Is my HD really dead??

By saw46 ·
I have an 8 year old (9/2001) Dell Dimension 4100 Desktop
60 GB Ultra ATA/100 Hard drive (IBM Deskstar)
1.10gig Intel Pentium III processor
Intel? 82801BA Ultra ATA Storage Controller - 244BI
Intel Board D815EEA AAA10383-407

OS: XP Pro SP3 --Clean install Jan. 09. (9/01- 1/09 OS was Win ME)

Sept 09 I installed 256 MG of additional memory in DIMM slot 2, bringing the total to 512MG
(Dell told me what to buy but I got it from Crucial)

October 1st ---I ran Chkdsk and then started to defrag. When I returned to the computer the screen was black with ?Invalid boot diskette; Insert Boot diskette in A??.and it wouldn?t boot. It would hang on the splash screen for a very long time and then display the previous message.
In BIOS the hard drive did not show up.

Using XP setup disk to get to Recovery Console?I found ?no hard drive installed? and so using FIX BOOT or FIX MBR BOOT got no response.

I ran Hitachi?s DFT but it couldn?t find the drive either.

I would assume the hard drive was dead?except that everything I have read says that it could be either a software or hardware problem;--and more than once,?..my desktop has actually opened,..and then been quickly disabled by a stop error. Once I even found it listed in the BIOS,--I booted to desktop and it was stable for about 2 minutes before it changed to a long page of writing saying that:
?A problem has been detected with your system and windows has been shut down to prevent damage. Kernel-Data-Inpage_Error.
STOP: 0x0000007A

ATAPI System - address F848650C, Date Stamp 4802539d

Beginning of physical dump
(Anyone speak Greek??) Any insights?

I have also dusted the inside of the case and checked all of the connections.
I would just say it was dead and dump it, --it is obviously time for a new HD,?but if it isn?t the hard drive and I can recover for even an hour so that I can check and make certain that I have everything I need off the disk,..before I move on--I would like to do that.

It is often off for weeks at a time and I haven?t ever changed the CMOS battery..(8Yrs)..is there any chance that a dead battery could account of any of this??

Any ideas at all will be greatly appreciated, I really don?t know where to go from here. I guess putting a new hard drive into this old system would not be as smart as getting a new computer??

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All Answers

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A couple of quick things

by DMambo In reply to Is my HD really dead??

First triple check the power and IDE cables to the drive. If necessary, swap the IDE cable to the other controller on the mobo and open the BIOS to see if the drive is recognized on that. Set it back to IDE controller 0 and the end of the ribbon cable (not the middle connecter)

Does the drive make any noise? If it's making a rhythmic clicking for a long time, that's not good. If it's whirring then chances are that the platters are spinning.

If the drive has jumpers, make sure they match the way it's connected to the controller (Master, Slave or Cable Select)

If you can get the the XP CD recovery console, run C:\chkdsk /r

Worst case, buy a new drive. That PC is better than many we have at my work. A drive will only cost about $40 - $50. Much cheaper than a new PC, especially if you just need normal apps and internet access.

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Well Several thoughts here

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Is my HD really dead??

The first is that of the CMOS Battery is flat it can cause all types of Screwy things to happen. The No HDD being just one of them.

The way to check this is to open the BIOS and see if the Date & Time are correct. If they are the chances of the Battery being flat is fairly remote as the Date & Time wouldn't be correct if it was flat or at least Flat enough not to fully power the CMOS.

As you list a IDE Controller Card here you need to load the Controller Card Drivers before you can run the DFT Utility so you'll need to make a Boot Disc with the Controller Drivers included when the system Boots. Of if the M'Board has On Board IDE Sockets plug the HDD into one of those and test the drive.

personally as this has been working OK previously and is left off for long periods of time I would be looking at corrosion occurring inside the case so lift the RAM and any Plug In Cards and reinsert hem in the same sockets and try again.

Quite often just removing and replacing the Plug In Cards will cure a problem like this but if ti doesn't you really need to test the drive by removing it and fitting it to another computer or to a USB External HDD Enclosure and seeing if it is readable in there. If it is it is unlikely to be Dead and gone to Silicon Heaven but the Controller Card could very well have gone there.

As for what you do from here that's your call but with IDE Drives BIOS has a Upper Limit on what Size HDD it can read so ideally if you want to fit a new HDD it would have to be around the 80 GIG Capacity or you run the risk of the system being unable to read the Drive or at least all of it. This results in Load Errors and other errors that can cause a multitude of problems.

I would also replace the Data Lead and see if that makes any difference as I have seen a few fail over the years but it's not all that common.

What you could do to test this is to load a Live Linux like Knoppix but I personally think it would be a waste of time as the error messages are telling you that there is a IDE Error occurring here at the very least.


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by Russell Gates In reply to Is my HD really dead??

It is most likely dead as a boot drive. Before it dies and you lose any unsaved info please install a new drive and do a disc copy. It'll probably work as a slave.
Or just install a new HD and do a clean install of OS. Transfer any files you need. That way you won't have to worry about corruption of necessary files.

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by saw46 In reply to Yes

This won't sound very knowledgeable, but I'm afraid I'm not. I'm sure I can put in a new HD and do a clean install and I don't care to have the old disc around after all of this trouble with it,--but How do I get any files to transfer when the OS won't stay up for any length of time?
Thanks for responding.

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You fit the HDD to some form of external USB caddy

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Thanks




And copy your files directly off the Old HDD.

It would be advisable to retain the Old HDD as it has your Data on it and if you use Internet Banking or buy on line it will have your Credit Card Details so you do not want to allow this out of your control.

If you must dispose of the HDD you need to use a Wiping utility called Boot & Nuke to write layers of zeros to every sector of the HDD. But this takes several hours to complete and you need to let it run till it is finished. That will not guarantee you that your data is destroyed but it will stop anyone without the most advanced Forensic Recovery Hardware recovering your data. So to all intents and purposes it is destroyed.



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by Russell Gates In reply to You fit the HDD to some f ...

Shoot it with your favorite gun
Take it apart and throw the discs away.
Most guys LOVE to take stuff apart.
There is a pretty cool magnet in there and you'll know what the inside of a HD looks like!

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trash it

by SPC_TCOL In reply to OR

Besides taking it apart, i like to hang the disk outside so they refect the sunlight at daytime and keep the birds away, you can throw the drive in a fire, the heat will do the rest.

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That may work

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to trash it

But then again the OP here may be like one guy I was tasked with teaching to do some Mechanical Work.

He didn't know what a Screwdriver was let alone how to use it. I have since then always found that making assumptions about people doesn't work.


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by Russell Gates In reply to That may work

a mixed drink right? OJ and Vodka mmm.....
I have a client that is blind. A really smart guy. He built a computer!! Got it mostly right the second time. First time I understand wasn't pretty. Didn't understand about all those pins.
You are correct about that old 3 in 1 word ASSUME !

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Great Heads Up!

by saw46 In reply to You fit the HDD to some f ...

I never even thought about the data on the dead drive issue,...thanks for bringing that into focus! Besides filling up one's safety deposit box with old drives,..is there anything,..or any place you can take it to have it pulverized?

On the copying by external enclosure issue,--I have ordered one, and plan on trying, but does success in this effort hinge on the hard drive not being the actual problem
e.g. it actually being the controller . I am still trying to understand ,--can you actually copy a truly DEAD Disk with a live one??

Thanks again for everything--

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