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Windows 7: PC suddenly crashed - can't find hard drive

22 Mar 2011   #1
th0mas

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 
PC suddenly crashed - can't find hard drive

First of all, this is regarding an old 1720 Dell laptop running Windows 7 32 bit. I left my PC running (working perfectly) while in class, and came home to an error message reading something like "the HDD can't be found". Okay, I reboot the computer, it goes past the setup screen, then I get a blank screen, until the computer automatically reboots after a few minutes.

I tried booting from the Windows install disk, but it freezes while loading every time. I burned a "recovery disk" - same story. I tried putting the HDD in the other HDD bay, and that doesn't work (error - HDD can't be found). I tried putting the HDD in an external hard drive enclosure, and that doesn't work. It is, however, recognized when I connect the external enclosure to a different computer. The problem is that I don't have access to the files.

The HDD occasionally makes a clicking sound, and I'm not sure if that's normal. However, if the HDD is toast, the recovery and install disks should still boot, and they're not. Also, the HDD shows up when connected to another PC through the external HDD enclosure, so it seems like it isn't totally dead.

Do you have any ideas how to fix this? I don't really care if I have to do a reinstall, but I need to recover some of the files first, and right now I don't have access to them through the external enclosure...

PS: I've made no recent software or hardware changes. The HDD is a 320GB SATA


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Mar 2011   #2
Maguscreed

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Clicking sound is definitely a sign of a dead or dying hdd.

You may be able to recover the data, but either way you are going to need a new hard drive. If it's clicking it needs to be replaced.
That's not a windows thing, it's a hardware thing.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Mar 2011   #3
th0mas

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

Yea, I'm leaning that direction too, but it's still discovered by BIOS, and it doesn't explain why the recovery and install disks won't boot...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Mar 2011   #4
DeanP

Win 7 Pro x64 SP1 OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7
 
 

You could try run a HDD test (SeaTools) and see if the HDD is faulty or not
| Seagate

Select SeaTools for DOS and burn into a CD/DVD

Dean
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 May 2011   #5
Edog2011

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 
Similar issue, but not exactly

My newly built basic system crashed after just a few weeks. I got black screen with insert system disk. When I do it starts going through Win7 setup. If I try to repair or restore it tells me that there are no points to restore and it also can't repair. So, I tried to re-install Win7. Gets to the point where it asks where I want to store Win 7. But there are no hard drives available. Obviously not recognizing the hard drive I have in. I go to the BIOS and can see it, but Win 7 cannot so it won't install. I really don't want to reformat the hard drive if possible. Any help is much appreciated.

Edog
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 May 2011   #6
Maguscreed

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Do you have SMART enabled in your bios?
Is it giving you any messages?

It is possible wiping the drive could help,(put that on hold for the moment though) I would also try the obvious items like checking the cables and making sure everything is secure inside the case. The win 7 disc working is completely unrelated to the hard disk itself so that doesn't really tell us much. Other than the motherboard controller is still apparently working.

Do you know what company made your hard drive?
Detailed information on your system is missing from your profile.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 May 2011   #7
Edog2011

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 

I apologize for not putting system info. in my thread. I don't think I have SMART enabled in the BIOS.The computer with the problem is actually one I threw together for my brother-in-law. The HD was a 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Green, which I bought from NewEgg. Also I did some more checking last night in the BIOS. It does show up in the BIOS, but I look at the storage space and it said 0. So, I simply replaced the HD with another one I had laying around. Re-loaded Win7 and all is good now.

Bottom line is I think the HD failed really, really early. Is there a way to test HD after you remove them?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 May 2011   #8
Maguscreed

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64
 
 

If you go to western digitals website, they have tools for testing their hard drives, you should be able to plug it in as a secondary drive and run diagnostics on it.
If it is still less than a year old you can also pursue a RMA process on their website to receive a replacement from them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 May 2011   #9
Edog2011

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 

Great, thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 PC suddenly crashed - can't find hard drive




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