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harddrive problems

Hi, Im having problem with my secondary hard drive. It will be fine for ages but as soon as I try to write any large amounts of data to it its just clicks once and then everything freezes.
Now while I know that this means the hard drive probably isnt perfect this is not the first time this has happened nor the second so I am led to believe that something else must be wrong becasue no ones luck is that bad :) I have used 2 different programs to check out my system and noticed something which I "think" is disturbing. The 3.3v and 5.5v levels seem to be fine although the 12v (which I have been led to believe is important in hard drives) seems to be hanging at roughly 1.88v which is obviously far too low. could this be the reason that my computer keeps crashing when Im trying to copy data from one drive to the other?
Both my primary and secondary drives are western digital caviar 160GB and the previous drives that both seemed to fail were Intel deskstar 40GB. The power supply I bought is cheap and one of ebuyers own brands.
Any help would be great as I cant afford to splash out on new Hard drives at the moment and I dont have the packaging required to send this one back if its faulty.
Thankyou :) mark Batcheler
1 Solution
according to ATX standard voltage deviation is +/- 5 % so your 12 volt line is way out of line. 12 volt is powering the mechanichs of the harddrive and 5 volts the electronics.

I would purchase a new PSU asap or remove unneccessary 12 volt users from PC if any
You are going to wind up spending hundreds of dollars to replace those drives, all because you skimped on the power supply, which you could have gotten a good one for $60.  Here are some good brands:

Enermax, Antec Truepower, PC Power & Cooling, Zalman, Thermaltake Purepower
If the HD works fine, but stalls on large data transfers, this is very probably NOT a power issue. If the 12 V rail is only 1.88 V, I doubt the machine could pass its POST anyway. Often HD spindle motors are running off the 12 V supply and they will not spin at all on < 2 V.

Run a HD diagnostic from the manufacturer.
Do a thorough scan for virus and other unwanted software.
Check your RAM.
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here is the software rid talked about

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

The low value on your 12V is probably a software issue not your power supply.  Check the voltage in the bios, I am sure you will see it higher there.  
What utility are you using to monitor the voltages?

I suspect that what you have been seeing is the voltage at the CPU Core.  By coincidence, the voltage at my Pentium 4's CPU core sits at 1.8 Volts.

If you have a motherboard that supports the Intel Active Monitor, then perhaps this might provide an accurate metering, especially if you adjust the alarm thresholds a bit.

version 1.2.1 ftp://download.intel.com/business/ibp/private/boxbrd/software/IntelActiveMonitor.exe

Requirements for Intel Active Monitor 1.2.1:
- An Intel(R) Desktop Board or Intel motherboard featuring supported onboard hardware management sensors
- An Intel(R) Pentium(R) II processor or newer, or an Intel(R) Celeron(R) processor
- An Intel(R) 875, 865, 850, 848, 845, 815, or 810 Chipset

Intel Active Monitor does not support Intel desktop boards based on 915G, 915P, 925X, and future chipsets. For hardware monitoring on these boards, use Intel Desktop Utilities instead:
IF the problem is not Voltage related (without looking for myself im in the dark on that issue) and you suspect it could be a hard drive issue then I can reccommend you get a copy of SpinRite 6. I had a hard disk that was clicking on large transfers, then wouldnt read any data at all in XP. It got to the stage where the disk wasnt allowing the PC to boot. I took it out, assumed it was dead, and bought a new disk.

This was a few months ago. Last month i found Spinrite advanced recovery software., and managed to find the disk in question to test it out on (i had spilled vodka and coke on the drive in the time it had been sat on my sideboard!)

Booted off the SpinRite CD - let it run in Maintenance Mode - it corrected 100's of 1000's of errors. Then the PC booted and all the data was accessible. This drive hadnt let the machine POST a few months earlier.

Always worth a SpinRite on a disk before you chuck it away. Amazing bit of software.
markyb123Author Commented:
Its the strangest thing, I found myself with a few hours free so I decided to go inside my pc and get rid of all the unused parts. I found a fan with a loose connector so chucked it just incase, got rid of my cheap cd-rw drive as it had been playing up and tidied all the cables as i have 12 fans whurring about and its all a bit messy inside. I also moved my hard drives apart to allow for better cooling. After that I switched the power cables about and changed the ide cables around to a slightly different configuration.

Now it seems that everything is working ok, at first my pc seemed a little slow but all seems to be back on track now, the drive works fine and the clicking has stopped.

I have taken your advice though "stockhes" and "callandor" and ordered a new 520 Watt power supply for a nice little sum of money and also done the virus checks and updated all the drivers and things "rid" just to be on the safe side.

I might give this spinrite program a try as well just to see how good it actually is as it cant do any harm :)

Thankyou all for your help though. I will be making use of the suggested links.

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