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HD troubles with Dell

By Fred
Jun 14, 2005
  1. I had a 3 year old dell desktop, and the IDE hard drive died, so I went out and bought a new one at Staples and installed it. Now every time I boot up I get a message saying it found a new hard drive and to press F1. I press F1 and it boots up fine. I also had a 1-year old Dell 8300 with two 250G Maxtor SATA drives and the C drive died. I think a hard drive should last longer than 1 year! So I figured it was still under warranty and I called Dell tech support and the guy had me do all kinds of things, but after 96 minutes on the phone I had to let him go. Pressed for time I went out and bought another hard drive 250G Hitachi SATA and installed it and it worked ok. Six months later the new Hitachi died too. Funny thing- the D drive in that computer never died. Anyway I went out and bought another Maxtor SATA drive and installed it and now kinda similar to the older Dell, I get a message that it can't find drive 0 and to press F1. I press F1 and the operating system then boots up fine. I have two questions: 1) I can understand a 3 year old IDE drive dying, but what could be the cause of two rather new SATA drives dying? The first SATA one that died I slaved and it would show a drive letter, but windows couldn't open the drive to let me see the files. When I slaved the Hitachi, I don't even see a drive letter. 2) What am I doing wrong that the bios wants me to press F1 each time it boots in order for it to work? I never went into the bios in the first place.
     
  2. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Posts: 85

    What were the symptoms of the failed drives? Did you run any disk diagnostics on them? When you installed the drives, did you go into bios setup to ensure they had been correctly detected?
     
  3. Fred

    Fred TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The 3yr old IDE and Both SATA drives just failed to boot one day. Tried to slave the IDE after buying a new one and a drive letter wouldn't appear. I'd say the motor died on that one. The First failed SATA drive gave an error saying 'unmountable volume". I took the XP disk and tried fixmbr and chkdsk /p/r and neither worked. The chkdsk stopped after a few minutes saying it was unable to continue. The new IDE drive gives a prompt at bios that it found the new hardware and to press F1. You do that and it boots, but you have to do it every time it boots almost as if the bios is having trouble remember what it found. Both SATA's that were installed I ran the disk it came with to format it. I did not go into the bios setup for those. I just don't understand the error: It said "can't find drive=0 press F1." Well, if it can't find it, I'm not sure why it boots up fine after you press F1. I did not go into the bios and tinker with anything though.
     
  4. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Posts: 85

    In any of these situations, have you gotten into BIOS setup menu to see how/if the bad drives are being detected (or not)? I'm not clear if about your statement, "The new IDE drive gives a prompt at bios."
     
  5. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 119

    I think to get rid of the F1, push the button to go into the BIOS (DEL on a Dell I think) and go to save changes.

    At least that is what I had to do on this old POS Optplex I have here.
     
  6. Fred

    Fred TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I haven't checked the bios settings yet but it definitely sounds like a bios setup trouble. I'll spend some time on it later tonight and repost my findings. What I meant about the prompt was that when I boot up the pc with the IDE drive it goes to a black screen a few seconds after turning it on the computer, and it says something like "found new hardware...press F1..." So I do, and then it boots up fine. But it happens every time I boot. I replaced a bad 80g ide drive with a new 80G drive; same cable, same slot. Usually when I do this it just prompts the first time that it found new hardware.
     
  7. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    Looks like there is probably another problem. You have had well above the average number of disc failures. I'd would not be surprised to learn that some of them are still serviceable. Have you look to see if there is a BIOS update? Also check out the sata drivers.
     
  8. Fred

    Fred TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, the problem with the bios setup is fixed. All the drives that were installed were detected, and everything was checked set to auto detect, and that's what the problem was. In the Dell 8300 with two SATA drives in it the bios also had the IDE controllers set to autodetect also. So it kept looking for those drives which didn't exist and never existed and when it didn't find them it was informing me that it didn't find them and to press F1. So instead of autodetect for those I just turned them off and the F1 prompt screen never appeared again. So I wonder if the settings automatically change to all drives autodetect when you replace a drive. I never went into the bios settings to begin with. Same with the Dell 4300. It had an 80G drive that died, and I replaced it without going into the bios settings. It was giving me a similar error so I shut off autodetect on everything else and that problem went away also. At first I thought that error said "found new hardware" but when I checked to night it actually said it couldn't find something".

    Now for the other problem. How come two rather new SATA drives died so fast? The first SATA came installed by the factory, and maybe that was just defective or something. Then when I replaced that SATA drive I booted up with the boot setup Cd that came with the new drive and it formatted the drive I think. Then I took the winXP disk and installed windows. But I never put any drivers on a floppy and pressed F6 during the XP installation. Then again that PC has no floppy drive anyway. The install went without a hitch anyway. So I'm wondering if XP installed generic drivers for it and those generic drivers were causing the SATA drive to function incorreclty or overheat somehow? Any thoughts on that?
     
  9. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Posts: 85

    Does hard disk installation CD of one or or the other "bad" drives come with a diagnostic program? Most of them do and also make the CD bootable. Now that you seem to have your bios problem resolved, boot from the install CD and run the diagnostic program against a bad drive. Or, simply use the install CD to reformat the drive(s) if they are recognized. I wasn't clear about your original symptoms other than not being able to boot. It's possible the drives are actually physically fine.
     
  10. Fred

    Fred TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The original SATA drive that died was installed at the factory and didn't come with any CD, but the new one did. I didn't notice a diagnostic program on the disk, but there might be one on Hitachi's website. That original drive I think has bad sectors. It was left on for maybe two weeks, and then norton antivirus downloaded an update and said that the system needed to be rebooted in order to take affect. When I did a shutdown/restart it wouldn't boot (forget what the error was). After slaving it the drive letter would show but it couldn't open the drive to see the files. The drive was moving, but after about a minute it gave up and gave an error. I tried the recovery console but chkdsk stopped after a few minutes with an error, and fixmbr didn't do anything. The second SATA drive doesn't show a drive letter when it is slaved. Now I've got another one in there and so far it's working good. I called Dell support when the 80G IDE drive died and the guy had me on the phone for 96 minutes trying to format and install windows on the bad drive. I finally had to let him go. It sounded like he was going to see who could outlast who. He won. I don't think he wanted to send me a new drive he was going to keep me on the phone doing different things, and some repeat things until I hung up. He was from their "offshore office" but wouldn't say how far offshore. I'm thinking he was about 12,000 miles offshore. I am reluctant to call them back but I'm going to have to put that bad drive in again in order to go along with his charade so that I can convince him that the drive is bad and to send me a new one. I might do that this weekend when I have some time. I'll see if I can find the diag program too.
     
  11. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    You should have no touble finding diagnostic test on any manufacturers site. You should of course use utilities from the same manufacturer as the drive you're testing.
     
  12. Grok451

    Grok451 TS Booster Posts: 85

    I've got to say I feel for your situation. :dead: I would have to say your situation is pretty uncommon from my experience. I have several computers, each with multiple drives (none with SATA drives yet), and the last time I had any [physical] problem with a drive has been years. I'm starting to wonder if you have a bad SATA interface on your motherboard, or SATA card, depending on how you've got them installed. If you have access to another computer, I'd suggest trying to see how the drives act on that system to isolate your issue.

    Good Luck!
     
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