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Flakey SATA Drive?

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October 27, 2004 1:19:29 AM

I've had a 160GB Seagate SATA drive now for about a year. I use it as my primary data drive with a nightly backup to an IDE on my machine. My primary system drive is a 120 GB WD IDE drive, which is primary to the data backup drive (slave) on one IDE controller with my CD and DVD burners on the other IDE controller.

I have a problem with my SATA drive and wonder if anyone can help me narrow down the source. My system frequently cannot see the SATA drive when it boots up. If I turn the machine off and play with the cable a bit and turn it back on, the drive is usually seen. I thought I had a bad SATA port on a new mobo at first and exchanged for a different mobo. After a while the problem came back. I've tried switching SATA cables but that does not seem to have an effect. Now I'm starting to suspect it's the drive. The shame is that when the machine sees it on boot up all is well. Unfortunately, this problem is a real pain in the *SS and I'd like to fix it. I do notice that the SATA cables don't fit as snugly in their connection as IDE cables, but that certainly doesn't seem like it should be the problem. Has anyone else experienced this. Is it my drive or could I be doing something else wrong?

Thanks,

John

Ain't this fun!

More about : flakey sata drive

December 26, 2004 8:08:58 PM

I have the same problem with my new SATA HD. I bought Maxtor's 80GB drive, OEM, a few weeks ago. I use it as my primary HD. It's hooked up to Gigabyte's GA-7VAXP-Ultra motherboard, with an integrated SATA chip (SiL 3112). I've updated the BIOS to Rev F7, the latest available according to Gigabyte.

Like your system, mine simply will not recognize the SATA HD after a cold boot. I have to restart it a minimum of 3 times (sometimes as many as 6) before Windows starts. On the first boot attempt, the controller comes up with "Drive not found" on both channels; sometimes, this happens on the second attempt, too. On the next attempt, it hangs at "Verifying DMI pool data" for about a minute, then prints "A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl Alt Del to continue" on screen. then, it hangs once or twice at a blank screen. After that, Windows successfully loads.

One thing I've noticed from all this is that the number of reboots required appears to be related to time. If I wait about half a minute between restarts, I can cut the number down to about 3.

But I can't seem to get it to boot on the first attempt, without restarts. As I said, I've updated the BIOS, and I've even switched between channels 0 and 1, to no effect. At this point, I'm beginning to consider an investment in a SATA controller card...
December 27, 2004 3:05:00 AM

What SATA cables are you using? The ones normally provided with MB's are not exactly the best. I use WD's <A HREF="http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product..." target="_new">Serial ATA .5 with Secure Connect</A> and haven't had a problem. It has decent EMI/RFI shielding, as I run 802.11g in my house. Hopefully it's something as simple as replacing your cables with a better quality one. Would drive me insane if I had to keep rebooting to see the drive(s).

<font color=green><b><i>Lizards</font color=green></b> do <b>not</b> taste like <b><font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b>,<b> <font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b> tastes like <font color=green><b>lizard.</b></font color=green></i>
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December 27, 2004 10:08:05 PM

Thanks, Sobelizard. Since my original post, I've even exchanged the HD at Seagate for a new one and the new one has the same problem. I'm increasingly convinced its a problem with the cable and even more precisely, the cable connectors, which have so much play in them. If you ask me, the design of SATA cable connects in general is pretty poor. Most other PC cables have a nice secure feel to them when connected properly. Not so with SATA.

Like I say, I've tried several different cables (but they all look like they have the same construction). Two came with the hard drive and two with my Mobo. I'll look for a good after-market one and see if that works.

I liked the looks of the WD SATA cable w/ Secure Connect, but when I looked at the web site, the connector at the hard drive end appears to be a proprietary format that only works with WD SATA drives. My Seagate drive doesn't have the same back panel layout and cannot accept the extra pins that help secure the cable in place. Can the "Secure Connect" connector ancor on this cable be easily removed so it can be used on a non-WD drive?

Thanks,

John

Ain't this fun!
December 28, 2004 10:07:11 AM

Unfortunately it is proprietary; but some other vendors were supposed to use the same connector on their drives. I can't tell you for sure which ones do or don't, as I use the WD Caviar and Raptor.

Instead of trying to mod this particular cable, you could try using a sata cable from <A HREF="http://www.acryan.com/_S_ATA/index.shtml" target="_new">AC Ryan</A>. I've been wanting to try these out but I'm already using the secure connects. <A HREF="http://www.virtual-hideout.net/reviews/acryan_el_sata_c..." target="_new">Here</A> is a pretty interesting article about those cables from A.C. Ryan. They seem pretty good. Either way, let me know how your situation turns out.

<font color=green><b><i>Lizards</font color=green></b> do <b>not</b> taste like <b><font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b>,<b> <font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b> tastes like <font color=green><b>lizard.</b></font color=green></i>
December 28, 2004 4:22:53 PM

I found that you have to push the SATA cables in pretty good to get a good solid connection. Initially I didn't have them all the way in and they were loose.

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December 28, 2004 4:26:30 PM

I have had no problems using mobo's supplied SATA cables. They work fine for me, and are much better than the ATA ribbon cables.

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
December 28, 2004 6:11:47 PM

I do not believe that the Western Digital connectors are proprietary. The Western Digital SATA connectors follow the standards appropriately.

One thing about SATA is that MANY manufacturers are not yet including the SATA power connector on their drives. Many are just using the SATA data connector, Western Digital Drives use both.

The ONLY problem that I have had with SATA is that on one drive I hit the cable too hard at a 90 degree angle and it fractured the connector. This, at first, caused some signal problem. They are pretty easy to damage unless you push or pull them in the right direction.

I ONLY use ASUS motherboards, and ONLY Seagate and Western Digital Hard drives but I have had no problems with them being recognized on boot up.

I would check the connector, update the BIOS, and check the power suppy.

*****
The Western Digital SATA connectors themselves are not proprietary. I did not intend to comment on the "Secureconnect" cables themselves and should have been clear on that.

I was "interpreting" the reference to "additional pins" being the actual "pins used in the "interface". These pins that Western Digital includes are for SATA power which is part of the standard, but which is not always included on all drives.

If this reference was intended to regard the "guides"/"guide pins" on either side of the SATA connector then yes that portion is non-standard.

"Secureconnect" is proprietary to Western Digital and will only work on some drives.

The Western Digital SATA interface though will work mechanically, with all standard SATA cables.


Edit - Added clarification at the end.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jim552 on 12/28/04 08:45 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
December 28, 2004 10:28:31 PM

WD's Secure Connect SATA connector IS proprietary.

<font color=green><b><i>Lizards</font color=green></b> do <b>not</b> taste like <b><font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b>,<b> <font color=yellow>chicken</font color=yellow></b> tastes like <font color=green><b>lizard.</b></font color=green></i>
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