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Server IDE hard drive keeps losing formatting!!!

Posted on 2004-08-28
Last Modified: 2010-04-26

A hard drive that I am using for backup on my server keeps losing its formatting. I'll format it and use it for several weeks at a time. Then one day the O/S reports the partition as unformatted, and I'll lose all the data on it. Here's the pertinent info:

- It's a Western Digital 200GB 7200 RPM ATA100 drive with 8MB cache, the "JB" model
- I've replaced it under RMA with Western Digital, but the problem continues
- My server uses a TYAN S2469UGN AMD MP motherboard
- The O/S is Windows 2000 Server
- I am using four RAID level 0 SCSI drives for my system and data drives
- I am using two of these WD drives for backup, but the other drive has no problems
- I am formatting/partitioning/using the two drives in pretty much the same manner.
- The faulty drive is set as master
- I'm formatting with NTFS and compression enabled
- The BIOS only recognizes 127GB.

Could it be the controller? BIOS needing upgrade? IDE cable?

Thanks in advance.

- I have only one NTFS partition of 127GB on
Question by:dekroon
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Expert Comment

ID: 11921209
Have you tried reading the drive in another machine??

Is it an IDENTICAL drive to another in the system.

LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 11921286
The things I would check are the cable, the controller, and the power supply.  You can try swapping the other drives that work with it's position in the cable to see if that changes anything.  You would need to change the controller to identify a fault with it.  Same goes for the power supply (or use a power supply tester).
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 11921296
I would also upgrade the BIOS, if only to access the entire drive.  I'm not sure what would happen if you use it in a RAID array that way, but it probably is not desirable.
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Author Comment

ID: 11921418
Thanks for the suggestions, folks.

I haven't used the drive long-term in another machine. But the other drive (yes, it is identical) works fine.

I'm not using the drive in a RAID array. I don't mind (for the time being) not being able to see the entire drive, because I use the unrecognized space for drive images (backup).

I've used both the "good" drive (that hasn't ever exhibited these problems) and the drive in question in both master and slave capacity. I've had the IDE cable end connector (as opposed to the middle connector) plugged into both drives, but the error always happens on the same drive. That would seem to eliminate cable and controller in my mind, but I'll try another cable. Using another controller (which is integrated into mb) isn't really a possibility.

I'll try using the drive as an external USB drive for a while and see if the problems continue that way. . .


Expert Comment

ID: 11922591
dekroon there is a chance that the HDD has bad sectors and this could be corrupting the boot sector of the device, you can check the drive with the Western digital diagnostics tools from http://support.wdc.com/download/ and hopefully it will flag a problem for you.

If it is found to be defective, then requeat a returns rma from the Western digital website assuming your drive is still under warranty.  

One further bit of advice, perhaps you should invest in another backup device that will copy backups to tape drives or DVD disks.  That way you can take the backups off site just in case you have a fire and loose the lot.  You may find it interesting to read up on disaster recovery on the web a got one link that you could check out  http://www.disaster-recovery-guide.com/

I hope this is useful to you
Best of luck with it

LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 11923411
If the bios does not recognise the full size of the disk, the partiton table may be written incorrectly.
This will cause intermittent failures, when something tries to write past the end of the partition.
The drive may not be faulty, but the partition table is.
Trouble is, once it is written wrongly once, it will persist, especially as some disk tools do not overwrite the partion table unless it is changed.
It can even depend on whether the drive is master or slave when it is first partitioned.

I had this problem with a maxtor drive, here was the explanation I found:



Expert Comment

ID: 12158514
Do you have a Battery on the Raid Controller Card / Integrated ROMB ? If yes check the status. The Battery may need reconditioning or Recharging. You can find this in the Raid Bios. It is very important to recharge the battery if it is worn out.

Hope this Helps


Expert Comment

ID: 12296514
have you thought about having a viruse doing this in a slow motion ?
some viruses activates itselfe only when u r not using the pc , or it works but very slowley to not make u notice it , so i think that it wont hurte to check your pc online with any of the famous companies .


Expert Comment

ID: 12296662
What is the status with this question ?

Author Comment

ID: 12299024
All great suggestions. I'm intending to check xsinux's tip about a RAID controller battery, and will also be updating the BIOS, as per wyliecoyoteuk's suggestion. I don't want to close the question until I've done so, though, as an "accepted" status for their comments may mislead others into thinking the issue is solved. I have been very busy with other work lately, but intend to try these this weekend.

I have run extensive diagnostics on both drives (I already RMA'd once). There's nothing wrong with them. And, yes, I do weekly offsite backup and archival on removable media.

Thanks for the suggestions, all.

Author Comment

ID: 12336062
Well, I updated the BIOS, and there wasn't a separate battery for the RAID controller (which is integrated). None of those were the correct fix. I ended up finding the fix myself:


Thanks for the suggestions, though, folks.

Expert Comment

ID: 12336225
The Problem Described in the Link is "Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) and earlier versions of Windows 2000 do not support 48-bit Logical Block Addressing (LBA) as defined in the ATA/ATAPI 6.0 specification."

The Link above describes a limitation and your question referred to a serious problem involving the hard drive loosing its format ! Forgive my ignorance, I am not able to find a connection between the two :(

Anyways I am glad that you found the solution.


Accepted Solution

modulo earned 0 total points
ID: 12663365
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