PDA

View Full Version : Hard drives still failing.



Jim**
01-03-2004, 10:22 PM
Hello,

here's a rundown of my problem. I have been through three hard drives over a period of about 8 months (three 40GB 7200 seagate barracuda drives replaced through warranty). I am on my fourth drive which is an 80GB samsung now. The same problem has occurred on every drive I have owned - every now and then, the computer will freeze during boot while the computer is "detecting IDE drives...". This occurs initially about 1 in every 20 boots. The computer requires a reboot after this freeze for it to boot properly. Over time, these freezes occur more and more frequently until one day the computer (while in use) will just freeze requiring a reboot. Upon the reboot XP informs me that system files are missing or corrupt and that windows XP is unable to boot. During the freeze and subsequent reboot, the hard drive will be making a high-pitched whirring and clicking sound over and over. If system files are replaced, the computer runs normally for a short time until the same "crash" happens again. Eventually, these crashes occur too closely together for the computer to be usable. Scanning the drives with the 'seatools' diagnostic program reveals that there is serious failure in the drives and that they are essentially ruined. Presently I have replaced the drive, the power supply (420w thermaltake silent purepower) and installed two extra case fans (80mm) so that my computer is averaging a case temp around 35 degrees. I have also replaced the hard drives IDE cable and checked and re-checked power and IDE connections. So far, the computer has frozen while detcting IDE drives three times (in approx. two weeks). I have been rebooting a lot to test its regularity and it occurs very randomly. Sometimes upon cold boot and sometims upon reboot. I only really have the mainboard left to replace which i am strongly suspecting at the moment. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions as to what could be causing these crashes and which may prevent me shelling further cash on a new mainboard they would be much appreciated.

stu140103
01-03-2004, 10:31 PM
I just hope you have a backup of what you want too keep from the hard drive.

tweak\'e
01-03-2004, 10:55 PM
that sure is werid!

yes i would be looking at motherboard to. i have no idea why it would kill hardrives.

tho a couple of things spring to mind....

is there anything esle connected to the ide the hardrive is on?

check power (240v including house wiring) exspcially the earth.

Billy T
01-03-2004, 11:29 PM
If the motherboard isn't responsible, follow up tweak'e's advice re power. You may have very high levels of electrical noise between neutral and earth, in fact the neutral-earth link at your switchboard may even be missing.

Neutral-earth (or "common mode") noise is almost impossible to filter out, but facing the kind of data vulnerability you are experiencing I would invest in a quality power-conditioning UPS for starters. It could well be cheaper than getting your power investigated.

Noise levels will depend on where you live and what the local power supply quality is like, but I have seen neutral-earth noise spikes take out several power supplies in a server room over two or three days, in some cases literally exploding the power switching devices without even blowing the input fuse!

Thinking further, for this to happen but not blow your power supply also suggests that there may be a power wiring anomaly within your computer. For example the neutral may be returning via the earth due to an incorrectly wired power outlet, IEC plug, or IEC socket on the power supply.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

phil.b
01-03-2004, 11:30 PM
You can go to the seagate website, search for your hard drive model & download a diagnostic utility. It's run from a floppy so no OS involvement. There are 2 scans, run the 90 second one first, if that shows ok run the long one. That way you can at least confirm if the drive is U S.

PoWa
02-03-2004, 12:54 AM
> You can go to the seagate website, search for your hard drive model & download a diagnostic utility. It's run from a floppy so no OS involvement.

He said he has run that program before:

>>Scanning the drives with the 'seatools' diagnostic program reveals that there is serious failure in the drives and that they are essentially ruined.


Could it be the drives they replaced under warranty, they didn't really replace they just "fixed"? Did you note the serial numbers down and check differences?

Such a bad luck tale, unbelievable. As Billy said, UPS might be a good idea. At least try a new mainboard, see how that goes. Try different HDD manufacturer next time too. I can see the costs escalating though. Very expensive ordeal.

PoWa
02-03-2004, 01:02 AM
Just before I head off, have you overclocked the thing, and is your FSB at its proper frequency?

Billy T
02-03-2004, 10:15 AM
Just a few more thoughts Jim:

Firstly, it isn't clear from your post whether or not the Samsung drive has suffered an identical failure.

If it has, then the chances of electrical effects are somewhat reduced, unless of course the Samsung uses drive electronics licensed from Seagate or they both use the same third-party supplier. If the Samsung has also died then I'd change the MB without further delay. It is a cheap way to eliminate that potential source of problems.

BTW, the UPS is not to cover power interruptions, though that is an essential protection all serious users should have, it is to provide input filtering of the supply, hence the need to go upmarket in model choice.

Alternatively you could invest in a stand-alone power filter unit but if common mode noise is the issue it may not help because the earth on almost all filters goes straight through, consequently any noise will probably go straight through. (For fire risk reasons the Electricity Regulations forbid the addition of anything but the smallest impedance to the earth line as that can limit fault currents and stop other protective devices such as fuses or circuit breakers from functioning.)

Another option might be to borrow an isolation transformer to feed your computer and all of its peripherals while you sort out the answers. That will eliminate all common mode noise, though IMO you still need power conditioning on the output side just in case because something very unusual is going on at your location.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

tweak\'e
02-03-2004, 11:09 AM
i forgot to ask.....

was the seatools run on onther pc with the faulty hardrive connected??

did the store actually test the faulty drives to check they are faulty??

if no, it could be a case of faulty motherboard and all the drives are ok.

Jim**
02-03-2004, 01:10 PM
Hello,

let me just say first off thankyou very much to everyone for your prompt and informative responses. I am going to just quicly lay down some answers to the questions I have been asked:

No, nothing else is connected to the IDE cable the hard drive is on (also set to master drive, connected to primary IDE1 connector on mainboard etc.)

Yes, the drives were actually replaced (or so i was told).

No, my cpu or any other componentry is not overclocked.

No, the Samsung drive has not suffered identical failure...yet. It is following the same destructive pattern though it would seem (freezing occasionally when detecting IDE drives). However, this is not occurring as regularly as I have come to expect.

No, the seatools diagnostic program was not run with the drive connected to another computer...but, I ran it on each replaced drive I received before they started exhibiting the "freezes" and they were reported as being free of error. I would also run the program after the replaced drives began freezing while detecting IDE drives and seatools still reported no error. It would seem that error is only actually reported by seatools after the drive has experienced its crash (high pitched whirring and clicks etc.) I am unaware as to wether the store actually tested the drives to determine the fault. The drives were sent away for replacement.

As far as potential power issues are concerned, much of that goes over my head. I have attempted basic solutions such as changing power cables and swapping sockets in the room. My computer is in a room detached from the house (a sleepout) so I have not actually tried using the computer inside the house on a house socket. My father is an electrician, so some of your replys will mean more to him than to me :)

As far as replacement of the mainboard goes, I find myself now wondering if I somehow have damaged the board when I replaced a northbridge chip fan with a zalman heatsink before my drives began failing. I can't be sure however because I replaced the fan shortly after I purchased the computer and don't know whether the drives would've failed before this or not.

Well, for starters, I shall investigate the power.

Jim.

Billy T
02-03-2004, 01:43 PM
> My computer is in a room
> detached from the house (a sleepout) so I have not
> actually tried using the computer inside the house on
> a house socket. My father is an electrician, so some
> of your replys will mean more to him than to me :)

> Well, for starters, I shall investigate the power.

Get your father to do an earth-loop impedance check on all outlets in your sleepout. There may very well be a power issue there if it was jerry-built by a previous owner and not professionally wired.

Sleepout rings alarm bells for me, but for all that the Samsung episodes sound like motherboard.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

wuppo
02-03-2004, 02:47 PM
I have seen drives fail prematurely due to [relatively] high ripple from the computer power supply. Do you still have the problem since changing the supply?