Hard Drive Question...

Gurus,
I just need some input based on your experiences...It seems as though every HP machine coming into my shop has a hard drive that has mechanically failed. Generally when we need to do a reformat, we back up data by connecting the drive to an external and fish out whatever is needed. Recently I have come across drives that are recognizable to the host computer, but there is no drive letter assigned, and no means to access the drive. Occasionally, this drive can still be written to once it has been reformated, the customer's data being lost. Some of these have come back after 1-3 months when the hard drive does finally give up the ghost. So, if the drive is not readable on an external, and clearly has other issues to be here in the first place, is it your opinion that this is a pretty good indicator that the drive IS mechanically failing?
The drive in question (today) is a WD 200GB, 18 months old. After installing a program, the system failed to boot, missing the 'hal.dll' file. Also the recovery console is corrupt giving me the BSOD. Again, the drive cannot be accessed on an external or as a slave. Is a reformat and reinstall just prolonging the inevitable?
Jeff
 
Jeff_BurnsAsked:
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rindiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I second cal's comment about rather connecting the disk directly and not via usb or firewire port. Then, before lowlevel formatting, you should use the manufacturer's test utility which should show if the drive is bad or not. Usually you will get an error number. such errors are often masked after a lowlevel format. Another reason for using the drive internally is that these tools usually won't work on a USB connected drive.
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CallandorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would say if you are getting repeated problems with it and you can't access it as a slave drive, the drive is on the way out and should be replaced.  Not being readable as an external is complicated by the USB-IDE electronics in the enclosure, so I would try to reduce the variables by connecting it directly to the IDE controller.
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shaharidzalConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would advice if you are goint to reformat the HDD, make 2 or three partitions from that 200GB HDD. Having an OS, programs, games, files on a single partitions is no good for the system. OS shares the same partion especially the 'pagefile' and the rest may end-up getting too fragmented and buildup cross-link files.

Just an opinion
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Jeff_BurnsAuthor Commented:
I appreciate the input. Although the drive was not readable on 1) IDE-USB, 2) External, or 3) Slave in working system, it was running like a champ after the reformat. I also downloaded the WD diagnostics tool and it passed both the Smart test and the Extended test. Can a mechanically functional hard drive become so software-corrupted to prevent reading as a storage device? Strangely enough, I had another one in here yesterday that would read but not write...even after a reformat!!
Thanks to all,
Jeff
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