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Hard drive killer

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Anonymous
July 10, 2006 3:45:37 PM

Hi,

I have my sister's computer sitting here because she has had two hard drives fail on her. I've never done any kind of tinkering before, but since she's kind of written it off (besides, I think she's hoping it's unfixable so that she can buy a new laptop) already, I figured I'd give it a shot. The specs are:

Some generic case (550UL-B mean anything?)
300W Youngyear PSU
Asus P4P800 Deluxe mobo
P4 3.0Ghz CPU
512mb Infineon PC3200 RAM
ATI Radeon 9600 pro (I think, the only ID I could find was "R96-C3G")
Asus CRW-5224A optical
Currently no HDD...

Everything ran fine for about 2 years, then the first drive died. The replacement only lasted 4 months before it went too. Both failures were towards the end of school semesters when the computer was probably on more. The first thing I noticed when I took the side off the case is that there isn't even one case fan - the only airflow is the PSU. From what I've read here, heat is generally the culprit when drives die, so everything suggests that's what happened here. I'm going to order a couple fans and a new drive and then go from there, but I'd like to know if there's anything else I should be looking for - it seems weird that nothing happened for two years.

Thanks!

More about : hard drive killer

July 10, 2006 4:29:20 PM

it could be heat but i think it's more the powersupply.

1. 300watts is not enough for that system
2. youngyear is probably one of those generic PSU's, buy an antec, enermax, etc.
3. before buying a new laptop try replaceing the psu with something like a 420-570 watt model from a reputable company, and then try installing a case fan ot 2.

if it dies again then it's time for a new computer.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2006 4:29:23 PM

Heat is bad yes, but don't overlook voltage. My uncle works for the postoffice in IT. (As he says, THE postoffice, the one in D.C.) He had a coworker come and ask him a question about a computer that has had 3 drives fail on it, ALL WITHIN THE SAME YEAR! He wanted my uncles opinion on how this could happen. After telling him his thoughts, coworker left, and checked the psu. The 5V line was up to 7V+ The extra voltages was killing the devices insides. (solution ofcourse was to change the PSU, then add the fourth harddrive.) Seeing as you have a 300W no name PSU in there, I consider this another possible cause.
Related resources
July 10, 2006 4:35:25 PM

i would just like to add that in my 10 years of computing i have never had a hd "die" on me, but then again i have always used high quality power supplies.
July 10, 2006 4:35:38 PM

I agree with the others. First put in a new psu, about 400 wt for your system. Get a good brand, Antec, Enermax, or Seasonic for instance.

You're right about the heat issue and some fans will definately help parts live longer, but the present psu is probably the main problem for dying hard drives.
Anonymous
July 10, 2006 5:07:51 PM

Oops, I didn't even consider the PSU being a problem. Will an Antec TruePower II 430W do the job?

Thanks for the help!
July 10, 2006 5:40:13 PM

sounds good. it will be ALOT better than the current one.

Cheers,

lcdguy
a b G Storage
July 10, 2006 6:11:33 PM

I've at least heard of Antec (I run one now myself...) I've never heard of youngyear, so I can only guess about their quality. Remember, its not just the wattage, but the quality of the power also. To many ripples in the power, the shorter the life span of the device. Seeing as it worked, a quality 300 or 350W PSU would be fine. If you can swing it, the Antec 430W will certainly fit the bill.
July 10, 2006 8:45:25 PM

Yes, the Antec is a very good psu and 430 wt should fit your present system well. The only reason to get a bigger version if if you were looking at upgrading and adding more components.
Anonymous
July 11, 2006 2:08:54 AM

Excellent, we'll see how that works out then. I don't think she's planning on upgrading anything for the time being - it's used for day to day office-type stuff, so it needs to work but nothing more - so I'll stick with the 430. Thanks again to everyone for the speedy replies :) 

Cheers
July 11, 2006 3:02:17 AM

Quote:
Hi,

I have my sister's computer sitting here because she has had two hard drives fail on her. I've never done any kind of tinkering before, but since she's kind of written it off (besides, I think she's hoping it's unfixable so that she can buy a new laptop) already, I figured I'd give it a shot. The specs are:

Some generic case (550UL-B mean anything?)
300W Youngyear PSU
Asus P4P800 Deluxe mobo
P4 3.0Ghz CPU
512mb Infineon PC3200 RAM
ATI Radeon 9600 pro (I think, the only ID I could find was "R96-C3G")
Asus CRW-5224A optical
Currently no HDD...

Everything ran fine for about 2 years, then the first drive died. The replacement only lasted 4 months before it went too. Both failures were towards the end of school semesters when the computer was probably on more. The first thing I noticed when I took the side off the case is that there isn't even one case fan - the only airflow is the PSU. From what I've read here, heat is generally the culprit when drives die, so everything suggests that's what happened here. I'm going to order a couple fans and a new drive and then go from there, but I'd like to know if there's anything else I should be looking for - it seems weird that nothing happened for two years.

Thanks!


I think we're all missing the obvious: He states that his sister is wanting a NEW computer. So maybe she is having a friend of hers doing a little something something to the drives! har-har.

Nah, just kidding. I think you guys hit it on the head- generic power supplies most always mean trouble. My personal favorite PS come from PC Power and Cooling.
July 11, 2006 3:26:32 AM

if you have the budget sure pc & p are the psu to get but let say they don't need to drop 200 bucks on a psu a 70 dollar antec would do the job as well :D i love the psu i got (antec neo he 500)
July 11, 2006 3:31:33 AM

Quote:
if you have the budget sure pc & p are the psu to get but let say they don't need to drop 200 bucks on a psu a 70 dollar antec would do the job as well :D i love the psu i got (antec neo he 500)


Hey, this is my 18th post. only 82 more to go before I get to choose from better avatars :lol: 
July 11, 2006 4:20:07 AM

I have an almost identical system, 9700pro and 8 hard drives, off a 300.

The wattage is plenty, just needs to be a higher quality ps.
July 11, 2006 4:58:17 AM

Quote:
I have an almost identical system, 9700pro and 8 hard drives, off a 300.

The wattage is plenty, just needs to be a higher quality ps.
Agreed. Quality, not quantity here for the PSU. The system is not a PSU killer, and an intake an exhaust fan will likely help greatly with the drives...especially if they're Maxtors. Maxtors seem to run a lot hotter than the others, and therefore (in my experience and many people i know) die more often. GL :) 
July 11, 2006 5:04:16 AM

At a place where I used to work we would see a lot of dead maxtors. Grandted there were dead seagates as well, but thats because those were put in the systems we built, but even so I still saw more dead Maxtors than anything.
July 11, 2006 5:07:51 AM

Quote:
At a place where I used to work we would see a lot of dead maxtors. Grandted there were dead seagates as well, but thats because those were put in the systems we built, but even so I still saw more dead Maxtors than anything.
Hopefully, with Seagate buying Maxtor, Seagate will impliment their Quality Control standards, and longer Warranties into the Maxtor drives....at which point i may actually consider Maxtor as a viable HD product again....Maybe. :wink:
July 11, 2006 5:23:53 AM

Quote:
Hi,

I have my sister's computer sitting here because she has had two hard drives fail on her. I've never done any kind of tinkering before, but since she's kind of written it off (besides, I think she's hoping it's unfixable so that she can buy a new laptop) already, I figured I'd give it a shot. The specs are:

Some generic case (550UL-B mean anything?)
300W Youngyear PSU
Asus P4P800 Deluxe mobo
P4 3.0Ghz CPU
512mb Infineon PC3200 RAM
ATI Radeon 9600 pro (I think, the only ID I could find was "R96-C3G")
Asus CRW-5224A optical
Currently no HDD...

Everything ran fine for about 2 years, then the first drive died. The replacement only lasted 4 months before it went too. Both failures were towards the end of school semesters when the computer was probably on more. The first thing I noticed when I took the side off the case is that there isn't even one case fan - the only airflow is the PSU. From what I've read here, heat is generally the culprit when drives die, so everything suggests that's what happened here. I'm going to order a couple fans and a new drive and then go from there, but I'd like to know if there's anything else I should be looking for - it seems weird that nothing happened for two years.

Thanks!


PSU.
Nobody EVER cleans the dust build up out of a laptop and it's psu.
July 11, 2006 5:27:04 AM

Quote:
At a place where I used to work we would see a lot of dead maxtors. Grandted there were dead seagates as well, but thats because those were put in the systems we built, but even so I still saw more dead Maxtors than anything.


Perhaps it was due to more Maxtors than Segates?

To be honest the worst drives I ever had were made by IBM....the famous "Deathstar" drives (a spin on Deskstar for you young pups).
July 11, 2006 12:15:50 PM

Quote:
Hey, this is my 18th post. only 82 more to go before I get to choose from better avatars :lol: 


That's not a photo of you?
Anonymous
August 16, 2006 6:07:15 PM

Alright, I have an update of sorts. No parts were bought because my sister heard from someone else that it might be the motherboard causing problems. It also turns out that the drives weren't actually "dead". I got my hands on one of them, and it still works, but one or more Windows files are corrupt. SeaTools says the drive is physically fine, but both partitions failed its file structure test.
Essentially, my question is where to go from here? I'd like to try and pinpoint what's causing the problem.

On another note, the hard drive is marked as the "primary IDE slave", and the optical drive is the "secondary IDE master". I don't know anything about master/slave, but is it a problem that there is no primary master or secondary slave?

Thanks
a b G Storage
August 16, 2006 6:22:00 PM

My solution to bad partitions is to fdisk, format and reinstall. Not sure if its what you want to do, but it WILL work. There are programs out that might be able to fix the partition, partition magic I assume would be one. Without know what failed on the partition, I can't help you. (check that, even if I knew, I probably still couldn't help you.)

In the days of old, the boot drive HAD to be the master drive on the primary partition. If no boot info was found there, it wouldn't boot. These days, you can go into your bios and select which drive you want to be the boot drive. I could the the primary master, or it could be the secondary slave, the bios's of today don't care. Depending on her/your system, I'd change the drive to primary master, just so there aren't any possible issues.
August 16, 2006 7:01:16 PM

No.
There are two channels.
Primary
Secondary

The master should be at the end of the cable, and if there is a second drive on that channel it will be the slave.
You do not need a slave.
It is optional, and only if you have a second drive.
Typically you want the harddrive to be by itself because putting the cd drive on the same channel will slow it down.
a b G Storage
August 16, 2006 7:27:45 PM

Quote:

Typically you want the harddrive to be by itself because putting the cd drive on the same channel will slow it down.


Wrong, wrong, wrong. This hasn't been true since the days of Intels 430 chipsets. Chipsets of today have no issues running two devices on the same channel at different speeds. What you said was true, only you have to go back in time...

http://www.storagereview.com/guide2000/ref/hdd/if/ide/c...

Quote:
The ability of an IDE/ATA channel to operate a master and slave device using different transfer modes is called independent device timing. The hard disk controllers integrated on modern chipsets all pretty much support independent timing, as do modern add-in controllers, but this was not always the case.


The only thing you have to worry about is mixing a PIO only device with a UDMA device. Controllers still can't mix those. If I read the link corectly, this article was written in 2000, so this hasn't been the case for at least 6 years.
Anonymous
August 16, 2006 7:32:41 PM

End of the cable, gotcha.

I'm currently reinstalling XP (nothing important on the drive, so partition-format-reinstall works fine for me). I just used XP's built in partitioning magic to get rid of the old ones and make new ones. Assuming the installation finishes smoothly, is there anything in particular that would have caused this to happen? Two drives going screwy 4 months apart seems like pretty bad luck. Is there merit to the claim that the mobo could be the culprit?

Thanks for all your help!
a b G Storage
August 16, 2006 7:51:38 PM

I can think of three ways this could have happened off the top of my head. One is a failing harddrive controller. (so yes, a bad motherboard...) I'm not 100% sure about that one, but it sounds semi resonable. The way most partitions failed that I've encountered is bad harddrive or virus. Most virus these days are made to open back doors to your system. In the old days however, virus were written for the sole purpose of rendering a computer usless. If the time span was 4 months, then this might it. I would think a bad controller/drive would have failed sooner. You can check a harddrive with either software from whoever made it, or something that can access the S.M.A.R.T. data found on the drive. (I use speedfan.)
August 16, 2006 10:14:13 PM

Quote:

Typically you want the harddrive to be by itself because putting the cd drive on the same channel will slow it down.


Wrong, wrong, wrong. This hasn't been true since the days of Intels 430 chipsets. Chipsets of today have no issues running two devices on the same channel at different speeds

It's true, even a fast standard IDE drive will be pushing, say 50mb/s Peak. If you have a recent (100-133mb/s) controller then thats plenty of headroom.
!