Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

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 Windows XP laptop that I clean install with Ubuntu. Now I'm trying to go back and clean install the machine with Windows XP. However, the usual changing boot order to CD-ROM method doesn't seem to work.

It does read the CD but it always gets stuck when trying to find the drive partition.

Please advice.

Thanks, Tee

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

1. If you currently have a dual-booting Windows/Linux setup.

You use the Windows recovery console.

  • Boot from your Windows CD and get into the recovery console by pressing 'R' when you get into the setup.
  • When the recovery console starts, type fixmbr. This will clean Grub and the Linux MBR.
  • Next type Map and make a note of the HD devices names. One per disk you have.
  • Finally type diskpart /delete [device_name] for each of your HDD drives. device_name is obtained from the map command above.

Type Exit. You will now be able to install windows normally.

Have fun.

Important Notes:

Note 1:
diskpart /delete will completely wipe out any partition on that device. So, do not do it for those drives you want to keep the data.

Note 2:
If you have a drive with more than one partition but you wish to wipe just some, but not all, of those partitions, use [partition_name] or [drive_letter] instead of [device_name]. See here for full diskpart documentation and don't be afraid to ask if you have any doubts.

2. If all you have is Linux installed on your machine

On this case you can't use the recovery console. You need the Linux installation CD.

  • Follow the steps delineated at Microsoft Support website (KB314458)

Note on SATA drives:

Older windows XP CDs (before SP1 if my memory serves me right) will not recognize your SATA drives and produce a Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer error message during the early stages of XP Setup. This does not happen with later XP installation CDs, so if you have one of those, use it instead.

  • If you don't, read this article and use a floppy disk.
  • If you don't have a floppy disk drive (becoming the norm these days), you can still deal with this problem. You will be using a tool called nLite to build your own XP installation CD with the SATA drives already in. Instructions here.

I hope this has finally covered all your problems.

All the best.

share|improve this answer
Hi A Dwarf, I tried the steps you gave above. However, I can't even get to the recovery console. Once I press "R" to get into the recovery console, I get stuck on a screen that says. "Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer." "Make sure any hard disk drives are powered on and properly connected to your computer, and that any disk related hardware configuration is correct. This may involve running a manufacturer-supplied diagnostic or setup process. "Setup cannot continue. To quit Setup, press F3" Why is the HD not being recognized? Thanks, Tee – teepusink Oct 23 '09 at 2:29
@teepuskin: I completely failed to notice from your initial post that you didn't have any windows partition in your machine. That is why you can use the recovery console. It too needs a Windows partition to be used. For some reason, the words "go back" you used were interpreted by me as "he has windows installed on another partition". My apologies. I'm editing the end of my post to include the information you are after. – A Dwarf Oct 23 '09 at 13:48
Hi A Dwarf, thanks for the reply. I tried the steps from the Microsoft support website. I was able to use the live CD to delete all the partitions. However, entering the XP CD still gives the same "Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer." Now when I just let my computer boot up, I get an error GRUB Loading Stage 1.5 GRUB Loading, Please wait... ERROR 22 I suppose that is expected since all partitions are gone. After that I also tried to make 2 new partitions. EXT3 and FAT32 (hoping the FAT32 can be detected). That didn't work too. Please help. Thanks, Tee – teepusink Oct 26 '09 at 4:05
Your XP CD instalaltion (pre-SP1, I would assume) isn't recognizing your SATA HD. Fixable. I'm adding even more information to my answer in a bit. – A Dwarf Oct 26 '09 at 12:02
Hi A Dwarf, I finally just got to borrow an XP SP2 CD. Still the same issue with hard drives not found message. This is insane and lots harder than I thought. I'll keep on tinkering in the meantime, but please let me know if you know of other possible cause. Thanks, Tee – teepusink Oct 28 '09 at 18:28

In your BIOS, is there an option for "Legacy Mode" or "IDE Mode" for the hard drive? XP doesn't have native AHCI support and finding the driver is sometimes problematic. Setting the SATA operation to IDE/Legacy instead of AHCI often fixes hard drive detection issues.

share|improve this answer
Hi MarkM, I don't see that option. All I see is SATA Native Mode that has values of enabled and disabled. Default was enabled. I tried disabling it and it doesn't work. Thanks, Tee – teepusink Oct 23 '09 at 2:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .