just a total loss at this point. – Joe M Feb 6 '13 at 19:34
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I am terribly embarrassed about this, but I should come clean. I had so many hard drives that I actually got two of the same size mixed up. I recently went through all my old drives and copied the important data onto a new one, as one of the old ones was failing, when I discovered that the data I thought lost above was actually on another drive. But thanks for all the excellent ideas; hopefully they will help someone else with a similar, yet real, problem.

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