Error Initializing Hard Drive Controller

Error Initializing Hard Drive Controller

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Explanation: The BIOS POST has detected a failure related to the IDE hard disk controller. The controller can be either a separate I/O card that plugs into the motherboard on older systems or a built-in component on the motherboard.

Diagnosis: This is usually a problem related to the hard disk controller, of course, but it could also be the hard disk(s) themselves.


  • Troubleshoot the hard disk controller.
  • Troubleshoot the hard disk drive.

More Information

When there appears to be a failure or problem with a hard disk controller:

If it appears that there is a failure of some sort with the hard disk controller, you may want to note that on today’s systems the (IDE) hard disk controller is built into the motherboard, however on older systems it is typically found as an expansion card. It is easy to tell which type you have by looking to see where the IDE cables attach that are connected to the hard disk. Trace them back from the drive to where they connect to the motherboard.

Actual failures of the hard disk controller are relatively rare. Usually the problem is either one of configuration and installation, or is actually the hard disk itself that is causing the problem.

Recommended Procedures:

  • If your PC uses a separate hard disk controller, check all the connections to it. Try removing it from its slot, cleaning the contacts with a good grade of alcohol or contact cleaner and then reinsert it. Sometimes the card may not be seated properly, or the contacts are dirty, and this will resolve it. If not, then try switching the controller with another one and see if that cures the problem.
  • If you just installed an add-in controller, make sure that the jumpers are correctly set to control the correct IDE channel. For example, you may have the add-in controller set to act as the primary, secondary or tertiary IDE channel. If you installed it into a PC that also has integrated controllers, make sure that those controllers are disabled or you may have a conflict if they both try to operate the same channel.
  • Check for resource conflicts with the controllers on a built-in PC. They usually use IRQ 14 and IRQ15, and some devices may conflict with these, such as SCSI host adapters and network cards.
  • Watch out for sound cards that have built in IDE controllers that may be enabled even if you don’t want them. Read the directions and make sure that the controller on the sound card is disabled so it does not conflict with other hardware, if you are not using it. Most very early Sound Blaster and compatible sound cards do have these controllers onboard.
  • Bus mastering drivers can cause problems with older controller cards. On some cards they just may not work properly at all.
  • It is possible that there is a configuration or jumper related problem with one or more IDE devices that may be causing this problem.
  • If the IDE controllers are built into the motherboard, there is a possibility of a motherboard problem. While this is unusual, it does occur!

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