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Bizarre IDE Failure and Recovery

Grandcheapskate

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OK Guys,
I am sure there is an explaination for what I am going to
describe.

I had a PC with two IDE hard drives. A master 6.4g and a
slave 8.4g. The machine is running Win XP (really not
important) and the 8.4g had no data on it yet.

I decided to replace the 8.4g with a 160g. I swapped the
drives, booted the machine, partitioned the 160g with multiple
logical drives and formatted only the last logical drive
(which happened to be H). Rebooted the machine with no
problem.

I then changed the virtual memory file from the C drive to
the H drive and rebooted. The machine gave me an error saying
the H drive was not a WIN XP drive. It left the swap file on
the C drive.

To make a longer story shorter, eventually the machine
stopped reading, and even acknowledging, there was any hard
drive attached to the IDE port. No matter whether I put the
6.4g or 160g as the master (with no slave), the machine
refused to identify any IDE device.

With no other alternative, I removed the battery figuring
that would clear the CMOS. A reboot still showed no IDE
devices. I then left the machine alone for a few hours. When
I tried it again using the 160g as the master, everything was
fine and I was able to partition, format and load WIN XP onto
that drive.

Fast forward to today. I decided to change out the hard
drives in another machine. I removed the two IDE drives and
decided to test the 6.4g from the first machine. When I
booted the machine, it did not see anything on the primary
port (I have CDs on the secondary port but did not notice if
they were recognized). I removed the 6.4g and put the
original drive (which worked only a few minutes before) back
into the machine. Same problem - the machine did not see any
IDE devices, including the CDs.

So again, I removed the battery and tested, No good. I
left the machine alone for a few hours and when I tried it
again, everything was fine.

Ok, so what could that 6.4g drive possibly be doing to screw
up the hardware? I'm guessing I needed to wait a few hours
after removing the battery for all the power to drain from the
motherboard before it reset.

Thanks...Joe
 

Grandcheapskate

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That's certainly not what happened! :)

It seems the only thing which makes any sense. I'll bet if I remove the existing HD and put the 6.4g back as the only drive, the machine will be unable to identify any IDE device. And it will stay that way unless I remove the 6.4g drive and let the machine stay idle for a couple hours with no battery.

Joe
 

Stone

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If you mean you discharged the CMOS there should be a set of three pins near the CMOS battery with two of them jumpered. If you move the jumper position momentarily and them return it you should have successfully cleared the CMOS contents. See if that works.

BTW, is it cold enough for ya' yet? If not, just wait till morning. :)
 

krebizfan

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I have a Pentium III system that shows a similar problem. I haven't found a cause. If your system reacts like mine does, you will have it working after removing the battery and resetting everything but it will fail again soon after.
 

Chuck(G)

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For what it's worth, I've found that earlier IDE devices don't always play nice when they're on the same cable with newer ones. Try putting one drive on the secondary channel (I'm assuming that your system has one).

You also didn't mention the age of the system. Does it support UDMA? If not, use a 40-conductor cable for teh 160GB drive as well. I've seen odd things happen when an 80-conductor UDMA cable is used with a UDMA-capable drive on a non-UDMA capable controller.
 

Grandcheapskate

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Hi Guys,
First of all....oh yeah Stone, it is cold enough for me now. Although I hear the upper midwest has some mind numbing cold right now that makes our weather look like springtime.

I did not try discharging the CMOS via the jumper. I figured it was best to pull the battery and walk away for a while...otherwise I was about to see if a PC could fly.

Chuck...I tried many combinations and nothing worked until I let the machine sit without a battery for a few hours.

One machine is a PII A-Open motherboard which has 2 IDE ports. The other is a Gateway P4 with two IDE ports. Both machines acted the same when I used the suspect 6.4g drive once that drive seemed to go "bad".

Once the MB loses it's ability to "see" IDE devices, it loses the ability to see both IDE ports. It didn't matter whether I had one or two IDE drives on the primary channel. Even when I had no drives on the primary channel and a CD drive on the secondary, it saw nothing.

A couple other facts. When there was a drive attached to the IDE port, the machine took a long time trying to identify the drive during boot before indicating there was no drive present. If I removed all the drives I could boot off the floppy - I think I could boot off the floppy even when the HDs were attached but unrecognized.

I want to continue to test the 6.4g drive but I'm a little leery for two reasons. First, I don't know what damage it may doing to the MB. Second, I have been lucky the MB comes back after a while but if there is actual damage being done, I may be playing with fire.

By the way, once the machines returned to normal and I used other drives, there have been no problems.

Joe
 
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Stone

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My guess is that the drive(s) in question is(are) hosed!!!

FWIW, I've got more dead IDE drives than MFM/RLL drives/tanks/doorstops! :) You wouldn't think so but age isn't the only drive-killing-parameter involved here.
 

Chuck(G)

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This is a far-out suggestion, but you're not trying to overclock the thing are you? I've seen behavior like that in PII-P333 boards when the southbridge chip runs too warm--peripherals just start dropping out. When things have had a chance to cool down, everything's back.
 

Grandcheapskate

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This is a far-out suggestion, but you're not trying to overclock the thing are you? I've seen behavior like that in PII-P333 boards when the southbridge chip runs too warm--peripherals just start dropping out. When things have had a chance to cool down, everything's back.

Nope, no overclocking. The A-Open is a PII 350MHz while the Gateway is a P4 running at 1.5MHz. Both are at spec and in fact the A-Open is running with almost all the power-on defaults. In fact I had the A-Open running for a couple hours straight today as I loaded it with Win98. No issues while using a 540meg and 10.2g on the primary channel with two CDs on the secondary.

I might try grabbing a "volunteer" motherboard from the garage (once it is safe for humans to go outside) and test the 6.4g drive. More as an experiment than in trying to save the drive.

Joe
 

BuggZ

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What jumper settings are you using on the drives? I had a similar problem in an older system with drives not being identified when trying smaller drives set to "cable select". When I annually set the drive jumpers to "Master" and "Slave" everything was identified and worked. I believe I didn't have anything on the secondary IDE channel.
 

lee4hmz

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This is a far-out suggestion, but you're not trying to overclock the thing are you? I've seen behavior like that in PII-P333 boards when the southbridge chip runs too warm--peripherals just start dropping out. When things have had a chance to cool down, everything's back.

This is a distinct possibility; I have a cheap LGA775 board here with an Nvidia chipset that would start losing its SATA ports if you used the onboard video, simply because the north bridge would get too hot (the motherboard maker didn't think to put a fan on it for some reason). I put a video card in it, and it's rock-solid.
 

k2x4b524[

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Given the 6.4 and 8gb drives, i am going to make a suggestion based on an assumption. Are you hitting the dreaded FAT32 limit, 160gb should work fine in NTFS, but the BIOS HAS TO SUPPORT the 160gb drive natively, i think your running into a 138gb limit, probably the same one the i still see once in a while on older hardware. I do know that you need some kind of bios extensions to use up to 2.2tb, the limit before UEFI rears its ugly head. Any of the gray beards care to correct if i am wrong here?
 

lee4hmz

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Given the 6.4 and 8gb drives, i am going to make a suggestion based on an assumption. Are you hitting the dreaded FAT32 limit, 160gb should work fine in NTFS, but the BIOS HAS TO SUPPORT the 160gb drive natively, i think your running into a 138gb limit, probably the same one the i still see once in a while on older hardware. I do know that you need some kind of bios extensions to use up to 2.2tb, the limit before UEFI rears its ugly head. Any of the gray beards care to correct if i am wrong here?

The drives aren't being detected at all, though, which suggests an electrical problem rather than a logical problem.

One thing I ran into while playing with some of my old IDE stuff is that sometimes you have to fiddle with the jumpers. Are you using a 40-pin (old-style) or an 80-pin (new-style) IDE cable, and do you have the drives explicitly strapped to master/slave or are you using cable select?
 

Agent Orange

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Chuck is on the right track. Barring an actual hardware failure, HD compatibility used to be an issue at the onset of the IDE ATA convention. Some Maxtor and Seagate drives, for example, didn't always play nice together. IIRC, the 40/80-pin cable thing was sometimes a factor. I still have a Promise PCI ATA 33/66 controller from the early going. I think I punched/drilled the keying hole out on a 80-pin cable in order to use a early ATA HD. I think that I was always able to substitute the 80 for the 40 but not the other way around.
 
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Grandcheapskate

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I have eliminated the possibility that the problem is the result of incompatibility between drives, cable type or master/slave setting. I never used CABLE SELECT. I always use the MASTER/SLAVE settings and tried using only one drive at a time. Here's a brief history of the Gateway and A-Open experiance...

1. Gateway PC originally had two WD drives, a 6.4g master and 8.4g slave on the primary, with two identical CD writers on the secondary. All worked fine. CD drives letters are set to Y and Z and Win XP is the OS.

2. Removed the 8.4g and replaced it with an Excelstor 160g. Partitioned the 160g with an extended partition and multiple 32g FAT32 logical drives.

3. Booted the machine with no problems and formatted only the last logical drive on the 160g (logicial drive H). No problems on reboot.

4. Changed the location of the swap file from the C drive to the H drive. When the system rebooted, I got the message the H drive was not a Win XP drive. I reformatted the H drive with no issues. On reboot, I got error messages again about the H drive, including messages about cross linked files. I then set the swap file back to the C drive.

5. Eventually the machine stopped identifing both drives on reboot. I removed the 160g and still the machine did not see the single 6.4g drive or the CD drives. I changed cables and tried removing the CDs. No luck.

6. I think I then pulled the battery and tried a reboot. No luck. I waited a few hours and tried again (with the 6.4g). No luck. I think I then waited a while longer and tried it with the 160g as the sole IDE drive and it was identified. Eventually I loaded the 160g with Win XP and the machine has been fine since - although I have not tried using any portion of the 160g beyond the first two drives (the first 64 gig).

7. I moved to work on another PC (the A-Open). I disconnected the existing IDE drives and connected the 6.4g from the Gateway so I could test it. Same problem came up - it would not see any IDE drives. I reconnected the existing IDE drives and nothing was seen. I pulled the battery and rebooted with no luck. I waited a few hours and tried again - everything was fine.

8. I eventually changed out the A-Open IDE drives (for reasons unrelated to this problem) and loaded Win98. Haven't had an issue since.

All this leads me to believe that somehow the 6.4g drive is screwing with the motherboard and it takes a while for all the power to drain out of the electronics before the motherboard "resets" itself. I will only know for sure once I test the 6.4gig drive on another motherboard.

Joe
 

Stone

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Seems to me that if you would just put the 6.4GB drive somewhere you can't ever get to it again all your problems will be solved!!!
 

Grandcheapskate

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Seems to me that if you would just put the 6.4GB drive somewhere you can't ever get to it again all your problems will be solved!!!

That's true. But I am trying to figure out what would allow a drive to mess with the motherboard and stop it from seeing any IDE devices until a power drain is complete.

I have a few motherboards which will (in all likihood) never be used, so one of them can be used to experiment with the 6.4g drive. I'll retrieve one once the weather outside is fit for humans. I'm just real interested to know if it really is related to that one drive.

Joe
 

Stone

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I'm just real interested to know if it really is related to that one drive.
In all probability you've already answered that question (more than once).

Be very careful here. You know what the definition of insanity is, don't you? ...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...
 
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