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Unusual random soft disk errors on Dell 2400 with XP Home

Posted on 2007-03-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
Hi, I have a Dell Dimension 2400 PC in for repair with a disk error problem.  It started reporting odd files as being missing or corrupt.  I ran chkdsk and it report all sorts of horrors such as invalid index entries and strange temp files.    However, *without any trouble* I was able to copy off all the data files, including the ones it had said were damaged or missing.  

Then re-ran chkdsk /r and it reported all fixed OK.    A bit later it was reporting problem files again.   Removed to workshop, removed hard drive and tested/ran chkdsk on a Win2000 PC - all checked OK.  Fitted Dell with different hard drive and ran Dell and third party diags on replacement drive and other HW - all tested OK.

Fitted brand new hard drive and cloned Dells own drive to it.   All OK for a while and then chkdsk reported errors similar to before, this time on the new drive.  Deciding it must be corrupt SW, I reformatted the new drive and installed a fresh copy of XP.  All OK for a while and then chkdsk (and others) reporting problems again.

Any suggestions?

To recap:
Random 'soft' disc errors on original and new drive.
Three sets of diagnostic tools say all the HW is OK.
A fresh install of XP on a freshly formatted HD still has the problem - but no files appear wrong/damaged.
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Question by:itmanager
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by:WallD
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I would suspect some sort of disk controller poblem.

Though to be absoloutely sure find the maker of the hard drive and go to there web site and down load there diagnostics.

Samsung       http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html
Seagate       http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html
Maxtor/Quantum       http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/
IBM/Hitachi       http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT
fujitsu/Seimens http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic
IBM/Hitachi       http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT

if all oc try swapping over which port the disk is plugged into. and see how it runs there .

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by:WallD
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Also try loading all the latest bios's for the motherboard. it may help.

Does the error log show any issues.
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by:itmanager
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Hi WallD,

Have already tried 3 drive diagnostics on the original and a brand new drive - don't think any more will tell me anything new.  The original is a Maxtor Diamond Max plus 8 40G, the new is a Seagate Barracuda 7200-10 80G.

All BIOs and drivers are latest from Dell - this machine was shipped in Jan 2004.

XP error logs are about the cleanest I've ever seen!  No errors at all after I loaded all the drivers.

Here is a sample of the errors chkdsk is producing now:

The type of the file system is NTFS.
Volume label is REGISTRAR.

WARNING!  F parameter not specified.
Running CHKDSK in read-only mode.

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
File verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
Deleting index entry banner-right[1].jpg in index $I30 of file 9080.
Deleting index entry BANNER~1.JPG in index $I30 of file 9080.
Deleting index entry info_16x[1].gif in index $I30 of file 9080.
Deleting index entry INFO_1~1.GIF in index $I30 of file 9080.
Deleting index entry hdr_options_left[1].jpg in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry HDR_OP~1.JPG in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry resultslist[1].htm in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry RESULT~1.HTM in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry tgar[4].js in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry TGAR_4~1.JS in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry trans_pixel[2].gif in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry TRANS_~2.GIF in index $I30 of file 9081.
Deleting index entry banner-bg[1].jpg in index $I30 of file 9082.
Deleting index entry BANNER~1.JPG in index $I30 of file 9082.
Deleting index entry hdr_expressresults_left[1].jpg in index $I30 of file 9082.
Deleting index entry HDR_EX~1.JPG in index $I30 of file 9082.
Deleting index entry content[3].js in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry CONTEN~3.JS in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry hdr_custominstall[1].jpg in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry HDR_CU~1.JPG in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry toc_collapsed[1].gif in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry TOC_CO~1.GIF in index $I30 of file 9083.
Deleting index entry owner@update.microsoft[2].txt in index $I30 of file 9090.
Deleting index entry OWNER@~2.TXT in index $I30 of file 9090.
Deleting index entry S-1-5-18 in index $I30 of file 9183.
Index verification completed.

Errors found.  CHKDSK cannot continue in read-only mode.
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by:mastoo
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Do you know that the computer is being shut down properly?  You might turn off write caching on the drives if you aren't sure (device manager - disk drive properties - policies)
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by:pgm554
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Have you tried changing cables?
I had issues with crashes and corruption and it was a bad ide cable.
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by:itmanager
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Mastoo,

Seems unlikely it's a shutdown as I get the errors even after a reboot although I agree even then the cache needs to be fully flushed.  Will try that and report back.

pqm554:
Haven't tried a new ribbon cable as I've not had one available.  Have just obtained and will try next.  Again, will report back.

IT Manager
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Author Comment

by:itmanager
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Right,  Changed the IDE cable, set up a 'chkdsk /f' for the reboot and rebooted.  Immediately did another chkdsk and got:

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
File verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
Index verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
Security descriptor verification completed.
Correcting errors in the Volume Bitmap.     *****
Windows found problems with the file system.
Run CHKDSK with the /F (fix) option to correct these.

Turned off the cache,  did the same again , got:

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
File verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...
Index verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...
Security descriptor verification completed.
CHKDSK discovered free space marked as allocated in the volume bitmap.    *******
Windows found problems with the file system.
Run CHKDSK with the /F (fix) option to correct these.

So it's not the cache or the cable.  Any other ideas anyone?  This is driving me nuts.  Is there a disk controller diagnostic?
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by:mastoo
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How big's the drive and boot partition, and what vintage is the computer?  And chkdsk is the only thing indicating a problem?  I dimly recall it is unreliable on a partition in use so you either let it check at the next reboot or use vrfydisk from the windows resource kit.
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by:itmanager
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The original was 40G with a Dell's usual 47M boot/diagnostic partition (this also hard some bad sectors).  The replacement is 80G with the same 47M Dell partition.  The PC was shipped in January 2004, a 2.4G Celeron with 256M RAM.

Chkdsk unreliable on a partition in use?  Now there's a thought - though I've not had trouble before.  certainly It seems to run OK on the 40G partition that XP isn't on.  I've run it following a reboot several times today without really watching to see how it works out.

I'll try vrfydsk!
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by:mastoo
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I forget the details, but we have a couple servers that chkdsk reports errors on and after reading something on microsoft.com I switched them servers to using vrfydsk.
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by:itmanager
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mastoo,

Vrfydsk says it only works on server 2003, and it came up with a wonderfull error message on this XP Home    :-(          However I did find this:  

"However, on computers without Windows Server 2003 SP1, running chkdsk without parameters on an active system or boot volume, or on a data volume that is in use, might incorrectly report errors when none are present. To avoid this, close all programs or processes that have open handles to the volume."

on: http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/library/8f7ffab9-a5e7-4de9-907a-0f172b5a6a4e1033.mspx?mfr=true

So your memory serves you well.  Now all I need to define are: " all programs or processes that have open handles to the volume".

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mastoo earned 125 total points
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The safe thing is do a 'chkdsk C: /F' from a prompt and it will say the volume is in use, do you want it to run at reboot - answer Y.  Then reboot, and when windows comes up check your event log for a message from winlogon telling the results of the chkdsk.  I think it also points you to some log file in C:\

That way there won't be any question about whether any errors are real errors or errors being caused by something having an open handle on the partition.
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by:itmanager
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Mastoo,

I had of course done all you suggest (and several times) but still got errors later on.  I ac only assume that I was largely fooling myself by running chkdsk on a live system and was thus getting errors caused by that.
The system now seems stable so whatever I've done has removed the original errors.

I therefor award the points to you.
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