Primary Master Hard Disk error message

  wrg 13:17 04 Jul 2006

I did a SFC /SCANNOW on my kids computer last night. I rebooted when it had finished and I got the following message "primary master hard disk S.M.A.R.T. status bad
Warning immediate back up your data and replace your hard disc drive. A failure may be imminent"
It then says press F2 to continue. When I do this it goes into windows ok & the computer seems to work. I did have to do a system recovery yesterday morning as most of the icons on my desk top would not load( ie all I got was the square box that looks like the windows logo). However I did not get the above error message after the recovery only when I when I did the scannow last night. Does this mean my hard drive is definitley on the way out ?. If so do I need to replace it exactly the same make of hard drive ?.

  johndrew 14:40 04 Jul 2006

The only help I can offer is that I also got a S.M.A.R.T. warning shortly before my HDD died - fortunately it was not my Primary (system) disk.

You could download `HDD Health` click here which is freeware and see if that gives you any more help.

You can use any make of disk to replace the one you have. If it is a SATA disk it makes it easier because there are no jumpers. You will also need software to make a mirror image of your drive unless you are prepared to start from scratch.

You could also copy the registration file (WINDOWS/System 32/wpa.dbl) onto a floppy if you are starting from scratch. It may negate the need to re-register.

  wrg 15:24 04 Jul 2006

How do I make a mirror image of my drive. Can I not just copy the O/S onto a DVD then load it when I fit a new H/D

  johndrew 16:07 04 Jul 2006

There are a number of freeware packages available Xxcopy was recommended to me but I have never used it click here or you could look here and take your pick click here , there is also some other HDD health software here.

After much soul searching and consideration I bought Acronis True Image click here which I have used to make a disk (mirror) image of my primary drive and also use to make backups of all my essential software on an external drive.

Obviously the choice is yours but I strongly recommend Acronis as it is so simple to use. I did start with v. 8.0 but ended up with 9.0. you can source it from several outlets, I used Amazon click here

Hope this helps.

  wrg 18:51 04 Jul 2006

I downloaded HDD health and have looked at it. I dont understand it because in the health section it states there are no known problems with this hard drive. It gives a predicton precision of 25%and an overall health status of N/A. In the smart box one line is red and this is the temperature line stating a -6 in the inc colum. I did a hardware diagnostic test on HP website and it did pick up the error that I have posted on the web. Any advice would be appreciated

  johndrew 19:49 04 Jul 2006

HD Health always starts with a prediction of about 25% accuracy and a T.E.C. date that is either current or very close to it. The best initial guide is either the `Health` statement (in your case `There are no known problems with this hard drive.`) and the S.M.A.R.T. tab.

Under the SMART tab look for any red entries. Where you find them - like your temperature - compare the `Value` figure with the `Threshold` and the `Worst`. You should not be overly concerned about the -6 in the `Inc` column; some of mine are -15 & -16.

For example I know my drive got very hot at one point and I have 37 for Value and 252 for Worst but the Threshold is 0 so provided I don`t go any lower than 37 I should be OK. My T.E.C. date for the drive is 03/09/2009 with a confidence of 38%. To me this says be aware and be prepared but don`t panic yet. If my date reduced them I should be backing up quite frequently and ensuring I had a drive ready.

Does this help?

  UncleP 23:07 04 Jul 2006

Can I add a few comments to the advice and recommendations (which I strongly support) given by johndrew? Roughly half of hard drive failures are predictable, and it is the function of the SMART diagnostic electronics built into modern drives to provide warning of this impending event so that the user may replace a failing disk in orderly fashion and without the loss of time or data.

It does not of course protect you from catastrophic failures, which require that your essential files and data are backed up on a regular basis. But reinstalling the operating system, applications and data files separately (not to mention up-dated drivers etc!) is a time-consuming business - hence the preference for disk imagers (I also use Acronis TI) which can restore everything in one step.

SMART-monitoring utilities such as HDDHealth are meant to be run on a continuous or frequent basis, to give estimates of the likely failure date (TEC?) from different causes, which are usually shown in red. If the TEC is some years in the future, there is no need to become alarmed or take immediate action. However, the utility does need some time to build up realistic estimates - one or two measurements over a few days is not sufficient.

Most SMART parameters degrade slowly over time as the various mechanisms wear out. The HD temperature, however, depends not only upon the level of usage but also upon the ambient temperature, so it shows peaks and troughs rather than a steady decline. It may be that wrg's error message was triggered by a combination of the disk scan and the current heat wave. Averaged over several weeks it may well indicate that the HD is within normal expected operating limits - but don't assume that this will be the case!

  woodchip 23:11 04 Jul 2006

Before you panic, Double click My Computer, Right click C:\ Tools Test disc tick the box to fix errors and restart the computer. Then run SFC /SCANNOW as soon as you get back into windows. It may only be bad sectors

  wrg 10:00 05 Jul 2006

Thank you all for the repsonses. I have tried to create a recovery disk but the computer tells me that I have already created one, but I'll be blowed if I can find it anywhere. Will I still be able to create the mirror disk using the above suggestion. Woodchip I have tried your suggestion a few times but it keeps telling me that it needs windows files & if I reboot they should load but they never do,

  woodchip 13:50 05 Jul 2006

If you bought or got a old version of Acronis True Image from a Mag CD DVD you could use it to create a exact Image of the Drive. If the drive then stopped working you could fit a new drive and load the Image to this drive in about 15 minutes OS and drivers all software would be restored and working as at when you created the Image. This can also be used to get rid of Virus's etc

  johndrew 14:22 05 Jul 2006

In the original post wrg says:
`I did a SFC /SCANNOW on my kids computer last night. I rebooted when it had finished and I got the following message "primary master hard disk S.M.A.R.T. status bad`
This indicates to me that scannow could do nothing to help. There is also a fair amount of misunderstanding of HD Health which both I and UncleP have tried to resolve. Also various backup software has been suggested including True Image. I must admit the idea of getting it from an old DVD/CD is good but there is the problem of registering it.

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