Enabling a hard drive in the BIOS is an important step when installing a new drive or troubleshooting drive issues in Windows 10. The BIOS controls communication between the operating system and hardware, so ensuring your hard drive is detected in the BIOS is crucial.
What is the BIOS?
The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is firmware programmed onto your computer’s motherboard that initializes hardware components and loads the operating system when you turn on your computer. The BIOS provides a small set of functions that allow devices like hard drives, video cards, keyboards, and other peripherals to be initialized so the operating system can access them.
When you first start your computer, the BIOS runs a power-on self-test (POST) to ensure the hardware components like the CPU, RAM, and hard drives are working properly. Once the POST completes, the BIOS loads the operating system bootloader from your primary hard drive or solid state drive into memory so the operating system can start.
The BIOS settings are stored in the CMOS chip on the motherboard and include configuration options for the CPU, RAM, hard drives, peripherals, and more. Accessing the BIOS provides you with options to view system information, change boot order, enable or disable devices, overclock your processor, and manage other low-level settings.
Why enable a hard drive in BIOS?
There are a few key reasons why you may need to enable your hard drive in BIOS:
- New drive installation – When installing a new internal hard drive or SSD, you need to enable it in BIOS so the operating system can detect it.
- Drive not detected – If your hard drive stops working or is not detected by Windows, enabling it in BIOS can help troubleshoot the issue.
- Change boot order – You may need to change the boot order and set your hard drive as the first boot device in BIOS.
- Enable AHCI mode – Enabling AHCI mode for better performance with SSDs may require enabling the drive in BIOS first.
If Windows 10 cannot detect your hard drive properly, it’s likely due to an issue reaching it through the BIOS. By enabling the drive explicitly in BIOS first, you can resolve many detection issues.
How to enter BIOS on Windows 10
To access the BIOS setup utility, you’ll need to press a specific key as your computer boots. Here are the steps to enter BIOS:
- Restart your Windows 10 computer.
- As soon as you see the manufacturer splash screen, start rapidly tapping the BIOS access key. This is typically F2, F10, Delete, or one of the other F buttons.
- Once in BIOS, you’ll see the system setup options.
The exact access key and steps can vary depending on your motherboard manufacturer. Refer to your motherboard manual for detailed instructions on entering BIOS.
Locating hard drive settings in BIOS
Once you enter BIOS setup, you need to navigate to the hard drive or storage settings. The layout can vary, but common menu locations include:
- Advanced Menu > Storage or Hard Drive Configuration
- Boot Menu > Boot Device Priority or Boot Order
- Peripheral Menu > SATA Configuration
On newer UEFI BIOS, there may also be settings under the ‘Peripherals’ menu. The options may include:
- SATA Controller Configuration
- Drive Health Status
- NVMe Configuration
If you have an M.2 NVMe SSD, look for settings under the NVMe or PCIe device menus. Legacy CMOS setups tend to use the ‘Standard CMOS’ menu for drive information.
Consult your motherboard manual for the exact navigation steps. The key is finding the menu that provides disk and storage options.
How to enable a hard drive in BIOS
Once you locate the disk settings, look for options to enable or activate drives. The steps can vary, but try these methods:
- Set the SATA mode to AHCI or ACHI instead of IDE.
- Enable the SATA controller for the drive’s port.
- Make sure the drive is listed on the drive information page.
- If not listed, enable Hot Swap or automatic drive detection.
- Enable the drive individually if there is an option.
Additionally, make sure your hard drive is connected to the correct SATA port mentioned in BIOS. If the drive is detected but not bootable, you may have to adjust the boot order as well.
Enable SATA controller
One of the first steps is making sure the SATA controller for your hard drive is enabled. This allows communication between the drive and operating system.
- Navigate to Advanced > SATA Configuration in BIOS.
- Locate the option for SATA Controller and make sure it is enabled or set to AHCI.
- Enable any other SATA options here like hot swap support.
Check drive information
Next, find the hard drive information page. This will show detected storage drives and may indicate if a drive is disabled.
- Go to the Standard CMOS, Drive Info or Physical Disk menu.
- Verify your hard drive is listed here along with the correct capacity.
- If the drive shows as disabled, change the setting to enabled.
Enable hot swap detection
Enabling hot swap or automatic drive detection can help the BIOS discover new hard drives.
- Go to Advanced > Onboard Devices Configuration.
- Enable the option for Hot Plug Hard Disk Detection or Automatic Drive Acoustic Detection.
- Save changes and reboot to detect drives.
Change hard drive boot order
Finally, make sure your hard drive is prioritized first in the boot order menu.
- Navigate to Boot > Boot Device Priority (or Boot Order).
- Use the arrow keys to move your hard drive to the highest boot priority.
- Press F10 to save changes and exit BIOS.
After enabling your hard drive in BIOS, it should now be detected in Windows 10 automatically.
Common BIOS hard drive issues
Here are some common issues you may encounter when trying to enable a hard drive in BIOS:
- Drive not detected – If the BIOS cannot detect your hard drive, try enabling hot swap or automatic drive detection in the BIOS. Also check the SATA cables and ports.
- Boot failed error – A boot failure indicates the BIOS cannot read the drive properly to load the OS. Enable the SATA controller for the drive port in BIOS.
- BIOS access frozen – If the system freezes when entering BIOS, reset the CMOS memory on the motherboard by removing the coin battery for 30 seconds.
- Drive listed as disabled – Change the drive status to Enabled in the BIOS drive information menu.
- Incorrect boot order – Make sure the hard drive is prioritized first in the boot order menu over other devices.
Tips for enabling hard drives in BIOS
Here are some helpful tips when working with hard drive settings in your computer’s BIOS:
- Check SATA cable connections – Loose or damaged cables can prevent drive detection.
- Update BIOS – A newer BIOS version may improve device detection and compatibility.
- Clear CMOS – Resetting the CMOS memory can resolve some BIOS freezing issues.
- Load optimized defaults – Choose this option to reset your BIOS settings to their defaults.
- AHCI mode – Using AHCI mode optimizes performance for SSDs.
Enabling your hard drive in BIOS is an important troubleshooting step if Windows 10 is having issues detecting the drive. After entering your computer’s BIOS setup utility, look for storage settings to enable the SATA controller, activate hot swap detection, check drive information, and adjust boot order. Pay close attention to BIOS menus and any error messages during the process. With the drive enabled in BIOS first, it should then be detectable when installing Windows or boot into the operating system.