I started experiencing a weird error this weekend, my pc would lock up after about 15 mins of activity (during minor stuff like, web-browsing, editing word docs etc). My first reaction was that things were overheating, but this is very odd considering my system has been very stable for nearly a year now.
On 2 of about a dozen reboots, I got a message that said Error Reading Hard Disks, press Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot.
Is my HDD dying on me? The problem is still occurring but I haven't had time to trouble shoot other potential problems.
Specs, E8400, 8 GB ram, ATI 4870, Seagate 32 MB 500GB, Vista Home Premium
One cause of this is easy to fix. It MAY be just a poor and intermittent connection at a cable connector caused by slow oxidation of metal contacts. If that's your problem you can probably fix it, and the process will not damage anything else if that's not your problem. Just be careful when working inside you case not to be too forceful.
First, disconnect the power cord from your system and open the case. Ground yourself to get rid of static charges, and DON"T wear a sweater! Look at your hard drive- it probably has two cables plugged into the back. One is a data cable that connects to the mobo. The other is the power supply coming from the PSU. For the data cable, just unplug it from the back of the drive, then plug it back in again. Repeat a few times. Make sure not to jerk hard and bump into other stuff. And if it won't plug back in easily, stop and look closely to be sure you have it turned right and lined up. These operations should not take a lot of force. Now, go to the mobo end of the cable and do the same thing. Next, go to the power supply connector at the back of the drive and do the same.
Simply unplugging and reconnecting will cause the metal contacts to rub across each other and scrape away some of the oxides built up on the surface. It's a harmless way of cleaning the contacts.
I have done this many times over the years. In fact, I'm in the habit that, when I do this, I do it for almost ALL the cables and connectors in the case, not just the HDD I'm worried about. But do NOT touch the CPU and its heat sink / fan cooler. You do not want to mess with the CPU unless you need to. When done, look around very carefully to check whether you bumped something out of place by mistake, and make sure all the wires are in safe places that won't get pinched as you close up the case. Re-connect the power cord and reboot. Then see over time whether this all solved the problem, or it is still there. If still there, then we know that poor connections was not the original problem.
I first ran chkdsk but it stalled out about halfway through and I was forced to reboot. After opening up the case and playing with the cables (I think one of them was a little loose) I was able to successfully preform chkdsk.
Problem is it was running overnight and when I woke up it had boot through to the desktop. Spent a couple hours stress testing with games, lots of read/writes etc and no problems to speak of.
So... a combination of both these solutions seems to have worked. Thanks for your advice!
If a bad sector on the HDD was the problem fixed by chkdsk, is there anything I can do to prevent this in the future?
Routine maintenance is always a good idea (defrags, disk cleanup, virus scan, check add/remove programs...). I usually perform the routine tasks ~ every other month. Try not to delete programs if they are problematic. Uninstalling them is more thorough.