primary master hard disk fail mystery

  Mike2002 12:14 11 Mar 2011

I'm running Windows XP with SP2. A few days ago mmy PC got as far as 'detecting drives' then stopped with the message 'primary master hard disk fail'

I tried some diagnostic programs. One said 'Primary Master: no Device found', another said 'Primary Master - None'.

I tried rebooting several time times during the next few days, only to receive the same message.
However, on the following day, the PC booted as if nothing had happened. I ran a S.M.A.R.T. test on the drive, and got the green' tick' that all was well.

Anyone else had this happen to them?

  MAJ 12:23 11 Mar 2011

Two possibilities, Mike2002.

1. A loose hard drive cable, IDE ribbon cable or power cable, Sata Data or power cable.

2. A failing hard drive.

For 1. Check your cables, make sure they are all seated correctly.

For 2. Make sure you have all your important files backed up and be prepared for the drive failing.

  Mike2002 15:00 04 Apr 2011

Sorry for the delay in replying MAJ.

This situation is strange; The PC ran for about a week, then, in the middle of downloading a file, it reverted to the black screen sating 'Hard disk failure'. I rebooted and all was well again.

The next day it wouldn't boot, but it rebooted at a second attempt.

It's being going well for another week, then it failed to boot this morning. After about five reboots, the system loaded OK.

I ran the Hitachi Drive Fitness program from a CD.
The Advanced tests were passed without any errors being reported.

It seems to me like it's something to do with the
boot proceedure, that it's intermittantly not recognising the drive.

  canarieslover 16:19 04 Apr 2011

How old is the motherboard battery? Sometimes get spurious hard drive errors reported if the bios has lost it's settings due to a duff battery. CR2032 normally and can be found on cards of several batteries in £1 shops. Worth a try before anything more major like replacing hard drive.

  Mike2002 21:35 04 Apr 2011

How old is the Motherboard battery - no idea!

The PC is an old 'Time' brand computer, that a serious-looking Leonard Nemoy (Mr Spock from Star Trek) used to advertise. It was given to me by a friend who was upgrading.

The Motherboard is an MS-6340 Micro ATX.
Battery: 2032-style

I've just clicked on the 'My Computer' icon, and my slave drive has disappeared from the list. Hopefully it will return when I re-boot.

Strange things are going on!

  canarieslover 08:17 05 Apr 2011

Check Date & Time, if incorrect it is almost certainly the motherboard battery. I would replace it anyway as you then eliminate that problem. If the bios loses settings due to bad battery it can then not recognise your drives. Leave it a minute and try again and it finds them which must be due to battery picking up some charge from motherboard.

  Mike2002 12:16 05 Apr 2011

The Date & Time is always correct, even to resetting itself to BST. Also, as I had hoped, my slave drive re-appeared again after rebooting.

I'll get my son to change the battery, I don't trust myself with such 'delicate' operations!

  Mike2002 18:55 05 Jul 2011

Sorry for the big delay in replying but, with this type of intermittant problem, you have to give things time to see what happens.

Motherboard battery? No, it didn't need replacing. It's like a watch battery, it just dies without slowing down. I did get repeats of the system not recognising my Primary master, (once for 3 days, after which it started working again). I also knew that the PC had a lot of dust inside it, so I bought a can of compressed air (a fiver just for a can of air!). I took off the case, and gave the Motherboard a good blasting.

Ever since then, the system has booted every single time, and I've yet to have a repeat of the problem. Co-incidence or what?

  Strawballs 19:53 05 Jul 2011

Dust can cause static electric and as we all know PC don't like that plus they can overheat with too much dust.

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