First thing to recognize is...you can determine for yourself if your hard drive is bad, you don't have to take the word of anyone here or elsewhere.
a. XP has a built-in maintenance function for drives that anyone can use with ease.
Error Checking - Scan Your Hard Drive Using Error Checking - http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproble.../hderrcheck.htm
b. Event Viewer is another XP tool that is available to any user who wants to check for info re system problems, situations, etc. Generally, any hard drive which is problematical will have an error reflected in Event Viewer on occasions where XP documents what is viewed as a problem.
What is the Event Viewer, and Should I Care - Ask Leo! - http://ask-leo.com/what_is_the_event_viewe...uld_i_care.html
c. Every major hard drive manufacturer (probably) has a diagnostic program which can be downloaded, installed on a floppy or CD, and then used to check the condition of the hard drives manufactured by that manufacturer. All the user has to do is follow the instructions provided and read whatever readme/text file is provided.
Drive Diagnostics - http://support.mpccorp.com/diagnostics/hard_drive.html
Hard Disk Drive Diagnostics-Utilities - http://www.duxcw.com/faq/hd/diag.htm
It makes it easier on the pocketbook (and eliminates the integrity question) if a user does these things for herself/himself, IMO.
Some general info that every user ought to be aware of: 10 things you can do when Windows XP won't boot - http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877-6031733.html
Wear and tear happens to anything material, humans, artifacts, etc...a hard drive is no different, they probably have a 3/5-year warranty, at the most. And there is no predicting when/if they will fail or last years. That's one reason why there are diagnostic tools for hard drives.
There is a countless amount of documentation on various problems which users have experienced with hardware, software, and operating systems. If I have any doubt about the integrity of advice/suggestions made by a person, I just Google and obtain more info.
Regarding error messages, whether onscreen in XP or those which are reflected in Event Viewer, you can always look such up yourself, visit a forum like this for help in interpreting the error, and so on.
<<If I were to buy like a seagate or other brand external hard drive, would it be possible to save all the data I had in my old hard drive there and then transfer it to a brand new hard drive?>>
Yes and no
. A lot depends on what you mean when you say "data."
I've interpreted that to mean that you want to save everything...programs installed and all other files. That can be done and it's best accomplished by either backing up to another drive or by using a disk imaging program. I use a disk-imager, so I wind up with cloned copy of whatever is on my hard drive within X minutes. That clone is just that, a clone. Any existing problems will transfer with that image (corrupt files, malware, etc.).
Cloning a partition/drive which has disk problems is probably going to result in some file problems, since disk problems generally often translate into problems accessing/deleting files.
OTOH, you can just move anything other than programs (and the O/S) installed from one drive to another drive quite easily.
That's enough out of me, for the moment
Edited by hamluis, 28 December 2007 - 08:33 AM.