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Multiple HDD's Dying Same Exact Way - Need Help!

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June 12, 2012 5:54:57 AM

Hi all,

So I recently had a new rig built. Everything went great for about a week and then out of nowhere the HDD started making this horrible sound on startup. Basically as soon as I power up the tower it would go "WHIRRR - pause - WHIRR - pause - WHIRR - pause" and after about 3-4 minutes of this it would just run normal. Next time I started it up, same thing.

The problem got progressively worse over a two week period until the machine became basically useless as it began freezing up, lagging during gameplay and randomly crashing.

So I spoke with a few people and came to the conclusion that maybe the HDD was simply defective. This theory seemed to make sense as I had bought two identical machines (for my wife and myself) and hers began having the same problem shortly after mine. So in theory, defective batch of HDD's - okay.

In my impatience I decided that in addition to having the current HDD replaced I would just buy a replacement to hold me over. So I went out and picked up a Seagate HDD (the originals were Hitachi) and installed it. Installed Windows 7, a few newer games, etc...

The whole thing worked great for about 3 days and now today the same problem. I startup the tower and hear "WHIRR! - pause - WHIRR! - pause - WHIRR!" and after about 30 seconds it starts running normal. I'm actually typing this out on the machine right now and it's working fine.

The problem is that I know where this goes, it's going to get steadily worse over the next week or so and then die.

So what could this possible be? A voltage problem? It seems weird that they only do this on startup and then the machine runs great afterward... It also seems weird that it's like a progressive problem...

I'm seriously stumped here and could use some input.

Some specs:

AMD FX 6100 Six-Core Processor
8G RAM
Windows 7, 64 Bit
800w Power Supply
Nvidia GTX560 2G

Would appreciate any help!! Thanks
a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 6:34:38 AM

What are the power options for your HDD? Try the setting where it doesn't not power off or Hard Disk->Turn off hard disk "Never" or 0 minutes. Also, is your case sufficiently cooling?
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June 12, 2012 1:54:46 PM

I don't know what the current power options for the HDD are - I can look into setting it so that the HDD doesn't fully power down when the tower does. Although while it may be a solution for the problem at the moment, it doesn't resolve why this is happening in the first place.

I don't believe cooling is the issue. The tower has a primary front fan, a top fan and a side-panel fan as well as a liquid cooling system for the processor and a dual-micro fan cooling chassis (basically a big heatsink with fans) that the HDD is mounted into.

Thanks for the comment!
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June 12, 2012 2:15:55 PM

My server kept killing HDs until I figured out that the PSU was the culprit. The system load was well within specs but a new PSU resolved the issue.
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June 12, 2012 2:22:36 PM

Yes, based on some reading I'm beginning to suspect the PSU may be the problem, though I'm hoping to get more feedback as I'm hesitant about running out and buying yet another piece of hardware without any kind of certainty.

Thanks for the comment though! Definitely helps toward building consensus.
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a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 2:36:07 PM

I would suspect the PSU first as well, what are the voltages on the 5V and 12V rail, do they sag when the drive kicks on?
Do some checking with a multimeter and/or voltage logging software and see if there are any problems with the levels.

What brand is your PSU, you've got plenty of wattage (probably a whole lot more than you need actually, I would expect your system to be fine at 600w or so), but if the PSU is junk you don't have to make it work very hard to start seeing problems.
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June 12, 2012 3:02:39 PM

Thanks for the feedback Scribbles.

After seeing your comment I did some research and it appears that the PSU I have is a "stock" brand from the company who built the rig. It has some pretty terrible reviews associated with it as well.

I'm thinking we may have found the culprit.

Now leaning on picking up a new PSU and giving it a shot to see if that doesn't resolve the issue.

The question will then become if these HDD's are permanently damaged or not.
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a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 3:24:57 PM

I would recommend a solid branded PSU such as seasonic running at about 600w +-50w (GTX 560 recommends a 500w PSU, so 550w to 650w leaves you a good overhead over the recommended, which also has some overhead built in, if budget is tight, 500-550 would be acceptable, but make sure it's good quality)

I'd personally go for this PSU for the best value:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's got a split 12v rail which is a negative, but it's a nice solid PSU, and it's modular so you can keep your case clean.

If you want to spend a little extra to get the highest quality:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This one has a single 12v rail design, which is generally a mark of higher quality.

Either PSU is perfectly fine for your rig, the cheaper option is still a great quality PSU (I've used one of them recently, and it was very solid) so don't feel bad going for it, but if you are paranoid and want to get the absolute best I threw in the second option.

If you are convinced on the PSU, I would order just one of them to ensure that it does indeed resolve the problem.

I would expect the HDDs are 'mostly' fine, the constant spinning up is likely straining the motor, so it maybe shortening the life with use; if you keep using them, try to backup your important data often, if you replace them, go for western digital blue/black or (maybe?) samsung drives, hitachi doesn't have the best rep for quality.
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a c 353 G Storage
June 12, 2012 3:29:33 PM

Most likely is the PSU, even if it is NOT, recommend replacing it!!
ie a seasonic or corsair in the 550 -> 650 watt range.
Both of DjScribbles choices are excellent.
also http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can check by using a Digital voltmeter.
1) The are very simple to use, just goolge how to use a voltmeter
2) Very handiy around the Home, and auto, NOT just for computers.
3) Cost - about $18 at walmart.
4) It verifies the Computer software is reading the Voltages correctly.

For checking your + 12 V and + 5 V. I DO his even on a HIGH quality PSU when first used.
..Simply plug the Voltmeter (set to DC Voltage) black lead in to the molex power connector with the black wire. Plug the red meter lead into the Molex end with the Red wire for the +5 V, or into the orange wire on the molex for the +12 V.
.. Power on Computer and monitor the +12 V (Then repeat for the + 5 V.

If looks OK, then
with the computer on, Use HWMonitor and see if it aggrees with the Voltmeter, If yes then monitor voltage with software, if not continue to use meter. Run prime 95 and monitor your +12 V, should be above 11.6 V (Spec is 11.4 V) and voltage difference between idle and Full load should not drop more than 0.3 Volts.

Side Comment - Could be a combo, PSU and HDD. Some of the newer drives out there seem to have rather low ratings from users. Currently I only recomment the Samsung F3 (my choice) and the WD BLACK's (2nd choice) - (No Green Models, blue models, or red with yellow pokadots).

HARD to beat, both price wise and reliability - 1 TB for $80: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I just bought two of these last week.

Compare segate/Hitachi/Samsung F3
Samsung F3 14% 1/2 egg ratings
Seagate 25 % 1/2 egg ratings
Hitachi 25 % 1/2 egg ratings


Ref:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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