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SATA HDD playing hide and seek?!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, this is going to be a long one...

I recently bought a second hand Seagate Barracuda 750GB SATA HDD - I think it's been close to 3 or 4 months... - and it's been working fine up to now, but has suddenly started to disappear when I try to write to it.

I'm hoping that it's power-related, as when I first installed the HDD I formatted it, it appeared in BIOS and Disk Management - ticked all the boxes, but disappeared once I tried writing to it. I took a look and guessed that it could be a power thing because it was sharing the same source that went into my OS HDD. Also, as it only has SATA connections, I'm using a Molex-SATA converter because my PSU doesn't have a SATA connector. So, using the converter, I plugged it into the one that shares the CD/DVD drive - since I don't use it as much, the power demands won't be as great. My guess appeared to be right at the time as my HDD was a lot more stable and worked perfectly...that is until a few days ago.

I attemped to write a file to it and within two seconds it disappeared. I shut it down and started it up again after some time, checked the BIOS - it was present - and let the OS boot up normally. I attempted the transfer again and it disappeared again. I then restarted the computer - without shutting it down - checked the BIOS and it wasn't there. I then shut it down, started it up, checked the BIOS and it was there, then let it continue to boot normally and checked Disk Management, it was there and marked Healthy. I tried writing to it again and it disappeared from My Computer and Disk Management. I ran CHKDSK and it came back Healthy.

I then wondered if it was a power issue like before, and unplugged the CD/DVD drive completely. The HDD appeared in both BIOS and Disk Management, then I ran a few soft tests - it let me write to it; write from it; transfer files to the OS HDD and my External Back Up HDD. It all seemed to be working fine...that is until I tried to do a batch transfer of a about 10 or so files - I'd decided to backup the content just in case - and it started to hang on the last file; the only way to get out of it was to shut it down and try again from that file. When I did that, it would continue to hang when trying to transfer this particular file. After shutting it down/starting it up again, I ran a Virus scanner and everything seemed to be going okay, but it hung on a particular file when reaching close to the end of the second HDD and the drive disappeared, while the Virus scanner continued on normally, finishing up the scan.

A look at the Event Log on Disk Management shows that around the time it hung during the Virus scan, two errors were flagged up - one stated that the Drive foresees it will fail and so it should be backed up/replaced and the other was an error that was flagged up a few times before I did the change in power cables - when it used to disappear as soon as I tried to write to it - which was an I/O error.

Another run of CHKDSK shows that the HDD is still healthy and it appears as such in Disk Management.

I'm stumped as to what this could mean and am hoping that it's a PSU problem, in that it doesn't like the Molex-SATA converter - one hopes the converter itself is failing. I've got a slightly more powerful PSU ordered that has a combination of SATA/Molex connections and am going to give that a shot once it arrives.

I do have a spare PC, but it's much older than the one I have and I haven't had time to test the HDD on it yet, or even see if it can support SATA. I'll give a go at testing the HDD on the other PC tonight, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't support SATA as I've opened it up a few times for other testing purposes, in which case I have no way of testing it...short of hoping a friend would be willing to help out. Oh yeah! The OS I'm running is Windows XP SP3.

I hope someone can offer advice and would be extremely grateful for any help offered.

Thank You! : )
    
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post #2 of 11
Welcome to the forum.

When you get time, go to the top of the page to userCP and fill in your PC specs, helps us help you.

Quote:
I'm hoping that it's power-related
It´s sounding like a loose power connector or that Molex-SATA converter, it could even be a bad/loose SATA data cable.

Quote:
one stated that the Drive foresees it will fail and so it should be backed up/replaced
I´d try and get as much data off of it in case.
Any warranty left ?
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply : )

Well I just stuck in the new PSU and aside from the cables being a bit too short, the HDD still disappears after a set time and when attempting to transfer certain files. Though, unlike before I didn't shut it down this time because I figured I should update my PC build - any tips on how to get a detailed list without doing the guess work? - and surprisingly the drive re-appeared! But it still like to disappear and makes it close to impossible on transferring all my files, without figuring out a proxy, such as starting up Photoshop, opening an image in there from the HDD and saving it to the new destination...

I'm gonna try and backup as much as I can and take it down to the place I got it from. I think it's still under warranty...only had it for 4 months.
    
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post #4 of 11
Try a different data cable and plugging it into a different sata port on the mobo.
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaSmurf View Post
Try a different data cable and plugging it into a different sata port on the mobo.
Sorry it's taken me some time to reply; I had to order a new data cable - I would have done a straight swap of the cables, but the plastic bit on my OS HDD came away with the cable, leaving the pins on the HDD intact so I just have to position the cable right - which still has the plastic bit in there as it refuses to fall out. I was gentle and have hardly removed the cable enough times for it to wear out so quickly...

Anyway, report: Putting in a new SATA cable doesn't improve anything, apart from perhaps the noise. I used to hear a lot of "mechanical" sounds before, but now, it's just quiet humming.

That said, I decided to do a bit more Googling and came across SeaTools which diagnoses the health of compatible HDD's. Now this is interesting, despite CHKDSK reporting a clean bill of health, SeaTools reports that there may be bad sectors on the HDD as it can't even perform the SMART Test, and suggests running a recovery program (supplied by Seagate) to try and fix the bad sectors...not sure if that would completely wipe my HDD though, so in the meantime I'm backing up as much as I can. After that's done, I may run a Diagnostics Test and set it to fix bad sectors and see how that goes...if that fails, I'll run Seagate's program.

Needless to say, I am confused and fairly frustrated - I know it comes with the territory - but have heard that CHKDSK is sometimes unreliable in its reports. As for the warranty on this, I bought it secondhand back in September and it's still under the store's warranty, but I want to try everything I can to save it before returning it. As for a manufacturer's warranty, I'm not sure, since when using SeaTools to check the warranty, it comes back saying that the drive was part of an OEM package and to go back to the retailer about it. So yeah...you can see the difficulty there, since I don't know who owned it before me and for how long.

You could call me irresponsible for buying a secondhand HDD, but the second HDD on my older PC is also secondhand and has had no problems thus far *tough wood* So forgive me for falling into that sense of security...

Also, I should mention, that it appears to be random files of varying formats, some .avi; .jpg; .psd; .mp3 etc. so it seems to support the 'bad sector' idea. When watching one of these bad .avi's it runs smoothly until it hits a point that corresponds with the percentage when it hangs during transfer...God, I know it's my own fault for not maintaining regular back-up's, but I always thought it'd hold out long enough for me to invest in another External HDD with enough capacity, and it's not like I use my PC a lot of the time anyway...Needless to say, it's forced me to decide which files I consider important enough to keep, rather than building up useless clutter and junk.
    
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post #6 of 11
Is it a 7200.12 series drive? A lot of the seagates of that revision had firmware issues with the controller boards, you could see if you can get the firmware update from seagate tech support.
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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dman View Post
Is it a 7200.12 series drive? A lot of the seagates of that revision had firmware issues with the controller boards, you could see if you can get the firmware update from seagate tech support.
Turns out it is and a look shows that there is a firmware update for my Model, however does it matter that when I do a search on the Serial it says there's no update?
    
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Okay, sorry I've been away, but it took me a while to backup as much of the data as I could from the drive onto my External Drive.

Now that it's all backed up I ran the firmware update, which went smoothly apart from a strange message before the PC restarted after performing the update that said "Not Seagate" - it didn't stick around too long so I couldn't read the entire message. After it restarted, I ran SeaTools again and it noted that the firmware had been updated from CC44 to CC46, though when I ran the SMART Test it still failed.

So, I ran the recommended program of SeaTools for DOS, which repairs bad sectors, and when it ran the SMART Test it said "SMART has been TRIPPED!" and gave me the Warranty Code. I performed the Short Test anyway and it failed, but noted that I should run the Long Test as that has the ability to repair Bad Sectors...ran the Long Test, it still failed.

Are there any other ideas that anyone can suggest that I may not have covered, or is it time to admit defeat and take it back to the store?
    
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post #9 of 11
It may be time to RMA the drive. Post the detailed SMART data (not from Seatools but from a decent tool such as GSmartControl) to be sure.
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post #10 of 11
I would RMA it. I wouldn't risk my data on an obviously defective drive like that. It isn't going to get better, only worse.
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