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I was using my old laptop with SSD as a primary drive. After buying the SSD I formatted the HDD for storing just personal data, so I wiped it out (OS, MBR etc. - everything).

Now I moved the SSD to my new laptop (as primary disk again) and can't install Windows XP to the old one.

Firstly I got a BOOTMBR is missing error which seems logical because I formated the whole HDD and there is not any MBR now. I red about this error and the suggestions are to use Repair instead of a new installation. But I don't have any old OS on the HDD, so this is not working for me. Anyway, after inserting the installation disk (Windows XP) the files are loaded etc, I'm entering the setup but after choosing fresh install (tried with Repair, too) I am getting this error:

Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer

The disk is detected without a problem in BIOS, so it is not a hardware connection problem.

What to do now?

Note to exclude some suggestions:

  • The laptop is not supporting booting from USB;
  • I have not any external floppy drive if I will need HDD drivers or something similar;
  • I have not any optical drive. The new laptop hasn't an optical drive (ultra bay is used for the SSD where is the OS) and it's the only computer which I can use for now.

I also want the data from the second partition of this HDD - i.e. my old D: partition before buying the SSD. On the old C: partition I have just 1 or 2 movies after formatting it so I do not need them. So, I prefer a solution without loosing the data (not very critical: movies, music, (e)books, photos) if it's possible. Or maybe I should copy the data somehow (maybe some Linux LiveCD and crossover cable, SATA to USB hard drive box etc.) before trying to install XP?

Any ideas?

share|improve this question
What's the laptop model? How did you wipe the HDD? – gronostaj Aug 16 '13 at 14:17
The laptop is Toshiba Satellite A300-15E. I just formatted the old C: partition to remove the old OS and using it for data storage. – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 14:31
So you haven't wiped everything, but just one partition, and very likely wasn't actually wiped and files were (are?) recoverable. Specifically, you haven't wiped MBR, as it's not a part of any partition. That's just FYI, @daxlerod's has a solution for you in his answer below. – gronostaj Aug 16 '13 at 18:22
Yes, I was able to install Windows 7 without any problems as @daxlerod suggested. Also as you say, my files in the other partition are still there, so everything is good now. And just to understand: if MBR is not a part of the primary partition then why I got these errors when trying to install Windows XP? – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 19:09
Because XP's installer doesn't support your RAID or AHCI controller, so it couldn't detect the hard drive. And you got the BOOTMGR is missing message (MGR for Manager, not MBR) message because XP's boot manager was still in MBR and tried to open BOOTMGR file from the first partition that was already formatted. – gronostaj Aug 16 '13 at 22:22
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm guessing that the Windows XP setup program doesn't recognize the HD controller. Is the bios set to use AHCI mode? (Disable AHCI) Is it a RAID type controller?

If that is the case, you will need to supply a driver. You can use a floppy disk, and press F6 at the prompt, or create a setup cd with the driver included. (Commonly refered to as Slipstreaming)

Or, you can install a modern operating system. Windows 7, Windows 8, or a current Linux distribution are more likely to support your hardware by default.

share|improve this answer
Yes, in BIOS it is set to AHCI mode. I never used a RAID massive. I have a bootable USB with Linux Mint which I'm using on the new laptop but as I said the old one doesn't support booting from USB. Do you think that burning a CD with Windows 7 or some Linux distro will work? Unfortunately, I can't test this suggestion immediately because I don't have an optical drive and empty disks now. – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 14:36
It sounds like the easiest thing for you to try first is to disable AHCI. – daxlerod Aug 16 '13 at 15:19
Easiest: Yes. Best performance and most abilities: No. If you have a floppy drive then download the SATA controller/AHCI driver to ancient floppy disk, then press F6 to install additional drivers when prompted. – Hennes Aug 16 '13 at 16:05
Also, a small side note: regular support for windows XP ended in April 2009 (yes, over 4 years ago). Extended support will end in early 2014. Since you are reinstalling anyway please consider a modern OS or wipe it in a few months. – Hennes Aug 16 '13 at 16:06
Thank you. I found my old Windows 7 CD and it was installed without any problem. I also changed AHCI to Compatibility mode, do not know if it helped, too. About the note; I know this and I never would use Windows XP anymore but I will give the laptop to my mother and she's not very happy with trying new things. :) Anyway, she will try Windows 7 now. – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 17:45

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