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SOLVED: SATA drive problems

Last response: in Systems
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April 20, 2008 4:30:12 PM

Ok, I'm having a problem with my Seagate SATA drive that is driving me nuts, I wonder if somebody has any idea of what's causing it. First let me give you the system specs:

Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ @ 2.8 GHz
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4
Video Card: 2 X BFG GeForce 8800GT OC 512MB SLI
RAM: 2 x 1GB G.Skill DDR2 PC6400 @ 800 Mhz
HDD: Seagate Barracuda SATA II 7200.10 320GB
HDD2: Seagate Barracuda PATA 200GB
RocketFish 700W PSU
Windows XP Professional SP2 32-bit

I use the SATA drive as my primary drive where I have Windows installed and my programs, the PATA drive I use as backup and storage. So about 20 days ago my computer started freezing up ramdomly, and everytime I rebooted it automatically scanned the SATA drive for errors and it always found some. It got to a point where it corrupted the entire drive, it wouldn't boot or anything. So I installed Windows on my PATA drive and from there I tried to recover the data from the first one. I could only read the drive with a data recovery software. So I was pretty much certain the drive was dying, and since it was under Seagate warranty I just RMA'd it. Received my replacement drive last week. Installed Windows, all my programs and everything on it and it seemed to all going well, but about 2 days ago it started doing the same thing... freezing up ramdomly and automatic drive scan upon boot up. So I had a theory that maybe the SATA data cable was damaged or something, and I replaced it with a new one that had never being used before that came with the motherboard. I thought that had solved it because it seemed to work fine for about 10 hours, but then ramdom freeze up again. Then I thought maybe that particular SATA port on the motherboard could be damaged. I tried every other SATA port on the motherboard but same problem keep occuring. Then I thought well, it could be a power supply problem. I replaced my PSU with a spare one I had laying around that I know works fine.... but no luck there either.

So now I don't know what is going on here. It could be the drive, but I think it's highly unlikely that this replacement I just received could be dying already. Then I thought it coulbe be something that's misconfigured on the BIOS, so I loaded the safe default options on the BIOS, but no luck.

I think maybe the SATA controller on this board could be the culprit. The PATA drive works just fine, never had a problem with it, and it is twice as old as the SATA one. What do you think? Any ideas.

Thanks,

Daniel
April 21, 2008 12:06:02 PM

http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Product...

That your board? Don't know about AMD, but certain nvidia chips for intel can cause data corruption on SATA. You might want to get the latest stable bios.

In any case, try clearing cmos, load defaults in bios, see how long this lasts before data corruption occurs. If it still happens, it may be your board. You can also try disabling any disk enhancement features in bios & drivers. Ah yes, try uninstalling nvidia IDE drivers. Xp has built-in ones. Restart pc.
April 21, 2008 3:07:37 PM

Yeah, that's my board, but my board is revision 2.0.

I've tried everything that you suggested already, none worked except for uninstalling the nvidia IDE drivers. But using XPs built in ones makes the hard drive access noticeably slower.

After a long time testing and researching I discovered that the problem was when I had the nvidia IDE drivers installed and had NCQ activated. Somehow this chipset doesn't work well with this Seagate drive when NCQ is enabled. I just disabled NCQ and now it is rock solid stable.

It seems like it is a known issue that nForce chipsets have problems with NCQ with certain drives... even using the latest available nvidia IDE drivers.

Thanks for the input tho.
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April 21, 2008 6:35:45 PM

Sounds like flakey RAM. Remove one of the RAM sticks and then run a scan and repair with SEATOOLS. If no problems show up for after a week or two of use rerun SEATOOLS to see if any new errors have occured. IF so, swap RAM sticks and repeat.

Another possibility is malware. Try spybot, Trend Micro's house call, and ADAWARE.
April 21, 2008 7:30:30 PM

It's not RAM or malware. Like I said in my previous post, it's a problem with NCQ. After I disabled NCQ I didn't have any more problems whatsoever.

From what I've researched, there's a history of NCQ not working properly on motherboards with nForce chipsets and nvidia drivers. It looks like nvidia never got the issue totally resolved... and possibly never will. They acknowledge the problem on their website and their solution to it is to upgrade the firmware of the hard drive. Unfortunately for me there are no firmware upgrades for this drive, I already contacted Seagate about it. So the only solution really is to disable the NCQ feature, as using the built-in Windows XP IDE drivers causes a significant slowdown on hard drive access. NCQ disabled, on the other hand, doesn't seem to cause any noticeable performance hits. I just wish nvidia would get their act together and fix this problem.
April 22, 2008 11:53:46 AM

nvidia just admitted to a data corruption issue with 790i when overclocked. Their workaround is run the pc at stock.

Good thing you've resolved this issue. I used to have an AM2 board that made me pull my hair out trying to run it stable at stock. The nvidia IDE & firewall drivers were the 1st to remove.
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
May 30, 2009 9:22:24 AM

I had the almost the same problem with my 320GB seagate SATA. It was actually my third time I RMA'd it and problem ususally returns after a couple of months or even a year. My third unit seems to be going well with the following improvements done: 1. Replaced the SATA cable and power cable. 2. Glue gun the connectors to the motherboard and hard drive.
Its been 2 years now and the drive seems to be functioning well. When I decided to replace my mother board, I forgot to glue gun the connectors and the same old problem was experienced after a couple of days. So what I did is reset the cables and glue gun the damn thing again and problem solved. I believe vibrations from the installed fans could be causing the intermittent connections and with the glue in place, it is not much affected.

This solved my problems with the SATA, hope it will solve yours
!