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-   -   How to know if hard drive is dying? (http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-hardware-18/how-to-know-if-hard-drive-is-dying-641666/)

alan_ri 05-12-2008 11:05 AM

How to know if hard drive is dying?
 
I'm having very strange problems these days.I could not install 10 diffrenet Linux distros and the errors were everything just not the same.One of them was segmentation fault,then that root fs doesn't exist,then that it can't copy files to partition.The only one I was able to install was Backtrack,but apps just keep crashing and I can't mount any other partition,sometimes it doesn't make it to the login screen,it stops on different lines,like ACPI or eth1 etc.
Could all of this be just because hard drive is dying(because I think that's what's happening)or is more then that?
And I forgot something,on this drive I have XP(just because of my brother,I want to make that clear)and guess what,it's working better then ever.

GrapefruiTgirl 05-12-2008 11:15 AM

Golly, hard to say.. It does look like the problem is drive related at first glance, but.... What about bad memory, or a failing IDE controller? Even a failing power supply can lead to numerous (very weird seeming) problems.

What make & model is the drive, and more importantly, how much mileage is on it?
Same for the motherboard-- what is it, and how old is it? How old is the power supply?

If the drive is SMART enabled, perhaps running the SMART self diagnosis tests (the LONG test) on the drive will give you a better idea if the drive is having issues. Under Linux, the SMART command is 'smartctl', and it has a man page. It is part of 'smartmon_tools' or something similar. You will have no trouble locating the package if you don't have it, using Google. It is hosted on Sourceforge.

Good luck, do let us know if/what you learn, or where this leads.

Sasha

alan_ri 05-12-2008 11:30 AM

Thanks for the quick reply,Sasha.
I did a memory test,and it was ok.I have three slots,and pc came with 256 of RAM and I added 2x256 not so long ago,and I'm sure models are as they should be.The drive is serial ATA IDE and it's about 5 years old,same as motherboard which is VIA P4VT8.Power supply that came with original pc died two weeks ago,so one I'm having now is new.I will check your suggestions.Thanks again!

onebuck 05-12-2008 08:04 PM

Hi,

What was the original PSU size? What did you replace the original with?

alan_ri 05-13-2008 04:42 AM

Hi,onebuck,
The original was ATX 2.03(P4) model 300PA CODEGEN 300W,230V,12V and new one is ATX 1.3/ver.2.03 12V,230V,550W compliant for all kind of CPU and Mainboard.
Today when I booted into Backtrack it said that fs was corrupted and it tried to fix that,and eventually it did.So far things are working and I can mount other partitions,but one thing is strange,it's showing that my root partition is not mounted.Here's the output when I try to mount it;
Quote:

A security policy in place prevents this sender from sending this message to this recipient, see message bus configuration file (rejected message had interface "org.freedesktop.Hal.Device.Volume" member "Mount" error name "(unset)" destination "org.freedesktop.Hal")
I am root,so I need to check this.I have to give a credit to the people of Backtrack,because without it I don't know how would I be able to fix something.These are the distros that failed to install:
Debian Etch,Debian Lenny,Fedora 8,Ubuntu 8.04,sidux,Absolute Linux,PCLinuxOS 2007,Mandriva 2008.1,and I tried with Slackware 12,but I think that cd1 is corrupted,so it just failed to start,I need to check that too.

elliott678 05-13-2008 04:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl (Post 3150898)
Golly, hard to say.. It does look like the problem is drive related at first glance, but.... What about bad memory, or a failing IDE controller? Even a failing power supply can lead to numerous (very weird seeming) problems.

Don't forget the possibility of a bad IDE cable, that one made me feel stupid.

onebuck 05-13-2008 10:23 AM

Hi,
Quote:

Originally Posted by alan_ri (Post 3151633)
Hi,onebuck,
The original was ATX 2.03(P4) model 300PA CODEGEN 300W,230V,12V and new one is ATX 1.3/ver.2.03 12V,230V,550W compliant for all kind of CPU and Mainboard.

I would check all the supply rails with the PSU loaded. If you have access to a DVM or voltmeter, just make certain all peripheral and system devices are connected at the time of measurement.

Quote:

Originally Posted by alan_ri (Post 3151633)
<snip> I tried with Slackware 12,but I think that cd1 is corrupted,so it just failed to start,I need to check that too.

You should check the md5sum for the downloaded iso file(s), be sure to get the '.md5' file for each iso. Don't depend on the burn application to check.

jiml8 05-13-2008 11:17 AM

That an XP installation on the same drive is working without issue would cause me to look first at things other than the drive.

Since you cannot install a distro, I would look at the CDROM device first; if it is failing that could be a problem. I have seen instances where a corrupted file on a CD/DVD was NOT caught and led me into all kinds of merry problems.

If not the CDROM device, then possibly the IDE cables, as someone else suggested.

It is also possible (though unusual) that a thermal problem in the HD is causing malfunctions over time with long writes (which an installation certainly is). I would not look for this until I had ruled out a lot of other things though.

Corrupted fs on the drive does suggest a HD problem, so maybe trying to keep the drive (and the mobo disk controller) cooler when doing the installation will gain you something.

If you can get your hands on a copy of Spinrite, you should try that. It will tell you pretty definitively what kind of shape your HD is in, and might even go a long way toward making it useable again if in fact it has a problem.

You might also take a look at the linux command badblocks and see what it tells you.

GrapefruiTgirl 05-13-2008 11:29 AM

Dirty CDROM lens?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jiml8 (Post 3151948)
...CD/DVD was NOT caught and led me into all kinds of merry problems.

Speaking of 'merry problems', I have experienced MANY caused by not defective hardware or corrupted CDs, but dirty lenses in the CD-ROM and/or DVD-ROM drives. OS's wouldn't install, even the IDE controller would sometimes hang because the optical drives were confused, thereby confusing the controller.

I almost resorted to purchasing new optical drive(s) about a year ago, to replace my several-year-old units, but finally it occurred to me to open up the units and clean the lenses with Isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab.

The grime on the swab was visible, and once removed, the drives have worked like a charm ever since.

onebuck 05-13-2008 02:29 PM

Hi,
Quote:

Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl
;<snip>

I almost resorted to purchasing new optical drive(s) about a year ago, to replace my several-year-old units, but finally it occurred to me to open up the units and clean the lenses with Isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab.

The grime on the swab was visible, and once removed, the drives have worked like a charm ever since.

I would suggest denatured alcohol vs isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol. The denatured alcohol will not leave a film on the lense.

BTW, how often do you perform maintenance on your system(s)?

GrapefruiTgirl 05-13-2008 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onebuck (Post 3152123)
Hi,
I would suggest .. The denatured alcohol will not leave a film on the lense.

BTW, how often do you perform maintenance on your system(s)?

Good point re: the denatured stuff. I suppose it would be that which should be in a proper head cleaning kit?

And re: maintenance-- was that question directed at me?
If so, I would say my machine is in a somewhat constant state of maintenance :) as far as cleaning out the case, sometimes rearranging wires & cables inside, etc (it's rather spartan inside). However, maintenance (the regular kind) doesn't usually include disassembling individual pieces of hardware like the optical drives for lens cleaning.

I have the case open often (like right now as we speak), to make note of chip ID numbers, pinouts to stuff, motherboard connectors, replacing fans with better ones, cleaning the CPU cooler, that kind of stuff.

When my optical drive began acting up, it was almost 4 years old, having been exposed to 4 years of fireplaces nearby, cooking fumes, cigarette fumes and whatever else. That was the first time I decided to take them apart, and since then (that was about a year ago) I have probably done 2-3 more times whether they needed it or not.

michaelk 05-13-2008 03:18 PM

You want to use 100% Isopropyl alcohol which does not contain the perfume and oil additives. Other good cleaners if you can find them are Freon-TF or 100% grain alcohol.

onebuck 05-13-2008 09:12 PM

Hi,

Quote:

Originally Posted by michaelk (Post 3152179)
You want to use 100% Isopropyl alcohol which does not contain the perfume and oil additives. Other good cleaners if you can find them are Freon-TF or 100% grain alcohol.

Denatured alcohol is a ethyl alcohol with either acetone or methanol added to make the alcohol unfit for consumption. If you choose high purity isopropal alcohol (91%) then that would be usable with electronics.

A lot of people get the 71% and use it for electronics. These drug store varieties are not the best to use. To choose 100% grain alcohol for cleaning and consumption would solve a lot of the problems. I would prefer mine with a coke and not straight up an neat. :)

alan_ri 05-21-2008 11:15 AM

Thank you all for your replies and thoughts.The pc we were talking about is now in the hands of tehnicians,and I don't know how much more will be,but until now they only know that hard drive is bad.Anyway,9 days without computer,it wasn't easy,so after considering all the facts,I can say that now I'm the owner of the brand new beast with AMD Athlon processor,nvidia grafic etc.etc.Since I always had Intel and ATI and not so powerfull computers you can imagine what I'm going thrue now.This AMD thing is amazing.I will inform you about old pc.

GrapefruiTgirl 05-21-2008 02:53 PM

Awesome! A new machine is always fun and exciting, like a new car :-)

Have fun!!

Sasha


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