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I have a Dell Studio XPS desktop PC. Previously, I had a 600GB SATA hard drive with a working installation of Windows 7. I just bought a Crucial M4 128GB SSD and put it in my computer. I then backed up my data onto an external hard drive (which is currently not connected to my computer), and formatted the 600GB HDD. Then I installed Windows 7 onto the SSD. The HDD is still in my PC, but it is blank.

Now, every time I boot my PC, after the Dell BIOS screen with the Dell logo goes by, there is a screen with a blinking white cursor at the top-left corner of the screen. This screen stays there for about 60 seconds, and then the blinking cursor moves downward about a centimeter. After that, it stays that way for about 20 seconds, and then it proceeds to Windows 7's "Starting Windows" screen and continues to boot normally from my SSD.

This screen is annoying because it makes my boot process take about a full minute longer. Considering that I just installed an SSD, I want my boot process to be as fast as possible. It never happened when I had my HDD. My question is this: What is causing this blinking cursor screen and how can I get rid of it?

Edit 1: The boot order already prioritizes the SSD over the HDD. I even tried removing the HDD from the boot order all together. However, I have a feeling that the problem is related to the HDD, because if I remove the HDD from the PC, the problem does not occur. I can't keep it like this though, because I want to use the HDD as a secondary storage space for some videos and music.

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It may be that the bios is trying to first boot from the HDD and failing and choosing the SSD. Have you checked the boot priority settings in the bios? Ensure that the ssd is first, including before any CDROMs or USB options (if you later need to boot from these you can reorder the priorities) –  Paul Aug 8 '12 at 3:16
    
@Paul I just checked, and the boot order already prioritizes the SSD over the HDD. I even tried removing the HDD from the boot order all together. However, I have a feeling that this is close to the answer, because if I remove the HDD from the PC, the problem does not occur. I can't keep it like this though, because I want to use the HDD as a secondary storage space for some videos and music. –  bdr9 Aug 8 '12 at 3:34
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I managed to fix the problem. I knew it was related to my HDD. Even though the problem still occurred if I removed the HDD from the boot sequence, it didn't occur if I removed the HDD from the PC all together. Previously, my four SATA ports were set up like this:

  • SATA port #1: 600GB HDD
  • SATA port #2: CD/DVD Drive
  • SATA port #3: 128GB Crucial M4 SSD
  • SATA port #4: Empty

I switched the HDD and the SSD, and now they are set up like this:

  • SATA port #1: 128GB Crucial M4 SSD
  • SATA port #2: CD/DVD Drive
  • SATA port #3: 600GB HDD
  • SATA port #4: Empty

Now, the blinking white cursor only remains on the screen for about 1 second before it moves to "Starting Windows". I didn't think it mattered which order the SATA drives were connected in. I guess it is a good idea to have your system/boot drive physically plugged in using the first SATA port.

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Have you tried formatting the larger drive? That may help. Some Dell BIOSes are finicky, and that may do it.

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Single, master & slave only apply to old IDE/P-ATA drives. With SATA there is only one drive per cable. Given that his old HDD is already large enough to be made recently it is almost certainly SATA. The Crucial M4 is also SATA. –  Hennes Aug 8 '12 at 4:50
    
@Hennes Yes, you're correct. My HDD is a SATA drive. –  bdr9 Aug 8 '12 at 5:04
    
@Taht guy you call at 3AM I already formatted the larger drive. As stated in my question, it is now blank. There is no such thing as slave on a SATA drive. –  bdr9 Aug 8 '12 at 5:05
    
Yeah. I work with legacy systems in my repair business, I am sorry for my confusion. –  Taht guy you call at 3AM for T Aug 8 '12 at 5:19
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The only other thing I can think of would be to try moving the HDD from port 2 to port 3 on the sata bus. It may well be that, or the BIOS simply may need updating. I cannot look online for you, but if you go to support.dell.com, I am sure the service tag locator should be able to tell you if there are any firmware or BIOS updates available to you. –  Taht guy you call at 3AM for T Aug 8 '12 at 5:24
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Adjust your settings in bios to AHCI and not IDE for the SSD.

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