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It may not be that your HDD is failing, but considering the consequences and in the lack of an alternative cause of the problem, you should immediately copy any files on the HDD that you need and want.
After you have a backup, you might try SMART. It must be activated in your BIOS and on the HDD. If you can't use SMART, google for a HDD utility from the HDD maker. There is HUTIL for Samsung, SeaTools for Seagate, plus others. The utilities should be available on both a bootable floppy and a CD ISO.
Last edited by thorkelljarl; 11-12-2009 at 11:12 AM.
After a power outage, when I used to use a non-journaled filesystem like Ext2, I usually had a long fsck ahead of me after the power came back. Sometimes the automatic fsck upon bootup would do it, but often enough, I had to use
e2fsck -v -y /dev/XXX
to restore the partition. As you would see on the fsck man page, the -v means "verbose" and the -y means "answer YES to all questions", which has the potential to do something you don't want, but otherwise, you must sit there and press YES or NO many times until the process is complete. Using the -y option has never caused me grief, though on rare occasions, I have lost a file or two to the /Lost+Found folder (from where you can recover them if you like).
If you have frequent power cuts that are causing frequent bad shutdowns, and a UPS is not a cost effective solution, if I were you I would investigate the possibility of installing your Mandriva OS onto a journaled filesystem such as Ext3 or Ext4. Though Ext4 is the newest Linux filesystem to hit "production" and/or heavy testing stage, it has been working without error for me now for several months or more with my Slackware system, AND if I suffer a bad shutdown, the reboot is usually painless with only an occasional very short fsck lasting just a few seconds.
Do keep in mind though, as mentioned by earlier posters above, if there is cause OTHER THAN power outages that may lead you to suspect a failing HDD, please backup any important data before you lose it!