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Hard drive randomly shuts down

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July 26, 2010 10:13:04 AM

I have an old Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 120GB hard drive in an also old computer. From time to time, randomly, the hard drive suddenly shuts down and then immediately powers up again (same sound as when the computer is shut down). It seems completely random and the computer doesn't freeze or give any errors, it just continues running as if nothing happened. I switched power supplies and video cards twice since this started without any changes. I searched for similar issues, but the hard drive doesn't make any other sounds such as clicking like when it might be failing.

My question is, is there a way (hardware or software) to test the hard drive and find out what might be causing this (other components might be failing and cause this) ?

Thank you in advance.
a b G Storage
July 26, 2010 11:16:12 AM

Does it happen when the PC is left idle for sometime or even when you are working. The PC doens't freeze part is a bit confusing. If you hard disk stopped working for a while, you PC must freeze to -50 degrees!!! :D 
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July 26, 2010 11:19:06 AM

It happened both when the computer was idle and under full load. The shut down/power up part happens very fast (probably 1-2 seconds), so it might be the OS doesn't notice.
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July 26, 2010 11:55:50 PM

does under full load mean you were retrieving files or saving to the hard drive, or just using the computer regularly?
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July 27, 2010 12:10:27 AM

Full load as in using intensive applications (like games). I noticed lately that it does this after a few minutes to a few hours after powering up the computer. If I shut it down and power it on again it does not do this anymore (might be electrical related ? I checked all cables numerous times with no results). It's really confusing because it seems the OS doesn't react in any way, everything continues running as if nothing happened. I have no idea how or what to check to find out the cause of this.
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July 27, 2010 12:37:34 AM

if you say nothing else reacts to the shutdown, and the shutdown is only for 2 seconds, then if its not broken, don't fix it. i don't think its like an electrical system in a home where the air conditioner or another power intensive appliance can surge the lights when they turn on, which can do damage to appliances like TVs. if anything shuts down, fries, or breaks, then you have something worth fixing. but it sounds like you have nothing to worry about. until the computer starts freezing, then you have a problem.
although i could be wrong, remember that
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a b G Storage
July 27, 2010 7:12:49 AM

My guesses would be:

1. Problem with the power connector or SATA/IDE cable of the HDD. Try changing to another cable, one at a time and in the both together.

2. HDD is breathing its last breath! If that is the case, then its better to get a new one and backup whatever is important in Maxtor drive and let it die when it has to.

Otherwise, this is the first time i hearing this.

I also checked its specification, if the drive had some powering down technology during idle. So it cant be related to that!
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a b G Storage
July 27, 2010 5:29:00 PM

Check the power settings in Windows and see if the hard drives are set to power off after a certain period of inactivity. There could be a Windows swap file on the drive which is being accessed, causing the spin-up shortly after it powers off. You could disable the swap file on that drive, or change the power settings to never turn off the hard drives.
As old (and therefor slow) as it is, now might be as good a time as any to replace it. A fast new 500GB drive is <$55 now.
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July 28, 2010 8:31:35 PM

Thank you all for the replies, still haven't figured out the cause, it's probably the hard drive. To be on the safe side I'm thinking of buying a new hard drive, but I'm not sure if the motherboard (a very old Asus A7N8X Deluxe) supports new hard drives. The motherboard has an onboard SATA controller (Silicon Image Sil 3112A) and 2 SATA headers. The manual says: "... two headers support serial ATA133 devices ...". The onboard SATA controller seems to be compliant only with SATA 1.0 specification. Will this controller be able to detect and use a new WD Caviar Blue 250 GB SATA II hard drive (http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=298) (not sure if a BIOS update for the controller is possible since it is integrated in the motherboard). Also, I plan to install Windows 7 on this hard drive. Will it have any problems with detecting this SATA controller and the new hard drive (as the computer does not have a floppy drive and might not be able to load drivers during install).

Thank you in advance.
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March 5, 2012 6:57:25 AM

I have the same problem with a Western Digital WD400EB, that I have since 2002. This drive even slipped from my hand once and hitted the floor and keeps on working. Goes to show the superiorty of WD drives.

Anyways, on topic: I've had the same issue as webspy and still do. The HDD is currently running my OS, and when it does that quite often with no freezing while I'm either gaming and stuff.
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August 30, 2012 11:16:28 AM

Hi. I have the same problem. I used to have 2 hard drives which were over 5 years old and both started doing this shut down thingy.
I tried to buy a new WD500GB hard drive but only a month down the road it started doing the same thing. So I've bought a whole new computer and put the hard drive in it. Then I made a clean install of Windows 7. But the problem still persisted. Every now and then I these random shut downs, could be several times in a month. Also, I moved about 3 times in the meantime and it didn't help so I wouldn't blame the household electricity either.
The conclusion is that it's not necessarily a bad power supply. Other parts of the computer would also go crazy. And it's not the age of a hard drive either. I was thinking of some virus but I always protect my computer from viruses with up to date software and sometimes it does this problem even right after the first power up.
So either I have some really bad luck or I don't know. Either way I didn't manage to narrow the possible cause down in any way.
Hope you guys have better luck.
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