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So I recently ordered a used laptop, it came with 2 HDD's, most likely one bad and one good. But after replacing the bad one with the good on the "Non-system disk or disk error, replace and striky any key when ready" still persisted. I looked into the bios (I know what I do, I am advanced with installing NEW OSes and such stuff, already doing it for around 8 years) and changed the settings to suit the HDD (IDE) and boot options, enabled USB Legacy support.

After doing this the laptopt won't boot either with the same error. So I tried to put the disk into a Sitecom MP-011 Portable Media player which I use now to boot the HDD from, I prepared the disk and put the USB's into the laptopt - nothing, again the same error. I then tested if the disc is bootable by creating a new virtual machine in VMware Workstation 7 and assigning the whole disk to the VM, guess what - it did boot! Now I don't understand - it won't boot when the disk is in the laptop nor if it's on the USB drive with USB Legacy support enabled.

I'm out of ideas, booting from CD works so this is a weird situation. The windows install which booted from CD can't find any disks.

So does anyone know what I can do to try to fix this?

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This might be two problems,

1- Probably this used laptop doesn't support your USB installation disks, have you checked what is the file-system on your USB disks? Some of the first BIOS wouldn't support USB boot and the first ones to do only Fat32 and not NTFS. Could be fixed with a BIOS update (if available) from Compaq, but I wouldn't have so much trouble, just get a CD or DVD with the OS you want to install and install it from there.

2- Not recognizing any disks on your computer, if you tried windows XP could be this laptop uses some more advanced HDD controller, if so, you will need to find its drivers and install them at start-up (F6 iirc during boot time). Probably windows 7 would have them built-in.

Give us your laptop model and maybe we can provide a more accurate help. If it has a CD-ROM reader only, you can try using some other laptop's DVD instead just temporarily to install windows 7 (if the laptop can run it) Good luck!

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it's a compaq evo n600c, seems the bios doesn't detect the discs either. –  user144773 Aug 12 '12 at 10:00
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