We recently came across an issue when attempting to install a non HP/Compaq issue hard drive on a Compaq N600c Laptop, there seems to be little in the way of advice for this problem so here is our solution.
After installing a new hard drive into the laptop and inserting the Windows XP SP2 CD to install windows we were presented with the following problems
- We could not format the drive using the windows CD
- After connecting the drive to an external enclosure and formatting it with NTFS file system we were then able to get through the first stages of installing Windows XP, however after the first reboot we were presented with the error below:
“A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart”
After quite a bit of experimenting with drive jumpers, unplugging CMOS batteries, resetting the BIOS and attempts to build the drive on other machines we surmised the drive was not the problem - it was something Compaq related.
We knew the drive was OK because:
- The BIOS HDD Self Test mechanism could see it
- The Windows Install process could see it
- We could mount it using the repair utility on the Windows XP CD
- We could see it when connected to an external drive enclosure
- We could even build it on another laptop and use Windows afterwards
The resolution therefore had to be a compatibility issue. This compatibility issue we never got the bottom of, however the solution we were able to use was:
- Put the drive in an external enclosure and format it using Windows on another machine (not vital step)
- Mount the disk back into the laptop and delete the Boot Sector from the drive. This can be done using several tools - we used a utility on the PC Tools Pro CD (www.pctoolspro.com) but have read that Hitachi’s DFT utility is also good at this process (http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm - scroll down to the drive fitness test)
- Insert the Windows XP CD, reboot the laptop and install Windows as usual.
It would appear that this specific range of Compaq Evo N600 series require the drive to have a specific format of boot sector that they prefer to write themselves.
We did find a very good discussion thread on HP’s business support forums at http://forums1.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1049551&admit=-682735245+1184880661051+28353475 - this is a long thread and has some false assertions in the upper posts, however does resolve the issue in the end.
This process was tested in the Techita test lab and the laptop is now functional as a result.