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Solved: "No boot sector on hard disk" while trying to install XP Pro

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by cowbite, Aug 25, 2011.

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  1. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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    Well, I hope this is the correct forum considering I don't actually have XP Pro installed yet!

    Many moons ago (June 2004) I purchased a Dell Inspiron 8600 to take to college. It served faithfully (including after The Great Red Bull Spill of 2006) until several weeks ago when the hard drive failed. No big deal, it's mainly my Netflix computer anyway. However, I'd still like to have it back up and running, so I purchased a refurbished 40gb hard drive off Ebay. I installed the new hard drive and checked to see that it was recognized by the BIOS (it is). When I booted up the computer it said "No boot sector on hard disk. No bootable devices -- strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility." Of course, I understand that's normal because the hard drive doesn't have anything on it yet.

    Here's where the problems begin.

    I have the Dell-issue XP Pro installation CD. I changed the boot order in the BIOS so that it would first boot from the CD drive. However, I got the same "No boot sector on hard disk. No bootable devices -- strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility" error. Well, that CD drive has a history of acting up (despite being recognized by the BIOS), so I went out and got a USB CD drive (the kind with two USB plugs; one is for extra power I guess). Again, I changed the boot order in the BIOS to start with USB. I got the same "No boot sector on hard disk. No bootable devices -- strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility" error. I tried using the new USB CD drive (with XP Pro disc) on my other laptop and both worked just fine, so I don't think the USB CD drive nor the XP Pro CD are at fault.

    So, here I am, out of ideas and full of impotent frustration. What am I doing wrong? I thought I kind-of understood this stuff, too.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. johnebadbak

    johnebadbak

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  3. Elvandil

    Elvandil

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    What was wrong with the old hard drive? Can you clone it to the new one?

    Is it an original Dell CD or a copy of one?
     
  4. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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    I'm trying to do a full, manual install, so I don't think that should matter. From the looks of that website, it doesn't look like that hidden partition is necessary if you want to do a manual install/reinstall (ie: Step 3). To me, it seems like my computer refuses to boot from the CD or USB.
     
  5. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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    BSoD, and then the BIOS no longer recognized it. I don't believe I currently have the hardware required (no 2.5" enclosure or IDE cable). It's an original Dell XP Pro CD with SP1 (nice and purple!).
     
  6. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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    I just got an external 2.5" HDD enclosure and tried formatting the new hard drive using my working computer. I then put that formatted drive in the non functional computer, changed boot order (tried both the cd drive and a USB cd drive) and it still said there were no bootable devices. I even tried installing XP Pro directly onto the hard drive in the enclosure but it wouldn't let me. I'm completely out of ideas here!
     
  7. markaherlan

    markaherlan

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    I hate to say it but it may be fallout from the great red bull spill. I have seen motherboards get wet, especially with something sugary, and still work for a while but then have cascading failures down the line which sounds like what may have happened to you.
     
  8. Spawny

    Spawny

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    Sounds like the HDD drive PCB board is bad.
     
  9. Gr3iz

    Gr3iz

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    When you see the Dell splash screen, hit <F12>. You should be presented with a list of boot devices. Select the CD-ROM. Watch for a brief message on the screen that says something like "Press any key to boot from CD", and hit the any key quickly. You don't have a lot of time ... ;-)
     
  10. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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    The new HDD seems to work just fine.

    Yep, tried that too but to no avail.

    I think my best shot at this point is to try to install the OS on the HDD using my friend's similarly outfitted Dell 8600.
     
  11. Gr3iz

    Gr3iz

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    Let us know how you make out ...
     
  12. cowbite

    cowbite Thread Starter

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