Okay, I'll start off by saying that my machine is a 400Mhz with 128 megs of ram running win98. My IDE cables plug directly into the motherboard.

At christmas time (specifically boxing day), my dad went out and bought a new hard drive (80 gig compared to 6 gig ) and a CD-RW drive. After some fuddling around with the cabling ( he insisted on watching me and distracted me whilst I was putting in cables) I got the drives up and working. At this point, there were four IDE devices on the system. Due to the problem described below, I am now running with only the new hard drive and new CD-drive.

The problem goes like this: After several successful bootups, I got a nasty little blue screen. It was rather verbose, but the jist of it is this: Intel Busmaster (I'm guessing that's what controls my IDE bus) has some child devices using compatibility mode drivers...I don't really remember much of what it said, but when I booted up, my CD-roms were no longer detected and there was a message in the system window that my two hard drives were using compatibility mode drivers. Anyway, I finally managed to get the CD-roms working using the DOS mode drivers, however the drivers had some nasty side effects, such as truncating names of files on the CD's. Ex. "Computer Probs.txt" becomes "comput~1.txt". It also caused most programs to not recognize CD's. So using the Dos mode drivers is not an option.

I have tried numerous solutions, including fiddling with IDE drivers, including something from MS which is supposed to correct problems with large drives (BTW, windows reads the size of the large HD correctly), and I am almost completely sure that my jumper settings, cable connections and basic bios settings are correct.

The one thing that has fixed it is reinstalling win98. However, several bootups later, the problem will return. Interestingly, the problem returned on the next bootup after setup with 4 drives, but with only 2 drives, the computer was fine for several reboots. I have already tried a complete format and reinstall, and the problem has still returned. It's almost certainly not a virus, either. I have run various virus scan programs several times and detected nothing.

Well, I've rambled on for a while here, so I hope I've given enough information so that someone can help me out with this.