Tonight’s fix-up project has been an Acer Extensa 4220. My friend tried to format the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP, but in doing so he deleted the recovery partition as well as the OS one. He then tried to install from an XP installation CD, but couldn’t make that work either, as the hard drive was not recognised. I was able to realise that the problem was the SATA drive (Windows XP doesn’t have built in drivers). With no floppy drive and no real wish to cook up a custom installation with added drivers, I found a quick easy fix was to edit the BIOS settings to set the SATA controller to use IDE mode. Strictly speaking this isn’t as good as AHCI, which is the default, fully featured setting, but seeing as XP can’t take full advantage anyway it and a small price to pay for making the installation which and easy. It’s a surprisingly quick machine for a Celeron with 1GB of RAM, but then I suppose people used to count memory in megabytes when XP was new!