I have a friend's Gateway MA7 laptop, because it had a horrible virus problem. The only anti-virus on it was McAfee (which is worse than nothing, in my opinion), and it had such an infection that new programs couldn't be installed. To be on the safe side, I low-level formatted the HDD, and then attempted to reinstall Windows with the factory recovery disk. The disk goes through all the motions, and says that everything is restored. On reboot, the computer basically tells me that there is no HDD, although the recovery disk said it was copying files to this supposedly non-existent HDD.
Next, I tried to install from an MCE install disk. The computer boots, goes through the process of loading files to a RamDrive, then tells me that it can't find an HDD. Tried this with a normal XP Pro install disk, with the same result.
Checked the HDD (100 GB WD SATA) with the manufacturer's utility program, and it sees the drive and reports no problems. Tried making a small partition with a Win95 boot disk and transferring the system to it, and it boots fine from it. Tried again to install XP Pro, with the same result as before. I've now tried three different XP disks (Pro, Home, and MCE), with the same result with all three, and I afterward used one of them to install XP onto another computer without a hitch, so I know its not an install disk problem. The fact that I can make the drive bootable with Win95, and that the manufacturer's utility disk recognizes and reports the drive OK, tells me that the HDD is OK. So what gives?