Slow SATA Hard Drive(s)?

I have three SATA drives in my system (two WD and one Seagate). The two WD's are Caviar models (one 250 gig and the other 320). The Seagate is a Barracuda 500 gig.

I have a dual boot system with WinXP Pro SP3 and Win7 Home Pro. Win7 is on the Seagate, WinXP is on the WD 320, and the WD 250 is being used to save data only. Over the last week or so I noticed my hard drive transfer rate seems to be dropping. I noticed it when opening a music file in a Wave Editor program to edit the file (the file is stored on the WD 250). Then I noticed when I copy large files (anything above 10 MB or so) the transfer is very slow and the computer seems to go idle like it's trying to sync up with the transfer rate or something. Also when I download a very large file off the Internet and the system saves the file once the download is complete, the save will either lock up or the computer will crash and reboot. Sometimes when the reboot occurs I notice the BIOS detection of the hard drives is faulty (the Seagate name is all B's and Z's like, "bzbzbzbzbzbzbbzbzbz". I reset and then the hard drive name is detected.

During reboots the computer also automatically runs CHKDSK and it always finds some unallocated space and recovers it. Sometimes it deletes a file or two that have the name of the file I was downloading.

I have never had problems like this before. It appears to involve the WD 250 gig drive (the oldest drive). If I am working on just one of the other drives it seems fine. It occurs in both WinXP and Win7. I tried to copy the contents from the WD 250 gig to one of the other drives and was getting a transfer rate of between 1 and 2 mb/s which I know is not good.

I checked my Primary IDE Channel controllers and they are all set to Auto Detect and using DMA if available. One of them has "Not Applicable" in the Current Transfer Mode for both devices. The others have "Ultra DMA Mode 2" and Ultra DMA Mode 5" as the transfer modes.

I'm not sure how to proceed with troubleshooting this problem or what to do about it. Can I get some help please?

4 answers Last reply
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  1. The settings on the IDE controllers will have no effect on your 3 SATA drives. You appear to have it isolated to one unit, though, the WD 250 GB. I may be that the drive is failing itself. It might also be, IF you are lucky, that the cables connecting it are dirty or loose.

    The simple thing to try - no cost and little risk - is on the cables. Disconnect power to your computer and open the case. For the power supply connector from the PSU, just disconnect it from the back of the drive and re-connect it. Do this a few times, and just be careful not to force anything and not to bang into something else and knock it loose. Now do the same thing fro the ribbon data cable on the back of the drive. Then do it again at the mobo end of the data cable. Check that everything is back connected as it's supposed to be. Close up, reconnect power, and see how it behaves.

    Sometimes this will solve the problem, either because yo fixed a connector that shook loose somehow, or because you "scrubbed" the connector surfaces clean of oxidation. But if the problem has its roots elsewhere this will not really help.

    If there are ANY further signs of trouble, get as much data from that drive backed up as soon as possible and pan to replace it. Then give more thought to a regular backup program for all your data.
  2. Thanks,
    I will try your suggestions. I forget to mention in my descriptions above that when downloading a large file off the net, I am saving to the WD 250. In fact, everything I have experienced has always involved that drive so I'm pretty sure it is the source of trouble. But not having had this ever happen before, I thought better not to assume anything just yet. I'll report results later on.
  3. I ended up replacing the drive. It took almost 36 hours to transfer 120 gigs off the old drive and 20 minutes to copy it onto the new drive.
  4. It appears the good news is, you got your data copied off safely. Whew! Glad you're back in smooth operation.
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