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Thread: Disk drive (failing) question?

  1. #1
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    Default Disk drive (failing) question?

    I have a computer, purchased in 2007 (or was it 2006). It's a Dell Dimension C521.

    It is slow, compared to newer computers. I am mostly using it as a test machine. If it dies, I can manage without.

    Recently, when I powered it on, the BIOS message said "No operating system found".

    Naturally, I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL, and it booted. Running opensuse 13.1, I had one instance where a message was logged saying that the disk response was slow. Apart from that, it has been fine. But, if I power down, the same problem will arise.

    From this, I conclude that the disk surface is fine, but something else is failing:
    1. Possibly the SATA controller on the main motherboard is failing;
    2. Perhaps the device electronics is failing (on the disk);
    3. Perhaps the disk is slow to get up to full rotation speed (congealed lubricant?).


    For either (2) or (3), a relatively inexpensive disk drive replacement would solve the problem. For (1), it might be more trouble than it is worth.

    Perhaps somebody has similar experience, and can tell me which is more likely to be the problem.

    And if I do decide to purchase a replacement disk, do I need to worry about SATA II vs. SATA III? Or will a SATA III disk do just fine?

    The old disk is 320G. I would probably replace with 500G. Going to 1T might confuse the BIOS.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by nrickert View Post
    I have a computer, purchased in 2007 (or was it 2006). It's a Dell Dimension C521.

    It is slow, compared to newer computers. I am mostly using it as a test machine. If it dies, I can manage without.

    Recently, when I powered it on, the BIOS message said "No operating system found".

    Naturally, I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL, and it booted. Running opensuse 13.1, I had one instance where a message was logged saying that the disk response was slow. Apart from that, it has been fine. But, if I power down, the same problem will arise.

    From this, I conclude that the disk surface is fine, but something else is failing:
    1. Possibly the SATA controller on the main motherboard is failing;
    2. Perhaps the device electronics is failing (on the disk);
    3. Perhaps the disk is slow to get up to full rotation speed (congealed lubricant?).


    For either (2) or (3), a relatively inexpensive disk drive replacement would solve the problem. For (1), it might be more trouble than it is worth.

    Perhaps somebody has similar experience, and can tell me which is more likely to be the problem.

    And if I do decide to purchase a replacement disk, do I need to worry about SATA II vs. SATA III? Or will a SATA III disk do just fine?

    The old disk is 320G. I would probably replace with 500G. Going to 1T might confuse the BIOS.
    it could simply be that your BIOS battery is dead so when you first boot the bios is reset to default and may not find the harddrive, but when you CTL-ALT-DEL it is finds the HDD that had time to spin up by now and thus booting as expected.
    since the LP is old the harddrive could be slow thus needing the time to spinup

  3. #3

    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    About your SATA II vs SATA III question:

    You can use a SATA III disk with a SATA II motherboard. I'm using a SATA III SSD with mine.

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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by vl1969 View Post
    it could simply be that your BIOS battery is dead so when you first boot the bios is reset to default and may not find the harddrive, but when you CTL-ALT-DEL it is finds the HDD that had time to spin up by now and thus booting as expected.
    I guess that's a possibility to investigate, though I'm doubtful.

    Thanks for responding.
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by FilipN View Post
    You can use a SATA III disk with a SATA II motherboard. I'm using a SATA III SSD with mine.
    Thanks. Much appreciated.

    I'm guessing that you lose some of the benefits of that SSD, when limited to SATA II speeds.
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    On 2014-03-02 21:56, nrickert wrote:

    > Naturally, I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL, and it booted. Running opensuse 13.1,
    > I had one instance where a message was logged saying that the disk
    > response was slow. Apart from that, it has been fine. But, if I power
    > down, the same problem will arise.
    >
    > From this, I conclude that the disk surface is fine, but something else
    > is failing:
    >
    > - Possibly the SATA controller on the main motherboard is failing;
    > - Perhaps the device electronics is failing (on the disk);
    > - Perhaps the disk is slow to get up to full rotation speed (congealed
    > lubricant?).


    Run the SMART long test on it, with smartctl.

    Or you can download the SeaTools ISO from seagate, burn it, boot it, run
    it. It basically runs the same test, but it also does some checking on
    the interface. Others brands may have similar tools for checking hard
    disks, but that's the one I'm most familiar with.

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 13.1 x86_64 "Bottle" at Telcontar)

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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by robin_listas View Post
    Run the SMART long test on it, with smartctl.
    It seems to have PASSED the test. It notes only two errors, which seem to be bad sectors noticed at power on. That's after the long test.
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    On 2014-03-04 00:06, nrickert wrote:
    >
    > robin_listas;2628349 Wrote:
    >> Run the SMART long test on it, with smartctl.

    >
    > It seems to have PASSED the test. It notes only two errors, which seem
    > to be bad sectors noticed at power on. That's after the long test.


    Well, that's very important.

    Notice that the test gives "passed" even if you have thousands of bad
    sectors. When you attempt to write into a sector that is bad, the disk
    firmware automatically writes and remaps to another sector, reserved for
    the purpose during manufacture.

    When that pool of spare sectors is spent, then the test gives "FAIL"
    (and a warning when it is nearly spent).


    When I see even only one bad sector, I rewrite the entire hard disk with
    zeros, or anything (doesn't matter what, as long as you fill absolutely
    all sectors).

    Then I run the long test again.

    If there are more bad sectors, I repeat.

    Only if the number of bad sectors is stable, I keep using the disk,
    otherwise I discard it.

    If I keep the disk, obviously I have to reformat and recover the data
    from the backup, because I destroyed it all.

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 13.1 x86_64 "Bottle" at Telcontar)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by vl1969 View Post
    it could simply be that your BIOS battery is dead so ...
    You were absolutely correct. I replaced the battery, and the problem is solved.

    That was a lot easier than replacing a hard drive. Thanks.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Disk drive (failing) question?

    Quote Originally Posted by nrickert View Post
    I have a computer, purchased in 2007 (or was it 2006). It's a Dell Dimension C521.

    It is slow, compared to newer computers. I am mostly using it as a test machine. If it dies, I can manage without.

    Recently, when I powered it on, the BIOS message said "No operating system found".

    Naturally, I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL, and it booted. Running opensuse 13.1, I had one instance where a message was logged saying that the disk response was slow. Apart from that, it has been fine. But, if I power down, the same problem will arise.

    From this, I conclude that the disk surface is fine, but something else is failing:
    1. Possibly the SATA controller on the main motherboard is failing;
    2. Perhaps the device electronics is failing (on the disk);
    3. Perhaps the disk is slow to get up to full rotation speed (congealed lubricant?).


    For either (2) or (3), a relatively inexpensive disk drive replacement would solve the problem. For (1), it might be more trouble than it is worth.

    Perhaps somebody has similar experience, and can tell me which is more likely to be the problem.

    And if I do decide to purchase a replacement disk, do I need to worry about SATA II vs. SATA III? Or will a SATA III disk do just fine?

    The old disk is 320G. I would probably replace with 500G. Going to 1T might confuse the BIOS.
    I have a 320-GB WD SATA HD purchased in a laptop in 2007. I removed it more than a year ago because it failed -- sort of.

    Most of the time, it is not recognized, is totally invisible.

    However, booting and rebooting into BIOS, it will finally show up. When it does, I can run every disk diagnostic I can get my hands on at it, including the diagnostics from the manufacturer, WD, and it continually will pass all tests with flying colours! After, on reboot, it most often no longer exists! Very frustrating.

    So, the diagnostics are not the final say on the health of the disk.

    I have thoroughly tested, and yes, it is the drive itself. The tests that verify this are:

    Install in another PC, same symptoms. Try in a couple other PCs, same symptoms.

    Try other drives in the laptop, no symptoms.

    Problem narrowed down to drive only.

    By the way, when it is booted up into a high performance system (I think that is the common factor for this next symptom), it will run for random lengths of time from only a moment, to quite awhile, then disappears.

    If I load it (when BIOS sees it, of course) with a diagnostic, or load it with an external system (such as a Puppy boot key), it will remain visible and fully readable at least until the system is shut down or rebooted.

    No, I don't need this solved, it is a failure in electronic design by the manufacturer, and the WD is past warranty.

    I have long since replaced the drive and moved on.

    I am just mentioning it here so that others with similar HD-like symptoms or problems are aware that the diagnostics can incorrectly pass a failed disk with flying colours.
    "Take a Walk on a Sunny Day, Greet everyone along the way, and Make Somebody Smile, Today"
    Gerry Jack Macks"Walk On A Sunny Day" GerryJackMacks.net

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