"Hard drive not installed" "Primary Drive - Unknown device" - Dell 8100 dimension - Disk Drives (HDD, CD/DVD, Blu-ray) Forum - Disk Drives - Dell Community

"Hard drive not installed" "Primary Drive - Unknown device" - Dell 8100 dimension

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"Hard drive not installed" "Primary Drive - Unknown device" - Dell 8100 dimension

  • Hi,
    I have had this problem for absolutely ages and i have no idea how to sort it. Dell customer support wasnt as helpful on the phone and i have spent so much money trying to call and get it sorted.
    The problem is as follows. The computer is Windows ME, intel pentium 4, 1.7 GHz, dell dimension 8100, bios version A08, 256 KB intergrated,
    When i turned it on not too long ago i couldnt load past the IDE configuration and it kept coming up with the "F1 to retry boot, f2 to enter setup"
    I entered setup and i looked at primary drive 1, 0 and secondary drive 0,1 and it says Unknown device on all four, i cant change it when i press enter as it says "Detect" in blue and in capacity "N/A"
    Also in the boot sequence it has CD ROM DISK DRIVE (NOT INSTALLED) and HARD DISK DRIVE (NOT INSTALLED) but diskette drive still works. I was wondering would using a boot disk help, i do not have one does anyone know how i can download it or get one and if it would work?
    I dont know exactly what is wrong, it was working perfectly fine one minute and then not the next. I have had this computer for 3 years and it has cause trouble from day one! Does anyone know how to solve this millionth problem of mine? I don't know because it just doesnt boot up, does anyone know any shortcut commands i could use?
    Please help!
    Take care,
  • First thing would be to replace the backup battery on the mainboard. The re-enter setup and try to re-enable the devices.

    If that doesn't work, disconnect the drives and add them back one at a time. One of them is probably faulty, and you can determine which one that is.
  • Right okay, i did that but the problem still occurs. I think someone told me it was the motherboard at one point but i replaced that with another but still nothing. what happened then was i tried to reboot it with the only avaialble drive. I used the DISKETTE DRIVE for 3/12 inch floopy 1.44MB.

    It got to a stage where i got the A Prompt after it had installed. It said that fdisk could not run and that the C drive may have been missing FAT or FAT32. Im not sure whethere there is a virus present but how can i start up the computer by booting from a WIndows ME boot disk.

    Can you actually search for viruses in MSDOS prompt mode because i have no idea what to do. It cant be the motherboard as the system wouldn't turn on if it had gone. The PCI bus scan completes and then it goes into information about the system. It then says that

    "Drive C does not contain a valid FAT or FAT32 Partition.

    The causes could be. I need to run FDISK, i might be using third party software (which im not) so that cancels that out. Also it says a VIRUS could have got into the system but then it just says "Your CD Rom drive is D and then A prompt comes up and i have no idea what to do after that.!

    Can anyone help? This is trying to reboot windows ME. IN setup the Primary Secondary 0,1 are still on detect and capacity N/A in blue and the boot sequence says that the CDROM and the Hard disk drive are still not installed so i am still trying to boot from the diskette drive.

    It keeps coming up with A prompt and C prompt i tried running scan disk but it did it so quickly and said there was nothing wrong with the C drive. I dont know how to run a virus scan from DOS does anyone knwo any commands or what to do so i can get this to run?

    Please help!!


  • Was there a different OS (XP or 2000) on the system before?
  • No there was no OS before that, it was just windows ME and it is still windows ME now.

    The thing was ihave been doing some research and have been told it could be my BIOS/CMOS battery on my motherboard. Could this be the case? Could it be that the battery has died and it will re find and reinstall the boot sequence + primary and secondary drivers if the battery is replaced.

    Ihave had the computer for about 3-4 years and i haven't changed the battery. Could this be a plausible cause?

    Please reply asap

    Thanking you in advance for your assitance.



  • It could be the battery; they cost only $3 or so (CR-2032) so it wouldn't be expensive to change it.

    Make sure the drives are detected in BIOS setup.

    Then I'd download the drive manufacturer's test utility and fully test the drive(s).
  • When you say if it's detected, do you mean by the IDE devices. It does at the moment say "Unknown Device" for
    Primary Drive 0
    Primary Drive 1
    Secondary Drive 0
    Secondary Drive 1

    But when you click into it, it says Drive type - DETECT
                                                         Capacity - N/A
    I was told that the battery can be a bit of a menice when it comes to detecting these as if its dead it wont work until its replaced.
    The boot sequence has
    Diskette drive (intact)
    Hard disk drive (not installed)
    CD rom drive (not installed)
    Im guessing that once the battery is changed, the Hard disk and cd rom drive will be able to be detected again as it would have powered the motherboard back up again.

    Thanks very much for your help, its very much appreciated :)
    Thank you,
  • Nik:

    Boot to system setup and try resetting the BIOS defaults. Then try the Force IDE device redetect: turn on caps lock, scroll lock, & number lock. Press ALT+E then ALT+F, save settings & exit.

  • I just got a system with the same problem from my dad who got it from someone else. Not sure if it's the same system or not, but I've done everything you've listed other than the battery. It seems that the mainboard is detecting the hard drive and CD/DVD ROMs but it doesn't seem to understand what they are. When I first go into setup there all saying everything on the EIDE ports are Unknown. I press ALT+F and it comes back saying the first device on each is unknown with the other 2 off. Now for the primary there is only 1 drive connected, but for the CD writer and DVD-ROM there on the 2nd IDE cable together. The Hard Drive is fine. I was able to connect it to my system and access it and formated it with no problem. Could anything else be 'causing the problem?
  • Just read all of this thread...............its the Battery!!!!!!
    I just had the same exact problem, and it was solved by installing a new battery and clearing the cmos
  • Way to go, Matt. Glad things are up and running! :)
  • I tried your "FORCE" trick. Did NOT work. The black screen says "PERFORMING IDE CONFIGURATION". Back to bios. Hard drive 0 is OFF. I changed it to AUTO. In bios it now says "UNKNOWN DEVICE". I tried the 40 gig again. Same issue. Same issue in BOTH towers I am trying to make live again. The spare mobo I have will NOT give me video so I cannot use it. This is maddning. Solution please. I have more hdds coming. I do not expect those to be detected either. How do I reset bios to default settings. You did not say how to other posters.

  • Hi The Gray Man,

    May I suggest you start a new thread rather than adding to an old one? And please provide the model of your system and operating system. I'll look for it.

    To start a new thread, click the + New Post button on the disk drives forum page.