I would like to make a backup solution to be a computer with a single external USB hard drive from which the (1) system boots and (2) stores backups. So in case of any problems with the box, we just move the external hard drive to another box and we have full access to data and backup works again.

The problem I am running to, is that the box is capable of booting from USB, I've verified this on a small 80G USB hard drive. But when I plug in the 1,5TB hard drive it ignores it, and does not see. Sometimes it even freezes on BIOS screen (where RAM and CPU info are displayed)

More info:

  1. If I boot from internal HD (I don't want it in final configuration), the USB disk works ok.

  2. I have installed Linux on the first partition (which is 3GB big) of the USB HD, so there shouldn't be problems with to big partitions for BIOS or?

  3. Newer BIOS updates (dated 2005) don't seem to remove any USB related issues, so I haven't yet performed any BIOS updates. Motherboard is Intel D865PCD.

Where else could I dig into?


  • 1
    I'd get current on your BIOS even if the changelogs don't say there are USB-related changes. Unless you have a compelling reason not to update, you should. Jun 9, 2009 at 11:18
  • Hi. I've updated the BIOS, still the USB hard drive is not recognized.
    – blank3
    Jun 14, 2009 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


A possible solution would be to keep the OS on a USB memory stick, which mounts the USB drive during boot up.

  • I've implemented this solution now. Thank you. It seems that the motherboard somehow does not detect USB hard drive properly. With a smaller USB key (2GB) it works without problems.
    – blank3
    Jun 14, 2009 at 12:51

Are you sure that you aren't using a GUID Partition table on the USB drive?

I noticed when I had a large volume (>3TB where only GUID partitions are possible) that most BIOS implementations aren't able to boot that.

Double check that you do have a "normal" partition table.

  • I'm not totally sure on this one. But I doubt that I have GUID (how can I check this?). I created the partitions using (c)fdisk as usual, which writes them to MBR and these are the partitions that BIOS can boot from (?).
    – blank3
    Jun 14, 2009 at 12:56
  • fdisk doesn't understand GUID Partition Tables (GPT) (linux.die.net/man/8/fdisk), if you used fdisk you can be almost sure that you don't have a GPT. If you used parted (linux.die.net/man/8/parted) - which supports it just fire up parted and list the partitions Jun 14, 2009 at 16:10

We are experiencing the same problem right now. And in our case the volume is only 160GB. Computer freezes at the welcome screen of the BIOS where logo is displayed and options are listed. Keyboard input is allowed and boot sequence do not progress. I have tested on some other PC, it worked fine, I can boot from the USB drive as long as boot device priority is set to it at the BIOS screen. That's not a big deal. However, on the desktop PC we are expecting to run Linux, USB device is recognized but the system does not boot when it is connected.

As soon as we unplug the device the system boots properly on internal drive and recognizes the USB drive, of course not seen at "My Computer" of Windows, but present and labeled as healty at the Computer Management's Disk Management page.

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