Multiple failed hard drives

Posted on 2004-04-21
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I started with a 350 Watt power supply, 1 CD-ROM, 1 CDRW Drive, 3 WD Hard Drives (6GB, 20GB, and 40GB), 1 Adaptec SCSI controller, 1 40GB Compaq SCSI hard drive, a Gigabyte motherboard, AMD 1.7Ghz CPU, 512 PC3200 RAM, 64MB Video Card, 1 Promise PCI IDE Expansion card, and Windows Professional XP SP1.

I have been fighting this issue for more than a year now.  I have gone through 4+ replacement hard drives in the past 2 years.  It does not matter if the Dirves are Western Digital or Maxtor.  If I take a periodically clicking drive to a Compaq Intel PC, it works fine.

I started by replacing the power supply thinking I did not have enough power.  I now have an Antec 550 Watt power supply.  This did not fix my issue.  Then I thought the RAM may be bad, so I received a replacement for the RAM.  This did not resolve the issue.  Next, I flashed the motherboard BIOS.  To reduce the number of components I removed my SCSI controller and Drive.  Again nothing had changed, so I replaced the motherboard with an Asus A7N8X-E DELUXE moving away from a VIA chip set to an NForce2 chip set.  Once again nothing was fixed.  Being completely sick of dealing with crappy hard drives I removed all drives and the PCI IDE card and bought a 160GB 8MB cache WD.  As soon as I powered on the drive began to click. Now, I have given up on Western Digital.  I returned the drive and purchased a Maxtor 180GB.  Next I called AMD and received a replacement CPU.  The issue appeared to be resolved… 3 days later another drive began clicking again.  One click and the OS is done.  I have to pull the plug and start over.  I GIVE UP.  Has anyone seen this issue?

Throughout this process I replaced many hard drives via WD’s warranty.  
I have called AMD, Gigabyte, Asus, Western Digital, and Maxtor.  No one has been able to help me.  I am VERY sick of dealing with this issue.

You will be my god if you can help me resolve this issue.
Question by:Cardinal_Tech
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LVL 69

Accepted Solution

Callandor earned 280 total points
ID: 10878191
My first guess would be the power supply.  However, it could also be the electrical outlet you plugged the machine into - do you know if the outlet is ok?  If it isn't, it could be ruining anything you plug into it, and the bad power supply could ruin your hard drives.

Expert Comment

ID: 10878197
What sort of click single, periodic or what (It can be normal recalibration process)? What character of damage to data coused (Damaged files - virus, damaged partition tables, bad blocks - hardware problem)? What environment of your system block (heat, e/m emission)? Make deep breath and explain more :)
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 10878221
All I can think of is some sort of electro magnetic disturbance.
How close is the PC to the monitor?
How close is the pc to your external speakers?
How close is the Hard drive(s) to your internal speaker?
What hardware has not changed?
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Author Comment

ID: 10878363
Thank you very much for the fast responses.

I am running Symantec SW and AV.

The dives begin to fail with a single click.  With my Gigabyte MB and the WD drives the drive would click and the PC would reboot.  Now with the Asus MB and Maxtor HD the drive makes a quick high pitch noise and a quick click.  After this the mouse moves, but nothing responds.  Right now the dive experiencing the issue is the drive my system files are on.  This 180GB drive is partitioned to an 8GB sys and remainder to a file drive.  From what I can gather the current clicking issue may only be happening when the file drive is accessed.

The only hardware that has not changed is my Case.  I purchased the case from 3 years ago.  The case has 4 fans to ensure a cool system.  I also added a hard drive fan, but removed it to reduce the components being used.  I have also changed my video card to a 128MB NVidia.

The monitor is as far away from the tower as the cord will allow.  
I had this same issue when I lived in an apartment, so it shouldn’t be the outlet.
External speakers are hardly ever turned on.

I’m thinking my last hope is to perform an exorcism on my machine.

LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 10878488
Have you changed the hard drive cables?  Were the drives properly detected in the BIOS?

Author Comment

ID: 10878520
Yes.  With Every Replacement hard drive a I used the new 80 conductor cable.  Dives are detected by the BIOS fine and appear to be OK until the OS begins to load.  After a period of sporadic clicking the drives will eventually fail and click even before the OS begins to load.  I tried XP SP2 Beta for awhile, but it didn't work and I didn't like the SP2 changes, so I uninstalled it.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 10878524
You removed your IDE card, so now you've got the 2 CD drives on the secondary channel and a single IDE drive on the primary channel on the mobo?

And how do you determine the drive failed - chkdsk, SMART, or just an OS that won't boot?

And as Callandor says, power can still be a problem.  Are you on an UPS?

Expert Comment

ID: 10878543
My guess is the cooling for the drives. Just because your case has fans does not mean there is sufficient air flow around the drives. Another issue that is related is the power saving mode for the drives. If the drives do not go to a power save mode, then they will continue to generate maximum heat. Electronics tend to make heat even faster as they get hotter in a kind of runaway situation. If the drives do not get enough air flow to support continious running, then their life will be much shorter. It would be best if the drives were in the bottom of the case instead of the top. You can feel the temperature difference on the side of a computer case between the top and the bottom. Also make sure that the air flow through your system is not blocked or recirculated by its location.

Author Comment

ID: 10878562

With my seriously reduced system I am running 2 Maxtor Drives (180GB and 160GB) and 1 DVDRW Drive.  I have tried CS and setting to Master and slave.  The 2 drives are on the primary IDE set as CS.  DVDRW is on secondary.  All expansion cards are removed other than Video card of course.

Author Comment

ID: 10878620
Drives are placed in the drive bays on the bottom of the case where 3 fans and CPU fan are cooling.  I also have the drive separated from each other.  I have a hard time thinking it would be a heat issue.  The drives get hot, but so did my 4GB WD drive back in the simple PC days.  I have built many simple computers for people with only a CPU fan and a power supply fan and they have never had issues.  I do write massive amounts of data to these drives, but they should be able to handle it.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 10885048
>The only hardware that has not changed is my Case<

Could be the case fans themselves. If one of the fan motors is shorting, it could affect the whole power supply.

If you can, disconnect the case fans and keep your case open for air flow, then boot up the PC to see if that has any affect.

LVL 14

Assisted Solution

tmj883 earned 100 total points
ID: 10885369
I would have to agree with callandor on this one and suspect poor quality line voltage. Even the best of power supplies do not protect against over/under voltages. You need to check your power receptacle for good contacts and get yourself an UPS with voltage regulation. I live in an area with spikes and brownouts...hard drives "pop" like light bulbs without's like having a new car without the premium Cardinal Tech...T

Assisted Solution

MikProg earned 20 total points
ID: 10885600
My way to solve such problems.
Remove components from case. Run computer on desktop :) Load it with disk test (preferrable track seek test + write test) for a long time.
If no 'The Click' (with drive filure) events occurs the reason is case. Altought it have 4 vents the sum of 'heaters' produce more heat then can be cooled. High temperature inside case makes drive coolers ineffective so thay can't cool HDD with hot air. In tis case you need full size tower case.


Expert Comment

ID: 10886306
I can help on this. Had same issue before. It's your line voltage. It's not flowing evenly.  Take the computer to a friend's house. You will not see the problem.

Author Comment

ID: 10888108
I have a replacement Power supply on its way.  My house is only a year old, but I will get someone to test the outlet for me.

My power supply should be here sometime next week.  I will check back in as soon as I have replaced the power supply.

Thank you for all of your help.

Assisted Solution

guygagnon earned 100 total points
ID: 11185854
Since you replaced all the electrical components in your computer it is safe to assume that it is the line voltage. To get a definite answer on this, you could use an oscilloscope to measure it. If this is the case, make sure you have a UPS.

Author Comment

ID: 11191878
New power supply fixed it.


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