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Drive randomly disappears at boot, why?

Hi. I'm taking a look at a colleague's pc which has this problem: the Sata drive (system disk and only disk on the pc) randomly disappears from boot.

You load windows and everything's fine, then once in a while you turn off the pc, turn it back on and the drive has disappeared, the controller doesn't seem to recognize it anymore. So the dreaded "Insert boot device" message appears.

Then after turning off and on and trying a few times, eventually the drive will get recognized again and work just fine.

The computer is an Acer with Mcp61sm-Am motherboard.

I've tried changing bios boot options and such but with no luck. When the drive disappears, it won't even show up in the bios boot menu, by the way.
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Daniele Brunengo
Asked:
Daniele Brunengo
1 Solution
 
mrroonieCommented:
try changing the SATA cable connecting the drive to the mobo. if that doesn't work i would have thought its a faulty disk or mobo - do you have another disk to try?
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theras2000Commented:
If BIOS can't even see the HDD, then I'd defniitely say its a physical problem.  Perhaps it's just loose.  Try taking the drive out and reseating it firmly.  If you need to know how to remove the HDD, you'd be looking for a document called a 'service manual' somewhere on Acer's site.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
It is either HDD, cabling, power, controller, or motherboard.  So you are simply going to have to start substituting known-good items.  
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himanshu24Commented:
you check your harddisk through HDDlifePro,  if your problem reslove then change sata cable, otherwise problem from your motherboard port
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minos8Commented:
we have the problem with several Dell PC here at the Office. Changing the HDD solved the problem.
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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
I have tried changing sata port a couple of hours ago. I've tried switching the system on a few times and it didn't disappear yet. If it disappears again I'll try to change the cable and I'll test the drive with something thorough like hddlifepro.

The drive is not loose, I have spare parts to try out (except for the mobo) but the problem is it takes ages for the drive to disappear, and when it does it can reappear unpredictably, so before trying to substitute stuff I'll be trying to test the drive.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Odds favor a failing disk, but seems to me that if this is a business you would save your company a lot of time and effort if you just swapped out both the HD stick in a replacement controller.  You could easily get both a 1TB drive and a controller for less than $100 to get your college going.   I have to believe your time and your colleagues time is worth more than $100.    (If not, then hopefully whomever decides what your salary is doesn't find out that you are spending more than $100 of your time trying to save less than $100).  

Personally, back the system up, replace the hardware, then put the HDD on a test system and let it run I/O tests until it breaks.
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dbruntonCommented:
Or possibly the system is booting faster than the hard disk is responding.

I've struck that serveral times usually when the system is cold.  Once everything warms up all is OK.

Check the BIOS and see if there is anything to slow the boot sequence down.  For example there may be options to do a memory check.  If so enable it and see if that gives the hard disk more time to respond.
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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Tested for one day on the new Sata port, everything still ok. I will test some more.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
If your testing mechanism is merely running a program that reads/writes data to the HDD, then you could very well get a false negative.  You need a bed that will issue bus resets, put the disk in power saving mode; send I/O; stop I/O; sleep; reboot; power off, and so on.  If you don't have a test board and the equipment to do this, then you may very well end up with no-problem-found.

Unfortunately, it costs money to get this type of equipment.  You just can't do proper stress test with software alone, so just keep that in your thoughts when/if you have an incident.
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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
Where would I find a test board such as that? I'll need sooner or later.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Check out www.uxd.com 
They have a wide range of products, including some things for just a few hundred dollars that should be quite beneficial to you.
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Daniele BrunengoIT Consultant, Web DesignerAuthor Commented:
3 days have passed since I tried to change the sata port and all tries to boot the system and log into the os have been successful. But I know that when I'll say "ok, it's fixed", that's when it won't boot once again.
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