Loading SATA Drivers
If no drives are listed on the "Where do you want to install Windows?" screen then you must select Load Driver and select the SATA drivers from a USB stick. The SATA drivers essentially allow Windows to recognise the hard drive controller on the motherboard and thus allow Windows to view the drive letting you proceed with the install.
Note the error message here says:
"No Drives were Found. Click Load Driver to Provide a Mass Storage Driver for Installation".
Quite often other error messages show such as
"A media driver your computer needs is missing"
"A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing"
These normally mean your installation media is corrupt and are not because you need to load a driver.
Go to downloads.dell.com
Press [Ctrl] and [ f ] to do a search. I'm going to type in 7040 as I am going to clean install Windows 7 64 Bit on this model.
You can scroll down until you get to Serial ATA:
Alternatively press [Ctrl] and [ f ] and do a search for F6 (these were called F6 drivers as they used to be loaded in Windows XP by pressing F6 and using a Floppy Drive!)
You must extract the driver as the Windows Setup cannot read .exes. Normally this can be done by launching the setup:
Accept the User Account Control:
Specify the location:
Copy the extracted folder to your Windows 7 Bootable USB.
Look through the contents of the extracted folder, there is normally a drivers subfolder and a Windows7-x64 subfolder:
It's contents should look like:
This is the format the Windows setup can read. Select Load Drivers:
Then navigate to the subfolder containing the drivers:
Ensure that "Hide drivers that are not compatible with hardware on this computer is ticked" (it should be set like this by default). Select Next:
The Storage controller is now recognised so the internal HDDs/HSSDs etc all show up. If it is all unallocated space as shown select Next.