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Old 07-11-2004, 06:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Strange Hard Drive activity

G'day all!

I have a strange problem with an old system I've picked up from my Brother. May even be the reason he decided to rid himself of the machine.

Basically every so often the hardrive appears to become inactive. The hard drive activity light just flashes constantly for a few minutes. It does not prevent me from accessing Start Menu, or moving windows on the screen, but will cease any activity currently being performed.

For example. I was running spybot and the scan would 'pause' and the hard drive light would flash for a few minutes, then the scan would resume.

This seems to happen randomly. Spybot, Adaware, Hijackthis all found issues, which I've repaired, but this does not seem to resolve the strange hard drive problem.

The problem also seems to occur on boot, as the system will occassionally hang, then resume what it was doing. I can walk away for 10 minutes, come back and Windows will be loaded. Basically this problem is just annoying more than anything else.

I'm hoping the problem will be easy to fix, but as this system is just a backup, not too worried.

I'm not sure of the mobo make or specs.
Generic IDE Disk drive - Type 46 (removable)

Any thoughts on what could be causing this?
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Old 07-11-2004, 07:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Try a spare HD in it first, eliminate that from the list. My next guess would be the IDE controller, so try a BIOS update, then a PCI IDE card.

Also, if you give us a few more system specs, we can eliminate other things, could just be a low voltage issue if you have a ‘struggling’ 250 watt PSU in there.
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Old 07-11-2004, 08:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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OK,

What I can tell you about the system:

P3 700 Mhz CPU
128Mb PC100 SDRAM
Samsung SW-252B CDR/RW (50x)
Nvidia TNT2 Series V.365 display adapter
Mobo - Uncertain exact model, could be Acer brand, will obtain docs from brother when I get a chance.

As mentioned, the system is old. I had it running OK a few days OK, but this problem seems to have gradually become worse, which is what is strange.

I picked the machine up planning to install either Fedora or Mandrake Linux, but want to be sure I have the machine running OK first.

I'm fairly certain the power supply is adequate, as this computer ran well for some time, and nothing internally has been altered since purchase. Obviously it has aged, which is why I am tending to think it might be a faulty hard drive.

Any more thoughts?
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Old 07-11-2004, 08:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Try the first two on my above list, see what happens.
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Old 07-11-2004, 09:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Download Active SMART 2.41 and this will show you what is wrong with your hard drive.
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Old 07-11-2004, 06:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Are you using and ghosting like goback or nortons? Also, disable APM. If using XP disable system restore (yes, this will remove points, but it also analyses your drive, and although only supposed to during a certain amount of idle time u never know). Also disable and antivirus programs (just dont get online, if paranoid). Each one individually if you like. See if one of these is causing random access to the drive and slowing it down. On boot and/or shutdown, that can tend to be antivirus. When windows shutsdown, for example, it sends a park/sleep command to hardware on the system. Well, anti virus will see this as an access and sometimes scan to see whats going on. Since windows is shuting down it has a problem and sometimes can take a LONG time to finish its task.
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Old 07-11-2004, 10:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm not using any ghosting software at the moment. Once the problem manifested itself, I installed anti-spyware/adware and anti-virus. All problems have been removed bar one (winpup) which I will remove manually.

It's strange as the machine worked fine on first boot at my place.

Also, the machine has *cough* win98 running. As mentioned I wanted this machine as a backup and to teach myself Linux, was going to delete Windows once I had determined the hardware has no faults.

Some things I did do, but doubt they have an effect. I removed the RAM to see what type was installed, but have checked and this has been reseated properly. I also removed the hard drive (as it is in a removable tray), but this error occurred long after successful boot.

The only difference between the system now and the successful boot is the power cable (I bought a new one for the machine). I have doubts this could be the problem, but will check.

I'll try running ActiveSMART on the system. I've removed the anti-virus as it has served it's purpose for now.

Any further thoughts anyone?
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Old 07-11-2004, 11:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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may also be auto update for windows. also what does hijack this log show? try that
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Old 07-12-2004, 02:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Did it ever cross anyones mind that you might need to defragment the drive? Or this won't fix the problem?
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Old 07-12-2004, 02:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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though the comp im discribing is a little older then yours... this is wat happend to it...

i think it was like a 400mhz pentium2, or somethinglike that, old.
------------------------------------------------
i still have it, and it works, but i dont use it.
but after a long long time... it would do wat your discribing. the HD would just randomly cut out, and reactivate.

the problem- was just the power connector to the back of the HD. all i had to do was switch the internal power cable from the powersuply to one that was unused at the time. and it worked.
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although it maynot be ur solution, i guess its something else u could try. GL
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