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Wierd Harddrive Problems

Posted on 2003-11-09
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hello experts,

This one has me stumped.  I've had my custom built PC for a while now, and it has always run great for me.  Recently I started having a great deal of problems with it seemingly related to the Harddrive.  Files were being corrupt and unreadable, and finaly it got system files and I had to re-install windows.  But even then it continued writing back sectors and acting like the harddrive was failing.  My initial diagnosis was that the drive was dated and was begining to show its age so I purchased a new drive and replaced the old one (again, re-installed everything on my system).

Well, it's been a couple weeks since I replaced the drive, and it seems to be working somewhat better, however it is beginning to show the same symtoms on my new drive (checkdisk is finding problems.)  Also, a new and equaly bizarre issue has surfaced that I'm thinking is possibly related.  Before I re-installed everything I backed up what I considered to be important documents to a CD.  Now I've copied those docs back to my harddrive from the cd, and like windows often does, it has marked the folder as read-only (as it was on a cd).  When I get the properties of that folder, it shows the read-only box as being checked, I un-check it and it does it's thing and shows it un-checked, but if I go back into the properties of the folder it shows the box as being "magically" checked again, and I can't work with the documents.

It seems like too big of a coicidence for two drives to do the exact same thing...   I thought maybe something wrong with the IDE Channel, so I cracked the case and switched my CD drives and Hard drives around to the oposite channels, which didn't seem to have any effect.

Anyone have any idea what might cause this sort of problem?  Anything I should try, that would narrow down what could be the source of the problem?  Could it be caused by a kink in the cable maybe?  Or is it time to replace the Motherboard?

Thanks!

A
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Question by:locke_a
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Expert Comment

by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9711849
Certainly, the cable is the first (easiest, cheapest) thing to replace and could be the cause of problems.  Even though you think that it's unlikely it's the hard drive, to ensure that you should still run the hard drive diagnostics available from your hdd manufacturer.  They all offer them for download from their websites, whether it be www.maxtor.com , www.westerndigital.com , www.seagate.com or what-have-you.

If the HDD checks out fine from the manufacturers test, and putting on a new, good quality cable doesn't solve the problem, then it's possible there is a problem with the IDE controller on the board, not just the IDE channel.
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Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 9712440
Agree.
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Expert Comment

by:arunec
ID: 9712580
Hi,

Have u given a second thought that ur data might be corrupted
or infected with a virus(that u had backed up in a CD).

Is it windows 98 or Xp ?
Try changing the file properity in DOS mode or in Safe Mode and check.
or rename the file .(i feel it'll work.)
and do run a full Anti-Virus scan of ur HDD.

Regards,
arunec

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Accepted Solution

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kronostm earned 500 total points
ID: 9712772
I agree with experts opinions above.... I mean bad IDE controller or a virus you're carrying with you.
One wild guess would be a bad RAM stick. I know it sounds strange but bad RAM often mangles the files being processed/written on a drive.
If you have the possibility change it with a known working one. A ram tester software might reveal a problem but not for sure ...  www.memtest86.com

(`'·.¸(`'·.¸ ~ ¸.·'´)¸.·'´)
«´.¸¸KRONOS¸¸.·`»
(¸.·'´(¸.·'´ ~ `'·.¸)`'·.¸)
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by:jhance
ID: 9713779
I'm just going to 2nd kronostm's comment here.  In my experience, the symptoms you describe are caused by BAD RAM that is eventually causing bad data to be written to the hard drive.  Swap it out and see if the problem clears up.  If so, then you have your answer.
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Author Comment

by:locke_a
ID: 9715627
Experts,

I appreciate your timely responses on this.  I'm at work and the computer with the problem is at home, so I'll have to try these when I get home.

A little more information:
I'm using windows XP Pro.
I've run virus scans - Found nothing.
I'm dual booting with linux, and have experienced similar problems with losing data in linux, so I tend to lean away from it being anything software/virus related.

As a test, I've installed the original HDD in another (older) machine, and haven't experienced any problems with it so far.  However, I don't feel that I've tested the HDD in that machine extensively enough to come to any concrete conclusions.

Anyway, I'll try a new IDE Cable tonight, and let you know if it has an effect.

-A
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by:kronostm
ID: 9720357
that convinces me more that you should try changing your RAM.
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by:locke_a
ID: 9722687
Well, here's my update so far...

I switched out the IDE cable last night, haven't noticed a difference (although it may take a little more time to test completely).

I also downloaded and ran the MemTest86 recommended by Kronostm.  So far, I don't think it's found any errors...  How long am I supposed to let it run?  It's been running for like 14-15 hours so far, and I'm not too sure if it's still running or has started over for some reason.

So... If that doesn't find a memory problem... is it time to look for a new MoBo?  Or, should I still try buying some RAM first?

-A
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by:kronostm
ID: 9722875
memtest86 is not perfect, so if it doesn't find any problem that doesn't means your RAM is OK. I recommended this tester cause it MIGHT find some problems and it spares you from borrowing a RAM stick...or worse : buying a new one. (YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME OTHER OPTION THAN BUYING!!!)
Anyway, I usually run it for 4-6 hours.

DON'T BUY A NEW MOBO !!!
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by:locke_a
ID: 9722926
So...

I should just stop the test, right?

Then I should see if I have any RAM in another system that I can replace it with for a test...

Okay, well I'll try those steps out this afternoon and let you know what my results are...

I've got two 256mg sticks, do you think I should try just pulling one at a time and testing the other (as maybe only one is corrupt)?  Or should I just pull them both and try to piece together like 64mgs out of old machines?

-A
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by:locke_a
ID: 9722939
What might cause my memory (that has worked fine for so long), to just up and start acting up, but not to fail completely?  Should I be concerned about whatever caused that causing new memory to corrupt as well? (like if it was a power spike or something, should I look for a new surge protector, etc)

Tanx!
-A
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9722956
Yes, it would work well to try both memory modules 1 at a time as the only module in your system.  It's unlikely BOTH are damaged.

But if it doesn't work with either, you can try a known-good module and see what happens.

If it doesn't work at that point, I still think it's the board.

Also . . .  are you overclocking at all?  If so, that could be the cause as well.
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by:jhance
ID: 9722961
Component failure can happen at ANY TIME.  Some failures are total, some are partial.  Some parts simply degrade over time and no longer perform to their specifications.

A spontaneous failure is not uncommon but external factors can cause this also.  But unless you have a specific concern, it's probably safe just to replace the bad part(s).
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by:kronostm
ID: 9723030
waiting....
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Author Comment

by:locke_a
ID: 9723121
No, not overclocking at all...

I appreciate all your input, I guess I'll just have to try that at home.

So the general theory is that it is the RAM?  If that doesn't prove to be the case, the next guess is the MoBo?

"waiting...." (for what?)

-A
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by:jhance
ID: 9723151
He just ordered lunch and is waiting for it....

As I said, I think RAM is MOST LIKELY.  Certainly other possible problems could be the cause including a bad motherboard.  But it's good practice to resolve the most likely and simplest to check first and leave the less likely and more difficult for later.
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by:kronostm
ID: 9723209
locke_a ... you asked what I'm waiting for.... for the results of the tests (changing RAM) to prove if my theory was correct or wrong. So, as an answer  I can quote jhance  ;-)

<<As I said, I think RAM is MOST LIKELY **(Here I have to thank jhance for sustaining my opinion, otherwise I would have been alone on this path )**.  Certainly other possible problems could be the cause including a bad motherboard.  But it's good practice to resolve the most likely and simplest to check first and leave the less likely and more difficult for later.>>


;-)

Kronos
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by:locke_a
ID: 9727703
Well...

I'm not sure what to think.  I haven't had trouble with windows saying the files are corrup in a few days now... Maybe the problem was fixed with changing the cable or something (I think I may still purchase new RAM, or it might just be time to upgrade most everything).

I'm beginning to think that the "read-only" problem may not be related.

What I'm finding is that when I right click on ANY folder in the computer (even on different HDD's) it is showing the "read-only" flag as checked, and I can't seem to be able to clear that flag (even by checking the attributes in DOS).  Individual files do not necesarily show the "read-only" flag, but all folders do.

I guess this should probably be a whole new question, so I'll go ahead and assign points on this one.

-A
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by:locke_a
ID: 9727757
Should you be interested in the "read-only" issue, I found an article on Microsoft's Support site that addresses it. Seems like "it's not a bug, it's a feature".  You can read more at the link below:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;326549

Thanks again for all your help.  I really appreciated it!

-A
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Expert Comment

by:Omodayo
ID: 9737613
I was trying to connected to the internet. I powered up the system but forgot to plug in the LAN cable and while still booting I immediately plugged the cable while the system was still booting. I then noticed that the system hanged. I then reset the CMOS and after a long while the CMOS was able to recognise the HDD, but it would not boot to the Windows environ, it also says IDE-0 not found (behaving like a new HDD). I then Slaved my HDD using my cousins system and for the first time, I saw after the password-protection, demanding I type the correct password (given me 5 chances). This message appears after the CMOS check. I have also used a password tool like ATAPWD, which also confirms the HDD is password-protected, and the security level indicates HIGH and not maximum.
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Expert Comment

by:Omodayo
ID: 9737654
I was trying to connected to the internet. I powered up the system but forgot to plug in the LAN cable and while still booting I immediately plugged the cable while the system was still booting. I then noticed that the system hanged. I then reset the CMOS and after a long while the CMOS was able to recognise the HDD, but it would not boot to the Windows environ, it also says IDE-0 not found (behaving like a new HDD). I then Slaved my HDD using my cousins system and for the first time, I saw after the password-protection, demanding I type the correct password (given me 5 chances). This message appears after the CMOS check. I have also used a password tool like ATAPWD, which also confirms the HDD is password-protected, and the security level indicates HIGH and not maximum.
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