Installing Windows XP on a SATA Drive

This is probably the 1000th article on the Internet about how to install Windows XP on a SATA drive; believe me, I’ve read most of them. The trouble is that most of them tell you about 80 percent of what you need to know, and leave the rest for you to figure out on your own. I hope this one is different – better, that is.

I have several computers in my home. One of them is a family computer that the kids use to play games and write school papers. It’s in the library, which is basically an unused room in the center of our house that is open enough to be watched by my wife and me when the kids are on the Internet, and yet private enough to give them the peace they need when doing an undesirable homework assignment (of which they indicate they have too many).

A few months ago, my son complained to me that he couldn’t install a game because the computer was “out of space”. I checked it out, thinking that I could just delete some other unwanted things. As I went through the “Add/Remove Programs” menu with him, it quickly became apparent that everything there was “too important to delete”. You see, I’d already used this trick several months earlier for the same reason, and apparently the hard drive really was full this time – not surprising since it was a only 16 GB hard drive. This always amazes me, since my first computer had a whopping 40 MB hard drive – I thought I’d died and gone to computer heaven at the time. However, I really do know better. While some complain that software has simply gotten out of control these days, the real problem is the content; multimedia-rich data files take up most of our hard drive space. On top of that, my daughter stores her iTunes music files on that drive: Need I elaborate?

A New Hard Drive

So I moved over to my laptop at the desk in the same room, opened a browser and logged into one of my favorite hardware sites: ZipZoomFly. Picking up a new hard drive was child’s play, and choosing a fast SATA drive to replace the old slow IDE drive was a no-brainer. I haven’t done this in a while, and so I was surprised that I could pick up a Western Digital 250 GB SATA II drive for only 69 bucks – with free shipping, no less!

The first thing I did was was to ensure that my library computer’s motherboard had a SATA connector; it did, but only SATA I connector. SATA I has a 1.5 Gb/s transfer rate, as opposed to the 3 Gb/s transfer rate of the SATA II interface. So I did a little more research to see if the drive could be configured for the lower transfer rate. Western Digital indicates that the drive is “self-regulating”, which means it’s supposed to be backward compatible – automatically. I’ve heard statements like this before, so I didn’t trust this one any farther than I could toss it. However, a little more research showed that WD drives also have a jumper setting to force it to 1.5 Gb/s transfer rate – that’s better.

I could have just spent a little less money and bought a SATA I drive, but hey, I figure the kids are going to want a motherboard upgrade pretty soon anyway, at which point I can just remove the jumper, and upgrade my hard drive at the same time for free.

Installing Windows – Almost

The drive came in the mail yesterday, and I happened to be working at home. So I thought I’d just allow the Windows XP install to run while I worked on my laptop. I popped the new drive into a spare bay, plugged in the SATA cable and the power connector, and booted up the Windows XP installation CD. I left the old hard drive in place so I could copy my kids’ data files after the installation, but I disabled the primary IDE channel in the BIOS so it wouldn’t get in the way during Windows setup. I’ve been burned by this scenario before. Windows will assign drive letters (on a rather permanent basis) to devices based on the order in which they are found during a hardware probe.

When I built my main home computer, I inadvertently had my Zip drive plugged into to a USB port during the installation, and Windows configured it as drive C, of all things! After a little research on Microsoft’s support site, I found I had to reinstall from scratch just to get C: reassigned to the hard drive. Now, you might think I was a little “Type-A” here in “needing” the hard drive to be C: rather the F: it was actually assigned. Well, I’ll tell you, I’m leaving out some details in this story. You see, I actually left it the way it was for about 4 months before reinstalling, and I ran into several software packages during that period that had trouble with the concept of F: being the primary hard drive. Dumb programs (read “programmers”), I know, but it was my pain in the neck, not theirs.

Back to my story: The installation CD whirred and hummed for a minute loading various device drivers in preparation for installing Windows. While this was happening, I sat thinking to myself that it’s always been amazing to me that Microsoft could find just the right set of drivers for the installer to be able to interact with all the hardware in the world… When it finally finished, it popped up a message indicating that no hard drives were found. Hmmm, I guess I thought too soon; SATA drives are apparently not supported by the Windows XP installer.

Oh well. I already knew about the “Press F6 to load additional drivers…” trick. This message is displayed near the beginning of the installation process – just before the installer loads all of the pre-configured drivers on the CD. My family computer’s motherboard is made by MSI, so I went to MSI’s tech-support web site and found that they have a really nifty web-based hardware probe utility (beware: Explorer 5+ and ActiveX are required) that will tell you exactly what driver upgrades are available for your hardware. There are only two problems with this approach. First, you need to access the site from the machine you want to probe – this is understandable. But the second problem is that Windows XP installation drivers are not provided in this service, and quite frankly, the rest of MSI’s support site is a bit of a nightmare.

I booted up Windows from the old IDE hard drive, downloaded a probe utility from MSI and found the manufacturer and model number of the on-board SATA interface. Turns out it’s a VIA VT8237 SATA RAID controller – a fairly popular on-board device in today’s motherboards, although this one is probably a little out of date, as it’s only a SATA I device. But VIA Technologies has a web site dedicated to VIA hardware support. The latest Windows XP SATA RAID drivers for my VT8237 were easily located on this site. In addition, it has some really interesting articles on cutting-edge hardware on the front page.

Floppy Troubles

I opened the zip file and found a utility that creates an XP installation driver floppy image. I popped a blank floppy into drive A and pressed the go button. And nothing happened. After a bit of debugging, I found that the floppy drive in the machine was defective. In fact, I have several computers in my home, but there’s not a working floppy drive in the entire house. Back to the Internet. This time, I downloaded a freeware utility (open source, in fact) that installs a device driver on XP that emulates a floppy drive in either RAM or a disk file. Cool. I’m back in business – at least until I needed to “Press F6 to load additional drivers…” from my non-existent floppy drive. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Setting up this floppy emulator is a bit tricky, as there are several steps involved in getting it to finally show up in your system as drive A:.

  1. Run the vfdwin.exe program. Click on “Install”. You’ll see a message in the output status box at the bottom of the dialog, “The VFD driver is installed.”
  2. Click “Start”. You’ll see another message added to the output box, “The VFD driver is started.”
  3. Click on the “Drive0” tab at the top and press the “Change…” button in the upper right corner to change the drive letter assigned to your virtual floppy drive. By default, no drive letter is assigned, so while you have properly installed the driver and started it, you won’t be able to access the virtual floppy drive until you’ve assigned it a drive letter. Select A:, and another message will be added to the list at the bottom of the dialog, “Drive 0: A drive letter is assigned.”
  4. Now you have to back up your RAM disk with a file. Select the “Open…” button (also found on the “Drive 0” tab). Browse to a location on your hard drive, and enter the file name, “drive_a.bin” (or whatever you want). One more message will be added to the list at the bottom, “Drive 0: A virtual floppy image is opened.”
  5. Click the “Format” button to format the image. You’ll get the usual “Warning…” dialog that you always get when you attempt to format a disk of any kind. Click “OK”, and you’ll get another dialog almost immediately that says formatting is complete. A final message is added to the list, “Formatted the current image.”

This is all a bit pedantic, I know, but it gives you the most flexibility at the expense of a degree or two of simplicity. You can check your final results by opening a command window and typing, “A:<enter>”, or open an explorer window and choose the “3-1/2 Floppy (A:)” entry under “My Computer”. If everything worked properly, you should be looking into your virtual floppy drive. What’s more, no program that’s written properly should be able to tell the difference between your virtual floppy and a real floppy drive.

I went back to my VIA utility to create a floppy image of my installation drivers and sure enough, it wrote a bunch of files to my virtual A drive, which I then copied off into a folder on my desktop – after all, I only needed the files, not the floppy disk!

Installing XP Without a Floppy Drive

Remember that this all started because I needed a way of installing Windows XP onto a SATA drive. And now I had the added problem of not having a working floppy drive in which to add the drivers during the installation process. My virtual floppy driver won’t work – it requires Windows! But there is a way. I downloaded another freeware utility called nLite, which allows you to configure a Windows XP installation image with whatever drivers you want, as well as provides some other really cool features.

You’ll need to ensure that the machine you’re using has .NET framework 1.1 installed. But the nLite installer will tell you if you need it, and even ask if you want to get it and install it before it continues. Just select “Yes” if you need to, but you’ll have to restart the nLite installation after installing .NET. Since I keep my Windows machines pretty much up to date using Windows Update, I didn’t have to worry about this part – I already had it.

nLite comes up as a dialog which allows you to select a Windows XP installation image source. Select “Browse” and navigate to the root of your Win XP install CD. Then – slightly confusingly – another file selection dialog immediately opens asking for the location in which to WRITE the image. Select a location on your hard drive. You ought to have at least 1 GB free to do this because it’s going to copy the entire Windows XP CD image to your hard drive.

Once it completes the copy process, press the “Next >>” button and then skip the pre-install options screen by pressing it again. Now you can select which portions of the installation image you wish to modify. For my purposes, I selected “Bootable Image” and “Add Drivers”, then pressed “Next >>” again. With these options selected, the first screen is the “Add drivers” screen. I pressed the “Insert” button at the bottom, and browsed to the folder on my Desktop containing the VIA SATA drivers that I copied from the virtual floppy image.

Now, the most important thing to realize here is that there’s a difference between regular Windows XP drivers and the “text mode” drivers used by the Windows installation program. Make sure you select the text mode drivers, or you will generate an image that does exactly the same thing as your original XP installation CD – nothing. If you properly select text mode drivers, nLite will open a second dialog window that asks you whether you want text mode or regular drivers. Again, select the text mode drivers, and press “OK” to continue. If you don’t get this additional dialog, then you’ve selected the wrong type of drivers. Select the “Next >>” button again, and you’ll be prompted to choose how you want your image generated. nLite is so cool it will even burn a CD for you. I just popped a blank CD into my CD burner and selected “Burn CD” from the drop-down menu in the upper left. Then pressed the “Burn” button.

Really Installing Windows

When the burn finished, I just rebooted, disabled the primary IDE controller again in the BIOS setup, and then rebooted to the new CD I’d just created. This time I was able to install Windows XP on my new SATA drive – without a floppy drive.

Other cool things you can do with nLite include preconfiguring administrator password and additional user accounts and passwords, pre-configuring the timezone you’ll need, and answering other questions that the XP installation process normally asks you during a typical installation. If you choose carefully, you can create an installation image that will run by itself with no prompting. I can’t even conceive of the amount of information you would need to know about the Windows installation process in order to write such a utility, but I’m sure glad someone else cared enough about it to learn it and write nLite.


60 comments on “Installing Windows XP on a SATA Drive

  1. Chris C. says:


    I have been struggling over the past few days to get a working XP installation done on my seperate SATA hard drive and am SO happy I found this handy little guide. Without nlite … I have no idea what I would have done. I couldn’t find this info anywhere.

    Thanks for the post! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Lavkesh says:


    I tried all the steps you have mentioned except the virtual floppy drive thing. Mine is still not working.
    Do I press F6 even after I create the CD using nlite? Can you guide me further on this please?

    Lavkesh Arora

  3. sok1 says:

    Just wanted to say Thank You for your published article. It helped me out of a perplexing situation.

  4. Peter says:


    I just bought a HP Pavilion dv2675eo and it ships with Vista. I want to install XP instead and found this great page. I tried everything from “Installing XP Without a Floppy Drive” and downwards on this page. But inside nLite I dont find the place where I actually “maniputale” XP to launch at my SATA. So when I finally burned the ISO (created by nLite) and booted it, the XP installation still said it couldnt find a disc.

    What should I do

  5. John Calcote says:

    Hey Peter, I’m responding to you on the blog, rather than through email because I’ve had a number of people who’ve indicated the same problems.

    I’m about 90 percent sure that the reason you’re having trouble is that you’ve added the wrong driver to your nLite XP image. You need to ensure that you’re adding: 1) a TEXT MODE driver, not a normal Windows driver, and 2) the correct text mode driver for your SATA controller. If you get these both correct, then the XP installer won’t even ask you which driver to use – it’ll just load it and recognize the drive.

    Text mode drivers are special device drivers that can be loaded by the XP installer code. They’re entirely different than those loaded by Windows XP after it boots up. They usually only come on floppy images that you can download from the controller manufacturer, which is why I went into detail about using the virtual floppy device. The reason for this is that you can only use them from floppy (normally) by pressing F6 during XP installation.

    You’ll be able to tell (mostly) if you added the correct driver if, when you get to the nLite “Add Drivers” screen, you select a SATA driver for your hard drive, and nLite pops up a small dialog telling you – “Hey, this is a text mode driver – are you sure?!” Well, of course you’re sure – why would you want a non-text mode driver on the installation CD, when you can just as easily add that sort of driver after Windows is fully installed!?. Okay, I know why — but for the purposes of our discussion, the text mode driver is the one you really need.

    Personally, I think it would be better if nLite asked you to verify that you wanted a NON-text mode driver, because it’s more critical that you get the text mode driver correctly, than the other way around.

  6. Peter says:

    Hey John, and thanks for your time to help me on this. I am really a beginner when it comes to softwear technicals, and therefore I need to ask you to specify what exact you mean with the #1 and #2 above (in your answer).

    I dont even know what you mean with a TEXT MODE driver and that it is the correct one for my SATA controller (and what is SATA controller) :=)

    As you see, I am really not capable to do this by trial-error myself. The great thing about nLite (and why I tried it) is that it was a very easy application.

    John, thanks one more, and if you have some spare time, I would be glad for a response.


  7. Guy Pagliolo says:

    So far I understand most of the things you said , but I need to clarify when doing this i am doing it on a seperate machine right? and if i have a internal floppy do i skip the vertial floppy drive thank you Guy

  8. Guy Pagliolo says:

    Hey John will this work on a sata378 tx2plus system laptop ?

  9. John Calcote says:

    Guy, Yes, you need to do it on a separate machine – or on the machine you’re upgrading. You can’t do it on the machine that’s sitting on your living room floor in pieces, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Check here for promise sata378 controller drivers – ASUS bought out promise a while ago, so it’s hard to find drivers for them now, but asus support site has them:

    Good luck!

  10. Malinthe says:

    Thanks a lot for the Info John! You’re a lifesaver ๐Ÿ™‚
    I read some articles before about this problem but they didn’t work. The problem was the textmode one. Those articles didn’t say anything about the textmode driver so I failed many times. Great stuff. Thanks again!

  11. george says:

    Hi, i tried the steps mentioned above but still unable to install win xp (home edition) on my SATA drive. could it be that the problem is my installer? ‘coz its an earlier release without the service pack.

  12. Geoff says:

    Excellent Guide,

    Everything made sense in your tutorial, but I can’t figure out how to determine which SATA drivers my Clevo M570U needs. I tried the Intel Matrix SATA drivers but to no avail.

    Any assistance or direction would be most appreciated.

  13. John Calcote says:

    @Geoff: You shouldn’t need any special drivers for this SATA controller. Newer SATA controllers can emulate IDE to the operating system, and according to the following link, the Clevo does so by default.

    If you can’t see the drive from your XP installer, then try going into the machine BIOS and ensuring that the controller is configured to emulate IDE (put it into IDE mode).

    • M@rck says:

      yepp i’ve struggiling with the same problem, and it’s the easiest solution. After installing the winXP, i’ve installed the SATA drivers, and set the BIOS for original setting, and it works correctly

  14. Geoff says:

    So I’ve been told by a few people now, however when I attempt to turn off the AHCI settings which everyone has since said is simple, I’m met with a greyed out section that tells me a supervisor is required.

    This is my personal computer, I AM the supervisor.

    How can I switch from user mode?

  15. June says:

    Thank you thank you very much… yes, there are 1000+ websites published this kind of article (help)… but you rank #1… hehehe

  16. John Calcote says:

    @Geoff: Sounds like you have a system (hardware) password set in your BIOS — you probably inherited it from the previous owner.

    You can usually clear these by shorting a jumper on the motherboard for a few seconds with a screwdriver or some other metal tool–while the system is powered down, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll have to find the clear BIOS memory jumper in your system manual – it should have diagrams showing the proper use of all of the motherboard jumpers.

    Once you’ve cleared the BIOS, you’ll have to reset any custom settings you’ve made in the past (usually nothing critical), and possibly reset the time and date. But you shouldn’t find any more protected settings now.

  17. popo says:

    THANKS!!!,UR tutor was damm cool,i used Nlite and cant believe how coll the stuff is.I appreciat :man!

  18. Andrew says:

    hey mate
    i’ve managed to do all that you described, it installs fine but when XP restarts from the HD it crashes, and it’s shitting me like crazy coz i’m not sure why it should given that the drivers should be installed ok by now!

  19. Miguel says:

    John, thanks so much for your tutorial. Believe it or not, none of the instructions for using NLite I had found up to this point had mentioned any relevant differences between the text-mode drivers and not. As soon as I read that, I smacked myself for not having tried the other mode (I had always tried the not-text-driver-mode for reasons I’m not sure of) and burned my FINAL copy of my XP cd – as in, the one that finally worked!

    Thanks so much for taking the time and adding the detailed notes.

  20. masipay says:

    thanks for detailed instructions but I am still confused with 4th step with running nlite which is to insert drivers before making ISO file or creating bootable CD.

    What options do we need t choose on 3rd step
    integrate, remove, setp, create image .. ?

    when it asks to insert driver files(accepts only .inf), is it asking to insert SATA driver or other drivers? This is where I am confused. I have HP dv1827us notebook, do I have to find SATA driver for this model to includ in creation of bootable XP cd?
    Or was nLite suppposed to do that for us? I thought i was using nlite to make bootable XP cd( I have XP installation cd )for vista notebook with SATA drive, but it seems like nlite just copies files from XPInstalation CD on to a Folder or gives option to burn ISO file. What I am confused is with what drivers are we supposed to insert in the 2nd/3rd step of running nlite, and do I have to find secific SATA drive driver for my notebook or agg => meaning this is where I am not sure and confused.

  21. Darren says:

    I’ve been using Seagate and Maxtor Sata II drives without many problems. Last Hitachi one was apparently faulty (which it only told me some way into Windows setup ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    I have just bought an ExcelStor Jupiter Sata II but when I detach the old HDD and attach it and boot up the motherboard manufacturer screen just comes up and nothing else happens. I click DEL for setup and it seems that the 3rd Master (the new HDD) is not being detected.

    All the other HDDs were detected. I never had this problem before.

    My motherboard is Asus P5LDS-X/1333

    I updated the BIOS – nothing in there about SATA (all IDE).

    I’m a noob.

    The only thing that’s diferent about this new HDD is that it does not have the legacy power connector – but I never used that on the old ones anyway.

    Anyone got a clue what’s up? I thought the above might help but I never get to that screen re F6 … (and should never as I should be able to run SATA anyway).

    Please advise ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  22. Swarvyn says:

    Thks John

    After searching on the Internet, getting bits of information here and there, I came across your website where I got all the information needed to successfully install WInXP on my SATA drive!!

    Thks again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. Giridhar says:

    Hello sir,
    i need to tell you one thing about this post…
    this post is not different from any other source around net, your blog contains the same content which is only different bcoz it also contains about your family,.

    this is unremarkable,,,i think it must be an upgrade for you sir as will smith said in seven pounds,

    we need where to download the sata drivers ,,plz help us ..

    • Maxoverload says:

      I will say it for myself and a number of others of us here , You Mr Giridhar need some manners , Those of us that need assistance are thankful , persons such as John provide assistance . people like this are rare and far between (cant include Giridhar in them)… the usual posts about procedures such as this are usually very vague , leading to nothing but hours of frustration , There are those of us in cyberspace that persons such as John take the time and effort to help get our systems operating , with whatever written format is necessary to convey the information , were we all computer geniuses , we could all just go to a manufacturers web site and proceed without assistance …… Mr Giridhar go away .

  24. Hi John, perhaps I got referred to your blog because Microsoft felt that I was having problems with installing XP Pro onto a SATA drive. I’m kinda of a boob when it comes to software interfacing, but my problem is not the installation of XP Pro onto the SATA drive (as it does have an an Acronis(version 11) image of the primary drive-which is a 200 GB IDE Maxtor). The problem is that when the Adaptec 48300 SAS/SATA controllor was placed in the only slots that this IBM Intellistation Pro Z came with, which are PCI-X slots, the boot-up to the Maxtor drive got goofed up. For some reason the primary drive does not boot to the usual XP screen and all I get is a blinking cursor in the top left hand portion of the screen. I did the F-6 floppy insertion of the board’s drivers, in “text-mode” and I get the same results.

    In Device Manager the drive is recognized as the F: drive and concurrently by the Administrative Tools in the control panel. I just wanted to see if the drive worked so I did a full back-up of the C: drive and it took awhile but it did a full copy, so I know the drive is working. I know the Intellisation is not a new computer, but other than this one glitch, I’m getting 480+, when running the Microsoft diagnostic program.

    Also tried checking the BIOS and although I don’t see the drive there, I don’t see the 500GB WD IDE drive that I have in an external USB enclosure. My BIOS is a Phoenix one, dated in 2004. There is a newer one, but feel uncomfortable in flashing to a newer version.

    Do you have any suggestions or comments as to what I’m doing wrong. Adaptec felt that I should get a new motherboard and controller. I did not want to spend alot of time and money on this computer and that’s why I did not spend a lot of money on the CPU and since their are few SAS/SATA controller boards that utilize a PCI-X slot, that is why I picked up the 48300. The RAID component of the board is only, 0,1, 10 and JBOD, so I thought it was simple enough, not to give me any problems.

    Sorry for being so wordy, but I wanted you to know what the true picture of what my problem was.

    Much Appreciation for any ideas you may have,
    Best regards,


  25. george cline says:

    hey there, I have a machine with only sata hard drives. It is an XP machine. I am trying to install a second sata drive (1 TB). As stated above, this machine already has 1 sata drive (which is its only hard drive). I plug it in, and when XP comes on, it blue screens. I have tried all sorts of bios settings, but nothing seems to get me past blue screen, even safe mode. Thanks!

  26. I am confused with your need to create a virtual floppy.

    When you continue in your tutorial with using nLite it seems to me that it took care of making XP recognize the SATA HDD.

    Since I plan to clean and then partion my laptop HDD– which does not look for a floppy and the XP cd installs without need for a floppy–would that change the approach I should take from what you have sugested so far?

    I appreciated your thoughtful, and comprehensive instructions, yet I wonder if it all applies to my needs.

    Thank you for your effort to provide help for the lesser informed and struggling novices,

    • John Calcote says:

      @paul: I only needed the virtual floppy because I didn’t have a floppy drive installed on the machine, and the image containing the TEXT drivers for my SATA card came on a floppy image that could only be written to a floppy drive by the image writing software they provided. If you have your SATA TEXT drivers available in some other format, then you can skip the part about using a virtual floppy drive.

  27. After going through trial and error sessions the fifth produded an .iso file but did not burn the disk as expected. I burned with a Window’s reminder that files are ready to be burned.

    The cd loaded into the Vista laptop OK. I wish there were a way to test if the .ifo SATA support file I downloaded has been integrated.

    My next step now will be to use Partition Master to format the laptop’s HDD, partition, and install XP into the C: drive.

    Unless you suggest any prior test I owed to perform to assure save conduct through unknown territory, I will throw caution to the wind and proceed. I have already spent three days researching, probing, and spending endless hours of just thinking about the value of getting myself all tied up only to get rid of Vista. The truth is, that I hate Vista and I can’t wait to get back to using XP on my two desctops, and now, my new laptop.

    • John Calcote says:

      @paul: Why don’t you just wait till November for Windows 7. I believe you’ll find it will contain all of the benefits of both Windows XP and Vista, and far fewer of the defects in Vista.

  28. Hardik says:

    Hey John,

    I understood everything except for the fact of obtaining a SATA Driver. How do I obtain it? I have an Acer Aspire 5100. When I ran CPUID, it shows that my motherboard is an Acer Navarro and the Chipset is ATI Xpress 200 (RS480). So what SATA Driver do i need to obtain the one for Motherboard or the one for the Chipset and how do I go about obtaining it. I went to Acer’s website and found the drivers for XP but I don’t which is the SATA driver. Please help. I am trying to downgrade this for my cousin so buying Windows 7 is not option.

    Thanks in advance

    • John Calcote says:

      Finding drivers for your hardware is arguably the most difficult part of this entire process. Some companies make is easy; some don’t. Acer happens to make is easy if you have the right system. For instance, the Acer travel-mate download site provides so called “F6” SATA drivers, which are the text install drivers for the SATA hard drive controller in the travel-mate laptop. One technique you can use is to watch the POST (Power On Self Test) screen, as your computer boots up. It goes by pretty fast, and most BIOS software these days will honor the “Pause” key (Pause/Break in the upper right corner of your keyboard). So when the initial screen appears, hit the Pause button and carefully scan the screen for information about your SATA controller. Most SATA controllers are not manufactured by the motherboard manufacturer, but rather by a third party company like VIA or some other Asian company. Often you can do a driver search for this manufacturer, and possibly a model number (which should also be displayed on the POST screen). Good luck.

      • Hardik says:

        Hey John,

        Thanks for all your help. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the SATA info from POST screen but once you told me it will be a third party company finding the answer wasn’t hard. I was too busy looking for Acer and AMD to have the SATA controller. Turns out it was Silicon Image (SI). I had read a thread earlier regarding SI but i had somehow disregarded. Your text-based driver information was also very helpful.

        Thanks a million man.

  29. Byhl says:

    Hello John!

    Thank you so much for your help and intense work on the sata issue. I followed your instructions and it worked on the first attempt.

    Well done!

  30. Shaun Schlager says:

    My problem is I cannot find my oem disc. It went MIA as did my mobo company, SOYO. So I cannot find a driver for my SATA controller. I have a SOYO SY-KT600 DRAGON Ultra Platinum mobo. It says my The RAID controller for Serial ATA is supplied by Silicon Image. The chip says it is a SATAlink 3112A. Then my other problem is it says I have a VIA Hyperion 4-in-1 v4.48 + SATA v0.97. So I have no clue what drivers I need to find. Is it a Silicon Images or VIA driver.

    I have downloaded the ones I have found on the web and tried installing them when my system was working and said it could not find the proper hardware and cannot finish installation. Said something like that.

    Anyone have any clue to what the heck I need or where to get it? Send me an e-mail.


  31. Chris says:

    If you don’t want the trouble of getting a SATA driver and have XP installed on a IDE hard drive try:

    1.. Start-control panel – admin tools – computer management. Choose SATA drive (Yes it is recognized) – create and format partition.

    2.. Use Acronis TI to create an image of your C: to a external USB Drive.

    3.. Restore the image to the new SATA partition

    4.. Disconnect the existing IDE drive (C:)

    You should now be able to boot from the SATA drive.

    Well, it worked for me !


    • John Calcote says:

      Thanks for the comments Chris. This is a good approach for those who can’t find the TEXT mode driver for their SATA controller.

      Incidentally, the article mentions that XP has no problem with SATA drives once it’s up and running. During installation, the SATA drivers are missing because MS has never updated the XP installation program to include SATA TEXT mode drivers on the install CD image. The runtime drivers exist only because subsequent service packs (SP1/2/3) added them to the operating system.


  32. Chris says:

    Thanks John – Apprentice your comments


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  37. Flurin says:

    Very nice post! Thank you very much.

    I believe it should work as well withouth the virtual floppy drive. Instead instert the textsetup.oem file alongside the .ini file in nlite to make sure TXT-Mode drivers are being used.

    Has anybody tried that?

    • John Calcote says:

      @Flurin: The only reason I used a virtual floppy drive was because the text-mode drivers supplied by my SATA controller manufacturer came in a format that could only be restored to a floppy disk and I didn’t have a floppy drive. Funny that they’d do that today – but this article was written a few years ago, just on the edge of the death of the floppy drive. In any case, once restored to the virtual floppy image, I copied the text mode drivers off the virtual drive and added them to my nlite image.

  38. Pam says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this. You helped me sort out some crazy problems rebuilding my XP machine!

  39. Tim Phillips says:

    Thank you. After going in circles for hours, this saved the day.

  40. Everything works fine as expected but 30 days later I have to do the same thing all over again. MS does not recognize the CD I created: XP for SATA as authentical. Is there a way around it?

    My original XP is an upgrade. I had to use Win 95 to continue with install. Now that is no longer necessary but I wish I wouldn’t have to reinstall XP/SATA every 30 days.

  41. Jerry Bee says:

    I installed XP on an HP Win 7 system to make it dual-bootable. I changed the SATA in the BIOS to IDE as people have suggested all over the interweb, and it works ok that way. My problem is that to boot Win 7, you have to change the bios back to SATA/ACHI. Then to boot SP, you have to change the bios to SATA/IDE. Is there ANY way to get sata drivers installed into an existing XP install? Or is there any way to get Win 7-64 to boot without changing the bios from IDE?

    • John Calcote says:

      Hi Jerry – This entire article is about just that subject. Anyone can switch their SATA drive to IDE mode and windows will see it as an IDE device. The point of the article was to show how you can add drivers for your SATA controller to a windows install image. Read it again. And read the comments as well – there’s a lot of good information in them.

  42. Jerry Bee says:

    I understand what the thread says and what it is about. I don’t think you read my question correctly. I already have XP installed, but as an IDE. Win7 will not boot when SATA is set to IDE. So, how do I get the drivers installed into WINDOWS XP? I do not want to reinstall it as I had a lot of problems getting it working the first time and all/most of the other drivers have been found and installed, and lots of s/w. And the drivers for XP for this MB have been very hard to find.
    Thanks for the good article!

    • John Calcote says:

      Windows XP Service Pack 2 (and above) has SATA drivers built into it for regular run time execution. However, the text mode drivers required for installation were never added to the XP installer. Most of this article is about getting the text-mode drivers into the installer image so you can *install* onto a SATA drive.

      If you already have XP installed on your SATA drive – done while configured as an IDE drive – then you have two potential problems: 1) The SATA drivers that come with XP/SP2 simply don’t recognize your SATA controller (not likely), and 2) that XP can’t determine and install the required drivers dynamically, at run time.

      Point 2 is likely the culprit here and, frankly, I don’t know the answer to this problem. You see, the installation text mode drivers work hand-in-hand with the regular (non-text mode) run time SATA drivers to boot Windows on a SATA device, so you’d probably have to get the text mode driver into the right location on the disk, and then configure the partition boot record to consume it – something I’ve not researched before. There may be a third-party partition management tool that will allow you to do this – I don’t know.

      However, one solution (as ugly as it seems) is to reinstall XP on your SATA drive, configured as a SATA drive. This, of course, requires following the directions in the article – and reinstalling the XP partition. If you’ve had it installed for a while, you probably have data on that partition that you don’t want to lose. You could backup and restore… sorry. Not very helpful I know, but that’s all I can tell you. This article may help you:

  43. gregory Kerr says:

    I too have a Hp Compaq DX2450 tower which has a M2N68-LA (Narra3) mother which has four SATA sockets and I managed to install XP Pro 32bit edition without the use of a floppy using the driver update feature found in the System folder which appears as a picture of a computer and goto the Device Manager and double click the IDE/ATAPI and select device properties and then update driver and installed the Nvidia Mediastore SATA international edition because of the fact that the chipset in my computer uses the MCP61P chipset anyway everything went well and the system rebooted and it worked first time but I get a glitch 10 minuits from bootup and hay that is just a small price to pay for using SATA on a Windows XP Pro OS.

  44. Tim Harpe says:

    Well after weeks of searching the WWW I think I found the user friendly place to help me get xp on a sata drive with an msi board. I have been beating myself up trying to locate these directions because I currently am a 50yo Sophmore in college with 19gigs used on a 20gig drive, my 300gig pata drove off a cliff and I have had a 200gig sata for 5 years and have only used it for stoage. NOT NOW because I will detail your directions starting tonight and and get this done before I start HIS 208 Tuesday, don’t leave me until I get this done!!!

  45. Tim Harpe says:

    Sorry about the spelling problems, frustration is at a peek right now!!!

  46. Tim Harpe says:

    Answer me this I have an MSI K8T NEO V, which driver did you or do you use…I think its the 8237 but can you tell me if I’m right???

  47. tom says:

    dell 530s xp sp2 HE, on a new wd HDD., burned disc and loaded fine. unmountable boot volume error that I cannot repair. tried all the fixes, CHKDSK R,P,FIXBOOT,MBR .any ideas anyone? HDD passes all diagnostics from dell driver/utility disc.

  48. tom says:

    i see now I had the wrong drivers……..does not seem to be any available sata controller drives other than floppy format (I dont have)for intel G33/ ICH9. nto sure I am good enough to do the floppy to file trick…….does anyone know or have these controller drivers? thanks, TOM P.S. great info!!

  49. David2008uk says:

    I have given up with Ms Windows and have decided to format my harddrive and install Ubuntu 10.10 which upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10 finally to Ubuntu 12.04 lts and I find that I don’t get the glitch problem that I had with Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista.
    So therefore I will not be using windows anymore.

  50. Brnk says:

    Finally somebody clearly described difference between text mode and PNP!

    Thanks a lot man!

Comments are closed.