The current set up is 98 on the primary IDE, and XP on a SATA drive (dual boot). What I want to do is fit another IDE drive temporally (to copy over files to comp for kids/ grandkids) it should be a straightforward process I know. But what is happening is, no matter what IDE channel and slave or master, I get the error message ‘file is corrupt, damaged, or missing HAL.DLL. If I try to boot with just the SATA drive I get NTLDR is missing.
Yes I know I could use CD’s but that defeats the object.
After connecting the extra hdd, did you try to load 98 or XP, or have you tried both?
If you had tried loading 98 and still got error messages, then I don't know why (and you can stop reading this post).
[Certainly the hal.dll error message should not appear if you try to load 98, because 98 doesn't use hal.dll, but I don't know what other error messages, if any, you might have received when trying to load 98.]
If the problem only applied to trying to load XP, then a possible reason (but I'm not sure) is that the addition of an extra hdd may affect the designation of the path to the XP partition in the c:\boot.ini file. Boot.ini is an XP boot file which tells the computer where to look for the XP files to load. But this is only a guess.
Trying to boot with only the XP SATA hdd connected wouldn't work, because in your dual boot situation, all the boot files are still on the 98 C partition. Disconnecting the 98 hdd means there are no boot files at all.
If you have not tried loading 98, you should try it and see if it works.