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Hard drive problem - I think?

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  • Hard drive problem - I think?

    This problem has been plaguing me for about a month and I finally spent all day (until midnight) yesterday trying to track down the problem. I'm stumped, so I thought I'd ask for help from those who possibly have gone before me.

    I'm running W2K with an NTFS file system and a Western Digital 60GB disk as my main disk; a WD 13GB disk as a "spare". There are a few sub-directories in "My Pictures" which are causing problems when I try to open them in Windows Explorer. For example:

    My Pictures
    -OSY photos
    --Final versions

    When I click on the B&W directory to view the files in it, I get an error dialog box saying: "Explorer.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program. An error log is being created." When I click OK, Windows Explorer disappears, the screen blanks for a minute, then everything (minus a few of my startup task bar icons and Windows Explorer) reappears.

    You would think that at least one file in the B&W directory is trashed, but if I open the Final versions directory (again in Windows Explorer) and drag the B&W directory to my spare disk (causing it to copy), I have no trouble opening the B&W directory on the other disk (which is FAT32 BTW) and none of the files appear to be corrupted in any way.

    It gets stranger - SOMETIMES I am able to open the B&W directory on the main disk and everything is fine (i.e., no error), but in all cases, if I am in Outlook and try to open the B&W directory to attach a file in that directory to an e-mail message, Outlook "blows-up", i.e. any and all windows associated with Outlook simply disappear with no error message at all.

    Also, when I try to run Norton SpeedDisk to defrag, I get the following error as soon as it tries to start moving things around on the disk (after going through the initial sort): "Norton Speed Disk encounterd a device I/O error on drive C:. Run CHKDSK /R to fix any bad blocks that may exist on this driver." (This is AFTER I've run Error Checking on the disk which comes up with NO errors.) So, I dutifully schedule CHKDSK /R to run at the next boot - and it finds NOTHING. Try to run SpeedDisk again and I get the same error.

    I finally got smart last night and pulled out the diagnostic tools that came with the Western Digital drive. The Quick Test did come up with a bad sector, which is indicated it fixed. The Extended Test (which sends Read Verify commands to every "part" (not sure of the correct term) of the disk came up with nothing.

    I rebooted and STILL HAVE THE SAME PROBLEMS with explorer.exe and Outlook crashing when I try to access the B&W directory (along with a couple others) - and Speed Disk gives me the same error. I went back to the disk diagnostic tools and ran them one more time. They came up with nothing.

    WHAT IS GOING ON?!? Is this a bad disk or a problem with Windows? When we (my husband and I) looked at the dumps that Dr. Watson produces when explorer.exe crashes, most of the routines being accessed have to do with Heap Allocation, but not all - and definitely not the same routine being called each time.

    I'm about to go out and buy a new disk (two actually). Best Buy has 60GB Maxtor's for $70 this week and I've heard that Maxtor has better reliability than Western Digital. I'd really like to know if this is a problem with the disk or not, because if it's not, I'll give it to a family member to use. Any ideas on how I can determine where the problem is?

    As an aside (or possibly linked, I'm not sure), this problem started showing up when I hooked up my new Epson 2200 printer. At the time, I had the printer hooked up directly to my USB (1.0) port, and a USB hub with my scanner, graphics tablet and ethernet-to-USB connector. That configuration REALLY caused me problems with the explorer.exe crashing eventually becoming an infinite loop on boot-up. (I had to use GoBack to get out of that problem.) I found if I unhooked my ethernet, the problem did not return, but if I left it hooked up, it returned every time I printed something. I got an ethernet card and hooked up my ethernet cable directly to it and the problem seemed to go away for a couple of weeks, until two days ago when I printed a few pictures and all of a sudden, I got the explorer.exe error message - which became another infinite loop of crashing when I tried rebooting. Thank goodness for GoBack! I have no idea if the problems showing up after printing (which didn't happen for a couple of weeks!) is merely coincidence, or if there is some link. Come to think of it, two days ago, I did print a file from a directory that later caused me problems when I tried to attach a file to a mail message. The printer was not even turned on yesterday however - and I still had problems with the B&W directory.



  • #2
    Random thoughts...Haven't had coffee yet.

    Have you considered offloading the data from the failing HD, fully reformatting it the HD, restoring data and trying again? [That's pretty radical, I know.]

    Sounds kind of suspicious that the problems came up after you started changing hardware configurations. [Another radical thought: Completely reconfig you system to pre-2200 days.]

    Do you have a nearby friend/relative who has a computer to which you could connect the suspected drive for a test flight (as is - with data) to see if you can get to the data from an alt config?


    • #3
      Have you considered offloading the data from the failing HD, fully reformatting it the HD, restoring data and trying again? [That's pretty radical, I know.]

      No more radical than getting a new HD and reinstalling everything. Problem is, I don't currently have a HD big enough to offload to - which is the purpose for buying at least one new HD. Perhaps I'll buy the two HD, copy everything to it, reformat the failing HD and see if it works. If so, I can always return the unused HD.

      Sounds kind of suspicious that the problems came up after you started changing hardware configurations. [Another radical thought: Completely reconfig you system to pre-2200 days.]

      I'd rather start from scratch so that I know I have a clean system installed.

      Do you have a nearby friend/relative who has a computer to which you could connect the suspected drive for a test flight (as is - with data) to see if you can get to the data from an alt config?

      Unfortunately, no one running an OS that will recognize NTFS.

      Thanks for the thoughts. Let me know if you think of anything else after some coffee.



      • #4
        Jeannie, I have no experience with your setup, so all I can suggest is checking with a website in my area that offers advice from computer tech students at the local community colleges. Their answers are not always right on target, but it's worth a try. There is a database of already asked/answered questions (check it first, but yours sounds more technical than the usual fare they have been asked). There doesn't seem to be a "residence requirement" for asking questions.



        • #5
          J, As a basis to work from I'd go on Westerns site and see if they have a hard drive check utility to see if the drive is is mechanically corrupted before barking up a few wrong trees.


          • #6
            Chris, I thought that's what the diagnostic tools that came with the HD did - checked for mechanical failure. The "Quick Test" apparently checks for bad sectors and attempts to repair them. The "Extensive Test" sends "Read Verify" commands to each sector on the disk. Is there something else that would determine a mechanical failure? (I'll check on the website, but I think I have everything WD has to offer.)

            CJ- thanks for that link. It looks interesting. I read through a few of the knowledge base entries. Nothing seems to fit my particular case and I'm hesitant to ask such a detailed/individual question which most likely no one else will ever experience. But I might if I get desperate!



            • #7
              I'm not that fantastic on drive errors (especially after a few beers!) but I think your best bet would be to remove what ever data you can from the drive - to a drive that you know has no bad sectors and then reformat the drive so that it finds the bad sector and removes them from use. Maybe partition magic 8!.
              If you find that data that you have removed does not print correctly or has other errors try saving it again as this might have been where the bad sector were.
              If you are going to buy a new drive I would steer clear o western digital and IBM as they have both have had bad publicity with bad sectors. I have had problems with western and IBM in the past and avoid them now. IBM is not as bad as western in my opinion.

              Hope this helps. It might not be the end of your current drive but you must get a program to identify the bad sectors and write them to its boot record.



              • #8
                Thanks to everyone for their suggestions - esp. Chris!

                I went to the WD website and noticed that in addition to downloadable diagnostic tools (which I already had and ran last night), they also have a "online diagnostic" which I ran from the website. As it turns out, the online diagnostic failed multiple times with "DFP_GET_VERSION failed" - which I assumed meant it couldn't read some vital info on the HD. It recommended I call support for warranty info. As it turns out, the drive is still under warranty and their solution to my problem is to send me another drive!

                So, I'll go out and buy the Maxtor this afternoon and do a clean install, then use the new WD as my backup drive when it arrives. (I realize that using a drive with so many publicized problems is probably not the best disk to use as backup, but I'm not sure I want to deal with more problems like this in the future on my main drive. So, what to do? Sell the new WD drive on eBay and get two new Maxtor drives? Opinions on that would be appreciated.



                • #9
                  Jeanie - It's probably a good idea to get an extra drive...just for backup purposes. I just did that myself a few months ago. The problem you are having sounds like a corrupt file...maybe. As far as WD drives...that's what I just bought! So far it's worked like a charm and the WD drive I have in my old computer is in it's 4th year.


                  • #10

                    Glad you've made some progress ! What do you get with a new hard drive in the US. All the drives I've ever bought here have come with a plastic bag and some jumper info. Never had any software supplied. When my last IBM drive expired I was warned off Western Digital everybody consulted suggested Maxtor.
                    Last edited by chris h; 09-30-2002, 03:13 PM.


                    • #11
                      Jeanie I think you'll find that SOMEONE has had a problem with virtually every hard drive manufacturer out there. I’ve had Fujitsu drives in my last two computers with absolutely no problems.

                      Most new drives I’ve seen have a 3-year warranty. That should be long enough to root out any problems.


                      • #12
                        Just something to look for. If you're thinking about a Maxtor drive, at least some of them (maybe all) will soon be (or already are) coming with a one year warranty. So if you're considering one, now's the time to check them out before they change the warranty period, which I *think* will be coming very soon. Mine came with a three year warranty.



                        • #13
                          Well, I bought two new drives today. I figure I can return one if I decide I don't need it after thinking it through better. I also decided I'm not going to attempt a new install until AFTER I get back from vacation. I'll make sure everything is backed up (still have a few files that need to be backed up, but the "important stuff" is on CD - which I've checked and double checked!)

                          Greg - when you say an "extra drive" - do you mean one that's not actually hooked up, or are you referring to having one backup disk for your main disk (my planned configuration)? And I think you're right about the corrupt file - like one of the really important system files (since my data files seem to be fine)!

                          Chris, I haven't opened the box yet, but if I remember correctly from my last HD (not that long ago), there was a cable, jumper info and a floppy disk with some disk diagnostics. However, the disk was corrupt, so I had to download the diagnostic software from the web to another floppy.

                          Gary, you're right that someone has had a problem with every HD manufacturer. It's really easy to find people who "stay away" from IBM and WD though - you don't hear that as much about the other manufacturers.

                          Ed, I read about Maxtor reducing their warranty to one year last night as I was researching new drives. However, the disks that I bought today say "3 year warranty" on the box. I assume if the box "advertises" it, they have to honor it. But, I'm not sure.



                          • #14
                            Jeanie - By "extra" I meant a second "slave" drive to use for backup and scratch disk purposes. Trust me, you will breath much easier with a second HD!


                            • #15
                              Simple Solution

                              There's a quick and easy solution to those hard drive problems you guys are having.

                              1. Unplug your PC.
                              2. Toss it in the trash.
                              3. Buy a Mac and install OSX.
                              4. Relax and enjoy!



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