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Bizarre hard disk problem

Posted on 2016-11-07
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Last Modified: 2016-11-16
A client of mine dropped her Windows 10 laptop about 4 inches last week. The laptop appears to run properly, but - bizarrely - the newest files on the laptop are from last March, over 7 months ago!

I wasn't there when the drop occurred, but saw it a day later - after another person in her office attempted to troubleshoot, so I don't know what they might have done.  

The laptop was off the domain in a remote office when the drop occurred, so I took the laptop to the main office and logged onto the domain - just in case, and no recent files reappeared.

A quick check of the drive reveals some bad sectors, so I did tell her that it is possible this is not related to the drop, but that the drive might already have been defective.

Anyone ever heard of such a strange failure?
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Question by:DaveWWW
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 35 total points
ID: 41877094
That is enough of a drop to damage the hard drive if the laptop was on at the time. Heads park when off so it seems less likely if the laptop was turned off.

However, the bad sectors are not a good sign (however caused) and the hard drive should be replaced. Back up what you can first.
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by:No More
No More earned 35 total points
ID: 41877096
The drop could damage heads, but if the drive has bad sectors - reallocation sectors count, it could make things even worst and with possibility of loosing some data

Laptop drives usually don't last long just few years and usually having a lot of bad sector

Well if the drive is in warranty, vendor will find out that the laptop was dropted

Just get new drive for your client and you are sorted
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by:rindi
rindi earned 35 total points
ID: 41877125
Test the disk using the disk manufacturer's diagnostic tool. It will tell you whether it needs to be replaced or not. Bad sectors alone don't mean the disk is bad.

At what files did you look?
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 35 total points
ID: 41877128
I generally agree, however an event (presumably from the drop based on the post) caused data to disappear. I find that to be alarming.
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Author Comment

by:DaveWWW
ID: 41877204
I used the "everything" utility to search for all of he user files. None between March and November, for a laptop used 5 to 7 days a week, every week.

A disk testing program revealed the SMART Data that indicated the drive issue. Of course, despite the sector issues, the compelling issue is that files from the last 6 months simply aren't there.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41877223
It would depend where the user saves the data. I'd look at System files and pagefile etc. for date info.
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by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 35 total points
ID: 41877432
Where are files normally saved?

I'd check the domain and see if the files have been deleted from that.  And is the domain backed up?
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by:rindi
rindi earned 35 total points
ID: 41877480
Also if it uses Offline files, data isn't saved at the normal locations, but rather in a kind of "cache" from where they get synced with the domain once you are connected again.
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William Fulks earned 255 total points
ID: 41877735
You said somebody else tried to troubleshoot it before you and there's your first big problem. They probably didn't know what they were doing and so could not tell you what they did. If they'd run System Restore it shouldn't have affected the data. Maybe they had an image backup or something of that nature? Or they tried to clone it off another similar model in that office.

A drop plus the bad sectors means that drive really needs to be replaced, though.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 35 total points
ID: 41878205
you can try to run hddregenrator, it helped repair many drives for me
then backup what you need - and replace the drive - or not - as you like

for running diags, i use the UBCD :
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD
---------------------------------------------------
go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP : http://cdburnerxp.se/

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
 
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/      

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick
*** note *** for SSD drives  use the tool from the manufacturer, like intel 's toolbox :
https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/18455/Intel-Solid-State-Drive-Toolbox

for completeness -here's how i handle disk problems : http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/A_3000-The-bad-hard-disk-problem.html

==>>****in order to be able to  boot from CD or usb - you may have to disable secure boot in the bios
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by:Gerald Connolly
Gerald Connolly earned 35 total points
ID: 41878286
So what happens if you create a file right now, does it get created with a 7 month old date?

Is the system date set correctly?  make sure you know the date format for the system!
e.g 9/11/2001 = 9-Nov-2001 to me, but others see this as 11-Sep-2001!!
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by:McKnife
McKnife earned 35 total points
ID: 41878704
Another hint:
-look at the event log and see if there's also a large gap
-look at the windows update history (there have been many updates every month)
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Author Comment

by:DaveWWW
ID: 41887899
Thanks all. I'm sorry but I think the answer lies with the fact that, previously unknown to me, the other IT technician says he was in the "reset this pc" area, but is quite sure he did not use the options which removes user files.  It seems clear that he did, because the old files that are present on the disk were actually the result of a reimaging of the drive that occurred after the reset was likely done. The image used was about 6 months old.  

So I think the simplest answer is likely the cause: the PC was reset, and the error evident in the SMART data was pre-existing.

Not sure how to close this question - all of the comments are great and I had already done may of them (disk scanning, checking the server, noting the gap in the Event Log, etc.) but I think this is just an unfortunate case of accidental resetting of the PC with its files.
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by:William Fulks
William Fulks earned 255 total points
ID: 41887924
I suspected a System Restore or something of the like was done. Don't you hate it when people mess with stuff when they don't know what they are doing?

You can assign comments as "assisted solutions" to spread the points out to the ones you thought most helpful.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41888262
You can assign comments as "assisted solutions" to spread the points  That is the way to resolve this.
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