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Hard Drive reports 0 GB

Posted on 2011-03-20
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
My customer called and said his PC was unable to boot. It was reporting a "System Disk Error". I told him to bring it by and leave it with me. When I started the computer, there appeared to be no problem booting. It went all the way into Windows XP and ran fine.
Windows XP has all the updates and Service Packs.
I discovered the PC was infected with the "Win32.RBot" Trojan. I used SpyBot and Malwarebytes to eliminate the infection. I then ran multiple Virus scans.
The computer was with me for 2 days. I ran ChkDsk, defragged, and used CCleaner. I cleared the System Restore caches, ran the AntiSpyware scans again, and restarted multiple times. Everything seemed to work fine. I returned the PC.
The customer called me after he got home. He said he tried to start the computer and he was getting a non-system disk error again. When he brought the PC to me again, I could no longer boot into Windows XP and was getting the same error he reported.
He left the computer with me. The hard drive is a Western Digital EIDE drive, model WD400BB. So, I checked the drive with WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic with a DOS CD. The diagnostic misreported the Model as WD102BB and reported the capacity as 0 GB. But, both the Quick and Extended test reported the test as "Passed".
I don't know what else to do, but tell the customer that I need to install a new hard drive and reinstall windows. He has no backup and no CDs to reinstall the OS and software. As this is an older computer, this will be cost prohibitive.
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Question by:Gurdjieff
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14 Comments
 
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by:Dave4125
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Have you tried the AVG boot CD? It has picked up malware where I've been unsuccessful with others.
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by:willcomp
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I suspect that either the drive electronics or firmware is failing. Problem may be intermittent and you may be able to get drive to boot normally after it sits for a while. If you can get drive to operate properly, clone the drive to another hard drive.
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by:jamietoner
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What does the bios report for size? If it sees 0mb aswell that indicates a failed hard drive. I hope your customer has a backup.
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by:Gurdjieff
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After the PC was returned to me, I used several boot CDs and floppies to try further scans, but nothing can access the Hard Drive except for Data Lifeguard Diagnostics, and this gives the results I mentioned above. The main question I have is why, the first time I got the computer it ran like a racehorse, and the second time, I could not access the Hard Drive. I tried BartPE, using the included antivirus scanner. Also, I ran the Ultimate Boot CD. No Software, Windows or otherwise, could recognize the Hard Drive as a valid Disk. Under Windows XP, the Disk Maintenance could see the disk but I was unable to initialize or access the disk.
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by:Gurdjieff
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The BIOS reports the Size as 8 GB. But, the number of cylinders is correct, as are the other parameters. The only thing that is incorrect in the BIOS is the capacity (8 GB).
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by:Gurdjieff
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Oh, by the way, the correct capacity should be 40 GB.
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by:web_tracker
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Since the drive may be not detecting the drive properly it could be a simple problem with a bad cmos battery, this is what I suspect since this is an older computer. If that is not the problem it could be the firmware that is failing on the drive, especially since the diags software is not detecting the drive correctly. If you have another drive to test in this system see if the drive is detected properly, or even check to see if the time and date or correct, an incorrect time/date settings after the system has been unplugged for a couple minutes is a dead give away that the battery needs to be replaced.
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by:willcomp
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As recommended earlier, let the drive rest and cool off. Running the drive may cause additional damage.
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by:Gurdjieff
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I took the drive out of the case and connected it to a USB adapter. I then ran WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostics from two different computers. I connected the drive to a Windows XP box and got the same error conditions. Ran it from a Windows 7 PC and it returned the same errors (diagnostics passed, capacity 0 GB). I had let the drive cool overnight and could never get access to it from DOS, Windows, and Linux. Why would the computer run perfectly for 2 days, then exhibit these problems?
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by:Gurdjieff
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Oh, and the CMOS battery appears to be good. I've had no problems with the clock or the BIOS maintaining its settings.  
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web_tracker earned 250 total points
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Well it definitely sounds like the controller card is damaged, this may have been caused by static electricity discharge, especially this time of the year when the air tends to be dry it is very easy to damage electronic devices when the user is not where some type of static discharge bracelet or device. You don't have to feel a large zap of electricity coming from your body in order to destroy a device, even a discharge of 200 volts can damage electrical components who may normally be passing 12 volts. Static electricity can also weaken components causing them to work intermittenly until they totally fail.
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Assisted Solution

by:willcomp
willcomp earned 250 total points
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If you haven't already done so, reinstall the hard disk and try to boot PC periodically. If it boots, then clone hard disk.

Hard disk electronics can become sporadic. If you work with PCs long enough and see enough of them, it will happen again. It does not have to be an old hard disk either. Sometimes hard disk will be recognized and sometimes it won't. Just hope that it will decide to operate again.
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Author Comment

by:Gurdjieff
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It is possible that static electricity is the culprit. Both times the disk error occurred, it was outside my observation (at the customer's  house). Perhaps there was a surge condition, such as substandard electrical in his house. I live in south Texas and this seems to be a common problem in our residential areas. I will definitely recommend surge protection in the future for his home office. In the mean time, I will periodically try to start the computer (as willcomp recommended).
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Author Closing Comment

by:Gurdjieff
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I will split the points between willcomp and web_tracker. I believe that this is as far as I can get to a resolution on this issue. Thanks, appreciate the help.
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