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Strange, Intermittent Hard Drive Error

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#1 fenderjazz


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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:21 PM


I need some help deciphering a message (see attachment HardDriveError.jpg) I am getting after moving a 160 Gb IDE Western Digital hard drive (which I use as a secondary backup) from an older Compaq PC to a new Acer PC.

I purchased the Acer PC (with Win XP Pro) last week. It arrived with a new Hitachi 160 Gb SATA drive installed. The Acer has been working well. It is a replacement for a Compaq PC (with Win XP Home) that is a few years old. The Compaq is also working fine, but it is aging.

The Western Digital drive is new. I bought it to keep the old Compaq limping along. I formatted it in the Compaq, using that PC’s “System Recovery” program to install Win XP Home on it. I created two partitions on it, assigning them letters Y: and Z:. The drive worked fine in the Compaq. I set its jumper to the “Slave” position since it was just used for backups.

Then I changed my mind and decided to get a new computer (the Acer), and I moved the WD drive to it. Although the Acer’s “stock” drive is SATA, the motherboard has an IDE connection. So I plugged the Western Digital drive into this connection, leaving its jumper set to the “Slave” position.

The Acer PC now includes drives C: and D: (the “stock” Hitachi SATA) and drives Y: and Z: (the WD IDE that I added). It also includes a DVD RAM drive and a flash drive.

Below is a picture of the message my PC displays occasionally:

[*** see attachment HardDriveError.jpg ***]

I have not recognized a clear pattern for the appearance of this message. The most I can say is that it sometimes appears when I am installing new software (which I have been doing steadily since I got the Acer).

I checked Start|Administrative Tools|Event Viewer|System and found intermittent messages, like the ones below, going back over the past several days:

[*** see attachments HardDriveError2.jpg, HardDriveError3.jpg, HardDriveError4.jpg ***]

Win XP Pro seems to think the WD drive is some kind of removable device, like a DVD or flash drive. A couple of times Win XP has displayed error messages on-screen about not being able to flush the write-behind cache for this drive. (I have since disabled write-behind caching for it.) Other than these messages, the drive seems to work fine. It appears in Explorer and My Computer. I can save and open files on it.

I do notice the sound of the WD drive “spinning up” sometimes when I view its contents with Explorer or My Computer, so the WD drive has apparently been shutting down to conserve power and spinning back up when necessary. I checked Control Panel|Power Options and found the hard drives were originally set to power down after 30 minutes; I bumped this setting up to 2 hours, but I doubt this will solve the problem.

It doesn’t seem right that the Power Options should cause problems. But I can’t think of anything else that might be behind the messages I’m getting.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



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#2 hamluis



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Posted 19 July 2008 - 03:24 PM

Hi :thumbsup:.

The first thing I would have done is...take a look in the BIOS.

Two things there of interest:

a. Section listing all drives.

b. Boot options elected.

BTW: I would have put the jumper for the WD drive on Cable Select) and I would have connected it to the end IDE connector on the cable. If not C/S, then I would have placed the jumper on the Master setting...and still placed it on the end connector of the IDE cable.

When you look at the listing of all drives, you should then see:


I don't know where/how you've attached the DVD-RAM drive but it should be after the WD drive somewhere.

When you look at boot options, should be something like:

1st) SATA0
3) Whatever

Regardless of what you use a drive for, the jumper setting on a PATA is determined by how it is connected, if you use Master/Slave. If you use Cable Select setting (for both drives, if 2 drives are on same cable), it doesn't matter because the cable detects which is at what connector.

Part of the problem may be the fact that XP is on the WD drive and the drive is detected as Active. That shouldn't be a problem (I've attached Active drives as secondary drives before), but I wanted to mention it. I would get rid of that Windows install on that drive, since it's not useful. NTFS file system for that drive?

Really, I suspect that just changing the jumper and the connector the drive is on...along with verifying proper recognition in the BIOS of all drives (and proper boot order) will clear things up.

If you can go to Disk Management and upload what it looks like there, it would be useful.


#3 fenderjazz

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 04:34 PM

Hi Louis,

Thanks for the great (and thorough) list of ideas!

I will try everything and let you know how it turns out.


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