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Bad RAID controller, bad HDD - not sure which

By OPTheory ยท 4 replies
Sep 20, 2010
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  1. I seem to have dug myself a hole and now this seems to have turned into a sort of complex problem that I'm having serious troubles diagnosing.

    Here's what I have:
    HP Pavillion m9040n
    Motherboard: ASUS IPIBL-LA
    Northbridge: Intel G33
    Southbridge: ICH9R
    CPU: Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz

    Hard drives: 2 x 320 GB WD3200AJS, ideally on RAID 0

    When I first got the computer, the two hard drives did not come in a RAID array, so I set it up as RAID 0 and everything was peachy and working great. I left the country for two years, my family used it, and about halfway into my trip one of the drives apparently died. So my brother deleted the RAID array, installed Windows 7 on just ONE of the drives.

    Now that I'm back, I want to put it back onto RAID 0 for the performance boost as well as reinstall Windows 7 to get a fresh start.

    So, because one of the drives was apparently a bad drive (but it was working just fine as an extra storage drive) I decided to run chkdsk on all drives - there were no problems detected whatsoever. I updated the BIOS version and every other device that needed it, I backed up my data, zeroed out the hard drives with an application on a boot CD called "The Ultimate Boot CD" which contains tons of different boot options, and then turned on RAID again. Everything was fine so far - I installed Windows 7 and then after a restart an error comes up saying "Hard drive failure imminent." So, I run a drive scanner again to check for bad sectors, it finds nothing. I moved the cables to different SATA ports on the mobo, put it back in RAID, and it still did the same thing. I'm beginning to think it's a bad RAID controller but from what I know it seems much more likely the hard drive has gone out. How often to RAID controllers die on mother boards anyway?

    One thing to note is that I can't diagnose the hard drives using Western Digital's software Data Lifeguard Diagnostic, because whenever I try to boot from the CD it loads, and then the computer beeps and does nothing. This happens on every version I've tried from the software regardless of whether the controller is in IDE, RAID, or AHCI.

    Now here's the problem: During Windows installation, it only sees one drive instead of two and Windows just can't seem to write any files to the hard drive. I get an error during installation saying that the files were corrupted.

    So the questions are:
    1) Based on what I've mentioned, is there any way to find out whether it is either the hard drive or the RAID controller? I don't want to have to throw down any money on new hard drives unless it's certain that one of the hard drives are bad.

    2) Is there any reason why Data Lifeguard wouldn't be starting up? It just beeps, and stops. That's it.

    3) Is it typical that RAID controllers on motherboards go bad?

    I hope I've been able to provide all of the necessary information. I was hoping I'd be able to diagnose the program by searching elsewhere, but I didn't find anything.


    EDIT: I'm trying to see if any other diagnosis tools will work from other manufacturers but no matter but the computer always BEEPS and stops on "Virtual Disk Driver."
  2. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

    RAID 0, especially software sucks and often fails with a complete loss of data.
    I assume your warning is SMART message and it should be heeded.
    RAID 0 seldom gives any significant performance boost, but will significantly improve your chances of data loss.

    Why RAID is (usually) a Terrible Idea
  3. OPTheory

    OPTheory TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Alright, fair enough. That was a very insightful article - I appreciate it. So perhaps I'll just go with one drive. But the problem still remains - I can't install anything now because it looks like one drive doesn't show up within Windows 7 setup, and the one that DOES show up I'm not able to install anything on it because it gives me an error that the files are corrupted...
  4. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

    It's not clear to me what setup yo're currently using. RAID or or not?
    I can see why other boot disks might not have the proper drivers for your RAID controller.
    Switching SATA controllers should tell you which drive, if any, is bad.
  5. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    Checkdisk is about as usefull as tits on a bull to detect drive errors.

    Put the controller back to IDE mode and then start with that ultimate boot cd again. Goto the hard drive diagnostic section and run mhdd 4.6. select the disk and press F4 twice. Chances are you have UNC's on one of the drives.

    Note mhdd only detects drives that are "master" so make sure you have the connected to port 0 and 2 (or 1, 3 depending on labelling) of the sata controller.

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