Want to protect your cyber security and still get fast solutions? Ask a secure question today.Go Premium

x
?
Solved

New HDDs keep failing - what's to blame?

Posted on 2006-04-17
16
Medium Priority
?
547 Views
Last Modified: 2011-09-20
Experts,

I'm at a loss. I have an OLD P3-500 system with the following setup:

- 350 W PSU
- 512 MB DDR
- 3 Case fans, 2 HDD cooler
- 3 HDDs (2 ATA, 1 SATA)
- 2 DVD-RW drives

The problem I have is that most of my HDDs only last about 12 months before they start having sector errors. I keep exchanging them under warranty or occasionally buy new ones. Recently, I bought a new Western Digital 250 MB SATA and a Promise PCI-SATA controller to connect it to the motherboard. It worked until yesterday, then Windows started freezing up and the Event Log is full of "CRC read errors, LBA block blablabla".

Average temperature inside the box is 70 at the bottom and about 85-95 at the top, according to the temperature sensors built into the Antec HDD-coolers. The HDDs are installed at the top of the case in 5.25 drive bays (old type ATX big tower).

The HDDs that fail are always Western Digital, I've had a IBM 5GB IDE-HDD in the system for probably 8 years that I use for my most important data only and it has never given me problems. But it also doesn't get near the traffic the Western Digital HDDs get (moving around lots of video material for DVDs (wedding filming)) and sometimes the PC stays on all day while processing/burning but the temperature stays within the 90s max.

The other day, our A/C failed and the tower temperature spiked to 101 before I noticed it and shut the system off. Next reboot, I had problems. But previous failures never had anything like that happen and always occurred in December, when it's cool.

I've had problems once before when I installed a Silicon Image RAID-PCI adapter to run another HDD off. Said HDD (WD 100GB) failed within a week (spin up, spin down, spin up, spin down) because IDE-cable was damaged. But now I wonder if maybe lack of PSU power was the problem?!

So here's the QUESTION: is my box too hot or my PSU failing?  PSU is about 5-6 years old probably.

I don't want to put money on a PSU if the whole system is simply running too hot as it is. Can't add anymore fans...

Thanks,
J
0
Comment
Question by:SwissJay
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • +7
16 Comments
 
LVL 2

Accepted Solution

by:
pcchecks earned 420 total points
ID: 16474616
I think a bigger PSU is in order for all those things you are using. The temp doesn't seem to be the problem though. I think its more the work that is being done by the HDD.
0
 
LVL 44

Assisted Solution

by:scrathcyboy
scrathcyboy earned 120 total points
ID: 16474714
YOu have discovered something I learnt 10 years ago -- western digital makes unreliable drives that fail almost like christmas coming every year.  Stick with IBM hitachi and you never had this trouble.
That said, you are trying to upgrade everything but the obvious -- the motherboard.  It is TOO OLD for the other hardware you are using.  YOu need to go to a new MB, preferably an AMD 2500-3000 or something like that, it is only $50 for the MB and $80 for the CPU, if you do AMD, more if you do Intel.

You will be able to use the SATA directly on the MB and of course, keep the IBM, toss the WD drives in the trash.  Get a new PS at the same time, and give up on the old MB, the controller is probably half-dead.  You cant put "new wine in old bottles", it ferments and in this case the drives cost you more than the new MB + CPU.
0
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:r-k
r-k earned 60 total points
ID: 16474902
I agree with scratchyboy - stay away from WD drives. However, my own experience suggests Seagate is more reliable than IBM/Hitachi.
0
Technology Partners: We Want Your Opinion!

We value your feedback.

Take our survey and automatically be enter to win anyone of the following:
Yeti Cooler, Amazon eGift Card, and Movie eGift Card!

 
LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:pcchecks
pcchecks earned 420 total points
ID: 16474925
scratchyboy

i agree that WD drives were crappy 10years ago. But I have been using them for the past 3 years and had 1 fail in about 500.
0
 
LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:pcchecks
pcchecks earned 420 total points
ID: 16474953
the system is not running too hot as said earlier, but getting a newer rig is not a bad idea. For around $300.00 you can get a really decent ATX case with 550W PSU
ASUS mainboard
AMD64 Processor
1GB DDR RAM
0
 
LVL 44

Assisted Solution

by:scrathcyboy
scrathcyboy earned 120 total points
ID: 16475183
r-k -- that is interesting, years ago, seagate were so bad they would not honor their own warranties.  Maybe they had to improve just to survive.

pcchecks -- thats what I hoped too, but recent tests reveal the same ongoing flaw for over 12 years now, WD uses very noisy, unreliable seek head mechanisms in their drives, and whole batches die with 100% failure rate after about 1 year.  Swissjay's experience mirrors mine -- they all die within a year or so.  You may have lucked out with good batches.  Their SATA drives now have lots of compatibility problems with SATA controllers, over 50% of SATA problems coming in to expert exchange are from WD drives.  Just another WD hassle to deal with; some get lucky, some dont.

Anyway swissjay, perhaps a new MB or system is in order? pcchecks lists the kind of system you should consider.  Good luck to all.
0
 
LVL 93

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 150 total points
ID: 16475511
calculate the power you need here :

http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/

Other than being underpowered, it can also be a bad power supply, generating spikes, or incorrect voltages - did you check the voltages?      
0
 
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 90 total points
ID: 16476801
I do think this is due to your PSU. It is very old after all, and only delivers 350W. That was probably the case when it was new, now it'll be lower than that. Also make sure you turn off powersaving features on you HD's, as a lot of powering up then down again also reduces a disk's life. Also, warranty replacements only in very rare cases are new. Mostly they are refurbished disks, so don't expect as much from those as from freshly bought HD's.
0
 
LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:Dell100
Dell100 earned 180 total points
ID: 16476911
heat! . Check the airflow and tempatures in the system. How are HDD's postioned ?
0
 
LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:Dell100
Dell100 earned 180 total points
ID: 16476919
HDD coolers normally only blow hot air onto the HDD underneath them. Useless if you have mutliple HDD's installed. Plus you are adding a magnestic field right underneath your HDD, never thought it was a great idea. Try removing them, and checking your airflow
0
 
LVL 3

Assisted Solution

by:Andre_Tertling
Andre_Tertling earned 300 total points
ID: 16477522
Aging power supplies tend to do all kinds of crazy things which are very hard to track down. The capacitors inside them lose capacity due to drying electrolyte. That makes the power supply vulnerable for noise and spikes coming from the outside (electromagnetic interferences or just "dirt" on the power line). The result will be spikes or noise on the output voltages which in turn irritates the components inside the computer. Symptoms range from unreliable operation to data loss and frequent crashes. Another issue are the power connectors. Avoid chaining multiple Y-cables in a row to supply all your hard discs with power.

From my experience, it is no waste of money to buy a new power supply (and first of all, not a cheap one, go for a renowned brand!). If the trouble is over after replacing the power supply, great! If it continues, you have to replace the other hardware as well, so you'd need a new power supply anyway.

Last but not least: hard disks are sensitive to mechanical vibrations. Place a glass of water on your computer and watch the water surface while you are working with the computer. If you can see any "large" waves on it, you should think about shock-absorbers for your computer. I live in a rather old building and my flat is on the second floor. I had quite some hard discs with surface defects before I noticed how the floor started moving when someone was walking around somewhere in the flats above me. I was astonished when I noticed how powerful the movements where. I moved my computer to a place near another wall and everything is fine since then.

Oh, and of course, turn off power-saving for the hard disks. The most stressing moments in a hard disk's life are power-up and spin-up. So rather save them from that. My hard disks are running 24/7 with frequent heavy load and I didn't have to replace any of them since I got rid of the vibration problem mentioned above :)
0
 
LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:f-king
f-king earned 120 total points
ID: 16477834
Hi
Looks like it´s time for a new PSU and while your at it get a good surge protector or ups for those spikes as a PSU can´t handle too many spikes before it pops.
0
 
LVL 1

Assisted Solution

by:Nightofthecow
Nightofthecow earned 60 total points
ID: 16481156
WD hard drives are great. I've been running them for years. I learned the hard way that IBM drives aren't as good as people claim. I've lost a LOT of data at home and at work thanks to IBM hard drives. I've never had a WD hard drive fail on me. EVER.
0
 

Author Comment

by:SwissJay
ID: 16482323
Thanks guys, for all the quick answers. I tried to be fair with the points:

- Thanks for the "PSU undersized" statements, I kind of expected that.
- I've had good results with Seagate HDDs indeed, but I've also had total data loss in the past, due to IBM HDDs.
- Been thinking about getting a UPS for some time now.
- I believe, after reviweing all the suggestions, a new system would be in order. Should I however build one, or go with Dell or similar? Because if I'm going to put all that money into it, I'd like to make sure Vista will work on it and that the various hardware will co-operate with one another!!!!
- Power-Saving for my HDDs has been disabled for years, it slows the system down and, like sais, kills the motors...

Thanks guys, I hope I can come up with some money so I can retire good ole P3...
0
 
LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 16482397
If you need to keep on installing so many drives etc. it is probably more practical to build your own system. Dells and most other retail PC's use rather small cases which are difficult to customize and add much more hardware to. If you keep to "Brands", you shouldn't have problems with vista once it's officially released. Using nonames will be a bigger problem.
0
 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:pcchecks
ID: 16483774
SwissJay

the rig I suggested earlier should do fine. I always recommend a custom build(for those who are a little more tech savvy)

ATX case with 550W PSU
ASUS mainboard
AMD64 Processor
1GB DDR RAM

These should be no problem for vista.
0

Featured Post

Free Tool: Subnet Calculator

The subnet calculator helps you design networks by taking an IP address and network mask and returning information such as network, broadcast address, and host range.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Windows Server 2003 introduced persistent Volume Shadow Copies and made 2003 a must-do upgrade.  Since then, it's been a must-implement feature for all servers doing any kind of file sharing.
In the below post we have mentioned the best hosting type for startups. Also, check out some of the superlative web hosting companies that are proposing affordable web hosting solutions to host your startup website.
This video teaches viewers how to encrypt an external drive that requires a password to read and edit the drive. All tasks are done in Disk Utility. Plug in the external drive you wish to encrypt: Make sure all previous data on the drive has been …
Despite its rising prevalence in the business world, "the cloud" is still misunderstood. Some companies still believe common misconceptions about lack of security in cloud solutions and many misuses of cloud storage options still occur every day. …
Suggested Courses
Course of the Month12 days, 2 hours left to enroll

564 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question