Hardware Issues / Backing up data

Note: This is somewhat of a technical topic, however I am posting it here in the Chit-Chat forum as it doesn’t have much relevance to FIRST.

This morning I went to turn on my laptop to quickly check my e-mail before I had to leave, and when I tried to log in on Windows it just starting hanging. I also have Ubuntu installed, so naturally I just switched to that, and it worked fine (and as a matter of fact, it still is - I am using it right now to post this even).

After further investigation when I booted Windows in safe mode constant messages came up about read/write errors followed by the famous BSoD. I then ran Dell’s hardware diagnostics and was left with this from the read test on the hard drive drive:

Error Code 0F00:0240
Block 25913201
Address mark not found or media error

Error Code 0F00:0244
Block 26746546
Uncorrectable data error or media is write protected

These two messages came up over and over for several blocks, so I just aborted that test feeling confident enough that this is where the problem is.

It looks like my hard drive is hosed and that I will have to order a replacement from Dell. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem because the laptop is still under warranty. I am by no means a hardware expert (especially when it comes to laptops) so I am looking for advice on what the appropriate course of action should be. I’m not sure if I should stop using the drive for now or not based on how quickly it will spread and ruin the rest of it.

The thing that confuses me the most here is why it has such a profound impact on the performance of Windows, and yet on Linux I wouldn’t have even known about it. I guess most of the problem areas reside on the Windows partition? :confused:

This should serve as a reminder to everyone that it’s important to back up your data regularly. I personally haven’t done this in a while and now I wish I did. When you don’t think you have anything that is worth saving your attitude completely shifts when you’ve lost it or know that you may lose it.

Just for reinforcement, I’ll say it again: remember to back up your data!

The first thing that I will do tomorrow morning will be to back up everything important, but for now I think I need to get some sleep.

Here’s what I would recommend:

  1. Back up all your data using your Ubuntu install and a network connection to another machine.
  2. From now until you get your new drive from Dell, save any documents created to a safe location, either to a removable disk (USB flash drive, network share, etc.)

It does sound like part of the windows portion of the drive has gotten damaged, and that’s why you’re not seeing problems in Ubuntu. It’s also possible that part of the Linux install is damaged, but it’s part that you don’t use very often. Since just about every feature is a separate executable file in Linux, it’s more likely that you have isolated problems if any there, rather than the widespread problems you are seeing with Windows.

How important is the data contained? If it’s absolutely critical stuff, paradoxically enough, don’t touch it, don’t even boot with that drive. Send it out for (expensive) data recovery. (This is often necessary for businesses for whom the cost of recovery is less than the cost of replacing the information.)

If it’s not too important, then take Nate’s advice and recover what you can manually, and save elsewhere until you replace the faulty hardware.

If you run a ScanDisk you might be able to salvage your Windows partition enough to be able to boot into it.

Boot from your XP install disk if you have one and start the Recovery Console, then run CHKDSK. Of course, this might not do anything if there is indeed an “Uncorrectable data error” like the Dell diagnostics are telling you.

A similar problem happened to my team’s programming laptop in Atlanta this year - we couldn’t boot into Windows or Safe Mode due to a corrupted system file, and therefore had no access to the robot code. It took me the better part of Thursday to fix this, since the hard disk needed special SATA RAID drivers to be loaded in order to run the Recovery Console, and I had to track down a USB floppy drive and an internet connection to get them.

Good luck with your data recovery!

If you are able to boot into Ubuntu then I doubt it is a (physical) problem with your hard drive. There is no need to send it for repairs.

I can boot both Ubuntu and Windows. Ubuntu shows no noticable problems while Windows hangs at logon followed by popping up messages about not being able to write data. When I look in the Event Viewer on Windows it is flooded with messages saying that the drive has a bad block. I ran CHKDSK /P and that told me that the disk had one or more uncorrectable errors.

The most important thing on there would be the code for my team’s 2006 robot. I already have backed that up to various locations, however I’m not sure if those backups contain the most recent versions. Luckily I’ve developed the habit of saving most of my work onto a shared drive on my desktop at home.

How old is the dell? the newer dells have a restoration utitlity using Norton Ghost to image it back to the way it was when it was shiped. So if you can get the data off that would be alot easier than asking dell for a new hard drive.

Dell also ask for the old hard drive back if they do send you a new one. So you might want to try to run either a restoration program, or if you’ve made one, a recovery disk.

However, from what you’re describing, I’m guessing that it is most likely a problem with Windows, and not a physical one with your hard drive. [As Mike had said]

I can definately be a hardware issue, the HD in my parents DELL desktop had a corrupt sector giving an error when we tried to boot, or format the drive or do anything involving that damaged part of the disk. This would also explain why you can use linux, because that part of the disk is undamaged. I took the HD from my parents dell and partitioned out the area of the disk i beleived to be damaged and since then i have been using it for file storage with no problems. It is very likely ok to use your HD booting Linux since that portion of the drive seems to be unaffected

On Friday night I decided to reinstall Windows after becoming more convinced of this being a software issue. It took an unusually long amount of time for formatting; over three hours. Other than that, everything seemed to be working fine so I thought that it was all fixed… until now.

I was sitting here browsing CD and all of a sudden everything started hanging for about a minute or two. That was followed by this message popping up:

Also in the event log is almost 100 entries saying this: An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk0\D during a paging operation. These all occured during the 6-minute duration of the hanging.

After this everything was still working but I decided to run the Dell Hardware Diagnostics again, and it still came up with the same errors described in the original post.

When I run CHKDSK, this is what I get:

I would go and ask Dell support about this, but the last time I had a problem they told me to take out the battery from my laptop, unplug the AC, and see if it would stay on or not…

As a note, Windows is still usable. I can’t check Ubuntu because I haven’t configured GRUB yet.

What should I do now? I’m still not going to rule out a software issue - ordering a new HD is the last thing I want to do.

Try partitioning out the first ~10GBs of the Hard Drive then install windows. This should point out as to whether or not it is a hardware vs. software issue

Also trying a low-level format of the drive may help, ill try to search for ome info on this.
but basically it wipes all data off all parts of the drive so that no software changes to the drive are present.

Unfortunately I can’t agree with anyone that this is a software issue. Especially not after a reinstall, plus you described an unusually long format. It sounds like you’ve had a permanent failure on the hard disk part, I would not trust it with anything. Get a secure copy of everything important on the drive, from both OSes and then I highly recommend you order a replacement drive from Dell. I’ve dealt with recovery of damaged hard drives a lot in the last year as the school tech because our school went cheap on the drives and enclosures and we encountered this countless times. Not once were we ever able to certify a drive as reusable.

Needless to say, the department in charge of ordering new equipment, hated us :slight_smile:

EDIT: On another note, a low-level format is an entirely unrelated procedure that is no longer applicable. It was used to mate the CHS values of a disk to a specific controller ages ago, it has no effect on the drive in the manner described.

Yeah, i wasnt sure about low-level formats, they have been recomended to me a few times but i have never needed to do it.

Matt’s right about the low-level format. Years ago, you could initiate one on some drives as part of the setup process. Nowadays, it’s performed at the factory, so the drive-specific commands to do it are not documented, and the drive may require physical modification to the PCB to allow it to initiate successfully (e.g. making connections that are deliberately left broken).

What parameters have run while doing chkdsk? Have you done it with the /f parameter?

When I posted above, that was the result of running chkdsk without any parameters. I have tried doing it with /F, and it would make the corrections it needed to, but then if I ran it again it’d still say there were problems. I downloaded a diagnostic tool from Western Digital and it failed its test, and I’m still getting the occasional popup saying Delay Write Failed blah blah.

I just spent three hours dealing with Dell hardware support. I spent the first two and a half hours talking with one representative, and then just gave up on him and talked with another. Anyway, I should receive a new drive within 2 business days. Thankfully it won’t ship imaged so I won’t have to deal with removing the Win32.AOL virus :stuck_out_tongue:

On my first dell laptop, the laptop magically fell (long story) and the system would blue screen. They sent me a new hdd, and re-installing wasn’t fun. I had to install a program to install the dell drives from the dell cds…hopefully you wont have to do the same thing. It was a great pain.

I already did that when I reinstalled XP on Friday night, and getting all of the drivers installed was a really a pain. Not only that, but then I have to go through installing all of my software again and restoring my data backups. The whole thing took over 5 hours to do… oh well. Maybe I can hire a monkey (possibly my brother) to do it for me this time. At least it isn’t as much of a pain as it is to remove all of the bloatware that computer manufacturers insist on including these days.

hiring a monkey may not be a good idea i used that method once and it cost me a fried motherboard…