Problematic hard drive - yet it passed the test? - Techist - Tech Forum

Go Back   Techist - Tech Forum > Computer Hardware > Hardware Repairs and Troubleshooting
Closed Thread
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-24-2009, 08:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
Wizard Techie
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: /home/jason
Posts: 3,056
Send a message via AIM to Jayce
Default Problematic hard drive - yet it passed the test?

I have a computer here I was trying to dual boot with XP Pro and Kubuntu. Kubuntu was CONSTANTLY erroring out during the install and I had no idea why. On Windows as of yesterday, things seemed fine, so I wasn't suspecting hardware failure. The red flag to me was Kubuntu kept coming up with a popup of recently plugged in devices when I hadn't recently plugged anything in.

So I boot to Windows and run the HDD diagnostics, both the quick test and extended test from Western Digital's site. Both tests passed with zero errors.

Then, I heard something... So I crack open the case and put my hand on the top of the hard drive. I could both hear and feel it was powering off/back on in 15-20 second intervals. Then I booted back to Windows and navigated through the menu. I would just scroll my mouse up and down the program files list, anything with an expanded menu that would show up on the right side when highlighted - example - games highlights to solitaire, minesweeper, etc. Every time I would hear that little noise indicating the hard drive powered off, the system would stall until I heard it fire back up, THEN the menu on the right would show up.

So I thought, well it's a power issue. But this is a 400w PSU on a pretty typical computer, that should be enough. So I happen to have an identical 160gb WD SATA drive here (building two computers, both identical) and that drive is absolutely fine. It doesn't shut off/power up or anything else.

To be extra conclusive I even took out an 80gb WD SATA drive from another system I have and tried that as well. That drive also worked fine with no feeling or sound indication that it was powering off/turning back on.

Fortunately, I can at least use these 160gb/80gb drives to get these 2 computers rolling, since they're Christmas gifts and uh, it's Christmas Eve. :P

But it just begs the obvious question - how on earth did the Western Digital HDD Diagnostic test pass if the drive was acting like this? The quick test lasted about 5 minutes and the extended test lasted about 25 minutes. With it powering off/on 2-3 times a minute, I'm surprised the test didn't pick up on it.

There's no place like /home.
Jayce is offline  
Old 12-24-2009, 10:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
Junior Techie
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Denver
Posts: 50
Default Re: Problematic hard drive - yet it passed the test?

I'm surprised it passed the test, too. it seems obviously bad.
Even though you say the power supply is adequate, if you're building two identical systems, you should try swapping the power supplies. Maybe it's the PS that's defective?

Or if the systems are identical, swap the hard drives, but that depends on if you've activated Windows, registered, etc., since Windows keys off the hardware identifiers.

Or maybe it's the data cables? Got any other cables to swap with? If the OS is having a hard time reading data, even if it's just the cable, it could repeatedly keep trying to re-initialize the disk. So it's not necessarily a bad disk.
As for the PS, if it is defective, maybe only one strand of connectors, or one type of voltage, is bad? Got a voltage tester?

JeffO is offline  
Old 12-24-2009, 10:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
Wizard Techie
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: /home/jason
Posts: 3,056
Send a message via AIM to Jayce
Default Re: Problematic hard drive - yet it passed the test?

I have a PSU tester, which has connections to test all types of your typical PSU connectors, such as the main molex connector to the board, floppy, 4 pin power, 4 pin auxillary power, 6 pin pcie, sata, etc. The voltage for the SATA connection shows to be fine.

It shouldn't have anything to do with Windows. I tried to "save" my installation I already made on the 160gb drive that was acting up by firing up Clonezilla LiveCD, a linux based cloning utility. Every time the drive would act up, I could see in the terminal output it was attempting to retry the data connection every 5 seconds till it grabbed it. Also, using GParted on a Linux LiveCD shows some iffy output. Sometimes it finds the drive. Sometimes it doesn't. I just kept hitting "refresh devices" and about 70% of the time it found the drive, while the remaining 30% it came back with unable to find any devices.

I also tried 2 different SATA cables, with 2 different SATA ports on the motherboard.

It also does it just at the BIOS screen. When I boot up, I go into the BIOS screen and just listen as it runs. This is where I made my determination that the other 160gb drive was okay while my spare 80gb drive was also okay, proving that there was something wrong with the 160gb drive I previously had in.

The only thing I did to this system is I had fired up Kubuntu LiveCD and was going to install it, but I fell asleep. So the system was running off of the LiveCD (idle) all night. But that shouldn't cause hardware failure. It's just a LiveCD.

I already did a fresh install from ground-up on the other 160gb drive. I'm going to downsize it to 80gb and clonezilla it to the 80gb drive too so I can get these systems rolling.

I also noticed, if I take the problematic 160gb drive and slowly "shake" it back and forth, it sounds like there's sand inside the hard drive... as if it's a salt shaker or something. My 80gb drive doesn't do this (also a western digital).
There's no place like /home.
Jayce is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hard Drive gone.... What the?!? Ethereal_Dragon Hardware Repairs and Troubleshooting 4 04-11-2009 02:34 AM
bad hard drive but not bad hard drive? servo.tsc Microsoft Windows and Software 16 10-15-2008 09:11 AM
Hard Drive problems galore.. SystmDcln Hardware Repairs and Troubleshooting 7 03-24-2008 10:54 PM
External Hard Drive Problem golfer1 Hardware Repairs and Troubleshooting 3 08-07-2007 08:15 PM
Help a newb: simple issue with hard drive copying? AppleBag Hardware Repairs and Troubleshooting 1 04-12-2007 12:21 PM

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:15 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.