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Bad hard drive?

Posted on 2004-08-13
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Last Modified: 2013-12-28
So a friend was getting constant disk checks on startup.  It would stop at 39% with the message 'scan disk encountered a data error while writing to the root directory.  This error prevents scan disk from fixing this drive'.  She uses AOL a lot and she said she would randomly get knocked off.  Most of the time, her pc would freeze when attempting to shut down--even when it did shut down properly the disk checks continued.

I got the tower from her and when running scan disk in safe mode I discovered there were AOL files in the Windows directory that were corrupt (along with some other no so important files like Macromedia flash).  I was able to delete them and stop the constant disk checks.  However, when I try and reinstall AOL 9.0 I keep getting 'disk write error, unable to write to disk in drive c:, data or files may be lost'.  That seems to be the only problem (where it wants to write to that directory) as the 6 or 7 other apps I installed went fine.

I thought maybe a bad sector but (normal and thorough) scan disks through safe mode and dos come up with nothing.  I copied the entire cd to her drive and tried to install it in but that error continues.  

She's willing to buy another pc before I format.  So, does it sound like the drive contrary to what the scan disks come up with?  She said this has been happening for about 6 months (I know...) and for a period when she would defrag it couldn't finish ( a message I think popped up).  But it went away somehow.
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Question by:SkratchMaster
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LVL 57

Accepted Solution

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Pete Long earned 2000 total points
ID: 11795869
Hard Drive Diagnostics

*****Vendor Specific Support/Diagnostics*****

Maxtor/Quantum (Fireball) http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/
Samsung http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html
Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html
IBM/Hitachi http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT
fujitsu/Seimens http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic

If you do not know the drive manufacturer try some generic drive testers

*****FREE*****

ZDU http://www.webattack.com/get/zdu.shtml
Zdu is a diagnostic utility for disks & directories. It comes as a GUI version as well as a command line only version (both included).

Everest Home Edition http://www.lavalys.com/download.php?dlid=1
An easy to use report wizard allows you to create detailed reports in the format of your choice

*****TRIALWARE*****

DiskChecker http://www.webattack.com/get/diskchecker.shtml
Disk Checker is a disk diagnostics, repair and disk image tool for FAT and NTFS.

Drive Health http://www.webattack.com/get/drivehealth.gif.shtml
Drive Health helps you to estimate your hard disks life resource. It allows you to predict possible hard drive failure
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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 11795877
Is your Hard Drive Dead?

Can it be seen in BIOS? (If it can it might still be beyond repair)

See if the BIOS has the S.M.A.R.T hard drive function, if its on turn it off, if its off turn it on.

Is there any other device on the same IDE controller/ (look on the ribbon cable that connect it to the motherboard) If There is disconnect any other devices to see if it works.

Try connecting it to another IDE controller; most motherboards have two IDE controllers swap the end of the ribbon cable to the other IDE socket on the motherboard.

Try the Hard Drive in another PC

Still no joy?

If this fails you may want to completely flatten the drive and remove all info, if so use one of these


Wipe Out http://www.lurkhere.com/~nicefiles/
KILLDISK http://www.killdisk.com/

Still no joy?

Make a decision, you can..

1. Loose all the information on the drive and try to repartition/format or low level format it (This will require software from the HDD manufacturer)


Still no joy?

Accept that (unfortunately) mechanical things break, I sympathise I’ve been there myself.
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Author Comment

by:SkratchMaster
ID: 11796753
Her drive is an IBM deskstar.  I ran the Drive Fitness Test and everything seems to be fine.  Everything was fine in BIOS--the only problem seemed to be writing to this directory.

Don't ask me how, but I got it installed.  The first time it stopped at 69% with the 'disk write error' message but I tried again right after and it completed.  Hmm.  It may or may not be a corrupt installation but I guess only time will tell.  It's time for a new pc anyway, so I'm not gonna mess with it anymore.   PeteLong, besides the hard drive she only has a DVD drive--both on separate chains.  Like I said, its give me enough of a headache so I'm gonna leave it as it is.

I'll give you the points anyway Pete.  Thanks.
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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 11799034
ThanQ
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