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Thread: searching for cause of data drive failure




  1. #1
    DonH is offline Junior Member
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    Default searching for cause of data drive failure

    Last week my wife's system suddenly couldn't see its 2nd harddrive (data only). It wasn't seen in the BIOS. It would spin with no clicks or squeels. Plugged a spare drive into the same SATA port and it worked fine. Took the drive to OnTrack to diagnose and recover the data. It's in their clean room, but haven't had luck reading anything yet.

    I've never had a drive fail without some advanced warning. I dug through the event logs and found a series of Event 11 The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk2\DR2. Others were the same but with DR3, DR4, or DR5. These continued after the dead drive was removed.

    Hadware Monitor reports a big fluctuation in the +3 voltage.

    This is an Intel D945GTP board with an Intel Pentium D 940 Dual Core Socket LGA775, 3gig RAM. Internal SATA drive, IDE DVD RW, External USB drive.

    Does this look like the board failing or the PSU failing, or both? Or nothing to worry about?
    Don

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    Lsdmeasap is offline GIGABYTE Guru
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  3. #3
    DonH is offline Junior Member
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    Thumbs up Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    I installed Everest Ultimate and monitored the voltages while running all of the stress tests for only a couple of minutes. I wanted to confirm the readings that I posted. That showed a very steep (over 7v) drop in the 12v in addition to the earlier noted drop in 3v.

    I bought a Corsair TX650 and started the replacement. This had been a custom built system. I was surprised to find an Antec PSU rated at only 380W and that was overly optimistic. It was underpowered when new!

    Since I replaced the PSU, the voltages have been rock steady and there are no new events recorded by the system. I think we were lucky that only one drive failed. Visually, the board looks fine and I haven't seen any data errors.

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    Lsdmeasap is offline GIGABYTE Guru
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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    Nice to see this sorted!

    Odd to hear low voltage drops cause HDD failure, but I guess I learn something new everday.

    Good luck, hope things continue running smooothly!

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    DonH is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    It surprised me, too. The drive would spin with no clicks or whines. In fact there was no "seek" noise at boot. BIOS couldn't detect it, though a spare drive plugged into the same port was.

    The drive had important data that wasn't on a backup, so I took it to OnTrac to diagnose and recover. They have had it in their cleanroom for a couple of weeks and have yet to be able to recover any data.

    I believe that drive motors use the 12v. I don't know if the controllers do too. Would undervoltage cause the motor to overheat and radiate to the electronics as well?
    Don

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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    I am really not sure what would case it to kill drives like that, we'd have to ask someone with a good electrical background

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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    It is hard to say. Used to be, in the old days, there was a minus 5 volt ouput and if that failed it screwed up the bias on a lot of ciruits, causing them to fail. Power supply failures can cause weird things to happen. Data on a hard drive is stored in sectors of cylinders (think pie slices on a disc as being a sector, and cylinder is a stack of discs (top and bottom sides of a single platter would be two cylinders). The OS uses a file table, windows flavors being FAT, or NTFS. The drive controller electronics convert the file system locations into physical locations on the hard drive. There is a motor controller and a conditioner circuit that takes the output of the drive heads and converts them to digital signal levels. Your hard drive controller apparently failed. It sounds to me like the file table on the hard drive is corrupted.

    Sorry to hear you lost all your data. It's not easy to take raw data and figure out where the files start and stop.

    Finally, many failures are sudden, without warning. Things just go poof.. gone. It has happened to me more than once. I have, however worked on a lot of sytems over the years. Sudden failures, fortunately, are rather rare.

  8. #8
    DonH is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    A follow up for anyone interested.

    I had a phone call from OnTrack this am. The drive failed from "media corruption". The tracks that are responsible for the drive's recognition by and communication with the BIOS had been completly scrambled. Even when restored, nothing on the drive could be reconstructed. The voltage variations apparently caused the spindle speeds to vary and the read/write heads to become completely disoriented, overwriting in a random pattern.

    It's not the type of failure I've ever experienced before, but it makes some sense.
    Don

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    Default Re: searching for cause of data drive failure

    Wow,

    Don, sorry to hear that. It hurts to lose data. It just goes to show, too, that hard drives can fail. That kind of failure is an unusual one for sure.

    take care, man.

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