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Strange drive problem.... help needed

Last response: in Storage
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October 19, 2006 11:38:13 PM

Built a new system in Feb. and got a 250 Gb Seagate Barracuda.... fine for a few weeks and then problem started.... on boot up sometimes the HDD LED will flash quickly and repeatedly like a strobe light (i.e. a fixed 'on, off' sequence) and computer doesn't boot until this has finished..... usually lasts about 2 or 3 minutes then either boots or freezes. A look in the event viewer shows a string of 'error detected during a paging operation' messages. So..... I disabled write behind, defragged the bugger, have diskkeeper 10 running to keep it defragged. No joy. So I ran Spinrite 6.0 on it.... the result: reading and writing fine, but has about 450,000 seek errors..... so I then think maybe the actuator is damaged.

But then something strange happens.... currently doing a basic web design course, which requires me to change desktop settings from 1280 x 1024 to 800x600 periodically to test pages display correctly. And I've discovered that it boots fine when desktop is set at 800x600. Anybody ever heard of anything like this? Graphics card is 7800GT and monitor can display 1280x1024.....

Please help!
October 20, 2006 5:03:57 AM

That sounds really weird. I wonder if your video card's emissions are interfering with your hdd or cable. Maybe try isolating the hdd/cable from the vid card with something. Another thought but probably not the prob is maybe at the higher res your vid card is pulling enough extra power to underpower your system causing hdd probs.
October 20, 2006 1:37:45 PM

HDD cable doesn't run closer to vid card than about 6 others....

As for my power supply, I have:

Tagan 480W PSU powering:

Athlon 3700+ San Diego;
ABit K8N Sli board;
250 Gb SATA HDD;
XFX 7800 GT Vid card;
2 Gb (4 x 512Mb) Corsair XMS Platinum DDR 400.

Would have thought the PSU could cope with that, as it's supposed to be able to handle 2 Vid Cards in Sli mode and I'm only running one.

Thanks for the help though. May just take HDD back as its still under warranty and should get it replaced due to seek errors.
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October 20, 2006 4:29:51 PM

shooting in the dark here...but maybe a shared interrupt problem
October 21, 2006 2:03:32 AM

Pardon my ignorance, but what is a shared interrupt problem, and how might I remedy it?
October 21, 2006 2:54:50 AM

Interrupts can be viewed in device manager, start, control panel, system, hardware tab, device manager, view by connection.

I haven't noted any interrupt problems with video cards and hard drives unless a pci sata or ide add in card is used.

Does sound more power supply related, is that a name brand or generic brand of psu? See here for how to test psu output while booting and loading os:
http://www.devhardware.com/forums/power-supply-units-98...
TAKE CARE as the article suggests!
Is a 4 pin molex plugged into the graphics card from a shared power run with the hard drive? Before testing the psu you could change the graphics card power connector to one on its own wire run.
October 22, 2006 8:19:23 AM

I had this exact same problem! It drove me nuts, the fix was simple. You need to reformat the drive, not the quick format but the full takes forever one using ntfs. I never had the problem again. However if you just do a quick format or just reinstall xp you will have the same issue again. I am not sure what the problem is. That was about a year ago now, I have had no repeats of that and the drive works perfectly. But Microsoft said the fix was replace the drive. They couldnt even figure out what was actually wrong but that sure is a good solution right?

The funny thing is I have the same exact drive!

So try that, I bet it will fix it! It did for me!
October 22, 2006 1:24:08 PM

Sounds like power or lack of it.

Make sure video and hdd get power from a different cable. Might not be enough Amps from on one rail.

Might boot ok at 800*600 but succesive write errors on the disk will make it marginal.

Reformat the drive and clean install. Do not use the quick format option as crap will be left on the drive.
October 22, 2006 2:13:18 PM

Thanks for the replies..... been learning a bit more about computer hardware recently and I found out that quick formatting can leave traces of stuff on drive which corrupts future installs. Did quick format it once, but couldn't remember if I'd wiped it again since then.....

Will re-format it I guess.... just wanted to avoid it if possible because backup will take forever. Thanks again for the help.

Wan't to get another HDD drive to put into raid 1 with the seagate for data protection. Does anyone know if:

a) I have to use exactly the same model and revision of drive;

b)If selling the one I own with 8Mb cache and buying two with 16Mb cache will make any appreciable difference? Use my system mainly for gaming and know that HDD can be bottleneck (have good Vid Card, CPU and RAM already).

Thanks
8O
October 22, 2006 2:29:58 PM

another thing you can have a look at, though whether it will help at all i dont know, is to enable SMART in your BIOS and download Speedfan look up the values and see if there is an error with the actual drive
October 22, 2006 5:07:16 PM

8mb and 16 mb will have no real world difference. Unless your counting in mili. Raid only really requires the drive to be the same size. But if they are not the larger size will be formatted to the smallest hard drive size.

As for the value of raid, it may not be worth the extra hassel and cost but it can make a difference slightly, when seconds count then go for it. But it will only make slight differences in gaming. Levels that have excessive load times in games may improve a bit. But real world may not make a difference otherwise.

I am glad you were able to confirm or put a cause with what my solution would fix.
October 22, 2006 5:09:01 PM

Quote:
another thing you can have a look at, though whether it will help at all i dont know, is to enable SMART in your BIOS and download Speedfan look up the values and see if there is an error with the actual drive


There is nothing wrong with the hard drive itself. It is within windows only and is a file system problem. A full format will fix it. As I said before I had the same exact problem right down to the strobing light and after the format no further problems of that sort.
October 22, 2006 8:13:39 PM

Quote:
another thing you can have a look at, though whether it will help at all i dont know, is to enable SMART in your BIOS and download Speedfan look up the values and see if there is an error with the actual drive

This is an excellent suggestion.

Quote:
There is nothing wrong with the hard drive itself. It is within windows only and is a file system problem. A full format will fix it. As I said before I had the same exact problem right down to the strobing light and after the format no further problems of that sort.

With all due respect, you have no way of knowing this. It seems that you had a problem that superficially looks very similar, and may in fact be the same. However, since you haven't even seen the system, that's as much as you can say. It certainly does no harm to look at the SMART info, and if there are errors there, it's important to know that.

It does seem that the system's PS is more than sufficient, even on the +12V.
October 22, 2006 11:14:51 PM

I would think smart would be enabled by default anyway or that would be the first thing looked at. The result was no smart errors. Which was exactly my situation. I even went so far as to run a extended test using the seagate tools. There were no problems indicated yet this problem continued. Main point is, try what worked for me. Ill bet money it will work. If it doesn't then go with microsoft's suggestion and that is buy a new hard drive.
October 22, 2006 11:52:22 PM

Yes, smart was enabled by default. Will run speedfan though.
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