If your computer stores data on a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drive, you may run into an unusual issue: Windows may recognize the drive as a removable device — rather than as an internal drive.
This is caused by a firmware-related bug, and it’s a potential cause of data loss. It was recently discovered on Windows 11, but affects all versions of Microsoft’s flagship operating system that are newer than Windows Vista.
Since the issue is related to BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), it shouldn’t affect motherboards that use UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).
Here’s a description of the issue from Microsoft’s support database:
“Whether or not a device is considered removable is determined by your system’s BIOS and how it marks the various SATA ports on the motherboard. The inbox driver directly inspects SATA ports and considers devices connected to those ports marked ‘external’ as removable devices. Not all storage drivers do this, which can be a potential cause for corruption or data loss.”
Fixing the Problem: Find the Drive, (Carefully) Edit Your Registry
Microsoft also provides steps to resolve the issue. The first (and most obvious) step is to check for available BIOS updates. If that doesn’t fix the problem, take the following steps:
- Open a command prompt. Head to Start, then search for cmd, then right-click the Command Prompt. Select “Run as Administrator.”
- Type devmgmt.msc and press Enter.
- This opens the Device Manager window. Scroll to Disk Drives and identify the SATA device affected by the bug.
- Right-click the drive and select Properties. Write down the bus number for the drive.
- Return to the Command Prompt. For Windows 8 and later, type the following command, replacing “x” with the Bus Number of the affected drive:
reg.exe add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\storahci\Parameters\Device” /f /v TreatAsInternalPort /t REG_MULTI_SZ /d x
If you’re running Windows 7, the command is slightly different:
reg.exe add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\msahci\Controller0\Channelx\” /f /v TreatAsInternalPort /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000001
These commands will alter your operating system’s registry. It’s very, very important that you type the commands exactly as they appear — double-check before hitting the Enter key.
Will this Windows bug cause data loss on SATA hard drives?
The chances of data loss are fairly remote, but you’ll still need to resolve this issue.
This is a good place to note that every hard drive will eventually fail. Make sure you have a solid backup strategy in place.
If you’ve lost data from a hard drive, solid-state drive (SSD), or any other type of device, we’re here to help. Datarecovery.com operates full-service laboratories in every location, and with risk-free evaluations and a no data, no charge guarantee, our services are designed to provide peace of mind.
To get started, call 1-800-237-4200 or submit a case online.