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Hard Drive failing?


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#1
Old Coot

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Hope I picked the correct forum for this long-winded post.

Except as noted below, computer is otherwise working fine, fast starts into normal desktop, folders open, printer prints, music plays, internet connection (cable) and surfing seems same as always.

Computer is six year-old Compaq running W98SE. Browser is Firefox, firewall is ZA, AVG updated every day or two. 13GB HD, 1/2 empty. 128MB RAM.
Regular maintenance every 10-14 days is to first download updates for AVG, SpyBot S&D, AdAware, etc., then go into safe mode to (in following order) run CCleaner (which is also run before every shutdown), then ScanDisc, then AVG, SpyBot, AdAware, and finally, do a defrag. Have been doing this for many months without notable problems.

Tried above a few days ago, but when ScanDisc started it almost immediately froze at the "one bar" point during "Checking File Allocation Tables". No cursor movement possible. First Control+Alt+Delete produced nothing, second C+A+D produced a BSOD indicating task manager busy. Waited for a few minutes without change, then used tower switch to shut down. New start into safe mode (using F8) went OK, but same early freeze again trying to run ScanDisc.
Another start into safe mode, again ran CCleaner but skipped ScanDisc and ran AVG, SpyBot and AdAware without incident. Then tried a defrag but it almost immediately froze, again with no cursor control and having to use tower switch to shut off. Two more attempts in safe mode just trying to run either ScanDisc or defrag, same problem.

I then went into both Safe Mode Command Prompt and Command Prompt to try and run scandisk, but no joy. Stopped fairly quickly every attempt. Went back to Safe Mode and tried to run ScanDisk with "auto fix errors" unchecked but that failed. Have tried everything I know to generate a scandisk.log without sucess.

Thinking HD problems, I ran a Compaq Diagnostics program on the HD which produced the following message:

Error:
  Hard Drive 1: Drive Protection System Test:test failed, error code: 017037001
  Failure: Drive Protection System failure
  Time of Error: 11:33AM 5/19/05
Recommended Action:
  Replace drive.


Hard Drive is a Western Digital WD170AA. Went to their website and downloaded a diagnostics program. Ran it in both the "Quick" version and the "Extended" version and both times it concluded with a small window indicating that it had found bad disk sectors which may be repairable. Options at that point are two radio buttons "Cancel" and "Repair". Pushing the "Repair" button produces a very strong warning that the repair could cause a loss of data and it strongly recommends backing up the drive before repairing, something I can't do with only one HD.

I do have all of my documents, photos, music, etc. burned to CD's. So my concern is not that doing the repairs might cost me a song or a document, but that it might screw-up the OS....i.e. I would crash and burn.

Despite what I've done so far, I'm a real novice. If the OS crashes as a result of the repair attempt, I would not have a clue as to how to get things back in order. So here's where I need some opinions, keeping in mind that right now everything except Scandisk is working just fine.

It seems to me my best option would be to buy a new HD, I don't need much capacity and can get one for well under $50.00, install it, and then move everything from the old one to the new one, then attempt the repair on the old one, not really caring if it works or not. Some might say it's time to retire the entire old comp, but frankly I can't affort a good new one right now and don't want something cheep from Walmart. (no offense to Walmart intended).

Sorry to have gone on so long, but wanted you folks to have a complete picture. I really encourage any and all to provide advice and point me in the right direction.
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#2
audioboy

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impressive maintenance regimen you have there! a bit of overkill in my opinion, but if it works, why mess with it?

yes, a new drive is needed. sectors are going bad, so more will happen over time. whenever I see sectors go bad, they invariably contain system files, so the OS is screwed. you got lucky.

one option to consider is to image the old drive to the new. this would copy all the files, OS, settings, etc. replace the old drive with the new, and continue on. norton ghost can do this, as well as several others. I think one is called driveimage. some new drives even come with software to do this.

if you still have your OS cd, or recovery discs (whatever came with the comp), then you could do a fresh install onto that, reinstall all your programs, etc. then add the old drive as a slave, and copy all your data over to the new drive.

either way is fine, but imaging to a new drive would probably be the quicker and easier route.
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#3
Old Coot

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audioboy: Thanks for the advice. I keep hoping the next time I try to run scandisk, some magic will make it work, but you're right, it ain't gonna get better. I'm shopping for a new HD now and will try to find one that comes with some sort of ghosting software....good tip.

As to the maintenance...yeah, it's overkill but I got crudded up with malware years ago (no firewall, rarely updated AVG, etc.) and after cleanup, vowed I'd do better. Maybe once a month would be enough.

One more question, is it likely OK to use this thing several hours per day for a few days until the new HD arrives (probably coming from newegg or tiger) or should I play it safe and let it rest until ready for transfer. Just an opinion, no lawyers hovering. :tazz:

Edited by Old Coot, 20 May 2005 - 08:55 PM.

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#4
audioboy

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no way to be sure, but I imagine using it would be OK.
also check out the websites of some hd manufacturers, they may have a ghosting tool available for download.

glad to know you wont sick your lawyers on me! :tazz:
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#5
Old Coot

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Thanks again.
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#6
nixx

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add the old drive as a slave, and copy all your data over to the new drive

definantly do this. this happened to me, and it turns out the hd will slowly decay untill it is completely gone. best way to handle would be power down and take the power cable out of the hd asap. then do what audio said. main point-keep the hd running as little as possable.

Nixx
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#7
Old Coot

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Nixx: Thanks, I will take your advice. Will post back after changeover.
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#8
nixx

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then you can take the second step in fixin your hd-take a large sludge hammer and smash it into a hundred tiny pieces! ;) :tazz:

Nixx
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