Windows 7 - laptop - new HD - no CD or floppy drive

Asked By JohnB on 02-Oct-07 05:02 PM
Here's my predicament;  I have an older laptop, an Evo 410c.  This is one of
those very light, small laptops.  No built-in floppy or CD drive.  The hard
drive failed, and I bought a new drive.  Since I don't have a CD drive to
boot from, I took a new HD, connected it to a tower PC with one of those
adapters that lets you connect a 3.5" laptop drive to the PC's IDE
connector.  And loaded XP on it.

After putting the new HD in the laptop, it will not boot to Windows.  The
BIOS diags recognize the drive and it passes all tests.
The message I get at bootup is:  "A disk read error occurred - Press
Alt-Ctrl-Del to restart".

I suspect that the problem is; the drivers XP loaded for the PC IDE
controller don't work for the IDE controller that's in the laptop, and
therefore it doesn't see the HD.

I have been told that there is an external device - like a docking station -
that Compaq made for this, called a Mult-Bay.  Trouble is, the ones that
I've found on the internet run about $110.  I would really like to get this
fixed without putting 110 bucks into a 5 year old laptop.

I tried a generic, portable USB CD drive.  They don't work.  There's
something weird about the USB ports on this laptop, they don't get enough
power from a standard USB portable drive.  The Multi-bay has another pin
that gives the laptop the necessary power.

Is there any other way to get this new HD with XP on it, to boot on the
laptop?  I suspect that I'm SOL.


Pegasus \(MVP\) replied on 02-Oct-07 05:41 PM
You're on the right track but you need to make some adjustments:
1. Connect the new disk to the desktop PC.
2. Partition & format it like so:
First partition: 20 GBytes FAT32
Second partition: NTFS or FAT32.
3. Boot the desktop with a Win98 boot disk (
Make sure that smartdrv.exe is on that disk.
4. Run this command:   sys c:. ((assuming that E: is
the first partition on the new disk)
5. Copy a:\smartdrv.exe to c:\.
6. Boot the desktop into WinXP.
7. Copy your WinXP CD to E:\i386 (assuming that E: is
the first partition on the new disk).
8. Install the new disk on the laptop. It should now boot into DOS.
9. Run smartdrv.exe.
10. Run this command to start the installation of Windows:
11. When finished, convert drive C to NTFS if desired.

With an ultraslim laptop like yours you must take extra precautions
to protect yourself against similar mishaps in future. Get yourself
a copy of an imaging program (e.g. Acronis TrueImage), then create
an image of drive C: and store it on drive D:. The next step is to
copy that image file to an independent medium so that you can
restore it if the disk should fail again (which, of course, it won't!).
Jim Macklin replied on 02-Oct-07 06:46 PM
And use a USB powered hub between the laptop and the
external CD.

410c.  This is one
or CD drive.  The
don't have a CD
tower PC with one
drive to the PC's
to Windows.  The
occurred - Press
the PC IDE
the laptop, and
a docking
Trouble is, the
would really like
year old laptop.
work.  There's
don't get enough
has another pin
to boot on the
into DOS.
then create
step is to
course, it won't!).
administrator replied on 02-Oct-07 06:55 PM
Use a usb cd drive
JohnB replied on 02-Oct-07 07:10 PM
If you would  have read the whole post you would have seen that that does not
JohnB replied on 02-Oct-07 07:10 PM
I have a USB hub, but it does not have a power supply with it.
Jim Macklin replied on 02-Oct-07 08:08 PM
His laptop doesn't supply adequate power to run the external
USB CD drive.  That is why I said to use a powered hub in
the chain.

that doesn't
to a
loaded for
$110.  I
on it,
future. Get
Jim Macklin replied on 02-Oct-07 08:11 PM
Some hubs have provisions to pull in a 5 VDC power supply,
but you can buy an excellent powered USB 2.0 hub for $12-25
and that should be able to run standard USB devices that
draw  power from the USB.
Laptops often only handle USB signals and do not supply

in message
JohnB replied on 03-Oct-07 10:04 AM
Ok, I tried this the first time through not quite sure what I would use
SmartDrv for, and I had a problem ( I know what it is; it creates a virtual
drive from RAM).

This is what I did;
- created 2 partitions; 1 = 35 gb and 2 = 5gb
- formatted both as FAT32
- Sys'd partition 1 (C:)
- the 2nd partition is D:
- copied the I386 folder from the CD to d:\i386
- put the HD back in the laptop and booted to Win98 command prompt
- from d:\i386, ran Winnt
- at that point it told me it could not find SmartDrv (now I know why it's
- selected the option to proceed without SmartDrv
- it gave me a message saying "copying files to drive"
- and then it stopped, seemingly in the middle of setup.  The laptop was not
locked up.  But it was still on the screen titled copying files.

Where'd I go wrong, other than not having SmartDrv?
Pegasus \(MVP\) replied on 03-Oct-07 10:17 AM
I suppose you have since found out that smartdrv does
not create a virtual drive. It is a disk caching program
that speeds up the installation process enormously.

I wonder why you created your partitions the way you
did. Having partition 2 at 5 GBytes is useless - you might
as well do with out it. However, if you omit it then you
may not be able to use imaging programs as per my
first reply.

I suggest you give it another try, this time WITH smartdrv.
AFAIR, you will also need himem.sys plus a reference in
c:\config.sys like so:
JohnB replied on 03-Oct-07 10:45 AM
I'm confused about which partition will ultimately be the XP partition
I've got Win98 booting from the C: partition, and D: contains the i386

And I noticed that when winnt runs, it copies files to C:

I partitioned them the way I did, thinking D: would only be used to store
the i386 folder.  (For imaging software, I use Ghost.  And I could fit a
compressed image in that 5gb partition.)  And, I would like the final
location of the XP partition to be as large as possible.  That was my

Sorry, but I need a picture to understand this  :)
This is how I see what you described in your instructions:

Partition 1                      Partition 2
-------------               --------------
-------------               ---------------
20 gb                            Remaining gb

I'll use Himem the next time around, but I have a feeling this didn't work
for other reasons too.
Before I try this again; your instructions say run winnt from C:  - I guess
you meant E: ?
When I run fdisk, the first partition letter defaults to c:   How would you
get it to be E:?
And now that I see that partition 2 is ultimately going to be the XP boot
partition, I'll make it much larger.... like 35gb

Any other suggestions?  By the way, thanks for your time on this.
Pegasus \(MVP\) replied on 03-Oct-07 11:54 AM
See below.

A 5 GByte partition is too small for an image. WinXP tends
to consume between 9 and 15 GBytes after a while, and since
imaging programs achieve a compression of about 50%, you
need around 10 GBytes for drive D:.

I expected you to create the i386 folder on the first partition,
hence the C: drive letter. However, it does not matter where
the i386 folder resides. On the other hand you must make
sure that WinXP installs on the first partition. Do NOT allow
it to go to the second partition!

You're welcome.
JohnB replied on 04-Oct-07 10:57 AM
I got further with it this time. I added the config file with the himem
command, and used SmartDrv.
It finished copying all the files, then I get the message saying "Windows
has completed the DOS portion of Setup, press Enter to reboot and complete

But, at bootup I get "NTLDR missing".

It seems like this "should" work.  Have you gotten this method to work?

BTW - it did install XP to the first partition
Pegasus \(MVP\) replied on 04-Oct-07 11:34 AM
You may see this message
a) If the primary partition has an incorrect boot sector.
b) If the boot partition is not marked "active".
c) If the disk geometry is incorrect.

Conditions a) and b) can be fixed retrospectively:
a) Boot sector:
- Connect the laptop disk as the sole disk to a
desktop PC.
- Boot that PC with your Win98 boot disk.
- Type this command:  fdisk  /mbr
b) Active partition:
- Connect the laptop disk as the sole master disk to
a desktop PC.
- Boot that PC with your Win98 boot disk.
- Type this command:  fdisk
then mark the primary partition "active".

c) is a much more difficult problem. On desktop machines
the BIOS usually lets you select a disk geometry of Auto,
LBA (Logical Block Adressing) or CHS (Cylinder/Head
Sector). On laptops this option is frequently absent. If the
laptop expects one type of geometry and the disk was
partitioned under a different geometry then the machine
won't boot. What's worse is that the condition is not easily
detected. I know of a single program that tells me - it is
an obsolete version of PQMagic.

If a) or b) fail to deliver then you have to start all over
again and do it by trial and error like so:
- Connect the laptop disk as a slave disk to a desktop PC.
- In the BIOS, select LBA for the slave disk.
- Launch Windows.
- Delete all partitions on the laptop disk, then recreate them.
Remember that the primary partition must be an active FAT32
- Manually copy these hidden files to the laptop primary partition:
- See if the laptop will boot with this disk. It should complain
with a message that it cannot find ntoskrnl.
- Repeat the above exercise with a CHS setting.

After you have found the correct drive geometry, proceed
as per the previous posts.
JohnB replied on 04-Oct-07 03:46 PM
Well, I think you're right about condition "C" below.

I put the laptop HD back in the PC and I could boot from it.  It will not
boot when in the laptop.

And as luck would have it... the PC that I have does not have BIOS settings
for HD geometry.  It's an older PC, a Dell Dimension 8200.  And like you
said, the laptop has NO settings for that.

I didn't achieve what I wanted to but, I sure learned some helpful things
for the future.

Pegasus \(MVP\) replied on 04-Oct-07 05:30 PM
This was a good test you performed: To boot the laptop disk
on the desktop PC. It demonstrates that you did the right
things when loading Windows. How about asking a friend
for access to his PC? Or perhaps borrow an older model
from your friendly computer dealer? Most desktop do have
a BIOS with these geometry settings!
David Vair replied on 04-Oct-07 06:26 PM
If you were able to actually boot the drive on the PC you could try using the Sysprep utility along
with the Plug and Play switch to get it to search for the new hardware when booting on the laptop.
Just Google Sysprep and you can find many sites with walkthrough for this.
Dave Vair
JohnB replied on 04-Oct-07 07:01 PM
I do not think this is a driver issue.  Remember, XP is being installed from
the laptop not the PC.
JohnB replied on 05-Oct-07 08:42 AM
I may do that next.

Or, I may throw in the towel here, and buy a docking station on ebay.