How do I know if it's my motherboard, hard drive or something else that's died?
Posted on 2006-03-31
My server died a couple of days ago - I had trouble logging in (something about respawning too quickly) and ended up rebooting it. At first the BIOS saw all three HDDs (2*IDE + 1*SATA) but Fedora wouldn't boot. Reboot #2 had the BIOS mis-reporting one of the IDE drives - instead of Maxtor it showed "Mgfsgr". 3rd reboot - no HDDs at all!
I should probably include my h/w specs before I go too far. It's a home-built tower system; mobo is an ASUS P5GD1-VM; CPU is a liquid-cooled P4 540 Socket 775 HyperThreading @ 3.2GHz. (Mobo+CPU+power ~1yr old.) The cooling system and fans were running fine, although one HDD did feel warmer than usual.
I left the server turned off for about half an hour, to ensure it wasn't a heat issue, and powering it up resulted in the same mis-reporting then nothing detected by the BIOS.
I've tried disconnecting/removing all the drives and re-connecting the IDE drives individually (the SATA drive isn't bootable), but the BIOS didn't recognise either of them.
Fortunately a local store had a 200Gb IDE HDD on sale that day(!) so I picked one up and installed it (as the only HDD in the server) - same scenario! (This makes me think it's the mobo.)
I've tried the server's boot drive in a spare PC (older mobo/CPU) but it wouldn't boot from it. I tried the new HDD in the spare PC (BIOS saw it OK) but when I tried installing a new o/s (Damn Small Linux) on it, the install hung. Tried install again, this time with (known to be good) Win2k CD - hung again.
Could the problem be my motherboard? How can I tell? Could a mobo problem have screwed up ALL my drives?
Any ideas? How can I go about troubleshooting this further? I don't have any compatible components (e.g. mobo/CPU) other than a HDD, but I really don't want to use my one working drive in it in case I screw it up too! and buying replacements in the hope they'll fix it (i.e. without knowing what's really broken) isn't an option.