hard drive problem

running xp sp2.
just recently xp has come up with an error message:

windows - delayed write failed.
windows was unable to save all the data for the file D:\Mft. the data has been lost. This error may be caused by failure of your hard drive or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere.
(i'm not on a network)

I've had a look at the microsoft web site and they mention about "Enable write caching on the disk" being enabled. so I went through their work around and turned it off.
when I came to shut down the system, I got a window that told me that, "A: was not ready, maybe the tray was open."

on reboot, the system did not find the H.D. at all. on next reboot all was fine.
I moved all my important stuff off of D: without any problems. just after that I got the original error mesage again. windows - delayed etc,etc.

Am i just looking at a failing H.D? I've not heard anything from it to make me think so.
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The intermittent detection of your hard drive indicates to me that it is failing and that you should replace it.

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Is this your primary HD or a external HD?
Ultimate boot cd has alot of hard drive testing software. http://ubcd.sourceforge.net/download.html but once again Callandor is most likely right on this one.The only other possibility is the motherboard controller for the hard drive. Are there more than one hard drive on this computer, if so are they having any problems?
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Callandor is right, your hard drive is failing.  You should replace it now, before it quits completely.

Here is a good software tool that can help you replace it without having to reinstall all your programs, including windows;

You can mount your new hard drive as either a second internal, or a usb external, and CasperXP will clone the old drive, you then remove the bad drive and replace it with the new cloned drive, and you are back in business in a short time.

If you don't do it now, your drive will get to the point where you will not be able to clone it, that means that you will have to first reinstall windows, then all your other programs, and adjust the custom features to where you like them.  For most machines this takes many hours of CD swapping and such.

Good Luck!
weird i had this same problem with a cdrom drive.
my config
primary master (20gb hard drive)
primary slave (30gb hard drive)
secondary master (dvd rom drive)
secondary slave (none)

my issue
copying files from cd (secondary master) to hard drive (primary master)
copying files from hard drive (primary slave) to another computer (network share)
copying files from hardrive (primary master) to hard drive (primary slave)

sometimes it would work sometimes i got the same error you described.

changed secondary master to another 30gb hard drive that i knew was working in another system and was checked with errors prior to the move
copying files from hard drive (primary slave) to hard drive (secondary master)

so this is both channels involved and 3 hard drives and a dvd rom drive

i have a hard time believing all the drives i have are having issues so i rebooted into safe mode and did the same copy
it took a long time and the the copy completed with no errors so maybe it is a driver but i haven't been able to resolve my problem yet either in normal mode
so i am posting this to maybe help you and stay tuned on your progress

My next steps i believe.
1) try new cables
2) find out if there is an alternate driver other than standard IDE controller from microsoft
3) try another motherboard.

hope my steps help you somehow
good luck
sledgeAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys.
It's one of 4 hard drives. 3 are ide, 1 usb. The one causing the problem is set as primary slave.
none of the other drives are giving an error.
I'm going to take Callandor and arthurjb's advice and replace the H.D.
good going

maybe i do have multiple bad drives!
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