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Windows 7: Possible hard disk failure?

21 Oct 2012   #1
emilyan2010

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 
Possible hard disk failure?

Hello. I have windows 7 ultimate and linux ubuntu installed on my laptop. Last week i started to have slowing problems in windows, like it took 10 or 20 minutes to load, and sometimes when i clicked on some files from the second partitin(i have 2 partitions for windows, one for system and the other for the rest of files, and 1 partition for ubuntu), the computer would freeze, without any memory or processor used, it just stuck in place, for 5-10 minutes. Then, i scanned C: using chkdsk /r command and it showed some problems with .bitmap which were fixed. I thought everything was ok, but it wasn't so. Same problems remained. Then, i waited untill wekeend to do a scan to D: as well (D: is a 677 GB partition with around 450 GB used). After 14 hours, from which around 10 hours it stayed in stage 4 out of 5(files scan) in which many bad clusters were detected and replaced, it was finally finished. Then, i ran a reboot, but surprise: i got the following messages:
error: hd0 out of disk
grub resque

or

error: no such partition or error: out of disk or error:unknown filesystem, or a disk read error occured, press ctr+alt+del to restart.

Then, since it was night, I went to sleep, and after 10 hours i reopened my laptop and found surprisingly GRUB to be working fine, but when i entered windows, it took around 30 minutes to load everything, and whenever i clicked on any element, it would block for another 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, if i entered linux, everything would work fine, until i accessed the 2 windows partitions. Also, if i had to copy something from partition D:, some folders would copy, but for other, linux would block(i guess chkdsk maybe didn't fix all bad clusters, or there could be a physical error of hard disk). In addition, whenever i use the computer to copy files, or to run any files, i hear some noise from inside of laptop, like some contacts are touched or something like that, but a silent noise.
What do you think, could it be a hardware related problem?
Also, if it is so, since my laptop is in warranty, could i ask at the repair company to transfer all my data to another hard disk? (the problem is that i spent many days installing a lot of programs and games, which occupied this space on D:, and i would like not to have done all my work in vain). Also, what could have caused the problem so suddenly. Last time i remember i used driver genius to install latest updates for drivers; could it be because of this?
My pc spec is : samsung laptop with 6 gb RAM, intel core i5-2450 with 2.50 ghz, 1 tb ATA SAMSUNG HN-M101M, and for video card, i have an intel integrated video card and a nvidia 1 gb video card for games and other applications.
Thank you for your future replies!


Yours, emilyan2010


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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21 Oct 2012   #2
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Ironically, I am just finishing up a very similar 1-week experience with nearly identical symptoms... except I have a pure Win7 situation. Same story about 20 minutes to boot, obvious lengthy periods of system error recovery trying to read or write to the failing hard drive, etc.

After discovering the CHKDSK anomalies, and the apparent inability to permanently correct the problems (errors kept returning), and the increasingly worsening performance problems (like yours, with long periods of time with nothing happening) I concluded that my 4-year old WD 150GB 10Krpm 16MB cache Velociraptor hard drive was finally failing. It actually had about 17,000 hours of usage recorded over the 4 years, but it seemed to be approaching its "end of life".

So on Wednesday I quickly ordered a replacement (latest WD 250GB 10Krpm 64MB cache Velociraptor), which arrived on Friday. Using backup "system images" of the three partitions on the failing drive, I created those same three partitions on the new drive.

And, thankfully, sure enough it seemed that all of the last week's I/O-error recovery symptoms had completely disappeared! Windows startup and shutdown was now faster than I've ever seen, everything seemed to be completely corrected.

Needless to say I was proud of my ability to diagnose the symptoms and my decision to quickly replace the obviously dying drive.

Anyway, last night I put the machine (home-built desktop PC, Supermicro C2SBX board, Intel E6800, 4GB) into hibernation as I always do each night. And this morning much to my satisfaction it started up perfectly and behaved properly for about an hour.

Then, all of a sudden as I was composing an email, I noticed that "lockup" symptom had returned, as if the machine was once again involved with I/O error recovery on the hard drive. After 30 seconds I had a BSOD with "memory parity check" as the cause.

I then tried to re-boot, and both of my two SATA hard drives were no longer detected by the BIOS. My SCSI adapter and the attached SCSI drive was visible, but not the two SATA hard drives connected to the motherboard. Hmmm...

I then pulled the power cord and let the machine sit for a minute or two. Then I plugged it back in, re-booted, and the two SATA hard drives had reappeared! In fact, Windows started to boot. But it never got as far as presenting the desktop, before I saw a quick flash of blue screen and then the machine re-booted itself.

And on the next reboot sure enough those SATA drives were once again missing. And I've not been able to "recover" them since that time. They now appear to be permanently gone.

So, I have concluded that the SATA controllers on the motherboard have died. How this may have been tied to the "memory parity error" symptom I don't know. Whether this is tied to the CHKDSK failures on the former presumably failing hard drive (which had now been replaced), I'm sure it was.

Anyway, late today I decided that the motherboard had reached its "end of life". Even though the BIOS, CPU, memory, CD and SCSI drive, etc., were all still working, obviously the SATA controller had apparently died. Time to buy a new machine (keeping most of the old machine's case and peripheral devices).

So this evening I ordered a new ASUS P8Z77-V Pro motherboard, i5-3350p (non-graphics) CPU, 2x4GB PC3-12800 memory, and Noctua NH-U12P SE2 cooler. The old machine's innards were over 4 years old, but most of it can be used in the rebuild with the new parts. Should all be here by Wednesday and I will proceed with the "transplant surgery".


I still believe that the failing 4-year old hard drive was truly failing. But I wouldn't be surprised that the failing SATA controller on the motherboard was a contributing factor to the death of that drive.

Add in that "memory parity error" (which could be either a "victim" or a "culprit" to the story) and the answer is simply that it does appear time to replace this old hardware.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2012   #3
emilyan2010

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Well, but my problem is that i have this laptop for 5 months, and i already started to have these failures..
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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21 Oct 2012   #4
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

You ask if it could be hardware failure... and I say yes, it could be.

No matter how old the hardware, I point out that your symptom description sounds suspiciously like a hardware issue. At least that's a good possibility.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2012   #5
edwar

7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by emilyan2010 View Post
Well, but my problem is that i have this laptop for 5 months, and i already started to have these failures..
In any event your hard drive is bad and getting worse. It needs to be replaced. Yes even if the drive is only 5 months old. Hard drives can fail at any time. Since you are still in the normal warranty for most computers, which normally is one year, you should contact the maker and either send it in for a HDD replacement or see if they will send you one that you replace yourself.

HDD failures are accelerated by heat so if you have been using your notebook on a soft surface that can lead to excessive heat build up in the system and accelerate component failures.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2012   #6
emilyan2010

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by edwar View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by emilyan2010 View Post
Well, but my problem is that i have this laptop for 5 months, and i already started to have these failures..
In any event your hard drive is bad and getting worse. It needs to be replaced. Yes even if the drive is only 5 months old. Hard drives can fail at any time. Since you are still in the normal warranty for most computers, which normally is one year, you should contact the maker and either send it in for a HDD replacement or see if they will send you one that you replace yourself.

HDD failures are accelerated by heat so if you have been using your notebook on a soft surface that can lead to excessive heat build up in the system and accelerate component failures.
I have been using my laptop on an external cooler, so this cannot be the problem Any other idea? (i guess in the following days, when i have time, i will go to the service center with my laptop)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2012   #7
Sir George

Windows 7 Professional x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by emilyan2010 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by edwar View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by emilyan2010 View Post
Well, but my problem is that i have this laptop for 5 months, and i already started to have these failures..
In any event your hard drive is bad and getting worse. It needs to be replaced. Yes even if the drive is only 5 months old. Hard drives can fail at any time. Since you are still in the normal warranty for most computers, which normally is one year, you should contact the maker and either send it in for a HDD replacement or see if they will send you one that you replace yourself.

HDD failures are accelerated by heat so if you have been using your notebook on a soft surface that can lead to excessive heat build up in the system and accelerate component failures.
I have been using my laptop on an external cooler, so this cannot be the problem Any other idea? (i guess in the following days, when i have time, i will go to the service center with my laptop)
Just because edwar mentioned heat as a possible cause, he didn't mean it's the only cause. HDD's fail for a wide variety of reasons, any one of which could be your problem.

I would certainly go to the service center and have them sort things out for you.

HTH
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2012   #8
emilyan2010

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
 
 

I went to service center and they replaced my hard disk, claiming it had some physical errors(didn't tell me what or why did they happen, they just replaced the hard disk under warranty....and lost all my files, as their policy was not to save any of their customer's files when replacing or repairing anything).
Thank you for your help!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2012   #9
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by emilyan2010 View Post
I went to service center and they replaced my hard disk, claiming it had some physical errors(didn't tell me what or why did they happen, they just replaced the hard disk under warranty....and lost all my files, as their policy was not to save any of their customer's files when replacing or repairing anything).
Thank you for your help!
Well, as "hostile" as that policy might seem to be, if they're a hardware service center I can understand their position.

That's really why you should have your own backup/recovery plan (using highly regarded 3rd-party software products e.g. Macrium Reflect Standard for both (a) system image backups e.g. weekly, and (b) data folder/file backups with say monthly FULL and daily INCREMENTALs, and backups written to a second physical drive either internal or external) if you have data that is truly irreplaceable or at the very least "important to you".

With that kind of a policy in place, no matter what happens to you (hardware or software) you will almost certainly be able to recover your environment to the way things looked as of last night's backup. If you have significant data that you don't want to ever lose, you need to take appropriate backup actions.


Just as an example, a friend of mine (who I'd set up exactly this type of backup scheme for back in July) called me Saturday afternoon crying that his computer "had died". I have remote access to his machine (through RealVNC) and it actually hadn't died, but something (most likely a virus) had disabled his video graphics so that his desktop was now at 640x480 with 4-bit color.

It was obvious that the only "solution" was a genuine recovery using the backup mechanisms I'd installed back in July. This included (a) weekly "system image" backups each Sunday morning at 4AM, and (b) monthly FULL "data" folder/file backups on the 1st of each month at 2AM, and (c) daily INCREMENTAL "data" folder/file backups at 1AM. Macrium Reflect Standard is the software for all of this, and all backups are written to a 1TB external USB drive. Ideally these would be USB 3.0 drives (if your PC has USB 3.0 support, but even if not you can install a PCIe-x1 USB adapter for about $15) but in his case the drive was only USB 2.0. The only difference is speed.

Recovery method:

(1) re-boot the machine and from the Boot Manager Menu select "Macrium Reflect Recovery". This boots to a WinPE environment which had full access to all hardware, including the external USB drive. So the "system images" on the external drive are available for selection.

Note that if the drive itself is dead or gone or useless, Macrium Reflect also has a secondary boot media CD from which you can standalone-boot, containing the identical WinPE environment and having exactly the same access to all hardware on the machine including the external USB drive.

(2) restore the latest "system image" from 10/21.

(3) re-boot, and sure enough the system is back to "normal". WHEW! Step 1 successful.

(4) run six consecutive "data folder/file" restores, using each of the "daily INCREMENTAL" backups as input and selecting EVERYTHING on each of those backups for restore. These are for 10/22, 10/23, 10/24, 10/25, 10/26, 10/27 (each one from the automatic 1AM backup of that day).

That was it. At the completion of the final restore his system was "fully recovered" and operational, as it looked right after the 10/27 1AM backup, including his Outlook Express email (he's still on WinXP).

He could mentally remember the additional work he'd done during the day on Saturday, so he could manually redo whatever was important. But this was relatively trivial in the scheme of things. Just being able to overcome what could well have been a virus attack (despite the presence of McAffee on his machine) and getting his machine back to at least the way it looked when he first sat down to it on Saturday morning was a true gift.


I mention this because in your situation, having the service center totally replace your hard drive with a "new bare metal" drive would not have been a disaster at all, had something like the above-described backup mechanism been in place. Most critical, of course, is the use of a second drive (in my story an external USB drive) for backups, rather than using a second "data partition" carved out from the one internal hard drive usually found in laptops. Putting backups on the same physical drive as your primary operating system and data is the wrong thing to do.

In other words, the exact same recovery scenario I described above for my friend, well that would have gotten you back in business as well... with essentially no loss of data whatsoever.

Perhaps now is the right time and opportunity to think about such a backup plan for yourself.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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