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Undetected external HDD/MBR issues?


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#1 floridaze

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 09:55 PM

Hi again, gurus. I hope it's OK to put this in the internal hardware forum, because even though it was used as an external drive, I'm trying to format it internally.

I have a Hitachi 160 GB IDE/PATA hard drive, which I was using as an external. The primary partition was a clone of my XP machine's drive (HP Pavilion, circa early 2002). The other partition was used for my weekly backups of my current 7 machine.

In my old external enclosure, this drive, and all other drives which I put into the enclosure, drives absolutely known to be working, stopped showing up in "Computer," and showed up in Device Manager as random characters. So I bought a new external case. The other drives detected fine, but the Hitachi described above still does not detect in Computer, and shows as complete wingdings in Device Manager. I mean complete nonsense like "pi," the small circle which represents "degrees," some letters with accent marks from languages other than English, etc.

So I tried it as the internal master in my old HP Pavilion. I got boot disk failure, insert system disk. Just that, no error codes or anything. I can't do that, because the friend I bought the machine from long ago was a careless friend, and didn't keep the HP disks. So I tried to install a couple different distros of Linux. They just stalled partway through. I was finally able to rebuild the MBR via my PCLinuxOS live CD. That allowed me to use such boot disks as those I had created with Easeus Partition Master, MiniTool Partition Wizard, and Boot It NG. I used Easeus to allocate and partition the drive internally. The MBR was present and accounted for, and I made the first partition NTFS and primary, because I was going to again clone an XP drive to it. I made the second partition NTFS logical, because I was going to again use it for backups. I wiped the drive before doing these things, because a lot of odds and ends of the partially installed Linux distros were on it.

But the external STILL made it show up as the same wingdings. So back I went to Linux. I tried to install Mint 10 this time. It stalled partway through. So right now, I'm trying once again to rebuild the MBR with the PCLinuxOS CD. No success so far, but being such an old computer, it's slow as sin.

Anyway ... what is anybody's best suggestion as far as what I need to do to rebuild the drive so that my external will detect it, so I can once again use it for backups? I'm fine with either cloning another XP drive to it like I had before, or with putting any distro of Linux on it. I just want to do *something* that will format it correctly so that it will be detected from my external. Again, I know that my new external case is good, because other drives are detected with no problem. And I have no reason to think that this Hitachi drive is mechanically bad. It's seen no abuse, and it spins softly and sweetly as always. Is there any recovery program (free, please) out there that will check a blank drive for bad sectors/clusters? Again, the MBR rebuild and partitioning went fine, after much trial and error. But now I've corrupted it again by trying and failing to install Mint. I first tried to clone an XP drive to it again, but couldn't do that because of not being detected as an external, hence the live Linux CD attempts.

Thank you so much for reading this laborious rant. And thank you in advance for the good advice which you're famous for giving around here.

Edited by floridaze, 11 May 2011 - 09:56 PM.


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#2 ThunderZ

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:04 PM

Sorry to say. But everything you are describing points to an impending\already happened failure of the hard drive.

My suggestion would be to download the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test.

May save you further headaches and most importantly, your data that you would have entrusted to that drive for storage.

#3 floridaze

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:08 PM

CR*P. I don't care about any data on the drive (especially since I already wiped it ... heh ...), but a 160 GB IDE may cost me $40 or more, since IDE's are in such short supply. I think that old external case of mine which started its intermittent shenanigans must be the culprit if it indeed is a mechanical issue.

Thanks for the link. I'll surely try it. I appreciate your queick response too.

Edited by floridaze, 11 May 2011 - 10:09 PM.


#4 ThunderZ

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:19 PM

If it were still in the internal enclosure that would be my first suspect.
The fact that it misbehaves, is really not recognized, when connected as an internal drive points to it as the problem.

I`m thinking this is a heat issue. This would explain why at times it functions but fails to complete a task.

#5 dc3

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:26 PM

Newegg has a 80GB ATA 100 hdd for $19.99 plus $6.29 shipping.

Newegg.com - Recertified: Western Digital Caviar WD800BB 80GB 7200 RPM 2MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 / ATA-6 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive

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#6 floridaze

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:27 PM

Strange. The old external was well-cooled, and the HP machine (which the drive in question is now inside of) has the fans running just fine, plus the side panel has been removed and the machine left open for eons.

It definitely misbehaves, although I've done a lot more harm to it than good, being a Linux moron. Tomorrow, I'll burn the Hitachi diagnostic tool image to a CD (thank goodness I have the sense to keep my BIOS set to first boot from CD-ROM!) and run it. I'll be prepared that it will likely confirm what you're saying.

Thanks again. Good night. (Or good morning or afternoon, if applicable to your location.) :wink:

#7 floridaze

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:30 PM

Cool, thank you for that. I like Newegg. I got my new external case from them. Maybe I should just buy a new complete external drive for backups. :rolleyes:



Newegg has a 80GB ATA 100 hdd for $19.99 plus $6.29 shipping.

Newegg.com - Recertified: Western Digital Caviar WD800BB 80GB 7200 RPM 2MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 / ATA-6 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive



#8 ThunderZ

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:47 PM

Sounds like you have a good grasp of what is going on and what need`s to be done.

And Dc3 pointed you in a good direction for a replacement should you decide to get one.

#9 floridaze

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 09:01 AM

Hmmm. I ran the most lengthy test in that program, the "exerciser," and the result was a green box saying operation completed successfully, disposition code 0x00. I'm now waiting for the quick test to run, which has proven after several tries to indeed not be so very quick. I've gotten impatient several times waiting for it to start and have rebooted, hence why I gave the "exerciser" series a try.

Anyway, so far, Hitachi is saying its drive passes muster. Strange.

#10 ThunderZ

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 12:46 PM

The one(?) problem with SMART which is the self test method used by the industry is that sometimes it is`t.

The test you are running checks the surface of the disk and a few other things I have not been able to confirm.

I have seen drives pass their particular OEM test but still live a very short life. Due either to the platter drive motor or the stepper motor, moves the read\write head(s) failing suddenly.

Either way. The drive is behaving strangely. Continuing to use it is not a problem. I would just not trust it with any important data.




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