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Failed hard drive ("master boot drive failed")?

Posted on 2004-08-21
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have a WinXP Pro system with two identical Maxtor hard drives on the primary IDE channel.  The primary master has a partition for the OS and a separate partition for my programs.  The second driver contains saved files and data.  A couple of weeks ago I was unable to launch into the OS because some or other system file was corrupt.  So I reinstalled Windows on the primary drive and all was well.  Yesterday the computer crashed and would not restart.  The BIOS is telling me "master boot drive failed".  The first time I entered the BIOS it didn't even recognize that a drive was there.  In subsequent attempts, it sees the drive but the text it displays on the first boot screen to ID the drive is not what used to be there when the drive was working well.

I have tried the following:
1. Reseated power and IDE cables.
2. Swapped power cables between the two hard drives.
3. Swapped IDE cables between the primary and secondary channels.
None of this worked.

Also, I made a boot CD with SpinRite 6.0 on it and ran the program.  SpinRite doesn't give me an option to work on the primary master drive, it lists my floppy drive and the primary slave.

Is the drive kaput?
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Question by:thescud
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lexicon_dominus earned 150 total points
ID: 11861496
Hello Jeremy;

I think your drive has died. An option to look for might be finding a control card for your drive but that does not guarantee its working.
One question is: Does your drive make noises like a something is touching a metal or something ?
If you have important datas you may consult a data recovery corporation.
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Expert Comment

by:Stabbensgrabb
ID: 11861656
Check out the Maxtor Hard Disk Diagnosics at  http://www.maxtor.com

Select  the " Worldwide Support " Tab on the top. Next Select the " Software Downloads " Tab on the left and choose the [ Select Diagnostics ]  --->  PowerMax and download it and run as per instructions.

This program will check the integrity of your drive and report any errors. You will also find a PDF document at the bottom of the PowerMax screen. If you cannot get any joy out of this util the drive is probably snuffed. There are some othe things you could try so contact me if you need to on  "alflennart@alpha.bet.au"

Good Luck
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by:lexicon_dominus
ID: 11861675
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Author Comment

by:thescud
ID: 11863831
I have not heard any strange sounds coming out of the drive but then I wasn't at the computer when it crashed.
I'm concerned that SpinRite can't even see the drive.  All signs point to a complete failure.  Luckily there is no critical data on that drive.

I knew about, but overlooked, Powermax.  I figured that SpinRite would do a superior job of trying to restore/repair the drive.  Nonetheless, I have downloaded a copy of the software.  I may not be able to run it until tomorrow because the laptop I have at home (the one that I am using to communicate with you) dos not have a floppy drive.  I have emailed the file to my work, hoping that I will have enough security priviledges to launch the program and create a boot floppy.  My company locks the computers down pretty tight so I am not confident.  I'll post feedback as soon as I can.

I'll also respect the site rules that prohibit email communication.  Thanks for pointing this out, lexicon.  I was ignorant of this restriction.
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Expert Comment

by:blumbra
ID: 11864561
Don't mess with the drive anymore if you have anything on it you want to save.  Remove the harddrive and slave it on another system, or use an external enclosure.  This may allow you to get into the drive.  You may have 'worked' it too much already though.  In the shop I have this happen all the time.  Often once I get the data that way the drive will die completely.  Often if I run any type of diag utility the drive will die completely.

-B
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Author Comment

by:thescud
ID: 11948532
It's been a while since I posted anything on this topic but I think I've brought some closure to the issue.

Powermax was a bust.  It failed to recognize the fully-functional primary slave in my machine, let alone the failed primary master.  So I broke down and ordered a new drive, which arrived today.  I installed it quickly and got the PC running again (after about four hours installing windows then patching the numerous security holes).

I'll award the points to Lexicon for being first on the scene.
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