Question SATA Drives detected by BIOS are not available in Windows Installers, why?

Brian McG

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I am attempting to breath life into an old HP Proliant ML115 Server, by installing a new copy of the O/S.

It has two old 3.5" HDDs - a 160GB Seagate and a 320GB Western Digital. Both are being detected in the BIOS, but when it comes to the installer, neither drive is available. I've tried them in different SATA ports. I've also connected a newer 2.5" 1TB Seagate SSHD. I've tried installing Windows Server 2003, 2008 R2 and Win7 - nothing made any difference!

A couple of the installers prompted me to insert Drivers on a Floppy, but surely SATA Drivers will be on the installation disks? I've been installing SATA Drives ever since they came out and never needed to add Drivers.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

Old Molases

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Method 1. Initialize the Hard Drive
Let's first determine where the problem comes from. If your hard drive is not detected in file explore, you should check if the disk is a brand new one. Usually, if a new disk is not initialized, it would show up in the file explore. To initialize a hard drive, follow the steps below:
Step 1. Right-click "This PC" (in Windows 10) and choose "Manage".
Step 2. Open "Disk Management", right-click your new hard disk, and choose "Initialize Disk".
Step 3. Select the disk and choose MBR or GPT as its partition style, click "OK" to start.
Step 4. Right-click on the unallocated space on your new drive and select "New Simple Volume...".
Step 5. Set the partition size, drive letter, and file system to the new hard drive.
Step 6. Click "Finish" when the process completes.
Method 2. Change the Drive Letter
All the drives are assigned with an identifying letter.
All drives are assigned an identifying letter when they're created. In some cases, simply changing this letter could solve the issue, as long as your BIOS detects the drive. Follow the steps to fix Windows 10 not detecting the hard drive.
Step 1. Open "Disk Management", right-click the disk partition which has no drive letter.
Step 2. Choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths" from the context menu.
Step 3. Click the "Add" button in the pop-up window.
Step 4. Assign a drive letter to the partition and click "OK" to confirm.
Method 3. Format the Drive to a Compatible File System
As I have mentioned before, the wrong file system can also lead to the error - hard drive recognized in BIOS but not Windows. Thus, you can format the hard drive to a compatible file system. You can format a disk using Disk Management, but if the hard drive is over 32GB and you want to format it to FAT32, you will find there is no "FAT32" option for you. Thus, you are advised to use a third-party tool that breaks the FAT32 limit. EaseUS Partition Master can format a hard drive to FAT32/NTFS and other certain file systems compatible with the Windows system.
  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size, then click "OK".
  • Click "OK" to continue.
  • Click the "Execute Operation" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.
Method 4. Enable the Drive in BIOS
Another way to fix Windows does not detect disk partition but BIOS can is to enable the hard drive in BIOS.
Step 1. Restart PC and press F2 to enter BIOS.
Step 2. Enter Setup and check system documentation to see whether the not detected hard drive is turned Off in System Setup or not
Step 3. If it's Off, turn it ON in System Setup.
Step 4. Reboot PC to check out and find your hard drive now.


I hope this helps!!!
 

Brian McG

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Jan 23, 2015
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18,540
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=
Method 1. Initialize the Hard Drive
Let's first determine where the problem comes from. If your hard drive is not detected in file explore, you should check if the disk is a brand new one. Usually, if a new disk is not initialized, it would show up in the file explore. To initialize a hard drive, follow the steps below:
Step 1. Right-click "This PC" (in Windows 10) and choose "Manage".
Step 2. Open "Disk Management", right-click your new hard disk, and choose "Initialize Disk".
Step 3. Select the disk and choose MBR or GPT as its partition style, click "OK" to start.
Step 4. Right-click on the unallocated space on your new drive and select "New Simple Volume...".
Step 5. Set the partition size, drive letter, and file system to the new hard drive.
Step 6. Click "Finish" when the process completes.
Method 2. Change the Drive Letter
All the drives are assigned with an identifying letter.
All drives are assigned an identifying letter when they're created. In some cases, simply changing this letter could solve the issue, as long as your BIOS detects the drive. Follow the steps to fix Windows 10 not detecting the hard drive.
Step 1. Open "Disk Management", right-click the disk partition which has no drive letter.
Step 2. Choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths" from the context menu.
Step 3. Click the "Add" button in the pop-up window.
Step 4. Assign a drive letter to the partition and click "OK" to confirm.
Method 3. Format the Drive to a Compatible File System
As I have mentioned before, the wrong file system can also lead to the error - hard drive recognized in BIOS but not Windows. Thus, you can format the hard drive to a compatible file system. You can format a disk using Disk Management, but if the hard drive is over 32GB and you want to format it to FAT32, you will find there is no "FAT32" option for you. Thus, you are advised to use a third-party tool that breaks the FAT32 limit. EaseUS Partition Master can format a hard drive to FAT32/NTFS and other certain file systems compatible with the Windows system.
  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size, then click "OK".
  • Click "OK" to continue.
  • Click the "Execute Operation" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.
Method 4. Enable the Drive in BIOS
Another way to fix Windows does not detect disk partition but BIOS can is to enable the hard drive in BIOS.
Step 1. Restart PC and press F2 to enter BIOS.
Step 2. Enter Setup and check system documentation to see whether the not detected hard drive is turned Off in System Setup or not
Step 3. If it's Off, turn it ON in System Setup.
Step 4. Reboot PC to check out and find your hard drive now.


I hope this helps!!!
Methods 1 & 2 do not apply, as the O/S has not been installed yet.
Method 3 might apply. They could be FAT32 still. I'll check.
Method 4. I'll double-check the BIOS.
 

Brian McG

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Jan 23, 2015
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Methods 1 & 2 do not apply, as the O/S has not been installed yet.
Method 3 might apply. They could be FAT32 still. I'll check.
Method 4. I'll double-check the BIOS.
Method 3. I checked both HDDs in a Server 2019 Machine with a Hot-Swap HDD. Both Discs showed up OK in 'Disk Management' as Healthy & NTFS
Method 4. I checked the BIOS. It does not seem that the BIOS enables one to turn Disks off.
 

Brian McG

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Jan 23, 2015
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Well, I have fixed the problem - whatever it was!

I took both Drives out of the HP Server that they were in, and put them into another Server running Windows 2019. According to Disk Management they were both healthy NTFS Disks. I decided to reformat them completely (not a Quick Format), and did a full: CHKDSK D: /F/ /R No bad sectors were detected on either Drive, which is remarkable as they are 15 years old.

I then replaced one of the Drives in the HP Server. It was then recognised by the Windows Installer without further ado. It is now busy installing Windows Server 2008 R2 from DVD. :)

So the Problem is resolved. BUT I don't know why. Can anyone explain what going on?
 

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