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Windows 7: Hard drive disappears randomly

24 May 2010   #11

Dual boot XP Pro SP3x86 and Win7 Pro x64

First of all, it's not my judgment call to make but I laud your conscientiousness in creating backups. How many times does one read plaintive entreaties from users whose data is corrupt or lost and they want to know how to get it back. A religiously followed backup plan is essential - if only for peace of mind.

Based on the information you already have and, using probability as the operating premise, I think it less probable that the HDD is mechanically unsound. It may be but less probably.

Secondly, bad clusters or sectors, if you will, are common but I, personally, do not regard them as normal. I cannot remember the last time I had a HDD that reported bad clusters; perhaps I upgrade my HDDs before that happens. Basically, bad sectors are those that, for a number of reasons have lost or are losing their magnetism. As a consequence, read-write errors ensue or are introduced. Practically speaking, it is reasonable to consider that data in such clusters is corrupt and may or may not, in part, be recoverable.

All that said, one possible reason for bad clusters is a bad drive. Bad how? Manufacturing defect, heads slammed into the magnetic medium, and sudden loss of power during write operations. If the issue is one of physical damage to the magnetic medium or, otherwise, corrupt files/structure, then a full format will eliminate the issue (1) by wiping the corrupt data or (2) by marking the sectors as "bad" in the FAT and they will, thus, be ignored for future use. There are many defrag apps that will give you a visual ID of bad sectors if they exist.

So how to proceed? If it were me, one who always pursues the exoteric before the esoteric (and complex), if you have a good backup, then I would reformat the HDD. As I said, that will eliminate any corrupt data or mark the sectors as bad. Regardless, the issue is solved. Then restore your backup. If the issue recurs, you know that mechanically bad sectors are not the cause (the format has, in a sense, disabled those) and the issue is either corrupt files/structure or a bad HDD (again, the lowest on my list of probabilities).

Regarding space: my suggestion would be to add a third or second larger HDD (1) because storage is very inexpensive these days and (2) you experience better performance if the disk is not so full; seek times are also reduced if heads on one HDD are not doing all of the seeking. I cannot tell from the error message but it suggests that there are so many bad sectors (much data) that there is not enough space remaining on the drive(s) to write the recovered files.

Me, if I have a reliable backup: reformat. (First copy data on the HDD that was created after your backup to your other HDD.) This attempts to ID the issue by a process of elimination because if the HDD is good and your files are corrupt, the restored files on the replacement HDD will recreate the issue.

If your reformattted HDD shows bad sectors, get a new HDD. Why? Magnetically bad sectors tend to, sooner than later, spread out to adjacent areas of the platter.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2010   #12

Vista 7 Home Premium x64

I just wanted to share a quick update with how this played out. Originally I did not think there was any corrupt on the file system, but as it turned out, there was.

For example, I found that when I tried to copy a file from one drive to another and that file was corrupted due to bad clusters, the disk would retry several times and I would hear a clicking sound over and over. Eventually it would give up and the drive would disappear.

As I reported before, chkdsk /f /r did not work because it said there wasn't enough space and eventually exited out with an error. Then I deleted ALL the files from the drive and tried chkdsk /f /r. This time it would run for a bit and then exit out saying chkdsk could not fix the issue.

Lastly I tried reformatting thinking that would mark the bad clusters. The format ran for a long time but as the progress bar got toward the end I started hearing that clicking sound again. Eventually it moved on and clicking stopped and progress looked like it was being made. But as it neared the end the format function returned an error saying that the format could not be completed and it exited.

So clearly something is wrong with the drive. Perhaps it is mechanical. The disappointing part is that SMART did not give me any advanced notice. I had a different drive got bad previously and was real impressed by how SMART gave me notice before any corruption occurred. I guess SMART cannot get all types of issues?

Anyway thanks for all the help. I am returning the drive to Seagate and they are sending me a new drive as a replacement under warranty.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2010   #13

Dual boot XP Pro SP3x86 and Win7 Pro x64

It's odd: in 22 years, in business or pleasure, I have never had a bad HDD or a HDD with bad sectors. Luck to be sure. In my later years I turned to gaming (don't have a wife or dog to consume spare time) and beat hell out of my computers. Every couple of years I build a new machine (am about due) so that is, perhaps, why nothing ever quits. I'm still knocking on wood, though.

Fortunately, mfrs like WD and Seagate/Maxtor stand by their products, as do retailers like Amazon and mWave, both of whom I frequent. And as I said, it is excellent practice to maintain a rigorous backup plan.

So, LovingDVD, you and we all learn a little more from your experiences and each other's suggestions/tips. Thanks for the posting back with your "solution"; that's a big help for future reference.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 May 2010   #14

Vista 7 Home Premium x64

Yea it is really odd. This drive was only about 4-6 months old...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Dec 2010   #15

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

you may like to try this HDD Regenerator to fix your bad sectors - I am currently experiencing a similar issue with a brand new WD drive - I will let you know if I manage to fix it (assuming you haven't already done so)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Dec 2012   #16

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I'm facing the same problem but it's some what different
Bought a new Seagate 2 TB, installed it, tried to full format it but a message box displayed "windows was unable to format your drive" and HDD drive was not even showing up in 'disk managment'
restarted PC, drive was showing and again tried to do the same and the same thing happened. So, finally i managed to quick format the HDD and the drive disappeared and now the problem is the drive isn't showing up even after restarting.
Is the HDD faulty? Help ASAP
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Feb 2013   #17

Win 7 Ultimate x64
Solved problem by replacing SATA cable and changing ports

I had the same problems with one of my two Samsung 1TB HD103SJ drives disappearing. I would be transferring a large 2GB file and the Explorer window showing that drive would just disappear along with the drive icon on the desktop. The drive would also disappear in Disk Management. However, every time I would reboot, the drive would reappear. Running chkdsk G: /f /r on that drive would just lock up after a minute or so.

What did solve the problem for me (hopefully permanently) was to replace the drive's SATA cable and to also plug the drive into an alternate SATA port on the main board.

I don't know if it was a problem with a dirty connector, a flaky SATA cable or a flaky SATA port on the main board, but the disappearing drive problem seems to be solved for me at least.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Mar 2013   #18

win 7 32 bit


did you ever solve this issue?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Hard drive disappears randomly

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