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Thread: Inspiron 3800-won't allow hdd replacement

  1. #1
    Senior Member ghettoside's Avatar
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    Inspiron 3800-won't allow hdd replacement

    Dell Inspiron 3800 lappy. A bud gave it to me after weeks of screwing around w/ it.

    It has win2k installed, unfortunately the logon password is unknown. Failure to boot from cd and floppy makes it impossible to either breakin or wipe it out and do a clean install.

    I also can't boot into the factory utility/diagnostic/recovery partition, seems the alt+F11 option is broken.

    So far this laptop has defied all efforts to boot from CD or floppy...

    I'm thinking it's a case of SLP lockout. I've tried a dell disc for this model... damn thing won't boot from that disc either. That was a downloaded bootable iso not from dell, so maybe that's the problem w/that one.

    I have the boot order set for cd, then floppy, then hdd. doesn't support boot from other device. crappy bios, can't even set user parameters for hdd if I wanted to. At one time I thought maybe the hdd replacement issue was an LBA addressing problem.

    I've confirmed the floppy and cd boot disks do work on other rigs. The cd and floppy (modular bay) appear to be functioning, they read the discs, but they won't load. I get a not-bootable device or disc error after it reads.

    I've tried 3 other hdd's. I even connected a floppy hdd to my pc, extracted xppro setup onto an hdd on a 1gb partition and made it active... cursor just sits on the upper left corner and that's all.

    I then copied a dos boot to an hdd, got the same result on a fat32 partition.

    I tired taking xp setup to the point of where it restarts after copying the setup files, then swapping the hdd to the dell. All I get is the cursor hang again.

    There are no passwords enabled on hdd or system.

    googling revealed this is an issue w/ this pos. unfortunately I haven't found a solution yet.

    I also saw some cryptic remarks in a few places about "...good luck trying to change the hdd in a dell laptop".

    I haven't yet tried viewing the mbr on the original hdd (which has win2k on it) to look for some mystery code, I'm hoping for something simple I've overlooked.

    suggestions?
    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post

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  2. #2
    Forum Techie terrancelam's Avatar
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    I haven't seen a hardware locked dell system in a long long time.
    The only thing I can think of is that you have other hardware issues with the machine (i.e Ram,Video card or Power supply issues) that might be causing it to fail or freeze up on you like that.

    Have you tried replacing any of the other parts, like the ram yet?
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  3. #3
    Ohh Hell yeah.. Sava700's Avatar
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    Use a USB CD-ROM drive.. I've run into this a few times in the past with drives in older laptops not working

  4. #4
    Senior Member ghettoside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sava700 View Post
    Use a USB CD-ROM drive.. I've run into this a few times in the past with drives in older laptops not working
    I tried that too, it would not boot from several discs confirmed to be bootable. Seemed to read the disks, but would not boot. The bios doesn't support boot from usb or other device.


    Quote Originally Posted by terrancelam View Post
    I haven't seen a hardware locked dell system in a long long time.
    The only thing I can think of is that you have other hardware issues with the machine (i.e Ram,Video card or Power supply issues) that might be causing it to fail or freeze up on you like that.

    Have you tried replacing any of the other parts, like the ram yet?
    I've never seen one before, lol.

    I tried lots of things.

    Placing the oem hdd in another lappy, I booted from cd and did a breakin on the existing 2k install.

    Found the sys hosed w/ Kolweb and other trojans. Cleaned it.

    At one point, on another hdd which wouldn't boot in the dell, I made a 1Gb FAT partition, marked it active, then extracted a dos boot disc files to the hdd, edited the autoexec file, etc... that hdd was bootable in my lappy, but not in the dell.

    I can swap hdd's in that dell blindfolded now.

    I finally backed up the mbr from the oem 10Gb hdd, then wrote that mbr to another hdd. Then I cloned the 10Gb hdd.

    Sure enough, there's something in the boot code, booted to win2k n/p off the dell mbr. I got tired of looking for the mystery code tho.

    I also found that none of the partitioning tools I have can successfully resize another hdd once I write the dell mbr to it. using Hiren's 9.6.

    repartitioning in xp setup breaks the bootability of the hdd.

    So I pulled some parts and it went to garbage this morning.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post

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  5. #5
    Senior Member ghettoside's Avatar
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    It's alive!

    I have the solution after over a month of working at it.

    Lucky for me I pulled it back from trash at the last minute. A week later the kb on my gateway failed, forcing me to try and put this dell into service.

    It's a miracle I got it running period. I'd broken it down in a way which wasn't re-assembly friendly, lol. I lost some case screws that hold the kb, and I'm hoping when I replace them it'll fix a couple of malfunctioning keys.

    I did a lot or research.

    I managed to erase the eeprom, but still couldn't make another hdd bootable w/o using the original dell mbr from the 10gb hdd.

    And no xp setup disc, no live cd, nothing would boot from the cd except for a dell utility disc my bud came up w/ - which I used to wipe the eeprom.

    So the solution was a disc labeled "xp pro sp2 dell oem laptops only". Got xp loaded overnight today.

    If I understand right, the eeprom needs to be erased (remove service, owner & asset tags)... then at boot up, the dell lappy looks for the dell mbr on either hdd or cd... if the lappy doesn't see the dell mbr, the rig will not boot from that device.

    I did have a lil fun w/ the install. I got 74% of the way thru copy of install files when it couldn't read a file.

    To finish setup, I ended up playing musical discs between the copy I was given, a clone of it that I made, and 2 copies of xppro sp2.

    Also flashed the bios from A12 to A17.
    Last edited by ghettoside; 01-17-09 at 02:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post

    There are idiots everywhere.

    At work, in forums, in poetry classes, everywhere!

  6. #6
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    help me men

    i have the same exact problem that you did....my inspiron 3800 didnīt allow the replacement disk......it shows me a white screen asking me the HDD password....i try a lot of thing...updating the bios...i have resseted the bios...but didnīt clear the HDD password....i have a pdf file and it tells me that...could you help me providing me the tools that you use??? please??? i know iīm asking too much...but please men....youīre the only one that i could find, that maybe could help me...thanks....i will waiting for your awnser...

  7. #7
    Ohh Hell yeah.. Sava700's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by incubus View Post
    i have the same exact problem that you did....my inspiron 3800 didnīt allow the replacement disk......it shows me a white screen asking me the HDD password....i try a lot of thing...updating the bios...i have resseted the bios...but didnīt clear the HDD password....i have a pdf file and it tells me that...could you help me providing me the tools that you use??? please??? i know iīm asking too much...but please men....youīre the only one that i could find, that maybe could help me...thanks....i will waiting for your awnser...
    Only Dell Techs are supposed to be doing that type of erasing of the eeprom just FYI..cause it could really cause problems with ownership or traceability of the system. It would be best to try to remember your password but I'll give you the ISO to the Dell Bios disk to do this but I can't tell you how to do it. You will have to figure that out on your own but be advised you could screw it up more than what it is.


    Post when you've gotten it so I can take it down. Thanks.
    Last edited by Sava700; 03-02-09 at 03:03 PM.

  8. #8
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    thanks men....iīll figure out...and if i canīt thanks however...the laptop is mine and it dosenīt work...so if i trash it trying fixining...i donīt care

  9. #9
    Ohh Hell yeah.. Sava700's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by incubus View Post
    thanks men....iīll figure out...and if i canīt thanks however...the laptop is mine and it dosenīt work...so if i trash it trying fixining...i donīt care
    ok i'm assuming you downloaded the ISO..i'm going to remove it in a few hours.

  10. #10
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    thanks for this...but it doesnīt help me...i change the bios in a lot of ways but nothing help me....it keep asking me for the hdd password

  11. #11
    Ohh Hell yeah.. Sava700's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by incubus View Post
    thanks for this...but it doesnīt help me...i change the bios in a lot of ways but nothing help me....it keep asking me for the hdd password
    changing the bios won't help you..there is a feature in that iso to clear the eeprom you just need to know how to do it. Sorry.

  12. #12
    Second Most EVIL YARDofSTUF's Avatar
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    Not sure the utility you have, but check this link out:

    http://ubcd4win.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=8644

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