Hard disc not detected!!!

  Caine 11:42 12 May 2006

Yesterday during composing a powerpoint pres. with video clips my computor froze. On resetting it asked for a new boot location. I discovered that it was no longer recognising the hard drive. It showed as 'undetected' in the BIOS. I rang Mesh support who calmly told me the hard drive had failed and arranged a 'back to base' return.
Then I tried one more thing. Switching off at the mains and then rebooting. Lo and behold hard disc detected and everything intact. Flurry of back-upping followed!!!
Any explanations? Should I still get a replacement or was it just one of those things?
Has this happened to anyone else?

  rodriguez 12:05 12 May 2006

The hard drive hasn't failed yet but it could be failing. You can buy an 80 GB one for about £30 now so they're not too expensive. My advice is back up everything you want to keep on that drive and replace it before it fails completely and you lose everything. If the drive has been making clicking noises in the past this also means it could be about to fail.

  Caine 13:15 12 May 2006

Thanks, good advice, rodriquez.

Happily the Mesh is still under warranty, I only bought it in February so they will replace if faulty. I think I'll keep backing up and wait and see how it goes....

  ade.h 16:20 12 May 2006

Your symptom is indicative of either static charge damage (which can take time to develop in hard-disks), surge damage or a recent power cut.

This kind of damage primarily afflicts the boot mechanism (not to be confused with the boot sector) and as such, an afflicted disk can usually be accessed as a slave.

Do you have a UPS or surge protector?

  Caine 19:43 12 May 2006

I've got the system plugged into a surge protector but we did have a power cut, although it was switched off at that time.

Is the kind of damage you refer to permament?

  ade.h 19:58 12 May 2006

Yes, it's permanent. Once a unbootable disk has been used as a slave, you may occasionally find that it provides another few boots, but in my experience, it then dies again, and for good.

The power cut would have had no effect at all if the PC was shut down or hibernated.

  DieSse 22:50 12 May 2006

Drives in laptops sometimes suffer from poor connections where the drive plugs in to it's connector. Taking the drive in and out a few times often affects a permanent cure.

I don't think there is any damage a drive can suffer that will enable it to function as a slave, but not be bootable. As far as I'm aware there is no "boot mechanism" in a drive distnct from the boot sectors.

  DieSse 22:58 12 May 2006

*As far as I'm aware there is no "boot mechanism" in a drive*

That's not entirely accurate - all drives do contain firmware which "boots them up" when power is applied, and gets them into an operating state. This is the same whether the drive is a Master or Slave, and nothing to do with booting up the actual computer.

  ade.h 23:05 12 May 2006

I have, over the years, had plenty of drives fail, many of which were due to power cut or surge damage before I started using a UPS. In most such cases, the effect was the same - no hard-disk recognised at all - and the solution was the same - connect as a slave and hey presto, the drive is accessible. On interrogating the boot sector and MBR, there was no damage or corruption; the damage was purely at a hardware level. The drives were sometimes bootable after that procedure, though not for long before the damage was permanent and failure total. I discussed this at the time with a data recovery/hard-disk repair specialist, and that's where that info came from. Their explanation made total sense to me and their solution worked.

  UncleP 00:25 13 May 2006

If you had had no previous indications of potential hard disk failure, it is possible that the fault originated elsewhere. You can download a Smart utility from the HD manufacturer's website which will monitor all of the operating parameters, indicate any which are near or outside the normal limits and, if you leave it running, will calculate the rate of deterioration and the projected failure date.

But it's not worth taking any chances. Make sure everything of value is backed up and that you can restore the programs and operating system, to a new disk if necessary, without undue effort eg from a disk image stored away from the hard disk.

And as Rodriguez said, hard disks are cheap. If you have only a single HD in your computer, its worth putting in a second as insurance even if your current disk proves to be ok.

  woodchip 08:37 13 May 2006

I think the point is being missed hear, Why did the Computer Freeze. My guess is the Drive is on the way out, but could be as DieSse says a Bad Connection

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