How come my BIOS will not recognize my new 80GB hard drive?

by on February 15, 2011

Q: I have a Gateway M460 laptop in which the hard drive went south rapidly due to SMART error detection. I was able to pull all my files from the hard drive using Recuva by connecting it to another computer via a USB adapter before it really got into trouble. I wanted to upgrade the hard drive on the machine to a 80GB (the maximum size per Gateway’s website). This machine has a PATA/IDE type drive. I have the restore disks for this machine here ready to go. The machine will POST with the old HDD installed, but the restore disc is unable to reload the HDD due to numerous errors and failures. Fair enough. But the point is that the machine does POST. I can access the BIOS and the machine ‘spins’ up the old HDD.

Enter the new 80GB Seagate drive. This is a brand new drive. If I connect the drive to the machine, the computer will not POST. Immediately upon pressing the ‘power’ button, the second light from the right in the status indicators turns purple and the machine just sits there. This purple light is the module indicator and is supposed to indicate that the module is ready to swap. Whatever that means. No BIOS, no spin-up of the hard drive, no access of the CD drive which is primary…..nada, zip, goose egg.

Take that new hard drive and connect it via a USB adapter and the drive can be partitioned, formatted, accessed, anything you want on another computer. I used Partition Wizard to do all this stuff. I even made the drive partition 40GB to match the size of the original drive and made the partition ‘active’. Put the drive back into the M460….purple light on power up and … POST, no BIOS, no spin-up of the hard drive, nada, zip, goose egg.

I have removed the battery, removed the CD drive. In deperation (sp?) I swapped the new hard drive with an older 30GB that I had laying around and the restore discs run flawlessly. I’ve even updated the BIOS to the latest version when I’m able to access the BIOS with either the original drive or my 30Gb stand-in connected.

I also tried a new Seagate 100GB drive partitioned down to 40GB. Same purple light.

I’ve tried all of the jumper settings (master, slave and cable select) without any difference (on the 80Gb and the 100GB). I’m at my wits end. What am I missing? Even if the M460 doesn’t support an 80GB hard drive, wouldn’t it be fine partitioned as a 40GB hard drive? The original hard drive is a Toshiba. But that shouldn’t make any difference. Is there a known incompatibility with Gateway and Seagate? I’ve never come across this issue before.

I don’t believe this is a mobo, power supply, IDE connections issue, or the like as the laptop successfully restored a 30GB hard drive with the restore disc and runs perfectly well with that hardware. The BIOS has been updated to the most recent version and functions correctly. I can clone the 30GB restored hard drive to the 80GB Seagate, but I don’t believe that will not work either as the 80GB (or the 100GB) Seagate drives do not even ‘spin up’ when power is supplied via the laptop. That purple light (module swap something or other) turns on as fast as the power light on the machine at start and the machine just hangs. It won’t matter if there is anything on the drive or not, the BIOS is not starting the drive. One last thing, to address the power supply issue again; the replacement drives use less power (lower amperage) than the original Toshiba, so, I don’t believe we have a lack of power issue.

I cloned the 30GB hard drive that the recovery disc restored to the new 80GB Seagate. I cloned the drive leaving the size of the partition on the 80GB drive the same as the 30GB drive (i.e. I didn’t do a proportional partition size). I verified the image after the clone process. Same purple light as before the cloning. I used Apricorn EZ Gig II for the cloning procedure. The cloning was performed on the laptop machine with Apricorn EZ Gig II software. The cloning was not performed using the original 40GB hard drive as the drive is unreadable except through the Recuva software. And, as a note, I did run SpinRite 6 on the original drive which detected all kinds of ‘unrecoverable’ sectors.

That 80GB drive is connected to this laptop that I am typeing this post on. I can see all of the files and it runs fine connected via a USB adapter.

The specs from the drive’s label:
Momentus 5400.3
PN: 9S1038-508
DATE: 09353
“This drive is manufactured by Seagate for OEM distribution. For product information or technical support, please contact your system OEM”

Gateway will not talk to me about the machine as it was alledgedy (sp?) made in Canada and that product line was sold to a company called MPC: … “your system is supported by MPC Corporation. MPC acquired our professional accounts, which includes your product originally developed as a professional model. For all your support needs please contact MPC.

And, no one is reading the Seagate forum that I contacted.

Sorry about being so long winded. Anybody here have any ideas?

3 Responses to “How come my BIOS will not recognize my new 80GB hard drive?”

    Have you tried to boot the laptop with the drive just formatted and no data residing on the drive?

    If I understood you correctly you tried to boot your laptop with the new drive cloned from the old HDD. Sounds like that may be part of the problem.

    So format the drive. Do not put any data on it. Format it as NTFS File system.
    Plug the drive into the laptop and boot and see if it will boot to the BIOS now. If it boots to the bios they may be corrupt files or an incompatibility with the clone of the drive.

    I would then load the OS from scratch, install all drivers. Then restore data that you need from the backup instead of a clone of it.

    Let me know if that helps you out at all.


    Hi jselden73. Thanks for checking out this posting. I guess I didn’t explain very well, sorry. The issue is that when the brand new 80GB Seagate (or the brand new 100GB Seagate drive) is attached to the computer’s IDE connector, the machine will start. No spin up, no POST, just a few lights (power, AC/battery indicator, ect.) and the dreaded ‘purple’ module light. If that module light is purple in color, the game is over. It turns purple as fast as the power light comes on when the machine is powered up (instantly). The machine will POST correctly with the 30GB, 40GB drives (Hitachi and Toshiba) whether the are formatted or not and if formatted, whether or not there is an OS installed on the drive. It is as if something in the new Seagate drive is ‘blocking’ the POST process. I don’t have any 40GB to 80GB Seagate drives to test other sizes.


      Ok i think i understand now. You have 2 HDD that work fine with the laptop but the new 100GB drive works but not with the laptop.

      And as you stated there is no support for your laptop any more.

      My suggestion is that if you can return the HDD that you are trying to use and see if another will work of another model.

      I know it is a pain. But the problem is with with older hardware and support for that device at “end of life” it becomes hard to properly troubleshoot. The newer hardware and technology (HDD) that you purchased we may be unaware that it is incompatible with the older hardware (Laptop) that you currently own.