how to tell whether my hard drive is damaged, or if it's my XP software? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 12-21-2006, 08:07 AM
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I made mention of the fact that I think my hard drive is damaged in another thread, and was asked if I was certain that it was damaged and not that my XP software was damaged instead.

I've been sitting here and thinking, and to be honest I'm not sure.

I'm not a computer idiot, but I'm far from savvy.

Here's what it does when I try to start it up:

Windows XP screen comes up, with the little progress bar thing that scrolls side to side. The disc spins but it doesn't sound right and doesn't seem to be spinning smoothly. It's kind of choppy sounding. It does this for a minute or so, and then I get Blue Screen of Death featuring the message "Volume not mountable" or the like.

I've considered reformatting, but if it's a damaged drive I don't think that will do much good. Also, I've attempted to reformat hard drives in the past using the recovery disc that comes with the computer and both times it's not worked. The last time it apparently damaged the drive somehow (or so I was told by the Tech Support people from Toshiba on the phone) and I had to send it in. Luckily it was under warranty and it cost me nothing.

Anyway, I'm tangenting-

Does what I describe above sound like a damaged drive or damaged XP software? Can anyone help?
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#2 Old 12-22-2006, 02:08 PM
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Hey, Brandon.

I saw your post, but hoped somebody more tech savvy than me could take a crack at it. I am not sure if I can help. I can only offer some ideas that come to mind.

First, tell me a little bit more about your computer. Is it a laptop or a desktop? Does it have a floppy disk drive? What sort of optical (CD or DVD) drives does it have?

Basically, some of the things you might try would involve booting from a floppy or booting from a CD, so I'd need to know what kind of internal drives you have.

Second, are you able to access your BIOS/CMOS during (attempted) boot-up? If so, change the boot order so that the floppy drive (if any) and the cd drive are prior in the boot order to the hard drive--if this needs changing. Also, take a look at the section that talks about your hard drive. If it gives some sort of code number or model number of your drive, that may indicate the drive is ok. If instead it says "no drive detected" or something like that, then that's a clue that the drive itself is toast.

Third, do you own or have access to the WinXP CDs? You are supposed to be able to boot up from them. Now, here we are getting to the point where my knowledge is very limited, but I think these boot you into a "Pre-Installation Environment" where there are some tools available that can help you diagnose problems. Also, they can be used to create other "rescue" CDs. One of these that I think I can send you a copy of is called "The Ultimate Boot CD," but I don't know all that much about it.

Fourth, tell us a little about the computer you are using to access VB now.

In other words, do you have access to a computer which you can use to download programs from the internet and possibly burn them on CDs and such that you would then use to diagnose and possibly repair your Toshiba?

Fifth, if you can access Usenet newsgroups--possibly through Google--then

microsoft.public.windowsxp.general might be a good nplace to post your question. Perhaps they can answer it or direct you to another newsgroup or forum.
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#3 Old 12-22-2006, 02:51 PM
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Try this. If it's a an unmountable boot volume, this'll fix it. It should also check to see if there are any bad sectors on your harddrive. I don't throw any harddrive away unless it does nothing but make clicking noises.

Boot up using the XP cd and when you see the Welcome to setup press the letter R

You will get a dos prompt

Then type "chkdsk /p" without the quotes and hit enter

When that is done type "fixboot" and hit enter

"Y" and enter at the prompt

Then type "exit" and hit enter

If there are bad sectors on your drive, then you might lose some files which could end up with you having to reinstall windows. But if it's just an unmountable boot volume, then you'll be fine. I've had the problem numerous times, usually if my computer loses power unexpectedly.


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#4 Old 12-22-2006, 09:15 PM
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Here is a description of the sound that would mean the hard drive is destroyed.

If you have a pen, or maybe a spoon, hold one end in your hand, then relax it letting it hit a hard surface. The brief Tapping, or even a single tap sounding like that means that the Head/Arm of the Drive is out of whack. This is something that can be dealt with occasionally, but even if you do get it back, it can't be trusted. You will need to replace it.

Aside from that, the previous post on Scanning the Disk is good. if that works, great.
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#5 Old 12-23-2006, 03:53 AM
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Let me ask my husband. I'll get back to you tomorrow, or better yet I'll go pm and give you his cell and you can call him. He might drop by after work. He works cheap.
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#6 Old 12-23-2006, 11:37 PM
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Well, here's the update.

First- thanks to each of you for replying. I appreciate the time and effort involved.

I ended up biting the bullet and do reformatting. It seems to have worked, which leads to the conclusion that it wasn't a damaged hard drive. I tried doing the repair install that ~Wonder mentioned but for whatever reason it was nothing doing. THe reformat/recovery disk put me back on XP Home and I just re-upgraded to XP Pro. Now I'm doing the "fun" part and downloading the 3 zillion updates from Microsoft. Good news is that my internal wireless modem is working again and the hard drive is no longer making the noises it was.

Now it's making some sort of weird bird-like chirpy noises.

Either way, it seems better so far.

I'm also in the process of doing the same to my roommate's previously derelict tower system. Nothing more thrilling than watching updates install!! :P

Anyway, thanks for all the tips and offers for help.
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#7 Old 12-24-2006, 09:20 AM
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If your hard drive is making spinning noises, I put my money on dying hardware. From experience. Back up your data asap and get a new drive.
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#8 Old 12-24-2006, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MissGarbo View Post

If your hard drive is making spinning noises, I put my money on dying hardware. From experience. Back up your data asap and get a new drive.

MissGarbo, I wish I'd seen this post about 8 hours sooner.

So, as I mentioned, the drive was making an odd noise. I was upgrading from XP Home to XP Pro, which was taking an inadvertently long time. It got down to 3 minutes remaining and it just stayed there. And kept running and running. And it stayed there. And made weird bird noises. Then, after a while the screen went black and it looked as if it were restarting.

Right as the Windows logo appeared the machine emitted the most horrid groaning, grinding noise I've ever heard come out of a piece of electronics.

It appears it has finally thrown in the towel. Won't start up. Can't re-re-format. Nothing.

Good news: I did get the other system upgraded and it's running great.

Sooo, looks like I'll be shopping for a new hard drive for my laptop.

Good call, MissGarbo.
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#9 Old 12-26-2006, 07:44 PM
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Does the hard-drive contain windows? If so, yes your harddrive is damaged.
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