multiple hdds inaccessible - bios ?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Sully, Aug 15, 2012.

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  1. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    My kid has an older machine, an athlon fx5500 with a tyan mobo (forget, nf4 I think) and 4gb ram. Anyway, I limit where he can go online, always have. He had 2 ide hdds (one samsung, one wd, both 80gb) and one sata dvd drive. We installed XP maybe a year ago, prior to that had xp on it for maybe 2 years and we let him try vista and w7 to see if he liked them.

    A few months ago his primary drive died, or so I thought. It was visible in bios at times, and at times not. I stuck another used drive in there (a wd) and installed. After a week or so, same thing.

    At this point I decided to investigate. I ran scads of applications on both drives, like spinrite, mhdd, lots of boot tools like UltimateBoodCd as well as hdd tools from 3rd party an manufacturer tools. I put a 40gb in, same thing. His secondary drive finally was all I had left, and it should have been in good shape. Well, it has gone awry as well.

    When xp setup started, no problems. Got drivers on, etc. Then the first stage is the bios starts to not auto detect the drive. Cold boot, warm boot, makes no difference. Powering down and pulling plug, no difference. Removing the ata cable and booting, then shutting down, will usually cause it to be redetected. After a few boots, it becomes lost again. Sometimes after a few reboots, it becomes visible without having to pull the ata plug. In this fashion the drive will work and bootup. However, if you were to try to reinstall, setup could see the drive but not format it. After some time, few days to maybe 2 weeks max, this trick no longer works and drive wont boot. Setup still sees the drive, but again cannot access it to format or install.

    One would think the mobo has an issue, or the drives are just old. However, putting any drive in, for the first few days, no problems exist. The interesting part is that when any of the drives are detected, after they have been in this machine for a week or so, and start acting up (like the mbr is corrupt or something), they are no longer accessible by anything. Setup sees them, but format says drive is not accessible. Any tool I use, same result, it can be seen but not accessible.

    If I put one of these drives in as a slave, they show up in device manager. Going to disk managment, it is there, but when you try to make it active (or format, or anything) it says it is inaccessible.

    I have a hard time believing the mobo is bad in the sense of a disk controller or something going out, as a new drive exhibits no issues for a time. I also have a hard time believing that many drives could all go bad at the same time.

    I wonder, has anyone ever had experience where a mobo will, after a given amount of time, cause such things? Obviously if this is the case the mobo is bad, but I have never seen this before. Further, what sort of damage is caused to a drive that it is detectable, but not accessible. Errors are not the "your drive may be damaged" but always simply not accessible.

    Anyone ever heard of a bios virus doing something like this? I haven't.

    Looking to salvage some drives that should still be decent as they have only moderate hours of use on them.

    Sul.
     
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    One way to know for sure is to place a brand new, under warranty hd and see what happens. As a pure guess, if it brakes then mobo might be the cause, may be passing too much current and frying the controller on the hd. As for the hd that are already broken I have a feeling that is the controller which is faulty as it can't communicate with the OS
     
  3. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Can you swap out the ide interface ribbon and/or clean the male connectors with a pencil eraser or contact cleaner to make sure you don't have intermittent (thermal cycling related?) incomplete connection problems? Just a thought, although I did see you mentioning unplugging the ata cable.
     
  4. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have put on many ata cables. The mobo only has one ata channel, so only 2 devices. Cable make no difference, nor does using cable select or different configurations of slave/master and jumpers on drives.

    It is a mystery to me thus far. I hope it isn't the mobo, such a good machine it has been.

    Sul.
     
  5. jwcca

    jwcca Registered Member

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    I had a similar problem with an ASUS mb which was due to capacitors.
    One channel 'disappeared' then another (there were two controllers, up to 4 drives). There were 6 capacitors that failed, likely due to the use of caps provided by a copycat, cheaper vendor who didn't have the right formula, if I remember correctly. My son also had the same problems and he ordered replacement capacitors and repaired both mbs which then worked fine as did the drives. We've since moved on to newer mbs due to W7 which have newer, more reliable capacitors...

    So look at capacitors close to the cpu that have bulging tops and possibly leakage.

    Of course your problem may be different...
     
  6. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Good idea. I have replaced bulged caps on video cards before. I will look into that.

    Sul.
     
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