Many people don’t know that they can install and use SATA drivers on their Windows XP computers, even after Windows XP has been already installed and working. Most people think that it’s only possible to install SATA drivers when XP is being installed, and that too only with a floppy.
New computers nowadays never have a floppy drive, and floppies are now obsolete. But when you install Windows XP, it gives an option to insert a floppy to install third party drivers. Even though Windows XP supports USB, there seems to be no way to tell the XP setup to look for third party drivers in locations other than A drive.
So, what do you do in such a case when your computer has a SATA hard drive but you don’t want to install latest Windows versions like Vista or 7?
If you enable the SATA native support in the computer’s BIOS without installing the SATA drivers in Windows XP, you’ll get a blue screen of death (also called BSOD). This is because XP doesn’t have the correct hard disk drivers installed.
One option, which most people use, is to disable the native SATA support in the computer’s BIOS, in turn, making the system think that there’s no SATA hard drive, but an IDE hard drive. This works well in most cases, but enabling SATA support can slightly increase performance and battery life in case of laptops.
So, how nice would it be if there was a way to install the SATA drivers even in an already installed Windows XP system? Luckily, there is a way, but most people are unaware of it.
Below, you’ll find a step-by-step procedure to install the SATA drivers in an already installed XP system.
1. First, you need to know the exact hard drive controller model no. of your computer. If you know it and are sure, you can skip to step 3.
2. Download, install and run Belarc Advisor from here. Read this post if you don’t know how to download and install Belarc Advisor. The information we are interested in Belarc’s output is the controllers section as shown below.
3. Once you’ve identified the hard disk controller of your computer, download the latest controller drivers from your computer manufacturer’s website.
4. Extract the zipped driver file to a suitable folder on your hard drive. For example: C:\HDDriver.
5. Now, open the Device Manager by typing devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog box and hitting Enter on your keyboard.
6. Under IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers, you should see something like Intel 82801GBM (ICH7-M Family) Serial ATA Storage Controller, as shown in the below image.
7. Right-click on the above driver in Device Manager and click on ‘Update Driver’ in the menu that pops up.
8. Select “no, not this time”, when asked to connect to Windows Update.
9. Select “Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)” and click ‘Next’.
10. Select “Don’t search, I will choose the driver to install” and click ‘Next’.
11. Click on "Have Disk” and browse to the location where you extracted the SATA drivers you just downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
12. Select the iaAHCI.inf driver file and click ‘Open’ and then click OK on the “Install from Disk” dialog box, to confirm. You’d get a list of SATA AHCI controller drivers.
Warning: Selecting the wrong controller for your system will cause it not to boot and will give you a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)! Make sure to select the correct controller for your system. If you are still unsure, click cancel and do not update your hard disk controller driver.
13. When you’ve selected the right controller, click on ‘Next’. You’d get a warning that installing the device driver is not recommended. Just click on ‘Yes’ to continue installing the driver.
14. Click on ‘Finish’. When asked to restart your computer, click ‘Yes’. When the computer restarts, go into the BIOS setup by pressing the required key (mostly F1, F2, Del or F10).
To know more about how to enter the BIOS/CMOS setup, view this YouTube video.
15. Once you’re inside the BIOS setup, enable the setting which says something like SATA Native Mode. Save the changes and exit the BIOS setup.
16. Once Windows starts up, it will find the new SATA hard drive. Wait until it tells you to restart the computer. Click ‘Yes’ when it asks to restart. After the restart, you should be done and can use your computer normally.