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HDD failure

By eduardo ·

Hope you can help with this one, as I am uncertain as what has happened. Today in the morning, once turning off my Win 2K Pro machine (a Toshiba Tecra Laptop) I was suddenly confronted with the BSOD; did not quite look what went wrong except noting that a message similar to 'dumping memory to kernel' appeared. Turned off, waited a minute or so, turned on to check and the HDD began spinning but noting, not even a 'disk not found' or 'no-system disk' or anything. Just spinning in the air (I could hear the smooth rotor, it was even a smooth sound, nothing loud or with a pitch which would suggest some sort of stiction, or the worse.) But it might be the worse.

The most peculiar thing is that I was unable to access the BIOS. Only by removing the HDD the BIOS became accessible.

Tried in the office to swap the disk into another Toshiba laptop, same. Plugged the HDD into my HP desktop (as slave) and nothing; I was even unable to access the HP BIOS.

The disk was working at perfection; it had Trend-Micro AV plus a range of Spyware/Malware scanning tools and on-the-fly protection. I have no ideas as to what might be happening. Under which circumstances a HDD will prevent access to the BIOS? It was not only reset so that it would not be the first bootable option, but it was also jumpered to slave mode, but nothing.

Tried to hot-swap after booting using a rescue disk. The drive started to spin, but was unnaccessible.

Hope someone can provide a clue and/or suggestions as what to do.



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by In reply to HDD failure

Hello Ed...

Sorry to tell you that your HDD is likely really most sincerly dead.

It would appear that the IDE controller on the drive is sending errors down the IDE cable. And, this is preventing the BIOS from completing POST and getting to a point that you can enter BIOS setup. Very unusual.

This does not appear to be a malware problem. It appears to be hardware failure.

Since you've tried the same drive in different PCs and got the same results, it rules out the IDE ribbon cable.

If this really is an IDE controller failure, your data is likely completely intact. It's just inaccessible due to the controller failure. If correct, and if you have a great need to get that data, you might then have the option of swapping the little circuit board from an identical drive.


-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)
Advanced pro bono tools and utilities free for personal use

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by eduardo In reply to HDD RIP

Cheers Steve,

Thanks for you prompt reply. Duh, this is most unusual, as you say. The HDD was working perfectly. I have tried again to see what's going on and I now hear a bit louder truc-truc on spinning, which leaves me wondering. There was no power surge (and equally so my PC would have been toasted). The other issue was that, roughly at midnight GMT there were a couple of wild-viruses alert by Trend Micro, the updates were automatically D/L and everything continued fine.

Dunno if the super-frost alternative wuld do (not quite keen on dropping the unit) given the sound, but if it is a controller problem I think I can really end ******* it up for good (due to condensation on the platters). Thing is this HDD is rather old (2001) and it would be a miracle if I can get a circuit board for the same make and production batch.

Your comments most appreciated.


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by In reply to Damn

Hi Ed...

The idea behind physical shock or freezing is to cause realignment of the heads and platters to make the drive mount and copy data off. Since your drive is causing BIOS POST to fail, the problem may not be alignment but electronics. On the other hand, what have you got to lose? I just wouldn't be too extreme.

The sound you're hearing is likely I/O retries by the controller. The heads are moving trying to line-up with the tracks and read data. If you will lose data without trying, I would try some _light_ physical shock to try to help the drive mount. Use it as a slave as you tried previously.

Your four year old notebook HDD lasted longer than most.

Good luck.


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