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2500 points for verified complete solution to this hardware problem

Posted on 1999-01-27
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I have a Gateway Pentium Pro (P200) running Windows 95. Over the last week I have had a number of problems. The first symptom manifested itself when I restarted in DOS mode the screen filled with multi-colored pixels running a very elaborate pattern. I suspected this was a virus and downloaded updated definitions for Dr. Solomon's which I already had installed. No luck. Tried magic bullet. No luck. I bought and installed Norton Anti-Virus, did live update for the latest definitions, this found a file (flwew2mw.sys) that "may contain a virus". Using the repair option cleared up this problem when I restarted in DOS mode.

However this did not cure the other symtoms which all started at the same time. The other symptoms are:

(1) Even after a reboot and allowing the computer to stand idle I am getting intermittent crashes with the message:
"Disk Write Error. Unable to write to disk in Drive D:. Data or files may be lost. Press any key to continue." Pressing any key doesn't get anywhere, I just have to reboot. Sometimes it's Drive C, sometimes Drive D, it's never Drive E. Norton crashguard is not "catching" the crash.

(2) I tried creating a small text file on d, which saved quite happily, but I am now unable to delete the file. The moment I click on this file the system freezes forcing me to reboot.

(2) I am unable to complete a "thorough" scandisk on Drive D, my system freezes at sector 15185. I have tried running scandisk from DOS, same problem! Norton Disk Doctor also freezes at the same point

(3) My system is intermittently trying to access drive a:, it makes a grinding noise until I insert a disk into the drive.

Very grateful for any suggestions which point me in the right direction. I have over 2500 points available for anyone who can totally cure this without me losing (having to reformat) any of my drives.

Steve
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Question by:elliott070497
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by:rmarotta
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Hi Elliott,

First, boot Windows into safe mode. (Press F8 key for a menu when you see the "Starting Windows95" message at startup)

Launch Control Panel-> System-> Device Manager and check all devices listed for any duplications. (Click the "+" next to each device to expand its branch)
If any duplicates are found, remove all instances of those entrys.

Next, open Explorer and go to Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup folder and either delete all entrys if any are found, or drag them out of that folder. (i.e. drag them to the Desktop)

Shutdown and restart the computer.

Windows should detect and install any previously removed devices correctly as it loads normally.

If you're still having problems after that, I suggest you follow the steps in the following Knowledgebase article:
"Troubleshooting Windows 95 Using Safe Mode"

http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q156/1/26.asp?FR=0

Let me know if you need additional help with it.

Regards,
Ralph
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by:jhance
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"Disk Write Error. Unable to write to disk in Drive D:. Data or files may be lost."

This is a bad one.  It almost always mean a failure in either the disk itself or the controller.  Do you have 2 hard drives (C: and D:) or are they two partitions on the same drive?

If it's two drives, I'd suspect the controller, which on your computer means the motherboard.  

If it's one drive with two partitions, then it's the drive itself failing.

Before you go any further.....
If you've got data you want to keep, save it now while you still can.  Boot from a floppy if you have to and copy the vital data to disks.  Regardless of what the problem end up being, if it _is_ the disk drive, you are risking losing all of it if you don't have a backup while you're messing around with other stuff.

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by:rmarotta
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Steve,
I totally agree with jhance about backing up anything you don't want to lose.

There might be other causes for the problem too.  That strange video display and disk problems could also be caused by power supply trouble.

If there is more than one physical hard disk present, try removing one and possibly other un-needed devices (CDROM?) to reduce the load on the power supply.

Please list your installed components so we know what we're working with.

Ralph
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by:jcarlo
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try running a thorough scandisk or norton disk doctor in DOS, preferably from a floppy disk.  make sure you boot into DOS (either boot off a floppy or hit F8 when "Starting Windows 95" appears and select "Command prompt only"), not just a DOS shell within Windows.

Also, give some info on your drives (make and model and size, how many, how they are connected to your motherboard, IDE or SCSI,  etc.)

Also, do your drives work properly in DOS?  If so, then it's probably a WIndows problem (although can't tell definitely from the info so far).

Regards,
Jeremy
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by:Otta
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> (1) Even after a reboot and allowing the computer to stand idle,
> I am getting intermittent crashes,

What "timed" software (scheduled anti-virus checks) are running?
Use CTRL-ALT-DELETE once(!), and see what is running.

If you reboot to a command-line, and leave your computer alone,
does it still crash, or does it crash only when running Windows?

> "Disk Write Error. Unable to write to disk in Drive D:"

Bad news.  Quick, make a backup of the files on 'D:', while you still can.

> (2A) I tried creating a small text file on d, which saved
> quite happily, but I am now unable to delete the file.

Create a file, then shutdown, and reboot to a command-line,
and try 'ERASE D:filename.ext'.  What happens?

> (2B) I am unable to complete a "thorough" scandisk on Drive D,
> my system freezes at sector 15185. I have tried running scandisk from DOS, same problem!
> Norton Disk Doctor also freezes at the same point

This suggests a physical I/O problem.

Let NDD run, for a *LONG* time, and see if it really is
"frozen", or if it is just "slow-as-molasses-in-winter".

> (3) My system is intermittently trying to access drive a:,

Why?  See question (1).

> it makes a grinding noise until I insert a disk into the drive.

This is normal, for some diskette-drives,
when a program tries to access the A: drive,
but there is no diskette loaded into the drive.

Open a command-line prompt, and enter 'FDISK /STATUS',
and tell us the results.
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by:saoud
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I suggest that you back up all needed data, it's a really good idea to do so if you have important data! ..WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO REINSTALL WINDOWS. this could do something for you !?
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by:MetallicA
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>WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO REINSTALL WINDOWS
just curious, do you know what a virus is?  Reinstalling windows will do nothing.  A virus stores itself in the memory, your technique will just waste time.
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by:eizens
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My advice -- to be systematic and go logical steps, as you see that you have not five minute problem.
1. Backup all data.
2. Post us detailed info about your system (HDD types, and how they are connected, other devices, partitions, so on.
3. try boot from clean floppy and stay to see -- if it will crash. If so -- go ahead and think about hatdware failure.
4. Load default settings to BIOS, reboot, set usefull settings in BIOS. Also check if cooler on CPU is placed properly: if there is a fun, that if it's rotating, also if heatsink is close to CPU surface.
5. If still no luck, remove systematically hardware from PC: all HDD and CD, boot from floppy and try if it's stable. If it's stable, it will be more clear wjhat's happening.
6. If still problems, it means that some peace of  bad hardware is still in system. It may be RAM, CPU, power supply,motherboard itself or video card ( in such priority). Ram is the most suspicious in this case, sometimes it's enough if it's not so good plugged in.
7. If you find that without HDD system is stable, so it may be as well as HDD, as controller or cables. The best way -- connect any other disk which is o'k, if possible.
8. If with other HDD system is stable, it's or HDD or software problem, but more probobly bad blocks on a HDD. So try low-level format and repartition HDD, it also will remove everything like a virus from a HDD if you do it correct (from bios after cold reboot, or from floppy after cold reboot). If it will stay long time when making low level format, it means bad blocks, and hdd is bad.

 So, go this steps, and post results, if doesn't help -- we at least will have enough info to think further.
Best regards,
Eizen
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by:elliott070497
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Additional Information :

(1) I rebooted in safe mode, and removed a duplicate of "Generic NEC Floopy Disk, and a duplicate of "Gateway CrystalScan 17". On restart Windows loaded a Plug and Play Monitor.

(2) My hard disk is a MAXTOR IDE with 3 partitions: C,D and E

(3) FDISK / STATUS reports the following:

DISK               MBYTES            USAGE
1                  4871              100%
         C         2047              
         D         2047
         E          777

(4) CTRL-ALT-DEL (once) reports the following are running when the system boots:

Explorer
Sysdoc32 - part of Norton (System Doctor)
Findfast ? part of Office that I don't use
Winras ?
Swtray - Sidewinder
Ver_chk ?
Spdstrt - Norton Speedstart
Systray
Hpsjbmgr - scanner driver
Navapw32 - Norton antivirus
Nprotect - part of Norton
Stbvisn - STB Vision (Control Panel for Video Card)
Cg16ch - Norton Crashguard
Cgmenu - Norton Crashguard

(5) Booting to command line prompt only I was able to erase the test text file i created using the erase command.

(6) System Components

CD-ROM: Mitsumi CD-ROM
Display Adaptor: STB Velocity 3D Video with Vision 95
HP Scanjet
Symbios Logic SCSI Adapter
ISDN Terminal Adapter
Dial Up Adapter
US Robotic 56k Modem
Ensoniq Soundscape Vivo90 Soundcard

Hope this info is helpful

Steve
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by:rmarotta
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Steve,
Did you delete every instance of duplications listed in Device Manager, or just one of the duplicates?

Were there any hard disk problems encountered while you were in safe mode?

If not, I feel sure your problem can be solved by following the troubleshooter in the link I provided.  Pay particular attention to the section titled:
   "WINDOWS CONFIGURATION FILES AND PROGRAMS STARTED AUTOMATICALLY"

Let me know how it goes, or if you need help following it.

Ralph
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by:rmarotta
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BTW:
It seems that answers are mistakenly accepted here all the time.
When you accept (grade) the "proposed answer" in the green box, it closes your question and awards the points to that person.  Please reject any answer proposed if it doesn't answer your question, or you are not satisfied that it solves your problem.  Many experts can then participate in a solution for your problem.
When the solution is found, you can then simply invite the expert of your choice to submit his answer for you to grade.

Ralph
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by:Otta
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MetallicA (Wednesday, January 27 1999 - 10:19PM PST) wrote:
>>WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO REINSTALL WINDOWS
> just curious, do you know what a virus is?
> Reinstalling windows will do nothing. A virus stores
> itself in the memory, your technique will just waste time.

Nonsense.
If you turn your computer off, then the "memory" is purged.
If you turn your computer on, and boot from the Windows Installation Diskette,
which you know to be "virus-free", then the contents of "memory"
will have been loaded *ONLY* from the diskette,
and, of course, from the "virus-free" Windows CD-ROM.

So, re-installing Windows is one (drastic) way of purging
any virus from the Windows system-files.
If the installation includes a reformatting of the hard-drive,
then any possibly-corrupted files will also be purged.
If you do not choose to reformat your hard-drive,
then the virus could still reside in the "other" applications
which you had previously loaded onto the hard-drive.
Run a virus-check, or just delete the other applications,
and then reinstall them, from "virus-free" media.

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by:elliott070497
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Rejected to leave the question open until solution found
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by:Otta
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> My system is intermittently trying to access drive a:,
> it makes a grinding noise until I insert a disk into the drive.

> Findfast ? part of Office that I don't use

Presss CTRL-ALT-DELETE once, and then click on 'FindFast',
and then "terminate this task".

See if this change causes an end to the accesses of 'A:'.



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by:elliott070497
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To: rmarotta

This time I went back into safe mode and deleted all instances of duplicate entries. Also moved everything from windows start menu onto the desktop: norton system doctor, findfast and sidewinder.

On rebooting windows loaded my floppy drive and a plug and play monitor.

BTW your url for the troubleshooting windows 95 in safe mode is out of date. Do you know the up to date one ?

To: Otta

Left NDD running, froze at the usual point, about 10 minutes later the system crashed

Findfast must have been installed when I recently added components to my Outlook98. When I cleaned my start menu I dumped findfast as I never use it anyway.

Will keep you appraised of the situation

Steve
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by:jcarlo
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did you run ndd off of a floppy disk?  The copy on your hard drive could be corrupted, or maybe you are loading corrupted files or a virus when you boot off the hard drive.  Try booting off a CLEAN write protected floppy and running NDD from another floppy, if you can.  If not, just run scandisk off of your boot floppy; it will take longer but do basically the same thing.  If it still crashes, I suspect:

1.  Bad connection somewhere in the case; check these out
2.  Drive(s) about to go kaput; back up your important stuff ASAP!!!!! (you should have done this already!)
3.  Possible that a virus is loading someplace; we'll have to look more into this; your floppy could be infected, your floppy might call a file off the hard drive unbeknownst to you which loads the virus into memory, or you could have one of those CMOS viruses.
4.  The boot disk, or the disk checker you are using is corrupted (esp. if you made a boot disk after you started having problems with the comp); you can try another boot disk from another comp.
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by:jhance
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I'll post this again since you seem to have ignored it....


"Disk Write Error. Unable to write to disk in Drive D:. Data or files may be lost."

This is a bad one.  It almost always mean a failure in either the disk itself or the controller.  Do you have 2 hard drives (C: and D:) or are they two partitions on the same drive?

If it's two drives, I'd suspect the controller, which on your computer means the motherboard.  

If it's one drive with two partitions, then it's the drive itself failing.
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by:Otta
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> I'll post this again since you seem to have ignored it....

JHANCE, look at ELLIOTT's message dated
"Wednesday, January 27 1999 - 11:31PM PST",
for the answer to the questions you are re-asking.

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by:Travathian
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>2) I am unable to complete a "thorough" scandisk on Drive D, my >system freezes at sector 15185. I have tried running scandisk >from DOS, same problem! Norton Disk Doctor also freezes at the >
>same point

Guess what, I had the same problem on a Samsung HDD.  I low level formatted it, and still had the same problem.  I didn't have the same virus, but Samsung said it probably destroyed a section of my drive.  I sent it back, and they sent me a replacement.  Now, I'm not saying yours is the same, but it very well could be.  Your best bet is to boot to dos and start backing up data.  Try to re-fdisk and then format.  If it can't even do this, you know the HDD it toast.
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by:rmarotta
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Steve,
Out of date?
It was last reviewed June 23, 1998.  I think that's about the time Win98 came out.  They probably won't be updating Win95 much more.

How far did you go with the troubleshooter?

Did you experience your drive problems in safe mode?

Ralph
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by:elliott070497
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To Ralph:

Sorry, by out of date, i meant the url you gave me does not take me to the Knowledgebase article:
"Troubleshooting Windows 95 Using Safe Mode" . In other words the url is out of date. I was asking if you knew the new link.

I didn't have problems while I was in safe mode but I wasn't in safe mode for that long.

To: jhance

My hard disk is a MAXTOR IDE with 3 partitions: C,D and E

To all:

I ran NDD from DOS last night. My machine ran all night without crahing, (which is very positive), NDD ran for 4 hours plus and found no problems with C drive. Next move is to run NDD from DOS on D Drive

I belive the disk writes causing the crashes were linked to something that was in my start up menu, either norton system doctor or more likely findfast.

Steve

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by:elliott070497
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NDD from DOS on D Drive hung the machine at the usual place, 23% into the drive

Steve
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by:ronaldvr
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One addiional action you can try is do start with a bootlog (press F8 while boot ing and choose normal with bootlog), and try to examine if any devices or drivers fail to load.
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by:Zoppo
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Hi elliot,

some weeks ago I found a quite nice article within the german computer magazine c't with the title 'Linux as PC-diagnostic tool'.
Following this article, you can download from either 'http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/system/recovery/' or 'http://www.toms.net/rb/' images for a bootable linux floppy disk with which you can boot a complete multiuser/multitasking kernel including several hardware drivers and dignostic tools. It's only recommended that you have the a pure MS-DOS System (no Win9x) to create the boot disk of this image.
Booting Linux can show some very interesting details about hardware never shown in any MS OS.
The author's favorite boot disk image was 'tomsrtbt 1.7'
With this it's also posiible to read data from FAT and NTFS partition.

For this bootable Linux you don't need a harddisk at all, all you need is a minimum of 8MB RAM and a floppy drive.

perhaps this helps you to find out, if you're not scaring to try LINUX.

ZOPPO
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by:rmarotta
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Hmmmmmm, that's strange.  I tried the link again without problem.

http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q156/1/26.asp?FR=0

Where does it take you?

There are many branches in that troubleshooter tree, too much to post here.  But I will, if you can't find it. (If you wish)
Lots of good info that should resolve this thing for you.

Suggestion:  Try running scandisk while you're in safe mode.

Ralph
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by:covington
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We had a very similar problem at a company where I used to work. We called Gateway support, and they ended up replacing all of the hard drives in all of our Gateways.

Not that this helps, be we decided that the problem was hardware-based, and Gateway agreed.
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by:Otta
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> NDD from DOS on D Drive hung the machine at the usual place, 23% into the drive.

I've got an old 200MB hard-drive, manufactured in 1993, which has similar behaviour, at about the 2/3 point.

My hard-drive is (obviously) "out-of-warranty";
you should exercise your warranty, and get a replacement.

Alternately:
* backup your D-drive
* run N.D.D. on the 'E:' drive, to ensure that it's OK.
* copy all the files from 'D:'
 to the 'C:' or to the 'E:' drive.
* delete all the files from the 'D:' drive
* you can use software like Partition Magic
(http://WWW.PowerQuest.Com) to "resize" your D: drive,
selecting a size which is '22%' of the current size,
thus creating "free" space between 'D:' and 'E:'.
* use Partition Magic to convert the free-space
into a partition, selecting the *LAST* '95%' of
the available space.  This leaves a small amount
of "free" space between 'D:' and the new partition,
and, hopefully, all the "bad" part of the hard-drive
is enclosed in this area.
* format this new partition, and use N.D.D. to check it.
If you have a problem at the '0%' or '1%' point,
then delete this partition, and recreate this partition,,
taking the last 90% of the available space,
i.e., the 5% from the first repartitioning,
and another 5% from this (failed) attempt.

Eventually, when this "new" partition is 100% "clean",
then use Partition Magic to "resize" it to just *ONE* cylinder,
and then "move" the old 'E:' drive to the "left", to get:

<C: drive>
<D: drive - 22% of its original size>
<free - the "bad" area>
<E: 1 cylinder>
<F: drive>
<free>

Now, "resize" the 'F:' to get:

<C: drive>
<D: drive - 22% of its original size>
<free - the "bad" area>
<E: 1 cylinder>
<F: drive - much-enlarged>

Finally, with Partition Magic, delete the 'E:' drive, to get:


<C: drive>
<D: drive - 22% of its original size>
<free - the "bad" area, now 1 cylinder larger>
<E: drive>

with all the "bad" area allocated into the "free" area.







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by:rmarotta
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Steve,
Windows comes with all the tools needed for managing your system.

It's been my experience when trying to repair a system, (possibly corrupted by third party utilitys) the best approach is to return to basics, instead of more third party utilitys.

Have you managed to find that troubleshooter?

Ralph
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by:elliott070497
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To: Ralph

Thanks for the revised url, I got the article no problem this time.

I tried running scandisk in safe mode, although I didn't get the hang, it did stop at round about the same point and eventually I had to reboot.

To all:

I am now of the opinion that we are down to just one problem, a hardware issue on drive d. My wife has been on the computer all day without it crashing so C drive is performing fine. I think probably findfast was the culprit causing the crashes, and the virus is gone. E drive has not been a problem throughout any of this.

When performing scandisk or NDD on D drive the sytem is hanging at around sector 15181, 15182, or 15183. Saving a small file on D is still possible but the machine hangs when I click on the file in explorer

I think what Zoppo or Otta are suggesting is the kind of direction I maybe should go in, but is there any simpler tool that I can use to mark sectors as bad or mark an area of disk as not for use

Steve
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by:elliott070497
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Ralph said: It's been my experience when trying to repair a system, (possibly corrupted by third party utilitys) the best approach is to return to basics, instead of more third party utilitys.

ralph : I printed out the knowledge base article and will read it next

Steve
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by:Otta
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> is there any simpler tool that I can use to mark sectors
> as bad or mark an area of disk as not for use

FDISK and Partition Magic are the tools to create (or modify)
partitions.

You'll just have to "experiment" to map the extent of the "bad"
part of your disk.

Then, you can create partitions from the "good" part(s),
and leave the "bad" parts as "free" ("unallocated"),
so that they will never be used.

The 'FORMAT' command is one (destructive) tool to
identify/mark "bad" areas, assuming that you have backed-up
or copied all the files from the 'D:' drive, before you start to FORMAT.


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by:elliott070497
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To Ralph:

I'd like to give you 500 points for leading me to what was causing the computer to crash.Can you leave an answer so I can close the this off.

To all:

I moved everything off the d drive and tried to foramt it. Same old problem, the machine hung at 23%. I tried from DOS and in safe mode, no joy. So it looks like it really is a knackered drive.

I managed to get the Linux disc running and was able to login, but I'm afraid I didn't know where to go from there. I'm no nothing about linux or unix.

So unless there are any other bright suggestions it looks like I'm gonna have to give in and replace the drive.

Thanks to all who contributed their time and effort on this problem

Steve
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rmarotta earned 500 total points
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Sorry about the drive Steve, but I'm glad to help.

Regards,
Ralph
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by:rmarotta
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Steve,
I have one other suggestion that might get some more usefull  life out of the drive before tossing it.  You will need to backup your data though, as it will be lost.

If it is damaged in only the one area, you might try a low-level format which should mark that area as unuseable.
Download Maxtor's program here:

http://www.maxtor.com/technology/technotes/tn-9811-002.html

Good luck,
Ralph
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by:jhance
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Gee,

What did I say such a long time ago??????


"Disk Write Error. Unable to write to disk in Drive D:. Data or files may be lost."

This is a bad one.  It almost always mean a failure in either the disk itself or the controller.  Do you have 2 hard drives (C: and D:) or are they two partitions on the same drive?

If it's two drives, I'd suspect the controller, which on your computer means the motherboard.  

If it's one drive with two partitions, then it's the drive itself failing.



All that messing around and it's really a bad drive?  Go figure....
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by:jhance
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elliott,

Check your warranty on the MAXTOR drive.  They come with a 3 year or 5 year warranty depending on the model.  Chances are you can send it back to MAXTOR and get a refurb for the cost of shipping it back to them.
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by:rmarotta
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Sorry Joe.  I didn't declare the the drive was defective before eliminating other possible causes for the problem.

I tried to provide a way to detect whether the problem was caused by some other means because I thought that's what was asked for. ("....for anyone who can totally cure this without me losing (having to reformat) any of my drives.")

Ralph
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by:jhance
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Ralph,

I'm not saying that you weren't being methodical.  I'm just saying "I told you so....".  I've not yet seen a case of "Disk Write Error" that was not a dead or dying drive.  With an IDE drive there is just no other place for the problem to happen.

Enjoy..
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by:elliott070497
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To all:

Gateway agreed to replace the drive under warranty, now I just gotta figure how to move all my stuff to the new drive. lol !

Thanks for all the help guys.

Steve
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by:Otta
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> now I just gotta figure how to move all my stuff to the new drive.

Partition Magic has a "copy partition" option.
It takes "free" space on the target-drive,
and allocates a partition, and then copies the data,
sector by sector.
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by:eizens
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Also quit good software to move complete installation (really the best I have ever seen) is GHOST. It can copy partitions, or make compressed image from them and after restore to disk. Target disk space have to be enough to contain data from source partition, disk may be of any size. Supports FAT, FAT32, NTFS, HPFS. I use it to make complete installation backup on CD for fast recovery in failure case (on normal PC it's writing about 110 MB/min from CD). Of cause, everyday changing data have to be backed up everyday and on rewritable media.
Best regards,
Eizen
0

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