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Fried Hard Drive ... Help!

Trish's Escape from Hardware Hell Help Board » Hardware » Hard Drive and Storage Related » Fried Hard Drive ... Help! « Previous Next »

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Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 1:12 pm:   

I'm going crazy with my hard disks. A few months ago my 6 gig drive died. I deceided to upgrade and go and buy a 20 gig maxtor.
After 2 days this drive died also.
I thought maybe I was having motherboard problems since this was the second drive that died in 2 days, so I took the 20 gig back for a new one, and picked up a new mobo also (both the old and new mobo's have onboard sound and video).
Again, after a few days I had another 20 gig drive die on me. The store was good enough to give me a new one after testing to make sure it was really dead. I also bought a new power supply and changed outlets just incase I was somehow getting surged.
Any way, it's been 2 months and I even live in a different house now (therefore different outlets), and again my maxtor hard drive died on me. I'm not sure if the store is going to let me return the drive for a third time, and if I can help it I would like to avoid the $300 it will probably cost to get it tested in a shop.
Does anyone have any ideas what could cause this ...Please help.
FYI ... I have a celeron 400 processor, 192 mb of ram, onboard video and sound, a 40x cd-rom, and a 8x/4x/32x panasonic cd burner. I'm no where near a hardware specialist, but I do know that I am installing the drives correctly.
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 3:02 pm:   

It's real difficult to hurt a hard drive without actually hitting it with something. You can't connect the power backwards, and the ide cable does no damage if you hook it up wrong. To top it off, if you were getting power surges or something like that I would expect that the hard drive to be just about the LAST thing to die. Compared with a modem or CPU, they are very robust.

There ARE ways that a malicious person could damage a drive without opening the case; for obvious reasons, I'm not going to describe in detail how one would go about doing it. You may want to consider the possibility that someone is doing this on purpose, either in person, or via a virus. Get a virus scanning program. There are also unscrupulous retailers out there that will sell returned drives as "new" in hopes that a few people will simply swallow the loss, saving them the expense of returning them to the factory. I wouldn't jump to conclusions, but it's a possibility. Four hard drives in three months is WAY out of the ordinary.

The good news is that all new drives come with at least a three year warranty from the factory. You can download drive diagnostics and firmware from Maxtor's website for your drive(s), and if they fail to fix or at least identify the problem, you should talk to their tech support people by telephone. Your drive may not be bad at all, just in need of an expert's touch. If my guess is correct, your 6GB drive may still be under warranty as well. You can check warranty status at the manufacturer's website.
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 11:20 am:   

Thank you very much Dave for the info ... I'm going to try the drive diagnostics and firmware from Maxtor's website that you mentioned.
Also ... Does anyone know if this could be caused by a faulty processor. Since I have already bought a new power supply and motherboard, if I can't figure it out I might just upgrade my processor and see what happens. I know this probably is not a good idea (putting new parts into a computer that is wrecking other parts.), but I would rather spend $95 (800 celeron) on a good guess then $200 - $400 on shop benchwork, then another $95 for the part. Maybe that's not a good idea, but i'm stubborn also, and want to figure this out without the help of a computer store. I am going to lean towards hardware problems rather then a malicious person for now.
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 3:05 pm:   

I think I can say with near 100% certainty that a bad CPU can NOT damage a hard drive. If you want to upgrade anyway, it certainly won't hurt anything. Just make sure that your motherboard will support the 800.

It's also possible that your retailer got a bad batch of drives. A few years back, Seagate had a problem with a particular series of SCSI drives where nearly every drive they shipped out was coming back either DOA or in need of warranty repairs. We had about a dozen of them where I work, and they all failed within a year.

Let us know how the dagnostics turn out...
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 8:35 am:   

Thanks again Dave ...
OK, there is a new twist to the senario now. I forgot to mention that originally when I switched my first motherboard I noticed it wasn't working properly when trying to install the hard drive (new hard drives wouldn't work either). Now I have tried to install an old 2.5 gig hard drive that one of my friends had kicking around, and my computer will not recognize it as the primary master. As soon as I change it to the primary slave the motherboard detects it fine. This obviously tells me that whatever has fried my hard drive has also done damage to the motherboard. The floppy drive also isn't being detected, but the secondary master and slave are being detected fine (cdrom and cd burner). I can probably get my computer going based on this information, just leaving the hard drive in the primary slave, but that doesn't solve the problem of the motherboard still being wrecked and the floppy drive not working. Sorry, I havn't done the hard drive tests yet.
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 6:30 pm:   

Ouch. There's something strange going on here, and I think I may have a clue for you.

Older drives like your 6 GB use a jumper to determine master/slave arrangement. Ideally you put the master at the end of the cable furthest from the motherboard, but it wasn't necessary.

Newer drives use a special 80 pin IDE cable, and they are normally jumpered to "cable select", which means that you MUST put the master on the end, and the slave in the middle.

Bottom line:

There are two differences between 80 pin IDE cables and 40 pin cables. The first is obvious, i.e., the number of conductors is different. The other difference is more subtle. The 80 pin cables have a pair of wires that are twisted so that the drives themselves can automatically determine master/slave status by how they are positioned on the cable; hence the term "cable select".

If you use an old cable on a new drive, it may not function correctly, unless it has a jumper for master/slave, and you jumper it correctly. And in any case, it will never perform at the rated peak transfer rate with the older cable.

If you use a new cable on an old drive, it may not function correctly, unless it has a jumper setting for "cable select".

If you mix old and new drives on EITHER type of cable without jumpering them correctly, they may not function.

Any of this start to sound like a possibility?
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 8:03 am:   

Unfortunately not Dave. When I purchased my new motherboard, it came with new IDE cables (that i'm assuming are the 80 pin that your talking about, since i'm not at home to check), and I didn't know about the positioning requirements, but I actually did put the master on the end. I didn't have a slave on the primary, since I put the cdrom and cd burning on the secondary IDE port. Having said this, I'll say that I'm not 100% possitive of that and I'll ckeck when I get home tonight.

Do you know if it's possible for it to be my network card. After thinking things through, I think all of this started happening shortly (around 1 month) after moving from dial-up to high speed. Before making the change to high speed I didn't have a network card installed. It's a good quality card (D-Link), but maybe it's somehow slowly killing my motherboard by sending weak electrical charges through it. Well thats a guess any way, but I have no idea if it's possible.

P.S ... I really appreciate the time you have spent helping.
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 9:45 am:   

Just make sure that the new drive is jumpered for cable select, and that it's attached to the end of the cable furthest from the motherboard. I forgot to mention this, but the connectors are generally color coded too. It's important to put the correct end into the motherboard. The two conectors that attach to the drives are usually closer together.

The hard drive will run as slave if you hook it to the middle connector, but I'm not sure that a slave will function properly in the absence of a master drive (never tried it).

The cd-rom's should use the old cable, and you can leave them jumpered exactly as they were on the old board.

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