September 2, 2010
I've not been around for a very long time due to personal issues and I see that quite a lot has changed in the meantime. I still read the Newsletter and occasionally visit the site, unfortunately not in a state/ mood to be active, and even now I'm here to ask for help as I'm kind of forced to deal with a tech problem I'm actually not in the mood of dealing with.
So, without further ado, here's the situation:
I'm pretty sure that the (IDE) HDD on my old P4 (P4 2.80GHz, 1.5GB RAM) is dying on me. It's working fine and passes the S.M.A.R.T test, but I think I have the first signs of its upcoming death. With the PC case open, I can hear a very soft ticking sound, like a mechanical clock. The sound is evident when the HDD is (allegedly) idle and rather periodic - it makes about 4-5 ticks, then stops for about a minute or so and then starts all over again.
It's coming from the back of the case, i.e. the opposite side of the HDD (I've put my ear closely to various areas and it's definitely coming from the back side where the PSU is and one of the fans), but I can also spot the HDD led (on the front side) blinking softly at every tick.
I'm pretty sure the HDD is dying. And before anyone asks or prompts me to, I've already backed up all my data files.
So, now I have to reinstall the OS on a different HDD. I do have a SATA HDD, which is double the size of the IDE one.
My question is the following. I have a recent (couple of months old) image of the IDE HDD which I made with Paragon B&R free (unfortunately not the latest version).
Would trying to restore this image on the SATA HDD have any good chances of success? Should I even attempt it?
I fear that the different size and technology (i.e. drivers) would result into failure. I'd like to spare myself the time and hassle of a clean install and tweaks of the OS and then of my S/W, but if trying to restore the image would prove to be even more wasting of time and effort, I'd rather go with the clean install from the beginning.
I am human
Hey FD - Nice to hear from you.
Operating System? (I am assuming XP?)
Don't know too much about the Paragon B & R software but will your setup allow you to do the following: connect your new HDD in tandem with the old one - so both are connected - and see if the new drive is recognized by both Windows and Paragon B & R?
If the drive is recognized, I'd imagine the chances of successfully restoring the image would be very good and just a matter of running the Paragon software and telling it to restore the image to the new drive.
BTW: May be a silly question but an older P4 motherboard is unlikely to have any SATA connections, does your mobo have a SATA connection or do you perhaps have an adapter ?
September 2, 2010
How silly of me, forgot to mention the OS - yes, it's Win XP SP3, fully patched as we speak.
And yes, I have SATA connections on my mobo. Actually, the HDD I'm planning to migrate to is already connected and in use - I've placed my pagefile on a separate partition here; additionally, I store my media files (images, video, music) and download S/W as well as updates/ patches for my installed apps.
So, windows has no problems recognising it. Regarding Paragon B&R, I need to try this out - see now why I came to ask for help? - but my guess would be that there won't be any such issues either (SATA HDDs are fully supported). What I'm worried about is that the image (actual size of about 36GB) is of the IDE HDD (80GB) that had three partitions back then [System (C:\), Programs (D:\) and Data (E:\)] and how restoring it on a different HDD might make the system unbootable or unstable due to driver issues, MBR errors, etc.
I also don't quite understand how it will handle the extra space of the SATA HDD (160GB). Unfortunately, I couldn't find any relevant information on Paragon's site, so hoped that maybe the knowledgeable people here may be able to get me into the right direction.
I thought about looking for a different imaging program that would allow me to do what I want, but would it be wise to try and get a fresh image at this point?
You may say I fuss too much about it, but I'm going through some bad stuff and emotional/ psychological state for the past year, I practically have to force myself to act and deal with this before the HDD dies on me
Anyway, thanks for the input.
And asides everything else, it's really nice talking to you again
I am human
Must be one of the later hybrid P4 motherboards then FD. From what you have described, I wouldn't anticipate any problems on the Windows side but, knowing nothing about the Paragon software, I couldn't even hazard a guess on that side of things.
You say "back then", as in at the time you created the image... is that same configuration (System (C:\), Programs (D:\) and Data (E:\) still in place now or has it changed since?
Either way, I would suggest creating and saving a fresh up-to-date image prior to commencing any restore operations. Also, if you'd like to try a different software, I can highly recommend Macrium Reflect Free: http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx
Unfortunately, these things are pretty much trial and error but I can't see that you should have any problems. Even with the older image and three separate partitions, the Paragon software SHOULD copy all three partitions across and leave the rest of the space on the new drive unallocated. From there you can expand existing partitions if you want or create a new partition from the unallocated space.
*Paragon may even provide options for you to resize partitions during restore setup, many imaging programs do.
The benefit of having both drives connected already is that you can run the imaging software from within the OS to restore the image to the SATA drive. Once restored, you can just change your boot preference (order) in BIOS to boot from the SATA drive first and see what happens. If it doesn't work, nothing lost really... except maybe a little time.
Great talking with you again FD,
September 2, 2010
Ok, back to report on my progress.
I made my final backups and then went ahead and downloaded & installed Macrium Reflect Free. I took the lazy path and made a clone of the IDE HDD to the SATA HDD. I then disconnected the IDE HDD (but didn't take it out the PC case) and booted from the SATA one, which worked just fine (it even re-assigned the drive letters ).
That soft ticking noise is still there, so is the led blinking with every tick - grrr! I can clearly hear it when there're no other louder noises in the room and the HDD is idle (it's possible that the noise is there even when the HDD is busy, but goes unnoticed as it's a quite soft sound). I also think that a very small part of the led is constantly bright now - the led is shaped like an eye and there's a very small dot in the center of it staying bright even during the silent periods.
How likely is it that two different HDDs are dying on me at the same time? And if it's not a HDD issue, what could be causing both the noise and the blinking? How do I go about investigating other candidate culprits?
I am human
Hey FD - So it's both congratulations and commiserations then.
Even though the clicking noise plus HD busy light flickering simultaneously tends to suggest impending hard drive failure, it does seem unlikely that two completely different drives would be displaying the exact same symptoms, too much of a coincidence in my book.
I know you've said it's 4 to 5 clicks around every minute or so but can you count and time and maybe discern if there is a distinct pattern or is more random?
Also, is the clicking sound always present, regardless of temps and how long the machine's been powered on? Or is it more prevalent after being left on for a while?
The ticking noise could be anything really, but the simultaneously flickering HD light definitely deepens the mystery. I guess you've already looked closely at any fans to make sure there are no impediments, particularly any stray wiring. The main fan should be quite easy, the PSU fan not so much, but, seeing it is enclosed, it's unlikely to be culprit either. Are you able to pick up the tower, turn it PSU down (toward the floor) and give it a shake... see if anything rattles or drops out? It only need be something tiny.
It could also be a capacitor on the way out. Check the tops of all capacitors for any swelling or blackness. It could be a dry joint, or minor corrosion. As I said, could be a million and one things, without any hands on it's very difficult to make anything other than educated guesses.
September 2, 2010
Kind of depressing how my initial joy about the successful cloning process was quickly shadowed by the persistence of the noise - I was almost 100% certain it was the IDE HDD.
The noise is not what I'd describe as "clicking", the sound that came to mind when I first noticed it a couple of days ago was the ticking of a mechanical watch, like the sound of the header that counts seconds.
I'd have to recount to see if there's something different about the noise with the SATA HDD in place.
When I first noticed it - and it did start only a couple of days ago - I did an online search and fans & wires came up quite often, so I did check and couldn't find anything suspicious. I've already decided to have a more thorough look inside the case, but it's already past 3am, so that's going to have to wait until the morning - I can only hope it's not a capacitor (worse possible scenario I can think of).
If you want to get your hands on the system, you're welcome to join me tomorrow - can't afford much, but maybe a nice meal and a bear or two would be compensation enough
I am human
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