Fixing ‘Windows Could not determine if this computer contains a valid system volume’ when installing Windows 2008


I was trying to install Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 on one of our servers, intended to be an internal SQL database server.
It’s equipped with a 3Ware 9650SE 8LPML RAID controller. It has 8x 250gb hard drives.
I’d set up 2 units:

  • RAID 0 (Stripe) – For the OS (2 drives)
  • RAID 10 (6 drives)

I downloaded the drivers from the 3Ware website, and put them on a USB flash drive.
I should point out at this point, that the download is circa 50mb – the actual drivers are only about 150kb… the rest is a .exe file used for upgrading drivers on an existing system.

You then go through the setup screens, and clicked Load Drivers where you are supposed to select a drive to install on. It finds the USB drive, select the drive… all seems ok so far.

Upon selecting the smaller of the 2 units (my RAID 0 stripe) and pressing next, I got a screen saying:

Windows Could not determine if this computer contains a valid system volume

Uh oh!

After much Googling, I found the problem was in the BIOS – and that the USB drive should be de-selected as a boot device.

I restarted, pressed F2 to get into the BIOS setting, and de-activated the USB drive.

However – this did not work! I still had the same error!

Here are the steps that I used to finally get it to work:

  1. Put driver files on USB floppy drive (not sure if this is significant, but it worked for me)
    Remember, the actual driver files are < 200kb – it’s just the EXE file that’s large
  2. Restart machine, leaving USB (floppy) plugged in
  3. Enter BIOS setup – Boot sequence.
  4. Deactivate USB  from the Boot sequence
  5. Make the 3ware RAID controller #1 in the sequence
  6. Save & Exit
  7. Enter Windows 2008 setup again, this time, it should work

I think the key is point #5 – You MUST make the RAID controller the first in the boot sequence.

What effect using the floppy drive had, I’m unsure. Probably nothing.