File corruption on SATA HDDs (could it be SATA controller?)

Hello everyone!

To resume what will follow: I had files corruption happening on a given HDD, and replacing it did not solve the problem.

Now for the complete story.
My motherboard is a 5-year old Abit NF7-S. A couple of months ago I had this setup for my 3 HDDs (let's call them IDE, SATA1 and SATA2):
SATA1 --> OS drive with Windows XP installed
IDE --> data drive (jpg, doc, xls, mp3)
SATA2 --> 2nd data drive (movies, applications)

I started to have, apparently suddenly, many problems with Windows XP, getting messages that the Registry had changed and had to be recovered, not being able to boot into Windows and having to run the Recovery Console.
After formatting and reinstalling at least twice, I decided to install the OS on the IDE drive (my MB required me to load the SATA controller's drivers from a floppy disc when running Windows XP's installation CD, so I thought installing the OS in the IDE drive would at least solve this annoying thing).
My setup had thus changed to:
IDE --> OS drive with Windows XP installed
SATA1 --> data drive (jpg, doc, xls, mp3)
SATA2 --> 2nd data drive (movies, applications)

Since then, I did not witness any more corruption of Windows XP. But recently, while browsing my JPGs on the SATA1 HDD, I realised a lot of them were corrupted (strange colors, greyed out, or unopenable). AVIs were also seemingly corrupted (thumbnails not correctly displayed, frames skipping), as were some other files types (GP5 tablatures, DOCs). There was less doubt in my mind that the culprit was the SATA1 HDD. So I ran Western Digital's complete diagnostics tests, which it passed without a flaw... I also reset it back to factory default (bits to 0), and formatted it completely, only to find out a couple of weeks later that my files, brought back onto it from a backup, were starting to get corrupted again.
Even though data on the other 2 drives was not being corrupted and that it passed all diagnostic tests, I decided to replace it with a newly bought Samsung HDD. To my great dismay, last week, I started seeing my JPGs going corrupted again...

I can now deduce that possibly the SATA1 HDD (WD) was not damaged after all and I must look elsewhere for the problem.
Could it be that the SATA controller (SATA1) is the culprit?
How can I make sure of that?
And, supposing it is the culprit, how can I solve my problem?

3 answers Last reply
More about file corruption sata hdds could sata controller
  1. Have you tried a different SATA cable and port?
  2. The Abit NF7-S motherboard has only 2 SATA connectors on the controller, both are in use, and corruption only happens on the drive that is connected to connector SATA1. So it points to this connector being faulty.
    It's a good idea to try another cable, but the thing is, I don't know how to provoke corruption. I've tried moving files around, as I saw elsewhere people having that as a symptom, but without success. I can only wait to see if it happens again and then try with another cable and wait some more.

    I've also read elsewhere people having problems with the Sil3112A controller that's used on this board. A proposed solution was to buy a SATA controller card with a different chip. I might tend towards that once I've narrowed my problem to the onboard controller.

    Any other suggestions or input on this issue are welcome!
  3. Just as a follow-up, it seems very probable the onboard Sil3112A SATA controller is responsible for the damage done.
    I was very careful in the past couple of weeks not to transfer data between drives and as a result I have not seen any additional corruption in my files. However, today I copied a RAR archive between the SATA drives, and tried unpacking it on the 2nd drive. 7-Zip reported many errors at the end. If I instead took the same file from the first SATA drive, copied it to an USB drive, and from there to the 2nd SATA drive, then the RAR archive was undamaged and "unrared" successfully.

    I don't know how the internals of the SATA controller works, but it seems like the "channel" between the drives is faulty.
    I'm therefore shopping for a SATA controller PCI card, to circumvent the issue. Anyone can recommend brands I should be looking for?
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