This guide has a complimentary tutorial video.
What are SATA Drivers?
Preinstallation SATA drivers are required for Windows to recognise the storage controller and hence write to the hard drive during Windows Installation.
These drivers are labelled F6FLPY SATA drivers for historical reasons as they could only be loaded from a floppy disk by pressing F6 during the Windows XP setup.
To install Windows you will need to prepare and load F6FLPY SATA drivers otherwise Windows won’t see the drive i.e. you will get a screen like this:
In a few other cases, the drive will be seen during installation however Windows will fail to configure at the last stage.
This screen is not to be confused with this screen which means the Windows Installation Media is corrupt, usually an incomplete download or badly burn DVD/USB:
Note: If you have successfully installed Windows already you do not need any preinstallation drivers.
How Up to Date is my Windows Installation Media?
Windows installation media contains an assortment of preinstallation drivers so they do not need to be loaded separately in many cases. As a rule of thumb; if you systems hardware is significantly newer than the Windows installation media or you are using an advanced configuration such as a Solid State Drive as a Cache Drive or an Advanced Format Hard Drive on an older system, you may need to load SATA drivers. If your hardware is older than the Windows Installation media then the Windows Installation Media more than likely obtains the SATA drivers. For reference:
Windows 10 TH2 – 2015 see Download Windows 10 TH2
- Windows 10 TH1 – 2015 At End of Life
Windows 8.1 (with Update 2) – 2014 see Download Windows 8.1
- Windows 8.0 – 2012 At End of Life
Windows 7 “SP2” – 2016 see Download Windows 7
- Windows 7 SP1 Media Refresh At End of Life
- Windows 7 SP0 – 2009 At End of Life
Windows Vista SP2 – 2009 At End of Life
- Windows Vista SP1 – 2008 At End of Life
- Windows Vista SP0 – 2007 At End of Life
Windows XP SP3 – 2008 At End of Life
- Windows XP SP2 – 2006 At End of Life
- Windows XP SP1 – 2002 At End of Life
Windows 10 TH2 installation media can be used for Windows 7 OEM/Retail or Windows 8.x OEM/Retail licenses and it is recommended to directly clean install using Windows 10 TH2 installation media. For more details see Download a Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso.
Windows XP and Windows Vista are both at End of Life and should no longer be used. Windows Vista and Windows XP OEM licenses on capable hardware may be upgraded to Windows 10 TH2 Pro for free if the Unofficial Windows 10130 Upgrade path is utilised. For more Details see Windows Vista → Windows 10130 → Windows 10 TH2 Pro.
What is my Model of System and How Old is It?
Press [Windows] and [ r ] to bring up the run command:
In the run box type in
Then press ok.
Take a note of the:
- System Manufacturer
- System Model
- BIOS version and date
If its available (Windows 8 and later) also take a note of the:
- OS Name
- OS Version
- BIOS Mode
- SecureBoot State
For example my Inspiron 7347 systems information:
Take a note of the:
- System Manufacturer – Dell Inc.
- System Model – Inspiron 7347
- BIOS version and date – A04
Also take a note of the:
- OS Name Windows 10 Home
- OS Version 10586
- BIOS Mode UEFI
- SecureBoot State On
For Dell systems check the Dell FTP Website:
Select your system type and model number. Alternatively press [Ctrl] and [ f ] and search for your model number. In the case of the Inspiron 13 7347 I will search for 7347:
Check the date of the earliest BIOS revision. This will give you an indication of how old your system is:
In the case of the Inspiron 7347 (UEFI) BIOS revision A00 was released on the 04/08/2014 (UK date format) so it is a Mid 2014 system. Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media is newer than this system by over a year and so should include all the SATA preinstallation drivers.
The UEFI BIOS is currently A04 but can be updated to A07. If your (UEFI) BIOS revision isn’t up to date follow the instructions in Updating your (UEFI) BIOS.
Where to Download SATA Drivers?
The preinstallation SATA Drivers can also be downloaded from the Dell Website:
I’ll take an XPS 8300 Desktop with Windows 7 64 Bit for example.
On the Dell FTP Website you will need to select your product type, Product Family and Model or alternatively press [Ctrl] and [f] and search the page for the model number. In my case I have an XPS 8300 and searched for “8300”; it found 3 matches Dimension 8300, Dimension 8300N and XPS 8300. I pressed next until it highlighted XPS 8300.
You will need to scroll down until you get to “Serial ATA”
You want the driver and not the firmware. In the case of the XPS 8300 the driver is bundled in the application and it needs extracted.
Other models may have the SATA drivers listed under as a driver type for example the OptiPlex 760:
Ensure the supported OS matches the architecture of the OS you want to install in my case 64 Bit. Multiple versions may be listed also, take the latest version available.
Newer drivers can often be obtained from the direct vendors usually Intel or AMD but its often hard for the user to determine what drivers to load from these websites:
Preparing the SATA Drivers
Dell usually package the SATA drivers as .exes however they cannot be loaded by Windows in this form. You will need to launch the Dell .exe to extract the driver, double click it:
Then select ok once its informed you all the files have unzipped.
If any additional setup Windows begin, cancel the installation.
Open up Windows explorer, right click the search bar and select paste.
If there is an x86 (32 Bit) and x64 (64 Bit) folder open the correct one depending on your architecture.
The SATA drivers should be present as a security catalog and security information files.
For Windows Vista/7/8.1 and 10 simply copy these files to a USB stick in a folder called SATA drivers.
If installing Windows 7 on a system with a UEFI BIOS. The Windows 7 installation media must be updated to support USB 3.0 and the UEFI BIOS settings must be adjusted appropriately see Converting your Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD into a Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation Bootable USB with USB 3.0 Support.
As Windows XP is at End of Life I do not recommend installing Windows XP at all especially in a non-virtual environment… For Windows XP the procedure to load preinstallation drivers on physical hardware required a floppy drive and you had to press F6 at the start of the setup hence the name F6-FLPY. Slipstreaming with nLite was easier and didn’t require a floppy drive, see here for details.
Loading SATA Drivers
When you get stuck on this screen select load driver.
You will be prompted to Browse for the Driver:
I have made the entire SATA driver folder including the original applications into a .iso and loaded it as a DVD in a VM for illustrations but the results will be similar with a USB:
If I then select ok I get the following:
Because I am using a VM and not an XPS 8700, none of the SATA drivers in this folder are compatible. I am going to uncheck the “Hide Drivers that are not compatible with hardware on this computer” so I can see the drivers:
In general you wouldn’t uncheck this box and the drivers would display if you have the right drivers for your hardware. If multiple dirvers are listed press [Ctrl] and [a] to select them all and then press next.
After Windows has loaded the correct drivers for the storage controller your hard drive will show. Now that Windows can read/write to the driver you will have the options to Delete, Format or Create a New Partition.
You should return to A Clean Install of Windows for details on proceeding with the installation.