Dell's Disk Monitoring System boot warning

Posted on 2002-07-17
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
Running Windows 98.  Every time we boot up, it hangs with the error message: "WARNING: Dell's Disk Monitoring System has detected that drive 0 on the primary EIDE controller is operating outside of normal specifications...."  It goes on to say we should back everything up and quit, but to press F1 to continue.  Pressing F1 makes everything operate normally and I don't believe there's anything wrong with our drives.  How can I get rid of the message for a seamless boot-up?

If this helps: Device Manager says "Primary IDE controller (dual fifo)"
Driver files:

Question by:fsartorius
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 7161313
It may be that it is detecting problems with your hard drive that YOU don't notice.  It may be that the drive isn't quite spinning up to speed.  This may be an early warning sign that the disk is going to die.  I would highly recommend contacting Dell and asking them how to interpret the code.  There is software that can determine the likely cause of that message but you may have to get it from Dell.
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 7161323
I can only echo the above and try to press home the idea of making a backup. Now!

While reading sectors, the hard drive may fail several times without telling the operating system anything, the number of tries is programmed into drive controller hardware. I'd say this message comes before your O/S has booted, so it hasn't got anything to do with drivers; it is probably a test routine built into BIOS.

You'll not notice if the drive has to re-read a few sectors during normal operation, but it is a warning sign indeed. As it says "drive 0", this is your primary master drive, the boot drive, that has an issue.


Expert Comment

ID: 7161345

I encountered the same error message with our Dell machine especially in GX1 PII 333,350 and 500. It was a hard disk problem and nothing else. The best way is to replace the hard disk. It will un-useful in the future.

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Expert Comment

ID: 7161451

The best way : Call Dell service to have more information !
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

jhance earned 200 total points
ID: 7162361
All modern disk drives employ a technology called S.M.A.R.T.  This is a built-in diagnostic system where the drive logs errors and looks for potential problems.

In Dell's case, they have put code in their BIOS to read the S.M.A.R.T. database and report potential problems to you.  It's too bad that other system and motherboard vendors don't do this as well.

In your situation, you need to TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!!!!  This is an early warning of IMPENDING DISK FAILURE.  If you choose to ignore it, do so at your own peril.

1) BACKUP VITAL DATA NOW!  Don't want, do it immediately!
2) If this system is under warranty, contact Dell and get a replacement drive sent out.
3) If this system is NOT under warranty, get a new disk drive and replace your old one.

In spite of what you believe, there _IS_ a problem with your disk drive and you need to deal with it right away.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 7162379
On the other hand, a bug in Dell's BIOS could cause this to report falsely.  As others have already recommended, you need to contact Dell directly and get the story straight from the source.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 7162526
I've seen this error many times too, and it does mean the drive is failing (according to the SMART technology jhance mentioned).  To double check it, AFTER you backup critical data from the system, use a disk diagnostics program to test the drive.  IBM's Drive Fitness Test is a good start:

It should work with non-IBM drives also.


Dell's Diagnostics will test the drive as well.


Expert Comment

ID: 7164134
Just backup important data (floppy,cdrom) before the tests ... because the tests can stress your disk ...

Author Comment

ID: 7165168
Essentially unanimous responses...I'll back up the drive and get a new one.  For those who have never tried to contact Dell support, believe me that if your time is worth ANYTHING it's cheaper to buy a new drive!
LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 7165192
Actually, I've called Dell support on multiple occasions - recently - and never waited more than 20 minutes...
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 7165258
I also have had excellent and very professional dealings with Dell support.  In fact this month's PC Magazine again has them rated by customers at #1 in service and support.

I think you're confusing them with Microsoft....
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 7165405
It is worthwile to call Dell and find out the specifics.  I once had 10 out of 60 new HP machines give this error when about a month old.  Turns out there was a problem with that HP model's BIOS regarding SMART so all we had to do was flash in an update rather than swap so many drives.

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