This article provides solutions to the issue regarding inability to select or format a hard disk partition during an attempt to install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

PROBLEM AND DIAGNOSIS

When you attempt to set up Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, you may experience one or more of the following

  • The hard disk on which you want to install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 is not in the list.
  • You cannot choose a hard disk partition on which to install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • You cannot format a hard disk partition(s).
  • You cannot set the right size for a hard disk partition.
  • You receive an error message as shown

The reasons for such occurrences are

  • Windows is incompatible with a mass storage controller/driver.
  • A mass storage controller/driver is outdated.
  • The hard disk on which you want to install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 is a dynamic disk.
  • A data cable in the computer is loose, or another hardware problem has occurred.
  • The hard disk or the Windows file system is damaged.
  • You tried to select a partition that is incompatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, such as FAT32.

SOLUTION

Try the following methods to resolve your problem

1. VERIFY THAT THE PARTITION IS COMPATIBLE WITH WINDOWS

To verify whether a partition is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, follow these steps

  1. For a dynamic disk that has a simple volume, use the utility Diskpart.exe to configure the disk as an active disk.
  2. For a FAT32 partition, reformat the partition, or convert the partition to an NTFS file system partition by employing the Convert.exe command.

Please note that formatting of a partition leads to loss of data stored on it.

2. UPDATE THE DRIVERS OF THE HARD DISK CONTROLLER

If you want to setup Windows Vista Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 as an upgrade, make sure the drivers for the hard disk controller are updated to the latest drivers.

If you continue installation without updating the drivers, you might experience compatibility issues.

3. MAKE SURE THE DRIVERS PROVIDED ARE CORRECT

If you are attempting to perform a clean installation of Windows, you must supply the correct drivers for the hard disk controller. When you are asked to select the disk on which to install Windows, you must also click to select the Load Driver option. Windows Setup will guide you through the rest of the process.

4. STUDY THE SETUPACT.LOG TO VERIFY WHETHER THE PARTITION IS ACTIVE

If the following error message pops up, check whether the partition is active by examining the Setupact.log file.

Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation

To verify whether the partition is active, follow these steps

  1. Insert the DVD into the optical drive.
  2. On the disk selection screen, press SHIFT+F10. A Command Prompt window opens.
  3. Change the directory to locate the Setupact.log file, and then open the Setupact.log file.
  4. Locate the “DumpDiskInformation” section. This section consists of information regarding partition mapping.
  5. In the “DumpDiskInformation” section, locate the log entry that resembles the following

Disk [0] partition [1] is an active partition

  1. If this log entry appears after an entry that says Unknown, the hard disk may not be configured to use a Windows-based operating system.

In such a situation, use the Diskpart.exe utility to configure a different partition as active.

5. CHECK FOR FIRMWARE AS WELL AS SYSTEM BIOS UPDATES

For firmware and system BIOS updates, contact the manufacturer of the computer hardware.

6. VERIFY THAT THE SYSTEM BIOS CORRECTLY DETECTS THE HARD DISK

For information regarding how to verify that the system BIOS correctly detects the hard disk, contact the manufacturer of the computer hardware.

7. RUN THE CHKDSK.EXE UTILITY TO DETECT PROBLEMS

Run the Chkdsk.exe utility to check for disk problems. Get a replacement if the hard disk is damaged.

8. RUN DISKPART.EXE UTILITY TO CLEAN THE DISK, AND THEN RUN WINDOWS SETUP

To employ the Diskpart.exe utility to clean the hard disk, follow these steps

  1. Insert the DVD into the optical drive.
  2. On the disk selection screen, press SHIFT+F10. A Command Prompt window opens.
  3. Type diskpart, and then press ENTER to open the diskpart tool.
  4. Type list disk, and then press ENTER. A list of available hard disks will be shown.
  5. Type sel disk number, and then press ENTER. number is the number of the hard disk that you want to clean. That particular hard disk is now selected.
  6. Type det disk, and then press ENTER. A list of partitions on the hard disk is displayed. Use this information to verify that the correct disk is selected.
  7. Make sure that the disk does not contain required data, type clean all, and then press ENTER to clean the disk. All the partitions and all the data on the disk is permanently removed.
  8. Exit the tool and close the command prompt window.
  9. Click the Refresh button to update the disk selection screen. This step lists the disk.
  10. Run Windows Setup to perform a clean installation of Windows.