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Hard Disk Hardware or Software Problem???

Posted on 2001-08-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-03-17
I was here on this question in April. I have been
fighting it since then without success.

Among my reasons for reformating my five year old 200 Mhz
Gateway with C & D drive of about 4 Giga Byte total is that I can't scan disk and defrag to completion. A message first camemup that there was not enough storage to complete the scan disk. Defrag halted because of "C" drive disk errors with message to do a scan disk to solve the problem.

Other funky problems in being unable to find certain files with application software use. This is probably from my moving some files from C to D in early on trying to open some space on D. Dumb move, eh? I fool around with PSP7 and felt I needed a better balance in the use of the C and D drive. Around that time I went from 32 to 96MB in used EDO ram. Scanning problem still persists
after removal of the added 64MB of EDO, so I don't think the problem is with the EDO.

Problems started when the C drive was 85%  in use and the D drive 30% in use. Now I have deleted, and/or backed up, 99% of my D  (data) and 55%
of my C (programs, etc.) drive that now   has D [99% unused],  and C  [60% unused]. The message still comes through, not enough storage to complete the scan. All that is now left on the C drive is IE, Outlook Express, 95 Windows folders, etc. And can you believe it 2,600 cookie files among other files I was afraid to
delete in advance of the grand "erase" for reformating.

I have removed the added EDO RAM to go back to 32 MB from 96MB  to conform to the original hardware. This is so that I can get help from Gateway in reformating (their rules). Therefore, I must also reinstall
Windows 95A. Gateway says this is required in order to use the System Disk sent with the system.

I considered buying a new computer, but use my HP 5100C Scanner, 17" monitor, Printer [Epson Color 500], miro video drx card ,etc. with a new console to
keep the price under $1,000.00. I received mixed signals from Gateway on this point as well as contridictions of whether
I could use these hardware assessories on a new Gateway
box, so being only a retired hobbiest. I am going the route of reformating to keep the cost down. Time Warner Cable is my connection.

The big question. How might I determine whether I have a bad "C" drive [hardware problem] and not just a messy disk and software situation? To go through what is still ahead, then find I still have the same problem is something I relish.

Your thoughts and exper solution will be greatly appreciated.


Question by:LouHall
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 6382767
Hi Lou
Presuming we are talking about Win9x here have you ran scandisk from DOS yet. If not reboot the machine to DOS. Probably the easieat way to this is to use a Win9x bootdisk and run this command.

scandisk /autofix /surface.
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 6382771
Also I don't know what the manufacturer of your hard disk is but if it is one of these use the the utility associated with your disk to have check for problems. 
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 6382796
I trust you ran a completely up-to-date virus scanner on these drives?

If you could, post the link to your previous question thread to minimize repeated suggestions.

As for taking out the memory to comply with Gateway's bogus rules, why not just TELL them only their memory is in the thing.  I did this all the time when I used to work with a bunch of HP servers.  Any nonsense Gateway, or HP, or Dell, or, or, or, give you about only using official memory is a load of horsepucky.

You could certainly use the parts listed in any new machine, however:

I don't see why you need a whole new machine just because your hard drives have gone south.  All you need is a new hard drive at ~$95 for 40GB drives these days (and that's including shipping).  In addition to a new drive, you'd be well advised to purchase a new controller just because the old Gateway may not support drives so large and certainly won't access them at their potential speed.  Very nice Promise brand PCI controllers for any size and speed drive weigh in at ~$40.

Unless there is data hidden somewhere on the confused drives that you absolutely must have, I'd say that they sound like more trouble than they are worth.  Unless you enjoy spending retirement fighting with the things...?  Well, everyone needs a hobby, I suppose.

Anyway, I'd still like to read the previous thread if you could post it.  Just copy-n-paste the URL.

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LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 6383012
> now has D [99% unused], and C [60% unused].

So, start Windows Explorer, and "drag-and-drop" the
remaining 1% of files from 'D:' to 'C:'.
Then, re-FORMAT the 'D:' drive, and then "drag-and-drop"
the files back to 'D:'.

The result is a "defragged-the-hard-way" 'D:' drive.

> Any nonsense Gateway, or HP, or Dell, or, or, or, give you about only using official memory is a load of horeepucky.

H.P. ???  Not always.  I once had a DELL Pentium computer that would mysteriously crash after adding 3rd-party (brand-name) add-on SIMMs.
Once I upgraded with DELL-branded SIMMs, the computer had "normal" (what can you expect from Microsoft Windows) stability.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 6383016
The previous, related, question is at:
and it's a 30-point PAQ.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6384407

As suggested several times in the previous question, did you try running Scandisk from Command Prompt Only mode?  When you see the "Starting Windows 95" message, press the F8 key, then use the arrow keys to select "Safe Mode - Command Prompt Only". You should have a black screen with:

Now, type:
scandisk /autofix /surface

Then press enter.  This will do a DOS mode Scandisk on your drive which should allow it to finish.


Author Comment

ID: 6384453
Update from person with the problem.
Lots of good ideas, I am going to start on them, but
I have a couple of questions. Otherwise, I would be
possibly one of the experts.

On anyone spending thirty points on my old post. I
don't believe there is much to learn from it, but after
this post I will reread and post something here if I think
it might be still be of any use.

CrazyOne or AnyOne- - - - -
I have an old "Windows Start Up Disk" that I generated
on my system with Windows95A. Gateway told me the other
day [I had not located this disc as of then] that I would
have to go to a Windows 98 machine to generate this disc
to use when I  reformat.

I did go to the Western Digital site where it suggested
that  there "checker" would not work with Windows 95A,
that a later version of Windows 95 was needed. I will try
to pin down the mfg name of my hard drive.

Is the disk I cite above the same as a a "Windows9x bootdisk" that you cited?

Magarity- - - - - - -
I have removed the 64 MB of RAM that was add on, so I
will just leave it off if I get back with Gateway.
I'll have to look into buying parts for new hard drive,
if I can determine if the one I have is bad. I found
the 64K EDO Stimm originally at Gateway. I received a
bill of $300.00+ dollars from Gateway for it. I returned
it as the rep had told me it was on sale for $150.00+.
Then I purchased same on Ebay for $85.00. It seems to
work fine. My point is that I would want to check into
buying a new tower if I can use my monitor, scanner, etc.
with it rather than buying more parts. I have found that
you can't buy added storage at the price you site for an
old machine like mine.

P.S. I learn by going through what I am doing.

Otto- - - - -
It's my "C" drive that may be bad. I have a fear that if
I move something from it to "D" that I will not be able,
for instance, send a response such as I am doin now,
or anything else. That was part of my trouble, moving
files from "C" to "D", then back, I think.

Gateway only told me that they would not help me reformat
if I wanted to go to Windows 98, for instance. I took the
added memory off to see if I might have a problem with
that added memory. The gist of the Gateway remarks was that
I must have the system as it was delievered so that their
System Disc would be of use.
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

Kyle Schroeder earned 1200 total points
ID: 6384978

Several points to make:

1) The C: drive and the D: drive are both physically on the same piece of hardware, so if one is failing, they both are technically, though it is possible that all the bad areas are concentrated on the first partition, the C: drive.

2) Gateway's "recovery/System Disk" CD should work regardless of how much RAM you have installed, and you might not even need a Win98 boot disk since many of those CDs are bootable (meaning you can start your computer, into the recovery program, directly from the CD).

3) You can get new harddrives for ridiculously cheap now; magarity's quoted price might be a little low, but there are some good deals online.  In your situation, I'd probably buy from a local shop though.  Get a Maxtor or IBM brand harddrive.

4) There should be no problem with using your current monitor and scanner with a new PC.  The only problem you could run into is with the scanner, and how it interfaces with the PC.  If it connects to a SCSI card that fits in an ISA slot (black slots on the system's motherboard), that would be a potential issue, since many new system don't have any ISA slots, or maybe only 1 (which is all you'd really need anyway).

5) The degree to which your drive is full should not prevent you from running Scandisk.  Defrag is another story, as it requires a certain amount of free space to write the data temporarily as it sorts it out, and then re-writes it back to the drive.  If ScanDisk won't complete, it is most likely because of some other program (especially VirusScan software) which is interfering with it.  Scandisk may fail if the drive is extremely corrupted, but in that case you would probably not be able to boot the PC into Win95 at all.  Try scandisk from DOS mode as I suggested, or from Safe Mode.

Whew, that was quite a bit...I better not get a 500 Server Error or "no text" this time! :)

LVL 63

Expert Comment

ID: 6385137
If you have problems getting a bootdisk, visit

they have everything you need.

I hope this helps !

Expert Comment

ID: 6385212
Your answer is in fact buried above in the various responses.  Get a Win98 Boot Disk, either from a friend with a Win98 machine or from "" as mentioned above.  Boot from that, and run a scandisk on C:.  When it wants to do a surface scan (thorough check) LET IT.  Make a note of how many "bad sectors" it found, and approximately where they showed up.  Then shut the machine down completely, wait 5-10 minutes, reboot and repeat the process.  If it finds any ADDITIONAL "bad sectors" then almost for sure the drive IS HAVING hardware problems.  If not, or if no bad sectors are discovered in either scan, then your hardware is (most likely) fine, and you have a confused OS.  Good luck---Fitz

Author Comment

ID: 6385315

I am trying to assign these 450 points to you, but the
site is acting up, or per usual, I am not acting right.
"CrazOne" suggested this before you, but your suggestions
gave me a specific procedure that I could do with the
tools I have at hand.

It worked. On the DOS scan two directory entries fat
chains were truncated,  but were fixed. Also there was
one invalid character, and one cross link that needed
correction. In addition sixty nine clusters were saved
as files. All were corrected automatically.

Following, I went through the Scan Disk at Programs/
Accessories/ System Tools and it sailed. Both C and
D now have no errors in accordance to the report card.

If you care to, I would appreciate a comment on your part
of what I should look out for at this point. This would
be to keep me out of more trouble. I only want warnings,
not solutions. I can always post another question on this
thread for a "how to". Primarily all that I have left on
my system as I view Explorer on the "C" drive are the
folders. Program Files, Logitec [mouse] and Windows. I
was afraid to remove Windows. There are about twenty
other files, not in folders, on "C" that I was afraid
to remove. I still have Outlook Express and Microsoft
IE, which I guess are in the Program Folder with very little else. All my other programs there and elsewhere
were saved on disk, or I have the CD's for them. My
data files were alll saved from "D" and are ready for
reloading. This whole deal gave me an opportunity
to do a lot of cleaning up.

A bigger concern is  my registry. For several weeks
after my fouling up moving files from "C" to "D" to
reallocate storage, I was fooling with a program called
regiclean. I took lots out in trying to follow it's
instructions after saving and deleting. HAVE YOU ANY
REALLY HELPED ME ON THIS ONE. I will try to read up on
how I keep my "C" drive NOT so full, and my "D" drive
so skinny as I reload.



Author Comment

ID: 6385353
Having trouble. System wasn't taking this add on after
informing me I cannot raise points above 300.

Dogztar, I think I can ask another question about whatever
comment you make on what I have lastly posted here to
get the extra points to you.

Thanks everone for your patience in my extraneous posting.


Author Comment

ID: 6385405
Well, I thought everything was fine. I went back to
do a Defrag and the system would not allow it. So something
out there must be screwing up my "C" drive. I tried
to do a disk scan which was successful as outlined above,
again. It broght up lots of messages.

For now, I'm going to go back and redo the DOS scan.
Then before doing anything else I will try to defrag.
Maybe using a boot disk is better, maybe a new computer
is the answer.

I'll probably be reposting soon with another questions
when I figure out how to ask it.

Author Comment

ID: 6385464

Maybe all is not lost. I rebooted, then started the
non DOS reboot again, and paid a little attention to
the message. It indicated a fixed a couple of errors.

The system is now scanning folders, so maybe all is
not lost. This is my last post, I think, untill I reach
something conclusive. I need to work with all the fine
suggestions before I repost.

LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6385490

If you want to create another question with more points, fine, but please award those points to CrazyOne since, as you said, he provided the answer you needed, though perhaps not in the most "digestible" format.  As for Defrag not working, is it giving an error that "Defrag has restarted 10 times..." etc?  If this is the case then some program is writing to the harddrive, even though it may appear that you have all other programs closed.  Press CTRL-ALT-DEL keys, and for each item there other than Defrag, Explorer, and SysTray, click End Task after highlighting the program name.  This program could be part of the scanner software, or an anti-virus program...its very difficult to say.

You said you did a scandisk again (from DOS mode I'm assuming) and it brought up "lots of messages"...since all the problems should have been fixed on the previous scandisk session, I believe your harddrive is failing.  Does the PC make any clicking or buzzing noises that it didn't previously?

As for RegClean, it is a fairly decent tool, and can fix problems.  Most of the changes it made were probably due to the fact that you moved so many files/programs to the D: drive.  RegClean does create an Undo file you can use to set it back the way it was previously.  I would advise moving back any program files and then double-clicking the Undo .REG file, then re-run RegClean.


p.s. It's not necessary to press Enter at each line when entering a comment update on this form...just keep typing and the text will automatically wrap over to the next line.

p.p.s. It probably is time for a new PC...any existing data can be migrated over by installing the current harddrive into the new system.

Expert Comment

ID: 6386078
To have the best chance of running defrag, start in Safe Mode (hold the Control key at boot until the menu comes up). Turn off any screen savers you have running. Click on the settings tab, select "never" to turn off hard disk, monitor, and System Standby. Select "Always On" for Power Schemes. Then start the defrag.

Author Comment

ID: 6386137
Here's the good news. I went back and scan disked  the
"C" drive with the DOS procedure. No errors were found.
Then I did the scan disk on both C & D with the non-dos
procedure within accessories. Next I did the defragmentation and in both passes I took one step at a time in the Accessories procedures, something like get rid of loose space on the first pass, then on the second pass organize the file. The end result is that the message I get if I go to defragmentation is that both are at 0% as to defragmentation, so I feel what happened today has been quite successful and I met my goals in regards to my hard drives.

Dogztar, you posted about the new computer before I posted this message. My plan now is to open a new simple question for one hundred fifty points and set forth that they are for CrazyOne as a method for allocating those points to him. This thread may get closed, so I hope CrazyOne will tune in either here or on a new thread with the subject of "Should I reformat". I plan to look into a new computer as I try to possibly make this one  work with reformatted hard drives. I undestand the things you suggested, so I wont go into them for the sake of brevity here. I doubt if I would try to move my hard drive here to a new computer as I have already backed up what I would want from here. I will just try and make sure I can use my monitor, scanner,
etc on it. If I can't maybe the reformating may make this computer a little more comfortable to use.

Again, thanks. And, CrazyOne let me know if you are still


P.S. Not hitting enter at the end of every line helps me modify and correct a lot easier.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 6386446
"I have found that you can't buy added storage at the price you site for an old machine like mine."

Actually, I didn't cite any sites, but here are some links lest you think I was completely babbling:

Maxtor 40GB drive, $79.95:

Promise ATA-100 controller, 29.95:

And 64MB of EDO memory is $25 at:


Author Comment

ID: 6386536
Thanks magarity,

I really meant "cite" not "site". I just posted and
printed the sites. I didn't want to be a know it all,
but I remember when I bought the added EDO ram it was
a lot more per byte for 64MB bytes than the newer

If I could get 40GB as in the Maxtor you cited, I would
be increasing my hard drive ten fold. I'll look into it.

LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 6386710
Hi Lou. Yes I am still around. hehehe

I figured you were in good hands and was waiting to see how you made out before commenting again. Glad you got the help you needed. The teamwork that took place in this Q is what makes EE so cool to me. It is fun sometimes just to sit back and watch it happen. :>)

Thanks dogztar!!

The Crazy One

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