Question Hard Drive only detects on every consecutive boot, every time! STRANGE!

jojo1000

Commendable
Jul 21, 2020
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This is a VERY strange problem that even has my computer repair guys baffled.

Conditions:

  1. It's a Dell 3521 Insp. Laptop. running Windows 7.
  2. Laptop came with a DVD drive that was removed and an SSD installed as the primary boot device (legacy boot) with its original 500 GB HDD made into a secondary drive.
  3. I boot the laptop up, boots up fine everytime. But does not detect the secondary 500 GB the first time around. The next boot, everything is fine. No problem.
  4. Thought I'd install Windows 10 to see if the problem goes away, but it did not. Same thing. Every boot is fine, but the secondary hard drive only detects on every consecutive boot.
Have no clue what to do or where to look as I am out of options. Any ideas guys?
 
This is a VERY strange problem that even has my computer repair guys baffled.

Conditions:

  1. It's a Dell 3521 Insp. Laptop. running Windows 7.
  2. Laptop came with a DVD drive that was removed and an SSD installed as the primary boot device (legacy boot) with its original 500 GB HDD made into a secondary drive.
  3. I boot the laptop up, boots up fine everytime. But does not detect the secondary 500 GB the first time around. The next boot, everything is fine. No problem.
  4. Thought I'd install Windows 10 to see if the problem goes away, but it did not. Same thing. Every boot is fine, but the secondary hard drive only detects on every consecutive boot.
Have no clue what to do or where to look as I am out of options. Any ideas guys?
Does the bios also not see the hdd every 2nd boot?
 

jojo1000

Commendable
Jul 21, 2020
13
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1,510
0
Thanks for your response.

It's the same thing with the BIOS. Does not detect it on the first boot, but on the second one, it does. Again on the third boot it does not, fourth boot it does. (This happens even if I install a new software that requires a soft boot as well)

SATA Operation is in AHCI Mode. (Don't know if that would make a difference but just wanted to inform.)
 

jojo1000

Commendable
Jul 21, 2020
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1,510
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That's a good idea. But I don't have a spare 2.5" that I could use though.
Would you be able to think of anything else?
 

BFG-9000

Distinguished
See, this is where the vintage BIOS setting of HDD pre-delay might've been useful, at least if it always showed up on warm reboot.

Used to be every drive took a different time to spin up and tended to get slower as they aged (remember this was also the era of ball bearings) so the time the BIOS used to wait for the disk to report in was adjustable. You don't have this setting.

A temporary workaround could be every time you boot the computer, to CTRL-ALT-DEL reset right after you see any POST messages (since you don't have a handy reset button either). Given that fluid dynamic bearings generally don't get slower unless they are actually leaking, it may be that the HDD motor has some shorted windings or is receiving low voltage from some bad connection, so the drive may get slower and slower to initialize until it can never come up to speed at all.

Alternately, the firmware of the drive is usually stored on a service track and could've got corrupted or a relocated sector causing a timeout during its initialization process. In this case flashing new firmware onto the drive should fix it, though that's usually difficult to get. However Dell actually has a firmware update for your disk dated 2017.
 

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