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Alan9
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Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

I have an old Dell Studio XPS 435t / 9000 that was operating without problems until this morning. When I turned it on the splash screen came up and the HHD operated briefly and the system then immediately went to a blinking cursor and did not boot. I can access the bios and the bios detects the two SATA hard drives and two DVD drives but they are inaccessible for booting purposes thus far I have done the following:

Attempted to boot from a DVD.

Reset the bios to factory defaults.

Pulled the CMOS battery.

Swapped the plugs on the motherboard for the hard drives, the bios recognized the hard drives were connected to different SATA ports.

 

The net result remains constant, a blinking cursor and neither HDD nor DVD activity. Any suggestions as to possible causes and remedies would be welcome. (Although not relevant since it never gets to Windows it is running Windows 7 64 when it actually boots Windows.)

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7 Plutonium

RE: Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

Did you press/hold power button for ~30 sec after removing the motherboard battery? And is that battery any good?

Color of power button and is it steady or blinking?

Are the two hard drives set up as RAID array?

If you reboot and press F12. can you get to the menu to select Utilities partition where you can run the diagnostics?

What happened when you tried to boot from DVD? And is it a bootable disk?

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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Alan9
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RE: Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

Thank your for our help (or at least interest(g))

In response to your questions, no I did not hold the power button after removing CMOS battery--the system was unplugged when I removed it. The battery is good, as far as I know, it was not losing time (hard to know since it could have been refreshed from the internet connection), but there was no indication of lost settings. After resetting the clock when I removed the battery it still seems to be holding the time.

Hard drives are not in a RAID array. Two separate drives neither mirroring nor interleaving (not sure if that is the correct term).

I was finally able to boot from a DVD after some effort. I have the drives backed up with ShadowProtect and was able to boot into the ShadowProtect recovery environment.

The utilities partition does not appear to be available (I will need to double check on this this evening when I return home to the system).  The current C drive is an image of the original drive that I replaced last year when it was going bad, and I am not entirely sure the utilities partition was recreated when I did the replacement. I did run the preboot check and it indicated hard drive and memory were good.

Thus at this point the issue seems to be one of accessing the hard drives. Switched cables and the bio replaced the actual C drive as the boot hard drive with the other hard drive, switched them back and the proper order was restored so it seems to not only recognize the hard drives but read their ID's. 

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7 Plutonium

RE: Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

If you had to reset the clock, changes are good that BIOS got reset to defaults.

Sounds like you lost the utitlities partiton when you cloned the original drive.

Reboot and press F8. Select Safe Mode with Networking. You'll see a lot of scripts scroll up the screen, but leave it alone. Hopefully it will boot in Safe Mode. The Safe Mode desktop may look weird, but at least you'll know that it's probably not a hardware issue.

If Safe Mode works, shut down and reboot again. This time press F8 and select "Last known good" from the menu. If that works and it boots normally, shut down normally and reboot normally. You should be good to go.

Post what happens using Safe Mode and Last Good.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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Alan9
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RE: Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

Unfortunately the F8 safe mode reboot seems unavailable, repeated attempts to reboot while trying various rhythmic and constant pressing combinations of F8 yielded only a blinking cursor. Again the only success I have had in accessing any device at boot has been the optical drives, not the hard drives. I did try F12 and specified the utility partition, but got back a utility partition not found message. I am getting the distinct, albeit unpleasant, feeling that I am dealing with a motherboard failure. 

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7 Plutonium

RE: Cannot boot from HDD or DVD although both are recognized in the BIOS

Strip it down to bare basics:

  1. Disconnect all drives except boot hard drive
  2. Remove all PCI cards except video card
  3. Remove all RAM except the module in Slot 1
  4. Remove motherboard battery and press/hold power button for ~30 sec
  5. Reinstall the battery (right-side-up!)
  6. Close case and boot with only mouse, monitor and keyboard connected

If that works, add back hardware a piece at a time, repeating #4-#6 each time you add something back to see if you can ID a bum part.

If 1-6 fail on the first go, disconnect hard drive and connect optical drive. Repeat 4-6 and try to boot from a bootable CD/DvD, eg Dell Windows Reinstallation DVD or Dell Utilities CD.

If it still fails, you've narrowed it to motherboard, CPU and video card. If the system has onboard video, remove the add-in card, repeat 4-6 and boot with monitor connected to onboard video port.

 

 

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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