Suspected hard drive failure

Discussion in 'Computing and Networks' started by tjohnson, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    About a year and a half ago, the hard drive died on my WinXP PC, so I got a Windows 8.1 computer which has been my primary PC ever since. Until last night, that is, when its hard drive seems to have gone bad. (I replaced my WinXP's hard drive later, and am now posting from it.)

    Unlike my WinXP drive, which had the "click of death," my Win8.1 still boots, but it runs extremely slow. I first started noticing odd behavior when my mouse locked up several times this past week. Although I've had applications or even Windows itself stop responding numerous times, I've never had my cursor stop moving like this before. Then yesterday afternoon, after waking my computer from sleep, I got a message in Thunderbird telling me that there wasn't enough disk space to download new messages. Nonsense, I thought (I have hundreds of GBs of free space), so I restarted Thunderbird and it worked fine again.

    Last night, I restarted my computer after installing several Windows updates, and left my desk to go do something else. When I came back to check if my PC was finished restarting, I saw that it was still installing updates. I thought nothing of this, since some Windows updates do take quite a while to install. But when I checked again a few minutes later, I saw this message on the screen: "Scanning and repairing drive D." Now I thought, What on earth is going on? D is my system recovery partition.:eek: After a long time, my computer finally booted up.

    So I logged in, hoping that all was well, but it wasn't.:( It took ages for the desktop background to load, then my taskbar shortcuts, my desktop shortcuts, etc. My antivirus software wasn't in the system tray, or anything else. Now I was thinking, Do I have a virus or what? I tried restarting my computer, and what usually takes only a minute took 10-20 minutes. Any program I tried to start took ages to load and constantly locked up. When Windows Task Manager finally loaded, it showed that explorer.exe was frequently not responding.

    I had a restore point from the day before, so I tried doing a system restore. That too took ages (I think I had to wait five minutes before it even appeared on the screen), so I let it run overnight. When I woke up this morning, there was a message saying that it failed to restore a certain file. I ignored it, but when I tried to start any programs they were again so terribly slow. I switched from my regular user account to my admin account, and things seemed to run faster.

    Good, I thought, maybe I just have a corrupted user account, and I can get myself out of this mess. But no, I went to empty the Recycle Bin and my computer locked up. Thinking the problem was caused by the Windows updates that had just been installed, I booted into Linux (since my PC has Windows 8.1 and Fedora 22 dual boot). At first it seemed to be loading fast, but then it too became just as slow.:mad:

    So finally I started wondering if my hard drive is going bad, and what I read online so far seems to confirm it. A hard drive that's going bad can make your computer lock up, and run very slow (especially when running file operations). But now I'm thinking, How could a computer that I got brand new only a year and a half ago have a failing hard drive already?:confused:

    Thankfully I have my files backed up, and a comparable replacement hard drive costs only about $50. But before getting one, I wanted to check if you think that my hard drive is indeed the problem?
     
  2. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,647
    2,346
    Hello,

    You might want to try smarttoolmon:
    http://www.smartmontools.org/
    That program can see if there are things wrong with the harddisk, like seek-time,bad sector count etc.

    If it won't run from the harddisk, try to download a knoppix version and boot the PC from a cd/dvd.
    That also has a smarttool in it.

    Bertus
     
  3. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
    2,781
    1,227
    Prior to drawing conclusions, I suggest you enable RAM error checking then see 'what comes up' --- the described symptoms are consistent with untrapped memory errors (as well)...

    Best regards
    HP

    PS:
    Aye! The IBM DeskStar DeathStar -- I remember it well but unkindly!:eek::D
     
  4. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
    614
    121
    Thanks to both of you for your suggestions. I remembered that I can access the HP Diagnostic tool from the F9 boot options menu, so I ran a System Check using the diagnostic tool, which checks the processor, disk, and memory. It told me that my disk is bad:
    20150725_154301.jpg

    I would actually have preferred for the memory to be defective, so that I could get a larger RAM and wouldn't need to reinstall everything. I suspected that the disk was the problem though, especially because of the weird behavior of my D drive. (I forgot to mention in my OP that it no longer shows as a system recovery partition, but just a local disk.)

    Now that I've confirmed that the disk is the problem, I'm wondering whether or not I should wait until next Wednesday when Windows 10 is released to set up a new hard drive. I had previously thought that I'd want to keep Windows 8.1 for as long as it's supported, but with the timing of this I'm thinking I might be ready to switch.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  5. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
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    It may be advisable to thoroughly research that decision -- I've seen very few favorable reviews of said OS:eek:

    Best regards and good luck!:)
    HP
     
  6. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Do you mean few favorable reviews of Win8.1 or of Win10?
     
  7. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
    2,781
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    The latter -- It seems, among other 'new and exciting features', is built-in MSN adware, celebrity gossip feeds and, well... just everything tawdry and obnoxious in a 'media way':mad:
     
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  8. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    Check your PSU voltages it's not normal for HDD's to fail this often,unless you bought new PSU than could be just a defective disk.
     
  9. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Um, with a multimeter? I've never used it to measure such a high voltage.

    I do remember that several days ago while I was using my computer, the power at my house seemed to momentarily decrease. There was a fan running in the room which sounded more quiet for a few seconds, and then went back to full speed. I also know that most of the electrical outlets in this house are not properly grounded (even the GFCI outlets). Should a surge protector protect against decreases in power as well as surges in it?
     
  10. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    GFCI trips on mismatch of current not voltage.
    Check the voltage on the "PC" outlet,12V rail and 5V rail of the PSU.
     
  11. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Thanks, I'll check the voltage. The GFCI outlets don't even trip (and are only in the kitchen, so my PC isn't plugged into one).
     
  12. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    If you have a neighbor that uses high power tools like metal presses,welders,etc..They can actually cause voltage drop in your house.
     
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  13. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    I thought this article was interesting:
    [​IMG]
    If I understand correctly, hard drives are over three times more likely to fail in their first 18 months than in the second 18 months.:eek:
     
  14. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    Yeah,most likely because of mechanical damage during the transport(crashing head,lost calibration) which is going to show up much more earlier than lets say "damage from use".
     
  15. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
    614
    121
    Well, the good news is that it seems the hard drive was the only problem. I bought a replacement and installed it yesterday, reinstalled Win8.1 and most of my software, and copied my files to the new drive.

    I'm writing this post on my phone while sitting in front of my computer, which is currently "Installing update 54 of 143..." The Windows updates take ages to install, which makes me look forward to reinstalling Fedora.;) (The network installer is awesome.)
     
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