Hard Drive Woes

While attempting to remotely access my main home computer from here at work on Tuesday, I was rudely greeted by Windows’s “You have unplugged or ejected a device without stopping it” dialog, saying that my 200GB hard drive I use to store media had somehow been disconnected. I attempt to reboot my machine remotely, but it ended up just getting stuck, and I was unable to VNC into it anymore. Once I get home, I rebooted, and then began to scramble backing up all the important stuff on the drive. I noticed that the IDE channel it is using was forced into PIO mode instead of DMA, making the process quite slow.

To top that off, my Internet connectivity started to get spotty, and attempting to access the configuration for the router via the browser-based setup page was generating an error. So, I reboot the router, only to be greeted with the errant clicking sounds that only a faulty hard drive could make. Luckily, I had a spare drive that Jason had sent me, so I was able to get my router (Smoothwall box) back up and running within about an hour. The hard drive in my main computer was still running in PIO mode at this point, though I was examining its surface with SpinRite.

I let SpinRite run overnight, and in the morning I noticed it had given the drive a clean bill of health. OK, so now what? Even if it was OK, the two drives on that channel were still running in PIO mode, cutting my performance down by at least 25%. I couldn’t watch a video or listen to music without the audio skipping. I managed to get the bright idea of grabbing new drivers for the IDE controller, and, lo and behold, that solved the problem. For some reason, though, I still can’t get the damn Promise RAID controller on the motherboard to work in Windows, even with the proper drivers provided by the motherboard manufacturer (Asus K8V SE Deluxe).