Why is my hard disk not detected in the BIOS?

When the PC's disk drive is not detected in the BIOS and the computer will not boot up, what can you do. The solutions here might enable you to get it working again.

The BIOS or Basic Input Output System is basically a type of program that controls the actions of a computer. It’s very important because all the data flow is controlled by the BIOS. Hence, an error-free BIOS is very important and anything it can’t detect is problematic.

One problem that can arise in the BIOS is with hard disks and ‘Hard Disk is not detected’ is a common error.

There can be many reasons for this, but here are a couple of common situations. If your hard disk is new and is not detected in the BIOS, then you need to follow different fix. If the disk is an old one that has suddenly stopped working, you might say that it is dead now.

It is a painful situation for any user when they discover that their drive is dead. They feel that they have lost everything permanently, but actually it is not true because there are number of Windows data recovery software available that allows you to recover data from undetected hard drives.

For example, Stellar Phoenix Windows data recovery – Home is a popular tool for extracting lost partitions and recovering deleted data. It is free to recover up to 1GB of data.

Alternatively, you can try manual methods to fix this error, but if they do not help, then you need to change the Hard Disk.

Check the data cable

SATA cables or IDE cables are very important commodities. They’re used for connecting the hard disk with the motherboard. A SATA cable is the one that is connected to the hard disk and the motherboard.

  1. Locate the SATA cable.
  2. Make sure the cable length is more than 1m as short cables cause cramping. This can damage the cable.
  3. Check that SATA cable is tightly plugged into its correct position.
  4. If you have doubts that the cable is damaged, then replace it.

If you’re using the UDMA cable (one which has three pins instead of two like in SATA), then use the following steps.

  1. Make sure each color port is connected with right port.
  2. Take the UDMA cable. There will be three colored connectors.
  3. Black Connecter at one end is used to connect the Master Device.
  4. Gray or the Middle connector is for slave devices.
  5. Blue connector is used to connect to the motherboard.

Check the Jumper Setting

Jumpers are small switches used to open or close the circuit. In computers, they’re used mainly for setting the ATA drives.

Disk drive jumper settings

  1. Look for jumper pins on the back of the drive. It’s a kind of small switch with metal rods and plastic header. If you don’t know how it looks, then confirm from the internet first.
  2. It will be located on the hard disk, on the connectors.
  3. Check whether it has only one jumper or two jumpers.
  4. If your Hard Disk has only one jumper, then check the position. The jumper should be placed on the left most corner, far from the cable connector. It should be the vertical direction.
  5. If it has two jumpers, then place the one jumper on the left most corner in the vertical direction and next jumper, just beside it, in the horizontal direction.

This is to confirm that your device works in Master/Slave mode. If you have a SATA drive, then you don’t need to check for anything. Try next solution, if the error still persists.

Check for Auto Drive Detection

If the jumpers are in the correct position, and still the hard disk is not detectable, then check for the drive detection.

Dell drivers and downloads
It is a good idea to update the PC’s drivers
  1. When you switch on the PC, press F2 for entering into the System Setup or CMOS Setup. Different models have different keys for entering into System Setup, so make sure you read the message when the computer turns on.
  2. Go to BIOS setup page.
  3. Check if the hard disk drive detection is set to Auto or On.
  4. If it is not, then make it on.
  5. Press Save & Exit changes.

Now the computer should reboot and the system should be able to detect your hard disk.

Check for SATA Drivers

If you’ve changed the hard disk or you’re using the old version of Windows, the ‘Hard Disk not detected’ error can be due to a driver issue.

Check for SATA devices in Device Manager in Windows

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. You should be able to Device Manager on the screen. If not, then click on System & Security. Then select Device Manager.
  3. A screen should open with the list of all the devices connected to the PC.
  4. Find IDE ATA/ATAPI controller and double click it.
  5. A list of Drivers will open. It will be named based on its manufacturer.
  6. Double click the SATA drive. A new window will open.
  7. Click on the Driver tab of this window.
  8. Click on the Update Driver tab.
  9. Now follow the instructions to finish installing the new updated drivers.

Even after updating your SATA drivers, you still get the same error, you can continue to try the next solution.

Check if the Drive is spinning

It may be due to the fact that the Hard Disk is dead. In this case, you’ll need a new Hard Drive.

Inside a computer's hard disk drive
The hard disk drive looks like this inside
  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Now open the computer case and disconnect the SATA/UDMA cable from Hard Disk and the motherboard.
  3. Don’t disconnect the Hard Disk.
  4. Now power on the computer and check if the Hard Disk is spinning.
  5. A soft noise or vibration should be felt on the Hard Disk side.
  6. If it does not, then it means the Disk is not spinning or you can say not working anymore.

Still having problems?

If the hard disk is now detectable by the BIOS, but not in Windows, then try the following steps.

This is the next most common problem after solving this issue. It mainly happens due to the portioning problem. When the windows lose its partitioning, then you might get this error.

  1. Right-click My Computer on the PC.
  2. Select Manage.
  3. On the left pane, under Storage section, double-click the Disk Management option.
  4. You can use this to change the partitions on the Hard Disk.
  5. But make sure to keep a copy beforehand of the data as the formatting or partitioning may erase your data.

If you have followed all the above methods and is not successful in fixing the ‘Hard Disk Not Detected in BIOS’ error, try third-party hard drive utilities like SeaTools for DOS for Seagate drives and Western Digital Data Lifeguard for WD drives.

If nothing works for you, then it’s time to purchase a new hard disk.

Author Bio: I am a Windows 10 Data Recovery expert and a geek with over 3 years of experience. I share my knowledge and expertise over different media channels from time to time or as soon as find a new one.


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