Is my Hard Drive Bad?

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Is my Hard Drive Bad?
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joseywales
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August 11, 2010 - 10:42 pm
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Here's the deal....

I have 6 different HDDs in my PC. Only one is attached via usb. All the others are internal 3.5" drives. I (now) have no RAID array, but since installing my new primary hard drive just a couple of days ago I'm experiencing a new issue.

The reason I got rid of my RAID array was, for no yet proven reason, my OS (7 pro 64-bit) wouldn't boot following an entire day of use w/o issue. My initial guess was, after some troubleshooting, my RAID0 array of 2 WD 74GB Raptors was the cause. I still @ this point can't say for sure if this is in fact true, but my impatience led me to order a new 1TB WD drive with the intent later checking out the presumably faulty RAID0 drives.

That being said, what is the best way to test/confirm/deny the health of a hard drive? I know all the major manufacturers of disc drives offer utilities, but I wanted to tap the brains of the (smarter than me) DCT community to see what sort of recommendations they have.

Feel free to throw out any ideas you may have.....all ideas are welcome.

Kindest Regards,

joseywales

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Chad Johnson
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August 12, 2010 - 11:09 am
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Spinrite will do a pretty intensive and thorough scan of your Hard Drive(s), but it is not free. Worth the money in my opinion though.

Otherwise, I'd recommend the disk utilities included by your HDD manufacturer. They know their drive best and how best to check for problems.

Another thing to check is the SMART data on the drive itself. It's the data that tracks errors / reads / writes etc and gives an overall impression of drive health (it's fairly accurate and can give good indicators of how likely a drive is to fail). A SMART reader is pretty easy to find. I use SpeedFan.

What problems are you seeing?

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joseywales
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August 14, 2010 - 1:44 am
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Thanks for the reply Ziggie!

What I'm seeing, specifically, is that one of my two removable HDDs isn't being recognized or is now not working. I have two removable, hot-swappable 5.25" HDD enclosures: one houses a 320GB Seagate drive, the other is a 640GB Western Digital, and it's the WD drive that I'm referring to here. The WD drive was working great up until I installed my new primary 1TB C:drive and reinstalled Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, however when I first booted-up following the reinstall of my OS I noticed that during POST it was detecting the 640GB drive, however Windows Explorer simply didn't see it....as if it didn't exist.

I've tried a couple of different things during my troubleshooting efforts, but thus far haven't been able to get my PC to access the disk drive in question. The simplest was to try pop each removable drive out and try reversing which 5.25" bay they were originally in too see what would happen. This didn't change my dilemma....the smaller HDD was still being seen but the larger wasn't despite the change in physical position on my tower.

I also have a usb to SATA connector that I used and tried to connect the 640GB drive outside of the tower but again I had no luck. Based on these facts it would seem the HDD is defective, but I really, REALLY struggle to believe that is the case, as the disk was working perfectly before the reinstall of my OS onto my new primary hard drive.

What now?

josey

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Jim Hillier
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August 14, 2010 - 3:48 am
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Hey Josey - Just a point for clarification. When you say the WD (640GB) drive is not being recognised by Windows; does that mean it is not listed under "Computer" [b:wm8rre9z][i:wm8rre9z]nor[/i:wm8rre9z] [/b:wm8rre9z]"Disk Management"?

Cheers....Jim

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Chad Johnson
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August 14, 2010 - 10:20 am
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Spot on Jim.

To clarify, Disk Management is found by Right Clicking on My Computer and selecting 'Manage' (at least on XP).

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joseywales
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August 14, 2010 - 2:52 pm
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Okay, this is really weird! I can see all of my hard drives when I look in Device Manager but only see three of them when I look in Windows Explorer.

Since I don't currently have enough SATA connections to support all of my HDDs I have to keep one disconnected at any given time. I can verify that all of the disk drives seem to be fully functioning and do show up when I look in Device Manager. However, even though they all say "this device is working properly" when I click on the volume tab and try to populate the drive I get an error saying it cannot be done to any of the drives other than the three that are seen in Windows Explorer.

I'm completely at a loss here guys.....what the heck is going on and, more importantly, how do I fix this?

Regards!

Update: I can now see all of the connected HDDs while in Disk Management, however they (other than the three disks that I have been saying were working fine) are not "initialized." I'm not sure what that means, other than to say that Windows is telling me that they need to be initialized in order to function. I currently have three disks where this is occurring - two 74GB Raptors and one 640GB WD Caviar. The two raptors I don't care if I have to wipe them of any remaining data, there's nothing on them that I will miss. However, the 640GB disk, which used to appear to me as my I:/ drive, does have a ton of stuff on it that I would like to preserve if at all possible.

I'm hoping this updated info will prove helpful to all you gurus out there.....thanks again for your continued help!!!

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Jim Hillier
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August 14, 2010 - 6:19 pm
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Joesy - You 'Initialize' a hard drive (via Disk Management') by right clicking on the drive icon and selecting the 'Initialize' option from the menu:
[attachment=0:3t6fazun]15-08-2010 8-08-46 AM.png[/attachment:3t6fazun]

It is generally only new drives which need to be initialised. What information is being displayed for each drive (in Disk Management)? e.g. "Healthy (Active, Primary Partition)".

Is that space empty - devoid of any details or does it say something like "RAW Partition"?

If you could post a screenshot of the entries (in Disk Management) for those three drives, would be a great help.

In the meantime....Do NOT initialise nor format the disk under any circumstances (the one you wish to retain the data)!!

Cheers....Jim

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Chad Johnson
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August 16, 2010 - 10:20 am
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WAIT!

Don't initialize the drive if you want to keep the data. While it won't overwrite the data or format the drive, it will make it much more complex to recover as it re-writes the partition table (which, I suspect, is what went missing in the first place).

My best guess as to what is happening is that either the partition table (is this a boot drive?) or filesystem itself got corrupted to the point Windows isn't recognizing the structure of the drive anymore. Windows doesn't know what's on it, so it's telling you to initialize the disk, which will rewrite the partition table. Was this drive configured as a single partition? If so, re-writing the partition table [i:1z3f3ygr]might[/i:1z3f3ygr] work. Was it configured into multiple partitions? Then it may not work.

Now, if it's not a problem with the partition table but a problem with the filesystem itself (NTFS, Fat32, etc) then rewriting the partition table will make your drive completely unreadable.

I've seen this problem several times, but never bothered to fix it. In my cases, I wipe the drive, repartition and re-initialize and reinstall the drive.

One suggestion I saw that worked on another forum was using EASEUS Partion Recovery Software [url:1z3f3ygr]http://www.ptdd.com/[/url:1z3f3ygr] However, I would wait until smarter people than I have weighed in on this.

--Zig

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