Well...you may have concluded incorrectly, it's hard to say.
My experience with these types of errors...usually involves an optical drive, not a hard drive. If I received this error on a hard drive, the first thing I would do is run a check of the hard drive. Initially, I would try running chkdsk /r from the Recovery Console of my Microsoft XP install CD. If that failed, I would download a hard drive diagnostic utility from the website of the hard drive manufacturer and run it, following directions provided.
The first thing I would suggest...move any data on that drive which you want...to another storage device. This should be done before attempting any checks of the hard drive in question.