Possible hard drive failure?

When I got back from college today I was told the computer had locked up during the day and nobody knew how to fix it.
See, I'm kinda the tech guy here.

What was happening is:

- There was a remnant of web page freezed in the middle of the screen, but I could bring it down using the task manager.
- Sound was disabled. The computer would beep whenever sound was needed.

I tried to reboot it normally, but it wouldn't shut down. So I did a manual reboot.

I was greeted on the POST screen by WARNING: HARD DRIVE FAILURE IMMINENT. BACK UP ALL YOUR DATA BLABLABLA.

So I turned it off and then back trying to figure out if the HD was making any weird noise or being too hot. No, it's normal. But I get that menacing warning again. I hit F1 and proceed to load Windows. Everything behaves normally, sound works. I download Active SMART and DiskCheckup which both tell me, based on SMART data, that the Hard Drive is in perfect health; temperature is about 40 degrees Celcius.

I then restart again, this time it restarts normally. This time I don't get the warning.

So basically everything's "back to normal".

What do you think? Should I rush out and buy a new HD?
7 answers Last reply
More about possible hard drive failure
  1. How is sound being disabled, relevant? Just curious.

    When the bios displays that warning it means the drive itself has exceeded it's warning threshold and through SMART, warned you. It "could" continue to operate ok, could run for a little longer, or could completely die any second. In general, when you see this message you should drop EVERYTHING and copy off the data NOW.

    "NOW" means, DO NOT TURN OFF THE SYSTEM. That is the number one mistake many people make, allowing the drive to spin down/off then back on will often sacrifice your last chance to copy off data. Not always of course, some drives/failures are more graceful than others.

    As for Activesmart and Diskcheckup, this is interesting, tends to suggest either both of these are wrong, your board has a faulty SMART warning (had it EVER done anything like this before?), or your drive has an unusual event of only responding to the SMART set-bit once.

    If the operation of the system or timely data retention is important, I'd replace the drive. Obviously either way you should be making data backups, and should immediately if you hadn't recently... and it might even be too late for that, the access to do this may kill it the rest of the way if it's failing so copy based on order of importance. Ironically I just had this scenario the other day, managed to copy a user's data partition, My Documents, Favorites, Desktop folder and an incomplete portion of a larger bulk copy only moments before everything else turned into funny ASCII. The funny part was when I asked them if they had a backup of anything and they said "sure, it's on the 3rd HDD partition (of same drive). (LOL).

    Sometimes a flaky drive will keep running though, if the system/data isn't high priority you could keep running it till it completely dies but with drives so inexpensive, particularly if this drive is now old enough you'd gotten fair use out of it, you might as well replace it now rather than later.
  2. Thank you for your input. I turned off the computer, unplugged the HD to make sure no one could turn it back on and ordered a new one on NICX at my friend's.

    I received a new Seagate Barracuda 250GB IDE this morning and have successfully reinstalled Windows XP and essential programs. The old WD is in the case, still unplugged.

    Now I need some information before I attempt to recover my data.
    First, how do I connect both drives? When I plugged the Seagate using the middle plug on the white ribbon cable, Windows wouldn't detect it. So in my haste to get things working, I did two things: I removed the jumper on the WD and put it in an arbitrary position on the Seagate; I used the last plug instead of the middle one. Then Windows detected the drive successfully. But I don't know what did the job.

    I have only one jumper. I need to ensure that Windows detects both drives and loads Windows from the Seagate when it powers up, because I can't spare turning it the WD on and off, it's failing.

    Secondly, what's the safest way to transfer data from one drive to another? Selective copy-paste?
  3. Quote:
    I have only one jumper. I need to ensure that Windows detects both drives and loads Windows from the Seagate when it powers up, because I can't spare turning it the WD on and off, it's failing.


    You should set the new disk to master and the old one to slave. This will be done by setting the jumper on the back of the hard disk (near where the ribbon cable is plugged in). There should be a diagram above / next to the jumpers to show you how to do this, perhaps with 'M' for master, 'S' for slave. If there isn't have a look on the hard drive maker's website to find out how to do it.

    An alternative option would be to boot off your old drive and burn to DVD.

    Quote:
    Secondly, what's the safest way to transfer data from one drive to another? Selective copy-paste?


    Copy and paste should do it.
  4. I couldn't manage to get the two drives running together. As I said I have only one jumper. The Western Digital drive has a 10pin interface and the Seagate has an 8pin interface. Maybe it is possible but I couldn't figure it out. Any ideas?

    As I have only a cd-rw I booted from the old WD and copied most important files on cd.

    Now I noticed something strange. There are three types of IDE cables in my computer. One is for the floppy, that I know. Then there are two cables, one for the optical devices and one for the hard drives. There's one that is finely textured and the other one is coarse, like it's made of fewer cables. I figured the finely textured one would be the hard drive cable and this is how I connected it. However they wouldn't fit naturally; I had to twist them upside down to get them in. And now I am noticing some important slowdown whenever I am copying files.
    So is it the other way around?

    EDIT: Once again I changed two things to get stuff working. I used the fine ribbon cable for the optical devices and the coarse one for the Seagate. Plus I used the middle connector instead of the end one. Things are WAY faster now. Explanation?
  5. It sounds as if one of the cables is an old one, perhaps an old ATA standard.
  6. Quote:
    I couldn't manage to get the two drives running together. As I said I have only one jumper. The Western Digital drive has a 10pin interface and the Seagate has an 8pin interface. Maybe it is possible but I couldn't figure it out. Any ideas?

    Please post the model numbers of each drive so we can look up the jumpers.

    Quote:

    Now I noticed something strange. There are three types of IDE cables in my computer. One is for the floppy, that I know.

    If you look closely, you will see that it is not an IDE cable -- it has fewer conductors.
    Quote:

    Then there are two cables, one for the optical devices and one for the hard drives. There's one that is finely textured and the other one is coarse, like it's made of fewer cables.

    Yes, the "coarser" one has 40 conductors and is only safe to use with optical drives and the very oldest hard drives that use the original IDE standard. The "finer" one has 80 conductors, with every other conductor being ground, in order to allow the higher-speed data modes of newer EIDE or PATA drives. You MUST use a "fine" or 80-conductor cable with any hard drive you are likely to have, or you are likely to get data errors. These errors may not be obvious at first, but are likely to slowly corrupt your hard drive data.

    Quote:
    I figured the finely textured one would be the hard drive cable and this is how I connected it.
    Yes, this is correct.
    Quote:
    However they wouldn't fit naturally; I had to twist them upside down to get them in.

    If you look at each connector, you'll notice that it is "keyed", with a small tab sticking out the middle of one side, which fits into a matching slot in the middle of the connector on the MB or drive. Thus, each connector should only fit into the drive or MB in one way.


    Quote:
    And now I am noticing some important slowdown whenever I am copying files.

    Unfortunately, it's hard to figure out exactly how you have things connected. Here's how it should be done:
    1) Use different cables for the optical drives and for hard drives.
    2) Optical drive uses EITHER "coarse" or "fine" cable. If you are connecting only one drive to the cable, connect it to the END connector on the cable, not to the middle connector.
    3) Hard drive MUST use "fine" cable. Again, if you are connecting only one drive to the cable, connect it to the END connector on the cable. A second drive can be connected to the middle connector.
  7. This link seems to show Seagate's jumper settings for almost all drives:
    http://www.seagate.com/support/kb/disc/ref/jumper_settings.html
    Set up your Seagate as "master or single drive" (put the single jumper on pins 7,8) and make sure it is connected to the *end* connector on a *fine* cable.

    Here are the WD jumper settings:
    http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=84&p_created=1005005461&p_sid=lAwM5Wmi&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9MzE4JnBfcHJvZHM9JnBfY2F0cz0mcF9wdj0mcF9jdj0mcF9zZWFyY2hfdHlwZT1zZWFyY2hfZm5sJnBfcGFnZT0xJnBfc2VhcmNoX3RleHQ9anVtcGVyIHNldHRpbmdz&p_li=&p_topview=1
    Set up your WD drive as "dual (slave)" and plug it into the middle connector on the same cable as the Seagate drive.

    If you don't have any more jumpers, check if the Seagate drive came with extras in a small plastic bag, or get some (free or very cheap) from your local computer store, Radio Shack, or perhaps Best Buy/CompUSA service department.
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