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strange disk behaviour

Posted on 2006-06-28
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Looking for an explanation :

yesterday i repaired a system, but i would like to know more about what happened; here the situation :
PC has C: disk + CDRom in IDE 0, and D: disk + DVD Writer on IDE 1. ( both disks were maxtor 40 GB )
System does get past POST, but stays with black screen, and a cursor in the top left corner.
After inspection, the cause is drive C: is not seen in the BIOS, all other drives are seen correctly. Even after switching the IDE cables, drive C: remains unseen by the bios.
My conclusion was : bad disk. to be sure, i hooked the drive to another XP system as slave, where the drive was "seen" correctly, and accessable.
after retrying the drive on the failing system, it remained "unseen" in the bios, even after clearing the bios, or trying the IDE disk identification section.
Putting the drive on the other system, and logging on to it with ERD, cured it.
It ran fine from that moment on the bad system, and is again identified correctly.
My question is : how is this possible ? Any explanations ? if possible, backup your reaction with some kind of proof.
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Question by:nobus
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by:ded9
ID: 17001809
dude how can you see c drive from bios. in bios you can only see components info
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by:VortexAdmin
ID: 17001840
ERD obviously repaired the boot sector to get it to boot again, but why it wouldn't show up under the BIOS as a Maxtor 40GB doesn't make much sense.  That sounds like it was jumpered incorrectly.  Perhaps it was a virus that the ERD wrote over?  Had you tried switching the drives (putting the C: on IDE2 and D: on IDE0) just to see if the board would see them?
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by:nobus
ID: 17002688
i tried all possible combinations, and all drives were jumpered correct, and are the same as before.  i even posted that (check my status here - i know what i'm doing - at least, i may hope so after assembling and repairing some thousands of pc's)
And ded9 i do not like to be called a dude - if you cannot post anything positive, or false,  don' t post please.
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by:ded9
ID: 17002966
If you see  cursor then sure its an explorer error. Insert windows xp boot from bios with bootable cd and select R for repair the system files

Sorry for the dude thing

Reps
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by:VortexAdmin
ID: 17004654
You misunderstood my intent, I assumed you were still jumpered the way it had always been.  I was posting that meaning "the symptoms point to this issue but it's strange that's not the case."  You're asking for possibilities, not solutions and the only other one I could think of was a virus.
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by:nobus
ID: 17007226
ded9 - please read my original post before commenting : how can xp repair do something if the disk is NOT seen by the bios? It all happens BEFORE starting XP.
VortexAdmin, i doubt if that is the case "ERD obviously repaired the boot sector " a disk without boot sector is still identified correctly in the bios, even non partitioned disks are seen correctly.
What i personally think that happened, is that "something" was written or sent to the disk, and stuck for some obscure reason on the interface.
I do not know why 1 mobo sees the drive correct, and the other not, neither do i understand why everything can be normal after simply logging on with ERD to the drive on another PC.
i realize this is not easy, and your opinions are welcome, but i fear there is much more to it in the land of disk drives, and their interfaces. I just hope, somebody who knows disks drives and their structures better, can drop in on this.
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by:ded9
ID: 17007390
it seems like corrupted bios try to reset bios by shorting cmos jumpers or removing cmos cell wait for 1 hour or a day to discharge current from motherboard and then place back the cmos cell wait for 15 minutes and power on the pc.

Also check the jumper setting in hard disk try differnt options in it to detect your hard disk. Also can try setting the jumper to restrict it to 32 gb setting.

If the above solution doesnt work then you must fix a new bios or cmos in your motherboard. You have to purchase a new cmos or bios for your motherboard

Reps
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by:nobus
ID: 17007511
ded9, please read the original post - it all works after logging on with ERD - are you sleeping? lol
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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 17012343
Okay, let's look at this in some detail ...

"... System does get past POST, but stays with black screen, and a cursor in the top left corner. " ==> so it appears it was either hanging in the boot process (otherwise you'd get an "Insert System Disk ..." message) -- e.g. did not find any bootable media in the listed boot order devices; OR the boot sector was damaged.  I suspect the former, as if the latter was the case you should have "seen" the disk in the BIOS.

"... drive C: remains unseen by the bios. " ==> this can be caused by a variety of things:  (a) the IDE channel is disabled in the BIOS;  (b) the drive has failed (what you assumed);  (c) the control information from Track 0, Sector 0 cannot be read;  (d)  a bad cable or connector

"... My conclusion was : bad disk." ==>  a reasonable conclusion; but clearly disproven when you connected it to another system.  

"... logging on to it with ERD, cured it.  ... My question is : how is this possible? " ==>  I can only make an educated guess; but I can think of a couple of possibilities:  (1)  you COULD have had a marginal connection to the drive, and reseating it a few times suddenly fixed it (I do NOT think that's what happened here);  (2)  somehow the control sector was rewritten, and this was then readable by your system (I think that's what happened).   I'm not sure HOW this happened, as modern IDE drives are designed so track 0, sector 0 is not writable by normal utilities (this contains the control info for the drive, including the bad sector map, and all modern IDE drives use translation logic that's transparent to even the low-level routines in the BIOS);  but it could have been written by ERD or it may be rewritten whenever a track 0 write occurs (some drives buffer the entire track and rewrite it whenever a write is done on a track 0 sector -- this guards against long term deterioration of the data).   I suspect ERD simply rewrote the entire track 0 data structure -- it is possible to temporarily turn off the translation logic(Spinrite, for example, does this) -- and the rewritten track 0, sector 0 was then readable on your system.  

"... backup your reaction with some kind of proof." ==> Definitely not !!  The above is simply a somewhat educated conjecture; and does have some unexplained elements.   While different IDE interfaces do have differing threshold levels, and one can work with a drive that another won't work with; it's still puzzling why the drive itself wouldn't correct the data on track 0, sector 0 [perhaps #1 (bad connection) was in fact the issue].   Normally I'd also suspect a corruption in the BIOS IDE detection => but you tried clearing the BIOS and redetecting the drive, and I'm confident you did it correctly, so that's ruled out.

Bottom line:  I doubt you'll ever know for sure what happened;  but it was certainly an interesting issue, and hopefully this gives you some food for thought.   It would be interesting to know for sure if ERD rewrites the control sector.
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by:nobus
ID: 17015929
first, thank you Gary for this info, it maybe not the complete answer, but explains, or gives info about what can have happened.
i have a bit more info now : when the trouble occurred, the customer was hooking a usb card reader to his system. This froze the system, and at reboot got the symptoms above.
Could it be that the insertion of the usb device corrupted the control info?
And something that stays unexplained is the fact that the disk was notrecognised on the old PC, but was read nicely on another; i would assume the bios is flawed at this point, since i tried the ide identification section several times, and cleared the bios with a jumper too.
I agree that most likely ERD corrected something (the control info)
BTW if it explains anything, the mobo was a MS-6534
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by:garycase
ID: 17017870
A USB reader - IF it contained a card - could explain the blinking cursor at boot time => check the BIOS and see if USB boot is enabled.   The system may have been simply trying to boot from the USB card.   This doesn't explain why the BIOS would not see the disk, however... so the thoughts above still apply.
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 17022384
3 minstakes here.  1. never run a CD slave on the primary HDD, serious error.  Run 2 HDDs together and put CD/DVD on secondary always.  Second, when you refresh boot sector, have no other drives attached, and make primary bootable, and third, always check IDE detect with clean setup and resys drive and redo boot sector always before you install other drives.  You should know this, I would have thought.  Also check BIOS to see if able to correctly detect LBA drive translation.  Did you check low level soft sector format for consistency?  This is first step if you suspect sector errors.
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by:garycase
ID: 17024069
I agree that a preferable configuration mix would be the two HD's on the primary channel, and the two optical drives on the secondary;  but that does NOT explain what happened here.

nobus -- IF the USB reader (with a card inserted) was causing the boot issue, then the system should have booted normally after removing the card.   It would NOT explain corruption of the track 0/sector 0 control info (assuming that's what happened ==> another possibility is simply that the card was removed in-between the "bad" attempts and the later successful one).

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by:garycase
ID: 17025151
... in thinking about this, it reminds me of a call I got from a friend a few months ago who had a system that was hanging at a "... black screen, and a cursor in the top left corner."  I went over to look at his system; and the issue was exactly what we just discussed:  a USB boot was being attempted from a card plugged into a USB card read (in his case it was actually a USB micro-drive).   After I unplugged the "card" the system booted fine -- and I then disabled USB boot in the BIOS and the system boots fine whether or not there's anything in the card reader.

As I noted above, it doesn't explain the corrupted control sector;  but it could easily explain the initial symptoms ==> AND if the contents of the boot sector of the USB device had anything that executed (whether intentional or not) that could have caused the corruption.   Just a bit more food for thought ...

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by:nobus
ID: 17049246
first off - sorry to be late in answering, i was away some days.
when i booted, and the disk was NOT detected in the bios (see first post) the usb card reader was NOT connected at all.
To scratchy :   "always check IDE detect "  i mentioned that (see first post)
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by:nobus
ID: 17097334
Ok - no more info is coming in, so i'll close this out.
It seems to me Gary posted the most valuable info
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