0x0000007B Inaccessible_boot_device fixed

I spent most of Sunday trying to sort out a super weird error.
I was trying to get some info back off a dead disk (and the DVD back-ups are showing errors too – grrrr) so I added the dead disk as a slave off my desktop.
It took me a couple of attempts to get the jumpers right on my main disk as it was ambiguous about which setting to use for master, and whether that setting would limit total drive capacity to 32GB. So after a few reboots I get the bootloader screen that says loading windows, but then bang!, BSOD with the error 0x0000007B Inaccessible_boot_device and a load of advice around disk management, viruses and hardware conflicts.
My first thought was I had booted off the dead disk, so I removed it but got the same error. Now my dead disk was poisoning others!
Lots of frustration followed, taking the disk out and checking it in another PC, flipping jumper and bios settings, as that had been the last things I touched, but eventually the system booted fine. Hmmm. No errors to be found on checking the disk.
Later, I decided to try a final time to get the data off that dead drive. I knew the jumper settings now so it would be fast. I plugged in the dead slave again, hit thepower, both drives show up fine in the BIOS check, but BANG! 0x0000007B Inaccessible_boot_device.
The conversation went something like this “I thought you had fixed that computer” “I did, but now I’ve fixed it a little bit more and its broken again.”
Removing the slave didn’t fix it this time, nothing would, but the disk checked out fine in another system.
Eventually, I decided to pack it up and come back to it. I slid the drive back into the chassis, which requires taking out the system RAM,and gave it one last flick of the switch – SUCCESS! I discovered that the IDE ribbon must have a dry joint somewhere. When it was twisted with the drive not in the chassis – like when I was trying the dead slave, the contact is good enough to load the MBR, but dies straight after. Very non-intuitive. So it might be worth eliminating hardware as a potential failure if you hit this error yourself.

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