I have three identical PCs with all exact same components. They are running Western Digital Caviar Blue drives, 7200RPM, 500GB.
There was a power outage recently, which eventually lasted beyond the UPS batteries (again, all the same, Tripp-Lite 1000VA) and the PCs all went down. The PCs are not scheduled to shut down "cleanly" when the battery is low, so they just "crash".
After the power came back and all PCs were coming back on, the three using the Western Digital drives all reported that there was no boot drive available. The discs weren't showing up in the drive details in Setup or the boot priority list. When started up, the three drives make identical sounds - the disc spins and then there's a short "beep". It almost sounds like it's coming from a speaker under the controller board...not really "mechanical"....but I guess it's probably a high pitched noise from an internal component. It spins 4-5 times and then the error pops up. The same thing happens when I connect any of them as an external drive to a working computer with a USB adapter.
In addition to these three - there are 7 other EXACT same PCs - except for the hard disk. Those drives are Seagate. All of the other PCs with Seagates started up fine. The only other difference I can think of is that the three PCs that crashed are all running Windows XP 64 bit - whereas the 7 other PCs are Windows 7 32 and 64 bit....though I don't know if that matters.
Any thoughts? Could it be software related? I spoke with Dell and they said if it were software related, I'd still be able to see the drive connected in the BIOS. Is it possible the crash "fried" the controller boards?