New 250 Gigger: Dying or Reparable?

By Devcon
May 7, 2007
  1. So, I'm in Africa, and I had my mom send over a 250 gig Maxtor DiamondMax 10 for my host family. Of course, there are many risks in shipping fragile computer components to Africa, but that is besides the point.

    Upon first receiving the drive I tossed the drive in the computer (an older computer PIII 933, 256MB RAM, Hewlet Packard mobo) and fired up my XP CD. All went well, but the installation program was unable to complete the format to NTFS citing potential damage. So, i was pissed for a moment but I've had that happen with a drive before and it has worked flawlessly for years now. So without any available boot disks with format utilities, I tossed in another 10 gigger to try to format the new drive with Paragon Partition Manager. PPM reported no problems, and when I next attempted to install windows all was well.

    The drive worked well for a solid month, but then suddenly it crashed, saying only hard drive error after the BIOS screen. Not possible to boot to windows to reformat, and it seemed pretty much dead. Next, I tried out the Ultimate boot CD and the Maxtor drive integrity utility. It told me that the drive was dead and I should contact Maxtor. (Where's the Seagate building in Africa?). Next I tried a couple defect utilities, and they found more than 600 bad sectors. Ok, so I figured it was dead, but I'd try a low level format before giving up on it. The maxtor low level format utility completed without any errors, and the drive was now detected with windows install, but what surprise, I receive the same message i received the last time and it's unable to format the drive.

    So, I boot to the other hard drive again, and this time format the drive using Partition magic pro, making a windows partition and a storage partition. But this time when I reboot and attempt to install windows on the newly formatted drive, the windows install won't even continue after 'checking computer hardware'. The screen just goes black. So I try to think of another way to get a windows install on the new drive. I reboot to the 10 GB and use the partition magic partition cloner to put the windows install on the windows partition of the 250GB. After, to my surprise, the computer had no problems booting to the new hard drive. Everything worked like new, and all seemed well.

    24 hours later, when i wake up, the computer is crashed saying something about a user profile error. A blue screen just after the windows logo appears and the computer continues in a loop of rebooting. I need to mention that the computer is branched to an external ADSL modem and a Netgear MR814 router with internet connection sharing enabled so i can have internet in my room. I downloaded a couple work related programs directly to the 250GB hard disk on the host computer using my laptop. I don't know if that had anything to do with the disk error, but listen...

    I put the 10 GB back in and booted. The 250 GB is detected and seems to be working fine. I go to find the files I download, but when trying to copy the files, I get a quick blue screen with an auto reboot. I reboot again, and format the partition with the windows install, planning to just leave the more reliable 10GB in the computer to maintain the windows install.

    I'm going to try spinrite on the drive a bit later to see if it finds any problems, but in the meantime, does anyone have an idea? I've installed my share of hard drives without any problems, but maybe this older computer and mobo just doesn't like the newer drive? Or of course, the drive is just preparing to completely die?

    I think that's it, sorry for the lengthy post.
  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    You could try HDD Regenerator as it can sometimes actually fix bad sectors. But if the Maxtor diagnostic tool says its dying, then it likely is. Even if you got it working I wouldn't trust anything on it.
  3. Devcon

    Devcon TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    Yeah, that's why I'm now leaving the 10GB inside. I believe SpinRite is supposed to be more robust that HDD Regenerator. I'll let you know what it says. I find it a bit strange that the low level format completed without errors, yet apparently there are still problems. Perhaps I'll also try the maxtor drive integrity utility again to see if it has the same turnout.
  4. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    an older computer PIII 933, 256MB RAM, Hewlet Packard mobo.. I have one of these myself and beef the RAM to 512MB, the BIOS even if you update it still doesn't work right. And I repair a lot of systems and this one is one the worst ones from HP. Best bet is to partition the HDD into 60GBs. I did try larger sizes and it didn't support it. Or it might drop the drive all together like you have mentioned above the BIOS will say it can't see the drive or crash that's coming from the onboard Controller. I use to use this a Windows 2003 Server it drove me crazy with the problem and got another guy I know told me he couldn't figure out the problem but it's the MOBO HDD Controller and BIOS just doesn't support it.
  5. Devcon

    Devcon TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    So, you think 60 is a safe number? I hate HP, always have, and almost EVERY computer in the country is the same POS HP. Also, having experienced another 'crash' would it be prudent to do another low level format as it seems the MB is causing disk errors, which i don't want to do as it takes assloads of time?
  6. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    Try it? But not going to stay okay. The only way to get around this is to replaced MOBO, then you'll have to replace the CPU, RAM, Powersupply. Or just build a new system. That problem won't go away. I've tried more than 10 times and I left the system on for months then all of a sudden, it couldn't find the OS. Why because the BIOS couldn't see the HDD nor the CD. It's just plan and simple junk. I got this from a user who told me their system was slow. I remove MOBO and put in another new case. It worked for almost 6 months then pow! Can't find the OS after are reboot. Why because the BIOS said no HDD detect. It will work with Promise Cards but those cards are just plain and simple junk too. They work for a while then fail. You could try one but I won't recommend it.

    You would have to play with the BIOS until it can see the HDD. I would have to use UPS battery backup just to keep the darn system from crashing after a reboot. Funny I have another HP mint condition very good MOBO found that in user house he told me he thought it needed a fuse. Wow a fuse really? So you don't want it so he said yeah. It was the PSD was bad, just replace and it worked. That HP doesn't have this sort of problem with the BIOS and controller for HDD, FDD.
  7. Devcon

    Devcon TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    Well, I suppose I will just leave it, and see how long it survives as just a storage and download disk. If it doesn't work, whatever, I'll take it home with me and put it in a real computer.
  8. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    most hard drive makers warranty their drives for 5 years. I do not know what their international policies are, but it's worth a shot and you might save some money.

    Also, update your profile and put your country for a location. We like to know where people write in from!
  9. Devcon

    Devcon TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    Yeah, so if worse comes to worse I can likely return it when I get home. It was purchased in the states, so there is no record of it being sent to Senegal. So yes, I'm in Senegal, West Africa, but I'm from Connecticut.
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