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Quite possibly the most strange and mind boggling PC problem EVER


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#1
Mitesh

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Ok read this for a low down on the history of my PC. It is as long as [bleep] but to fully understand it you must read this entire thing (I have tried to make it slightly comic and interesting .... honest!) Also please forgive spelling mistakes because I had to type this entire up in 1 hour!!!!

Bought around March 2005-

Pentium 4 3.0Ghz 530J

Specification:
Prescott, 3.0 GHz, LGA 775, 800 MHz FSB, L2 Cache 1MB, 90nm, Hyper Threading

-80 GB SATA Seagate hard drive

-LG GSA-4120B optical drive


12 March 2005 order placed from Dabs.com:

- Thermaltake Tsunami Black case with side window

- Gigabyte GA-8I915P Duo Pro Motherboard

-1GB DDR PC3200 (333Mhz) – (Not sure about speed check my signature please) Corsair Valueselect RAM CAS 2.5 (2x 512MB RAM Modules)

Antec Trueblue 480W PSU

12th March 2005 – Order placed from overclockers.co.uk

- Powercolor X800XL 256MB PCI-E


23rd March 2005 – Order placed from dabs.com

-Iiyama Prolite E435S-B 17 inch LCD and a Belkin DVI cable


Computer was then built during around March 2005

Worked fine until I bought the following:


2nd June 2006 – Order placed form overclockers.co.uk

-Zalman Aero Flower (Socket 775) Heatsink and fan

-Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound (3.5g)

-Akasa AK-178-BL 12 inch Cold Cathode

-Logitech G5 Gaming Grade Laser Mouse

-Akasa AL-171 Copper RAM Heatsink (only 1) (I thought 2 came in the pack but only 1 comes)

The above components were installed on the 6th June 2006 (before the components listed below)


12th June 2006 - Order placed from overclockers.co.uk

-Powercolor X1900XT 512MB GDDR3 AVIVO PCI-E


13th June 2006 - Order placed from Scan.co.uk

-Akasa AK171 Copper RAM heatsink (only 1) (Because I thought 2 would come in the previous order)

-Zalman Northbridge Heatsink - Which I did not install because it was not an improvement over the one which is in the system - however when I pulled off the Northbridge heatsink it was stuck like glue so I yanked it off. I later found out it would have come off easier if I had used a hairdryer on it for a minute or so. I then replaced the Northbridge heatsink (it’s passively cooled). However I doubt I damaged the Northbridge, and even if I did this couldn’t explain the SATA HDD's failing could it? And the result of damage would be immediate however there was nothing to suggest there was a problem immediately afterwards nor a week afterwards.

-Silverstone ST60F PSU 600W

Items bought above were assembled on 16th June 2006

18th August bought S-Video cable (50 ft) and tried to record TV via S-Video however only black and white appeared (Rewired a SCART adapter as a website informed me this is why I was getting Black and White). Again I doubt this caused the problem- it is important to mention around September the main power box blew. The people from EDF energy came and repaired it for free as it was below the black box thing which the company EDF are responsible for (we own a business a shop which is located under the house it is my fathers just to let you know).

Also I cannot remember when this was, but some time back before the S-Video cable was bought and before the power blew I had to test a Hard drive that was in the shops security system. It is not a pc it is a box with record buttons and stuff that records off the cameras. Well whilst that was in the security box thing it was making beeping noises (yes I know hard drives don't normally emit noises that sound like beeps). So I disconnected the IDE hard drive in my system and connected the security hdd as I will now call it. It did not show up in My Computer on the desktop link so I disconnected it (of course after powering down the system etc) and carried on as normal. And low and behold a couple of days later my HDD started beeping (the SATA one). That is when the first 80GB Seagate Hard drive broke. It is important that you understand that the IDE hard drive was bought before this system was even built and I removed it from the other Intel Celeron Dell PC (I had bought this hard drive from dabs as the PC only had a 'Fireball' (or something like that) 8Gb HDD! This IDE hard drive still runs fine! I have always used it to backup the important files.

On 2nd September 2006 (Exactly 2 months and 16 days after components were assembled) Tomb Raider Legend crashed came up with some error regarding 'Microsoft C++ Fatal error please refer to readme' or something along those lines.
Then the PC went into endless reboot. After this I reformatted and reinstalled. (This was when I still had the SATA Seagate 80Gb HDD).

On September 30th 2006 (Roughly 3 Months after assembling components) HDD Health reported that the Hard drive was going to fail on the 21/01/07. A couple of days before this the hard drive was making beeping noises (yes the hard drive).

Did not allow HDD to fail instead bought: - > 20th October 2006- Order placed from Komplett.co.uk (Notice that the HDD managed to survive from 30th Sep till the 20th October although I cannot remember if it was alive or what or if I left the PC off or whatever I simply cannot remember).

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA 16MB cache 7200Rpm (20th October 2006 - Komplett)

Hard drive failed around 12th November 2006, so RMA'd it and got refund for the HDD.
So bought new HDD.

23 November 2006- Order placed from Scan.co.uk

Western Digital 320Gb WD3200YS

This hard drive failed around 19th January 2007 so got replacement (5 year warranty)

31 January 2007- Scan.co.uk - HDD failed again so sent PSU (as I suspected it) and HDD to Scan.co.uk

The PSU was found as not faulty and sent back on the 2nd of February along with the replacement HDD; I then found that the connections on the PSU were loose. So I sent it back on the 23rd February 2007 for free as Scan realised that I was NOT going to pay for something their engineers failed to spot.

Replacement PSU arrived on the 1st March 2007. Installed PSU on the 3rd March 2007 (Saturday). Installed OS on the 4th March 2007 (Sunday). Uninstalled SP2 on 6th March 2007 (Tuesday). This caused BSOD so repaired OS using the recovery tool on the original OS installation disk. After it had finished repairing and had rebooted, the hdd made a clunk slowing down noise and BSOD 'Winsrv is missing' or something along those lines (BSOD) and a STOP:0xc0000135

Clunk noise indicates HDD failure. So installed OS the same night and turned it off.

7th March 2007 (Wednesday) Installed SP 1a and motherboard drivers. Then installed HDD health. Continued installing drivers and software as I was doing so the program reported HDD failures as follows - ID - 3 - Spin Up Time - TEC - 13/03/2007 - Value 188 - Threshold 21 - Worst 188 - INC -5. Now the official Western Digital Diagnostics tool says that all S.M.A.R.T info is fine and there is nothing wrong with it.

Then again that's what it said for the other 2 drives. Ok and then it says there is something wrong with the temperature of the hdd and it says unknown attribute ID - BE which I know is the airflow temperature because of the Western Digital Diagnostics software which says ID - BE - Air flow temperature. When I first start the PC HDD health gives the Airflow temperature and the HDD temperature +4 and +6 respectively and highlights it blue whilst spin up time remains the same although the T.E.C date changes with time as it gathers more info.

However as I use the PC or leave it on the numbers decline and eventually it goes red and bases the T.E.C date on the temperatures. This is utterly ridiculous because the same HDD health tells me that the HDD temperature (in the brief info tab) is 37C MAX at any one point although it usually runs at 35-36C and my IDE one operates at 34 constant as it is not in use only for backup purposes. There is a 120mm fan DIRECTLY behind the drives so this is DEFINTLEY not an overheating issue and the other things such as Everest home edition says the temperatures and EVERYTHING are fine just as Western Digital's Diagnostics does. So lets kick temperature in the butt and say forget it cus it aint the problem!
The spinuptime cannot cause a HDD to fail and is apparently its normal for the spinuptime to be slightly slow during the first X amount of hours of a HDD's life.

Ok now when I installed everything on Sunday I did notice some strange sounds which sounded like the HDD would fail although they were very brief and not that often.

However yesterday 8th March 2007 when I installed sound drivers, graphics drivers etc and some programs, there were no sounds. I had turned the Cold Cathode off (it has a switch) as I thought it could be causing the problems.

However after installing drivers and some programs such as Everest Home edition and leaving it running idle for 1 and a half hours I decided it probably wasnt the cathode but I left it off. I hit upoun the idea that it might be the raphics card as I had been experiencing low FPS in Far Cry and Tomb Raider Legend when I last played (around 12-18 FPS on average) and there were new graphical glitches in COD2 tried using older drivers (ATI) etc made no difference. And sine around July I noticed there is a thin border on the left hand side of the screen and the top of the screen which only appear when I play a game and the line remains a set colour dependong on the game played. For example in Far Cry it remains Blue in TRL it remains White. And during playing TRL (the card is not overclocked or overdrived using the ATI overdirve tool although I used it once for like 1 minute in TRL) the card runs at 90C during playing TRL. All the game related information is not recent data as you know that I have not used my HDD for those purposes yet. It was when I had the other HDD's.

Also notice that the Seagate HDD lasted the shortest and thats the HDD that I played the most games on so I thought a strong link huh?

So I thought given my theory turning the Cold cathode on should make no diffrence. So I turned it on; whilst I was formatting the second half of the WD HDD (my copy of XP does not have any service packs so XP recognises only half the disk; the other half must be formatted (of course forst service pack 1a msut be installed for xp to recognise the other half, then after installing SP 1 a I install SP2), Whilst all of this was going on I thought I would put some stress on the HDD to see if that affects it and run HD video clips to check if the graphics card was causing the problem, which I downloaded from a variety of sites - Microsoft and some game HD trailers. During all this I was playing the Alexander Trailer and found I lost sound form the rear speakers and the center speaker. During this time the hard drive started making those noises again, so I now think its due to partitioning it or it could be the graphics card or the cathode . (Pulls hair out in frustration) (Screams aghhhh)(Thumps the table with energy remaining)

Dam who on earth or mars can figure this amazingly complex problem out? Quantam physics and molecular reengineering and rocket science are easier then this (Not really derr!)

Please help me Please Please!!!!!

Edited by Mitesh, 09 March 2007 - 07:05 AM.

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#2
Samm

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Hi Mitesh

Well, I've read your entire post & I agree that you shouldn't have drives failing as frequently as this. Can you clarify a couple of things for me though, as you seem to have changed so many bits of hardware that I've got slightly lost....

1. Can you tell me what you have in the system right now in terms of hard drives, video cards & power supply please?

2. When you changed the hard drives each time, did you ever swap out the sata cabling as well or are you still using the original cables?

3. You seem convinced that this is not an overheating issue, and certainly the temperature reported for the drive (36C) is fine, however the video card temp (90C) is most certainly not fine. Are you able to monitor all the temps (cpu/video/system/drive) whilst the system is under load? i.e take one reading before hand, put the system under load for half an hour, then take a second reading. Let me know what the two sets of readings are.
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#3
Mitesh

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Well I dont understand what you mean by a system tempreature - I think 90C is OK for the X1900XT whilst playing tomb raider legend - I am dam sure the HDD does not go above 38C however as you said I will check the tempreatures all at one time (I will keep Everest Home Edition open and the ATI control panel which (all together) will give me readings of the HDD's the CPU and the X1900XT.) Bloody Overclockers.co.uk (that is where I bought the Graphics card from) still have not replied to my message I sent them regarding a replacment I would like. I told them there is only 2 months left on the warranty and I bet the [bleep]s they are they wont reply for 2 months then out of the blue after 2 months they will go - Oh no we are so sorry your warranty has expired. I left the message on Friday evening.
As for my current system specs simply see my signature.
Oh and I have tried diffrent SATA cables to see if it is the cable and diffrent SATA ports but no diffrence so the answer to your question as to whether I swapped the SATA cable is no.

So how can I put it under load?
Your always there to help me about half a year ago you helped me as well... thanks!! :whistling:

Edited by Mitesh, 12 March 2007 - 04:06 AM.

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#4
Samm

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As for my current system specs simply see my signature.


OK, I wasn't sure if the specs in your sig were up-to-date given all the problems you've been having with hardware!
Am I right in thinking then that the only drive that is giving you problems is the sata drive?

When i said about putting the system under load, I meant using it for something intensive such as a game.

The system temp is the same as the motherboard temp.
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#5
Mitesh

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The motherboard temp?> What you mean northbridge? The motherboard doesnt have any readings whatsoever not even the northbridge. Ok I will play Tomb Raider Legend for 30 minutes close all windows and doors so that the room stays at a constant tempreature and puts all components under slightly more stress as they get warmer and the graphics card heats my room up with its 90C output. To check te tempreatures accuratley I must have the ATI tempreature open otherwise for some strange reason by the time I have closed Tomb Raider Legend the temp goes down to around 80-85 so I have to press CTRL ESCAPE whilst playing to get accurate readings. Same applies for HDD temps etc.
And yes ONLY the SATA HDD.
Could you please answer some of the questions I asked in the 'essay' (the long thing describing my problem) and is it possible that something on the IDE HDD is damaging the SATA ones?
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#6
Samm

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Could you please answer some of the questions I asked in the 'essay' (the long thing describing my problem) and is it possible that something on the IDE HDD is damaging the SATA ones?



What? You want answers as well? :whistling:

OK. If by 'something on the IDE HDD is damaging the SATA ones', you mean software or virus/malware, then no.
Basically there's two type of drive failure - (1) physical drive damage or failure (e.g bad sectors, spindle failure, circuitry failure etc) (2) damage to mbr/partition table/file corruption etc
The second one can be caused by a virus, amongst other things but the drive will be recoverable (although data may not), by zero filling & repartitioning/formatting the drive, for example.

A physical failure is non-recoverable. I assume that this is the type of failure we are looking at here, otherwise the supplier wouldn't have refunded or replaced the drives, although I could be wrong about that of course.
The beeping noise you heard would also indicate a hardware fault however. Normally i would suggest that the beeping is indicative of overheating but you seem certain that this is not the case.

It does seem that most of your drive failures occurred prior to the PSU being replaced. That makes me wonder whether the majority of the failures were due to the old PSU, especially as the current sata drive hasn't actually failed yet. What do you reckon?

Other thoughts :
1. I know you said you have tried different sata cables in the past but it may be worth investing in a decent quality sata cable, if you haven't already done so. WD sata drives can use WD's secureconnect interface which provides a much more stable data & power connection. I would recommend you invest in a secureconnect cable if you're currently using a standard sata cable

2. Bear in mind also that the failure rate for sata drives has been much higher than manufacturers originally predicted. Quite why that is, I'm not certain but I suspect it's a combination of increased or rapid changes in temperatures or other environmental factors, dodgy sata cabling & poor connections, and possibly a decreased tolerance to shocks/bumps, power spikes/fluctuations, environmental factors etc. But I'm guessing.
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#7
Mitesh

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Definitely the HDD's are failing due to a physical problem the problem cannot be viral or other code based problems.
The beeping noise may be due to as you say overheating although I very much doubt it. What temperature can it go to safely before any kind of damage happens?
Here I found an forum where someone had the same problem (2 years ago): 'Click-of-death. The HDD's motor trys to spin but just jerks around and then stops. About every 12-15 seconds the same process gets repeated'.
And here is a response from Seagate to the guys problem: Reply from Seagate Disk Support:

QUOTE
The beeping does indicate that there is not enough power running the system. Have you tried connecting this drive as the only drive in the system? Does the beeping continue?

Best Regards,

Stefan M.
Seagate Technical Support

========== Customer's original message ==========

Hi Jimmy P
Thanks for the quick response. The psu is 300W. The SATA cable was then moved back to port it was initially connected to, and ran without problems for about 25 min. Temp is fine. Doesn't feel any warmer than my other Seagate 7200.7 drives.

-----Original Message-----
From: DiscSupport( at )seagate.com [mailto:DiscSupport( at )seagate.com]
Subject: Re: |ST3160827S|Windows XP||Hard drive beeps continuo
Importance: High

Check to see if the drive is possibly overheating causing the continuous beeping sounds. Feel the drive to see if it is getting too hot.

If not then the drive may or may not have adequate power. What is the wattage of your current power supply?

Regards,

Jimmy P.
Seagate Technical Support
______________________________________________________________________________________________________


(If you type beeping hard drive into google you will find loads of results with people experincing/who have experienced the same problem).
Mine is 600W I am dam sure there is adequate power. When we talk temperatures my Northbridge gets really hot when playing games and other intensive things.
Also now with the new PSU I have connected the SATA on its own special SATA output yet it still seems to have emitted those slightly disturbing noises (they aren't beeping noises but noises like as if the actuator is failing and they weren't that bad as in they were short and not that loud but still it indicates the HDD will fail).
The SATA hard drive is now connected via its own SATA power cable. Before it was on the same molex cable as the IDE HDD, I simply used a molex to SATA adapter however that couldn't be the reason why it was failing as I had the same setup for 1 and a half years.

Quote: 'It does seem that most of your drive failures occurred prior to the PSU being replaced. That makes me wonder whether the majority of the failures were due to the old PSU, especially as the current sata drive hasn't actually failed yet. What do you reckon?

I reckon that the new PSU is no different to the old one same model power etc and the only problem witht the other one was loose connections at the Modular connections on the PSU itself.
Although your theory of overheating seems to be the only logical explanation. I bought a belkin 6 way surge protection unit as the light on my Masterplug surge protector's light was fluctuating which indicated that it had failed. I have removed the MOV's from the old Masterplug surge protector so I can test them in electronics at school. I have yet to test them to se if they failed.

Now I know it seems like hey we found the answer 'the surge protector failed causing a surge in the system damaging the old PSU breaking the HDD'... errr no. Why isn't that true. Ok first thing the old PSU was initially sent by myself for a diagnostic by Scan.co.uk which I had to pay for (£30). It came back as not faulty indicating there was no damage from surges etc.
Then I found the loose connections and Scan then sent their own courier to come and collect the PSU and they then found out that indeed the connections were loose and thus they gave me a brand spanking new PSU.
Also the SATA was on the SAME power cable as the IDE one so the IDE HDD should have also been damaged but noooooooooo.

I don't know if I mentioned this but my father owns a shop directly under the house (a newsagent) and we bought a Open fridge (the fridges you see in huge supermarkets with no doors). To keep the monstrosity cool there is a huge heatsink and fan thing at the back of the house which turns on whenever the fridge alters in temperature. When this turns on there is a brief flicker of the lights as the monstrosity goes boof and consumes a huge amount of power for a very brief time period.
Is it possible that whilst using the HDD during intense things like gaming; and the motor for the fan fridge cooling unit thing turns on; is it possible there is a brief undervoltage causing physical damage? I will get a multimeter and test the main 240V output and see if that fluctuates when the thing turns on.
As for the new HDD I haven't used it much at all. I received it on the 2nd February. I installed the OS etc and then found out that the connections in the back of the PSU were loose so I stopped using the PC for a couple of weeks because I thought the loose connections were damaging it however again think about it the SATA and the IDE were on the same molex cable.
I sent it back on the 23rd February 2007 for free as Scan realised that I was NOT going to pay for something their engineers failed to spot.

I then received the replacement on the 1st March 2007. Installed PSU on the 3rd March 2007 (Saturday). Installed OS on the 4th March 2007 (Sunday). Uninstalled SP2 on 6th March 2007 (Tuesday). This caused BSOD so repaired OS using the recovery tool on the original OS installation disk. After it had finished repairing and had rebooted, the hdd made a clunk slowing down noise and BSOD 'Winsrv is missing' or something along those lines (BSOD) and a STOP:0xc0000135

Clunk noise indicates HDD failure. So installed OS the same night and turned it off.
This is serious as a friend of mine who is studying programming in the University Of Kent told me that is the Clunk noise before the stop error code meant physical damage.

Also notice that I used the HDD for a very brief time and have not used it intensively other then when I got the replacement PSU and spent a whole Sunday installing EVERY each single program and game and tested each game was working by opening it and adjusting the video settings such as resolution etc and playing it for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
So I thought given my theory turning the Cold cathode on should make no difference. So I turned it on; whilst I was formatting the second half of the WD HDD (my copy of XP does not have any service packs so XP recognises only half the disk; the other half must be formatted (of course first service pack 1a must be installed for xp to recognise the other half, then after installing SP 1 a I install SP2), Whilst all of this was going on I thought I would put some stress on the HDD to see if that affects it and run HD video clips to check if the graphics card was causing the problem, which I downloaded from a variety of sites - Microsoft and some game HD trailers. During all this I was playing the Alexander Trailer and found I lost sound form the rear speakers and the centre speaker. During this time the hard drive started making those noises again, so I now think its due to partitioning it or it could be the graphics card or the cathode . (Pulls hair out in frustration) (Screams aghhhh)(Thumps the table with energy remaining).

So ever since then the Service pack 2 indicate with the clunking I reinstalled the OS and some applications randomly without much care as I normally have a set procedure of installation as I am a perfectionist and organise my files in My Documents with intensive care just to give you an idea I usually take 2 hours just organising My Documents perfectly just how I want them.

Also I found ATI 7.2 caused strange problems such as the Catalyst Control Centre not remembering any settings so I went back to the ATI 7.1. The only things I have installed are Everest home edition, PowerDVD, Microsoft Office, ATI CCC and drivers for everything of course, Tomb raider legend and that’s all I can remember. Must dash breaktime!
Ok so I have to test the MOV's, get temperature readings whilst playing tomb raider legend and check if there are fluctuations on the 240V output.
Also I would like it if you could answer the questions I have asked above.
Thank you sooo much.

Edited by Mitesh, 14 March 2007 - 07:28 AM.

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#8
happyrock

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I think that you should get a UPS with line conditioning...that big draw on the power is probably killing your surge protector..and PSU and quite possibly the HD's
A common cause of power surges is the operation of high-power electrical devices, such as elevators, air conditioners and refrigerators. These high-powered pieces of equipment require a lot of energy to switch on and turn off components like compressors and motors. This switching creates sudden, brief demands for power, which upset the steady voltage flow in the electrical system. While these surges are nowhere near the intensity of a lightning surge, they can be severe enough to damage components, immediately or gradually, and they occur regularly in most building's electrical systems.
All MOVs will burn out after repeated power surges.... and under voltage is as bad as over voltage...

I have a client that has a water well pump that cycle's on and off 50 or 60 times a day and it killed his Cyberpower 750W UPS after only being on for 6 months or so...he wasn't aware that is was no longer even working until a power failure happened one day and his computer crashed..RMA'ed the UPS and
they replaced it to have the same thing happen again after only 6 months or so..he had noticed all along that when the pump cycled that his UPS "beeped" at him but continued to function until it was "used up"...he was not aware that you could "use up" the surge protection...
I started a thread some time back about the possibility of daisy chaining surge protectors to possibly help save the ups from being killed off prematurely and there was several responses from people far more advanced than I and there was something you could do to help that was a better solution than daisy chaining surge protectors but I can't remember what it was...this was at least a year ago at TSG ...I don't have time now to try and find it but if you wanted to search my threads at that site..you could probably find it...(I use same user name as here)
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#9
Mitesh

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As I said above if there was undervoltage wouldnt everything else in the system break? And the PSU came back as not faulty. This was what I had intially thought that it was undervoltage that was breaking the HDD however then I thought.... Why the [bleep] have the other Surge protectors not failed (in the house)? And why does the other IDE HDD which was on the SAME Molex cable not fail? I tested to make sure that all the surge protectors were on the same lines by turning off the switch for the house. Only one room which has NO surge protectors had electricity, all the ootheres had no electricity which proves they are on the same circuit. There has not been thunder and lightning in ages so it cannot be that. How comes the old Intel Celeron Dell PC in the other room with the same surge prtector I had is never affected and has been running for 8 years?
It is because of the above information that I doubbt there is a problem with undervoltage however I will test it to make sure at the 240V with a multimeter.
If this is the problem; you said that the UPS WILL get damaged by undervoltage is this the case with a UPS with line conditioning? How much do they cost? (I live in the UK).

I am not by any means dismissing your conclusion however just look at the above info and tell me if that changes your conclusion.

Many thanks for the reply! :whistling:

(Oh and getting as multimeter and attaching it to the 240V out wil give me DEFINTIE results as to whether or not the open fridge air conditioning unit thingy mo bob is causing an undervoltage right? (I can tell when the unit has turned on as it makes a big 'boosh' noise))

PPS: Found your thread in less then 30 seconds using the search thing!
http://forums.techgu...ght=daisy chain
Ermmmm..... That is one long thread and I hardly understood most of the techno gobal d gook.
So what is the answer to all of this - would a UPS with line protection thingy mo bob work by itself with a surge protection unit in front of it?
And how on earth do you check if you have a proper ground?
And what is this power rating all about? 2000VA etc my PC has a 600W PSU but keep in mind that I may use a Galaxy 1000W in the near future as I rebuild (IF I get a part time job!) with DX10 in mind. And I use other things on that output such as a mobile pone charger etc (I know they hardly consume much electricity).
Of course all of this is only based on if you still think there is a problem with undervoltage given all the facts above and my results using a multimeter.

Edited by Mitesh, 15 March 2007 - 03:46 AM.

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#10
Samm

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According to WD, the max operating temperaute specified for their Caviar SE16 sata drives is 55C.

Re. power fluctuations - I've had a word with my boyfriend who knows a lot about motors & other industrial spec equipment. He said that if the fan you have uses a startup capacitor then it's quite possible that this will cause spikes in the electrical supply.
That said however, if this was the case then I would expect other components to fail or least glitch when the fan kicked in (e.g system reboots/shutdown, locking up etc). I can believe that the IDE drive would survive better than the sata one though, mainly due to (1) sata drives are possibly more sensitive to environmental or power fluctuations than IDE and (2) the sata drive is your main drive (I assume) and therefore more likely to be performing a read/write operation at any given time. The drive is at it's most vulnerable during a read/write operation because the head is over the disk platter instead of parked.

Re. checking power with a multimeter... I would suggest that maybe it's more sensible to test the power output at one of the molex connectors (i.e the 12V & 5V dc outputs), seeing as the dc output from the PSU is what the drives directly connect to.

While we're on the subject, a little summary of power problems & power protectors :

* Brownout - temporary reduction in power (can last a few seconds or a few hours)
A power conditioner or UPS with condition will protect against these.

* Surge - very short (1 or 2 secs) increase in power. These generate heat which is a major factor in component failure.
Surge protectors (MOV based) can protect against surges. They do however degrade with each surge & become less effective overall.
Conditioner or a UPS with conditioner will also protect against surges.

* Spikes - intense increase or decrease in power lasting a fraction of a second. Can cause very strange behaviour in computers & electronics.
Surge protectors will protect against spikes, although as already stated, they are degraded by surges over time & become less effective at protection.

* UPS - used more for protecting against power failures or drops in power.

* Power line conditioners - will handle surges, spikes & brownouts.


In summary then, if you suspect problems with your mains power, then a line conditioner or UPS with conditioner is probably your best bet.

See the link below for an example of a UPS with line conditioning. This ones made by APC & is available in the UK for £67

http://www.broadband...?ProductID=4193
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#11
happyrock

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the odds of you getting that many bad new HD's from different manufactures is astronomical IMHO..so that leaves us with something is wrong at your end..in reading your posts there are 2 things that stand out to me ...the Open fridge draw on the power making the lights flicker...and the IMCH, or northbridge heatsink you yanked off...lets take them in order

First I don't think it's a under voltage problem ...I think its a fluctuation problem...high.... low... high.... low...high.... low.... every time that Open fridge cycles on..."eating " up the MOV's and then letting the wrong voltage thru...computers only operate on a max of 12 V...and as little as 30 volts will kill pretty much everything inside your computer...that leads us to the 2nd thing..

the IMCH... northbridge ..you may have done some damage to the mobo or one of the traces when you removed the heatsink forcefully..

if you get a quality UPS THAT HAS line conditioning built in...it may help with your problem...

Edited by happyrck, 15 March 2007 - 08:34 PM.

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#12
Mitesh

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Ok so I think we have come to a conclusion that it is the power output. Ok now I have a couple of more questions:

Happyrck says that the ups/line conditioner will wear out just like MOV's, so in other words spending £70 or £300 will make no difference as the UPS or line conditioner will get destroyed after a period of time even if I use a surge protection unit.

1) Is that true if so what can I do to stop that from happening?

2) Do I have to buy a UPS or can I just buy a line conditioner?

If I do buy either remember I need enough power to power the 600W PSU; oh I almost forgot I need to protect my 5.1 505W speakers...... they are on a different line/socket, that socket is the old socket in the house which is for some reason not grounded. Ok let me explain. When we moved to the house there were plug sockets (well derr!) but we needed more, so my dad put more into the house. Yesterday I went round with my new belkin surge protection unit and plugged it into the old ones... suprise..... the orange earthing light did not show up, put it on the ones my dad installed and the earthing light worked.

Oh and this is my surge protection unit: http://www.argos.co....ber/9829770.htm
More detailed and official website: http://catalog.belki...oduct_Id=135131

3) I doubt I damaged the northbridge when I took it off, anyway how could that possibly only damage the sata drives?

4) Also if it is undersurge /oversurge/fluctuations then wouldnt other components in the system be damaged?

5) And would I need a line conditioner or UPS since think about this, I am apparantley having probs with power flucuations which means I lose power for a brief period of time. So would a line conditioner compensate for that power or would I need a ups with line conditioner?

6) Also sometimes someone on the house plugs the iron into the wrong socket, this causes the switch in the main power box thing to turn off leaving the house with no power (shop and house have different switches). When this happens obviously the PC turns off, when the switch is flicked back on is it possible there is a surge?

7) Why have the other surge protectors not broken yet and the old dell pc (on a plug that my dad wired (the ones that are earthed (oh and my pc is on the one of the ones my dad wired as well so its earthed; but the speakers are on a old plug where I think they are not earthed) has not had any problems for 8 years (We used to live in London we have lived in Kent in the same place now for I think 5 years)?????

Oh and I HIGHLY doubt my HDD hits that temp of 55C.

I will find out the model number of the fridge and the fan thingy and find out detailed info that hopefully you can show your boyfriend who will probably know more about it all then all of us put together as he specialises in that area!!

Also in conclusion the power has the following problems (correct me if I am wrong): Brownouts due to the fan for the open fridge, spikes and or surge due to on off of power.

Oh and just to tell you the amount of high power equipment we have in the house and shop:

Shop:
1 Large open fridge
1 Medium/large Freezer for frozen foods
1 Small/medium freezer for ice creams

And in the summer we bring in more!:->

1 Large fridge for cooling drinks so when we refill the open friodge they are cold so customers dont have to drink hot drinks in hot weather
1 small freezer for ice lollys

House:
1 Large Bosch Fridge
1 Dishwasher
1 Washing Machine
2 Microwaves
1 Kettle
1 Hoover
4 small TV's and 1 large TV
Surround sound system in the Lounge
My surround sound system
My Rig

Ermmm.... I think thats it!!

And I will check the ouptut on the molex connector although my SATA hdd is now on its own SATA power connector.

Oh and the last most important point-> The open fridge was installed in 2005 I will get a specific date from my dad he says all those details are with his accountant. My first HDD failed in 2006 August......... So *coughs* we may be down the wrong route entirley although I doubt it. Is it possible that the house is not properly earthed and how do you check?

Edited by Mitesh, 16 March 2007 - 04:01 AM.

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#13
happyrock

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no I didn't say that...get a UPS with line conditioning ...it will help with the fluctuations you are experiencing[/b]

3) I doubt I damaged the northbridge when I took it off, anyway how could that possibly only damage the sata drives?
maybe because the SATA drives use DMA and are going thru the IMCH...(northbridge) to get straight to the memory...that would also explain why that old fireball drive has not been effected because it uses PIO mode going thru the southbridge instead of going directly thru the northbridge...could also be like samm said..because the drive is trying to read or write to the drive at the time and then doing physical damage to the drive this is just speculation on my part though..the question "why isn't something else been affected"...I can't answer that because even though it hasn't yet..I think it will eventually...this would also be my answer to # 4 below

4) Also if it is undersurge /oversurge/fluctuations then wouldnt other components in the system be damaged?


Even if you have a 1000 Watt PSU ..you are rarely, if ever, using all of it...if fact most of the power supplies only supply about 70 to 80 % of the rated power...and you should ONLY connect the monitor and computer to the battery side...oh and also if you use a powered cordless keyboard and mouse...it/they should be hooked to the battery side ...everything else should be on the surge side only..the UPS is only meant to allow you to quickly save anything you are working on...and then shut down windows gracefully ...instead of being "knocked out" and maybe waking up with amnesia...

it sounds like you really need a qualified electrician to check out your properties wiring...
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#14
Mitesh

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The IDE HDD is not a fireball it is a segate baracuda 80GB. And my dad will not pay for an electrician and I cant afford that. This is just a quick reply I DONT HAVE TIME TO SAY MORE AT FRIENDS MUST DASH BYE
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#15
Samm

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Hi Mitesh

You can buy a line conditioner (aka AVR) on it's own. An Automatic Voltage Regulator does exactly what the name suggests - ie smooths the voltage supply to a constant value whenever there's a voltage increase/decrease due to a spike or surge.

Check out www.misco.co.uk for a good selection of AVRs and other power protection devices. Misco sell an APC line conditioner (AVR) rated at 1200VA for £30 with 2yr warranty. This one would be my personal choice of the AVRs listed there.

Obviously however, if you are experiencing complete power cuts (such as when the circuit breaker trips) then only a UPS can help with this. The main problem with UPS's is that batteries will wear out over a period of time - a bit like a car battery does. As for degradation of AVRs, I don't really know but it sounds reasonable.
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