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I built a computer from some old parts, including a SATA drive. If I boot from the Windows Vista installation DVD, there are no options under "Where do you want to install windows?", implying that the installer can't find the drive.

BIOS does find the drive as I can choose to boot from it. I can also see the drive from an Arch Linux live CD, and mount its partition without problem.

The "SATA" setting in BIOS is set to "IDE" (not RAID).

What could the problem be?

Update: I get the same problem with the Windows 7 installer. The hard-drive is a Samsung SP2004C.

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Vista is quite an old operating system. If the hardware is newer than the OS drivers are often missing.

In your case try to set the SATA mode to AHCI - Vista contains an universal SATA AHCI driver and therefore should be able to use your SATA drive without 3rd party drivers.

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There doesn't seem to be an AHCI option. I've got Phoenix AwardBIOS, and in Integrated peripherals > IDE devices configuration > SATA mode, there is only IDE and RAID to choose from. – tim Jul 25 '12 at 14:03
    
Robert's answer could have been worded better: the problem (probably) is that the OS setup disc does not have the proper (chipset etc) driver available to access the drive. His solution was to try a fallback or alternate drive access mode in the BIOS. Another possible solution wouyld be to look for a prompt during the setup process that allows you to provide a driver on cd which you might download from the mfg. website. – horatio Jul 25 '12 at 16:12

The reason might be Windows isn't able to figure out what the file system in the hard-drive is. Try formatting the hard-drive to FAT or NTFS using any Linux OS and see whether it's able to recognizes it then.

CAUTION! Formatting will erase all your data. Make a clone or do not proceed if you can't assure a safe backup.

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Sorry, that's not right. Drives are at a different level than partitions or volumes. Even though Windows probably wouldn't be able to read a Linux file system (volume), it would still be able to see and format the drive. Partitioning styles are very standardized. – Ben N Feb 6 at 19:15
    
I see your point @BenN, but I've come across this problem once and the problem was the partition table or simply a partition not formatted properly. Windows shows available partitions and free space at installation time. if the disk is entirely formatted (no free space available) and for some reason Windows can't recognize it (not formatted properly or a unsupported file system) It will show nothing. That's my bet. – Bruno Chagas Feb 6 at 19:55

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