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second hard disk failing


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#1 cyberfic

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:53 AM

I have a Windows XP Pentium III desktop with two hard drives. The first one has the OS and is luckily working. The second drive on the secondary master IDE channel few days back was unable to read some files and since then it has been failing and reviving intermittently.

I mean sometimes when I start the system it will be visible and sometimes it will be not. In one instance when it was visible I was able to copy some data from it to the other drive. When the system is running and the hard disk fails at that time, the system freezes and then i have to reboot

I have gone through several strategies of reviving failed disks on the internet, but I am not able to make out that what is the actual problem with my drive? I mean, whether it is a physical error, or some data corruption error, or something else like a faulty data/power cable?

Please advise how I can pin-point to the exact problem and then solve it. Thanks.

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#2 Baltboy

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 10:39 AM

The drive itself is about to die permanently. Back up everything you can as quick as you can and replace it. It cannot be repaired.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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#3 MrBruce1959

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:59 PM

Personally before I say OK the drive is failing, I try everything possible, including the easy fixes before going onto the harder ones.

I have strangely found when a drive starts showing signs of problems, if I unplug the data cables and replug them, the devices start working normally again.

That is one of the problems when a metal is used to mate with another metal, oxidation build up between the metals acts like an insulator and starts causing problems.

Try un-pluging and re-pluging the data cables and power plugs.
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#4 cyberfic

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 04:18 AM

thanks @Baltboy and @MrBruce1959 for your replies.

further on this issue:

i got a new 80 gb hdd similar (same make - seagate barracuda) to the earlier failing one, a new data cable for the drive and an IDE to USB adapter.

the new hard drive i installed in the previous drive's place (secondary master), formatted it and it worked for 1 day and then it also failed - simultaneously i connected the old hd to the IDE/USB adapter and i could view all the data - some of that data i was able to back up from the old hd to the new hd before the new hd failed

the new hd i have tried connecting on the primary channel as the slave disk but when i do that then the bios does not detect either the OS drive or the new drive and the system does not boot

surprisingly, the older (previously failed) hd is working fine on the usb channel with the IDE/USB adapter.

the newer disk is also not detected on the USB/IDE adapter although i can hear the drive spin on powering it

i have ruled out any problem with the secondary channel since the dvd rom i was earlier using as primary slave have now connected to secondary master and it works fine.

i am really confused by this behavior on my system. please can anybody try to solve this for me. thanks.

Edited by cyberfic, 02 May 2010 - 04:52 AM.


#5 hamluis

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:46 AM

Since it's a PIII system...and it seems that you are trying to use technology newer than the original BIOS...you may need to try a BIOS update to properly recognize/utilize more recent components.

I am not suggesting this, just mentioning it as a possibility based on the age of the system/BIOS.

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#6 Eyesee

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:53 PM

I am curious about why you are using a USB/IDE adapter instead of connecting the drive to the IDE channel directly.
Possibly the adapter is the problem and not the drive themselves.

Considering that this system is a PIII, it has to be 15 years old.
The bios might not like having the drives conncted that way.

Edited by Eyesee, 02 May 2010 - 01:55 PM.

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#7 Baltboy

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 10:54 AM

If when trying to add a secondary device to the primary chain and it is not recognized the problem is most likely with the setting of the original drive. It may be set to either single drive or cable select. If so you will need to use cable select or reset the jumper on the primary drive to be a master with slave present.

When you say the new one also failed please describe in more detail. How did it fail? Is it consistantly not there? randomly not there?
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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#8 MrBruce1959

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 02:15 PM

If when trying to add a secondary device to the primary chain and it is not recognized the problem is most likely with the setting of the original drive. It may be set to either single drive or cable select. If so you will need to use cable select or reset the jumper on the primary drive to be a master with slave present.


I agree with this statement and this is my thoughts as well.

Make sure when using E-IDE drives on the same ribbon wire that the drive at the end of the ribbon wire (the black connector) is set as a Master on the jumper pins which are located near where the E-IDE cable connects to the hard drive and the other device is set as a Slave and is connected to the middle connecter (The grey connector) on the E-IDE cable.

You can find the jumper settings map printed on the label of most hard drives, it shows you which two pins to put the jumper on, in some cases no jumper is needed to make the drive a Master

Failure to follow this rule means a hardware conflict where the controller has no clue which drive is which.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 12 May 2010 - 02:23 PM.

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#9 cyberfic

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:20 PM

thanks @hamluis, @Eyesee, @Baltboy and @MrBruce1959 for your replies.

With regards to the suggestions by you let me clarify the following:

1. (@hamluis) My BIOS version I have checked is the latest stable version (2001) - ASUS has listed another beta version dated 2002 but has advised not to use it unless the problem is really with the BIOS. And I have been using the HD in question on the same BIOS version for over an year before it failed last month - so I really dont think that a bios update is required. or is it?

2. (@Eyesee) I am using the USB/IDE adapter for the very reason that the HDs show as failed when i try connecting them via the IDE cable. On the other hand, drives are working fine when connected via the adapter.

3. (@Baltboy and @MrBruce1959) I am taking due care in maintaining the correct jumper settings while connecting the master/slave devices as per the instructions given on the HD and also i have double checked with the seagate site.

Regarding the failure of the new one, as i told earlier, it happened after it worked for a day and in a similar fashion to the old one. The system froze and when i rebooted the bios said that the device has failed and it also did not allow the primary drive to be detected when it was connected simultaneously. however, the primary drive works perfectly when the other "failed" HDs are disconnected from the IDE channels.

UPDATE: The new HD which failed on the IDE channel and was not initially visible via even the IDE/USB adapter is now connectable via the adapter. I tried to format the drive, partition it and i could do these actions via the adapter - the only problem is the both of these drives i am not able to connect via IDE channels.

If this info of any help, both the new HDs retain their drive letter (E:, J:) even when they are connected to the USB adapters.

What I am thinking now is that there may be a 1) virus 2) power supply problem.

please help me with this. thanks,

#10 Baltboy

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:08 AM

What wattage is your supply? Power supply failures have a tendency to do one of two things. 1. stop working altogether or 2. Random errors in the OS. That your problem is repeatable regardless of the hardware being used tends to make think it is not the power supply. If you believe it may be switch the power connector you used for the secondary to the main drive and run the computer. I have never heard of a virus causing such behavior besides virus's don't affect the BIOS.

How old is the computer in question here? Can you give us a run down of the rest of the hardware?
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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#11 cyberfic

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 03:10 PM

thanks @Baltboy for your reply.

ok i tried to change the power supply cables to the HD but they are not having any effect as the older hd and the dvd drive are working fine with the same power supply.

about the power supply we have the usual as in a box (SMPS) that is connected to the mains (ac 220V) and it supplies dc to the various computer parts - when i was suspecting the power supply i meant the SMPS box becoming faulty but i suppose that is not the case...

from other sites/friends i am getting the input that somehow the motherboard controller/capacitor (dont know what that might be??) might have gone bad - but i was able to use the newly purchased hd for a day suggests to me that there is something (virus or os update) in the software/os in my system that has caused this - may be it is doing damage to the "firmware" of the HDs - just a train of thought - i might be wrong. but the following facts support this:

1. i was using my system in this configuration for more than an year and now the HDs are seen as failed in the "bios but working FINE with the USB/IDE adapter

2. similar problems occured in 2 HDs of same kind - the latter one being brand new

As for the configuration of my system:

Pentium III 1 GHz 512 MB RAM
Windows XP Professional SP3
OS is on 20 GB Samsung disk
LG DVD Writer
80 GB disk Seagate

bought the system in 2001 at that time had only 128 MB Ram with 20 GB samsung disk with Windows 2000 Profesional - later in 2006 added 256 MB (total 384 MB) ram and also CD writer LG, installed Windows XP Prof, in 2007 added 80 GB seagate drive (the one in question) - then in late 2009 ramped up the ram to 512 Mb (max possible for this motherboard) also added LG DVD writer in early 2010 (had isuues with both CD writer and DVD writer connected simultaneously - hardware interrupts were quite high) - disconnected Cd writer.

so at the time the problem occured, only the dvd writer was attached along with the 2 HDs:
Primary master - 20 Gb Samsung HD, primary slave - lg dvd writer, secondary master 80 Gb seagate HD

hope this helps - any guesses???

thanks in advance

#12 Baltboy

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 09:09 AM

Hmmm.......With the age of the computer in mind and the fact that the problem seems to be specific to the IDE bus it is possible that the motherboard is going bad but I am not totally convinced. If the drives fireware was altered, which I have never seen nor heard of ever, then they would not work with the USB adapter either. The fact that it only happens with the second drive attached to the system leaves only two real possibilities in my mind. 1. The motherboard is dying, it is old, and that is causing the issue with the IDE bus or 2. The old drive is dying and that is causing the issue. Since you have two newer drives now I would suggest the following. Using the USB adapter image the old drive(20GB) onto one of the newer ones. Remove the old drive and replace it with the newly imaged drive. Run the computer for a few dats and see if it is stable. If so add in the additional newer drive as the secondary master and see if the computer is stable. If so then the old drive was the problem. If not than I would say your motherboard is on the way out.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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