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Ok I got it to work, but it's intermittent. I pulled the drive out, switched the type of HDD in the BIOS from AHCI to IDE. Then I re-installed the drive. This got me past BIOS. Then I go into BIOS, reset it to AHCI, and the drive works perfectly. I'm using it now to post this.
However here's the weird thing. If I shut down my machine, I have the same problem again, sometimes. Twice today I've shut down the machine and it's come back with no problem, twice it's repeated the same error I had before. That means to fix it, I have to open the laptop, remove the SSD, reset BIOS to IDE, let it boot, reset BIOS again to AHCI, then reinstall the drive and it works.
Any ideas to stabilize this now? How odd.
I like to play around with my computer in a way that's not exactly easy on hard drives.
Any advice/experience that might be relevant?