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I'm reinstalling Windows 7 64 bit, and I encountered an issue I've never seen before. I have a legit copy of Win 64 Professional, and I've installed it probably a half dozen times on this machine in the past without a problem.

Googling the error only brings me to issues with people who are upgrading to win7.

The drive itself seems to not have a problem. I can mount it on other systems and I can create an NTFS partition on it on other machines. I can install Ubuntu on it without any issues. Additionally, if I try using my alternate backup hard drive, the installer gives the same error.

I have run diskpart from the setup page and clean seems to report that all is well. However, I cannot get past the screen below, which says Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. This happens regardless of whether or not the disk space is already allocated.

What is causing this? How do I solve or get past this?

A strange error appears

Edit: One Week Later

I am at my wits end with this... I have tried installing windows on four different hard drives, using two completely different motherboards, I even borrowed a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate as well as my legit Win7Pro disk. I have tried with no existing partitions, and with existing (and fully functional) NTFS partitions. I've tried installing off of USB and DVD. Every time I get to the screen shown above I get the same result.

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  • Is this a removable drive? Windows doesn't like installing on a removable drive... – lornix Jul 2 '12 at 21:29
  • It is a SATA HDD, connected to the SATA ports on the motherboard – hughes Jul 2 '12 at 21:39
  • @pinouchon can you grab the setuperr.log file? – magicandre1981 Aug 23 '15 at 6:16
  • Check out this question as well! It contains other solutions for the same problem. I had to update my BIOS to get past the error. – RasmusP_963 Dec 8 '18 at 15:32
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+50

I got it to work.

What I did:

  • Remove all USB devices except the keyboard
  • Set the boot order in the BIOS so that the HDD is first
  • Disconnect the network
  • Use a DVD (not usb) for installation

I had tried each of these things individually and in different combinations. I'm not sure why it suddenly worked now, but windows setup was suddenly able to create a partition.

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  • All I had to do was disable all other hard drives in bios then it installed like a charm without any errors. – Nick Woodhams Mar 20 '13 at 5:06
  • 3
    Thanks for this; I was literally tearing my hair out because my brand new laptop would not install Windows 7 from a USB key (I had to use the DVD drive!). For people who want to remove their DVD drives, you might want to consider installing a clean version of Windows 7, and cloning/ghosting the partition for future use. – Breakthrough Apr 27 '13 at 14:49
  • I was stuck on the same problems after hours of research... What I did: removed all unnecessary connections: mouse, ethernet port, printer, other usb keys. I left only: power, keyboard, monitor, bootable usb. In the BIOS, I also changed the boot order so that the SSD (where I install) is first and the bootable USB second. Then I booted the USB by pressing F12 and manually selecting USB. Some other plugged device was causing the issue... You get a bounty for pointing me in the right direction. – Benjamin Crouzier Aug 19 '15 at 12:19
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Checked your BIOS settings lately?!

Sometimes there is a section in your BIOS regarding something like "Boot Sector Virus protection." And it's usually a good idea to leave this setting enabled for normal use too. But you probably want to disable it when installing a new Windows operating system.

FYI: Other file systems like those used with Linux aren't usually even looked at by a BIOS. In fact, if you even have this BIOS feature then it will almost exclusively look for a NTFS or FAT file system only (and make sure it isn't messed with). That would explain why you can establish nearly any other filesystem and why you can't create a new Windows NTFS file system.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion! I wasn't able to find any BIOS setting like that. My motherboard is a MSI 790FX-GD70. – hughes Jul 7 '12 at 2:03
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Do you have MBR or GPT? - since you have less then 2.2 TB drive you can safely use old MBR and installer will more likely cooperate with you..

shift+F10 will open command prompt - use diskpart to convert to MBR

Also drivers to storage controller on pendrive is good option (load driver)..

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  • Unfortunately, converting to MBR did not help. – hughes Jul 7 '12 at 2:12
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Use a linux live cd that has parted magic, and make sure all partitions are removed. Make sure any hidden partitions are gone. Cleaning should have done it though.

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Have you tried manually creating a new partition? If you set it to use all the free space, it should bring up a message saying it needs to create a partition for the system files

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  • I have tried that. I recall it asked me that on previous installations. However I do not see it now. It lets me create a partition of any size and does not ask for a reserved system volume. When I leave space for a system volume, it does not use it. – hughes Jul 2 '12 at 21:40
  • Even if you try setting it to use all the free space for one partition? Hmmm.... – Canadian Luke Jul 2 '12 at 21:40
  • Yeah. Every time I've installed windows 7 in the past it has asked for a reserved system volume, but not now – hughes Jul 2 '12 at 21:49
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Find a way to change the partition table format back to MBR; I ran into issues like this when I had a GPT-formatted partition table. Windows is supposed to have support for GPT disks, but the installer didn't want to have anything to do with it when I was using it.

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  • I tried converting the disk to MBR using diskpart. Unfortunately it didn't help. – hughes Jul 7 '12 at 2:13
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On some Intel motherboards, you can change SATA Operation from "Intel® Smart Response Technology" to AHCI, and then you can install W7 normally.

I don't know after that if you can change back after W7 installation yet...

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In my case, there was an SSD with an old Windows install (incl. System Reserved partition) on it connected whilst I was trying to install Windows on a HDD. Unplugging the SSD resolved this error.

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