How come I cannot access my slave hard drive after replacing the motherboard?

by on June 8, 2009

Q: I have a Pavilion desktop a250n computer running Windows XP home. I installed a new motherboard because of a crash. All works well on the C main (master) drive apparently using Windows but I had another slave drive partitioned into two which used to show up in the “My computer” window from which I accessed these two separate drives (partitions) before the motherboard crash.

When I get to Disk Manager it recognizes that the whole slave disk exists but the only option I have is to re-partition the drive. I don’t want to do that, at least not until I recover the data I had on it before the crash. I don’t know how to access those two original partitions.

7 Responses to “How come I cannot access my slave hard drive after replacing the motherboard?”

    I recommend that you change the jumper settings on both hard drives to “cable select”; many newer motherboards do not fully support master/slave configurations.

    Does this help?


    Thanks for replying, Robert.
    The computer is about five years old. It had a “Stingray” motherboard. The replacement is the one model up, the “Cobra” for HP Pavilion.
    The ebay supplier was quite certain that” The boards are identical but Stingrey supports 3.2 GHz while Cobra supports 3.4 CPU. Same BIOS on both. The computer will not know the difference.”
    Additional info: I have 1.5 of Ram. The computer was packed with stuff but lots of room left on the hard disks.
    Now Windows is indicating I don’t have enough “visual memory” whatever that is. Does this mean I need more Ram?
    The computer is running quite slowly as it did before the motherboard crash.
    I just know enough about computers now to get myself in trouble if I mess around too much, but I am careful not to exceed my limits.
    How do I get to :cable select” and do I need to if the motherboards are about the same vintage?

    Thanks for your help.



    Disconnect the power cable and data cable from each hard drive, and then remove each hard drive from its bay inside your computer. There should be a diagram on each hard drive that shows which jumper pin configuration will equal cable select on that hard drive. Put each hard drive into its bay and reconnect power and data cables.

    Despite what the seller on eBay told you, it is very likely that your replacement motherboard is using a different BIOS than your original motherboard.

    Another factor to consider is that Microsoft Windows does not respond well to significant hardware modification; replacing a motherboard is definitely a significant hardware modification. Once you have successfully accessed your second hard drive and backed up all of your important files to an external source (USB flash drive, CDs, DVDs, etc), I recommend that you attempt to reinstall Microsoft Windows on your computer. If you do not have a Windows installation disc and/or system recovery CDs for your computer, there may be a recovery program built into your computer. On most of the HP computers I have used, you can access the built-in recovery program by pressing F10 immediately when you see the HP logo as you turn on your computer.

    Because the average lifespan of a desktop computer is only 5 years (less for laptops), you should strongly consider purchasing a new computer instead of purchasing replacement parts for your existing computer.

    PS: Electronic devices contain chemicals which are harmful to the environment, so be sure to recycle all of your computer parts instead of throwing them in the trash.

    Does any of this help?


      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your second reply. It was informative and makes me feel better that my computer has “lived” for five or more years. Also, when I buy another one perhaps I should buy the extended warranty.

      I will try your other advice regarding cables and settings. I am not confident doing this procedure, but I have a friend who will do this well so you may not get the feedback on this for a while.

      I wonder if I should just install the identical “Stingray” motherboard. Some are still available on Ebay.

      It’s frustrating because the drive does show up when I hit “F1” on bootup. and go to “Setup” the drive shows as “Second Channel Device 1” [WDC WD2500 JB-55 GVC]. The “C” drive shows up as “First Channel Device 0” [Samsung SV 120 3N]. I do not know enough to mess with the rest of the settings and configurations in the “Second Channel Device” sub menu.

      Could the access solution be as simple as uninstalling and re-installing a driver for it? Or am I just showing my total ignorance of how the harddrive is accessed?

      Anyway, thanks and I will report on any progress.



    Hi again Mike,

    The maximum extended warranty available for most computers is only 3 years. This is because the computer companies know that most malfunctions happen either within the first 90 days due to manufacturing defects, or due to normal “wear and tear” sometime after the three year warranty has expired.

    Even if you purchase a “Stingray” motherboard, there is no guarantee it will work. This is because computer companies customize the BIOS for each computer model. You can be 99% sure that a motherboard from the exact same model computer as yours will work, but that’s as close to a guarantee as you’ll get regarding replacement motherboards.

    The fact that your second hard drive does not display correctly in the Setup area is more evidence that you need to set the jumper settings on your hard drives to cable select. The jumper settings control whether your computer can see the hard drive.

    Reinstalling the driver probably won’t make a difference, but you can try if you wish.

    Look forward to receiving a progress report from you, after your friend has helped with the cable select settings.


    may i join this conversation? i have a dell dimension 9150. after a hard drive crash, i quick-formatted the c: drive and reinstalled windows xp. now i can’t access the second hard drive that was there all along! the funny thing is, it shows up in the F2 screen, and also in ‘device manager’ under ‘systems’ in control panel

    it also shows up under ‘device manager’ under ‘management’ but with a big yellow triangle and exclamation mark. it says i can scan it but will lose info and files – 300 gigs worth!

    help, please?


      You might want to consider submitting your question as a new question so that all geeks see it instead of just the ones watching this question.