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).

4 Responses to “Hard Drive Woes”

  1. Jon Says:

    My router was busticated t’other day, too. It’s not a proper PC though, it’s a little USR box. Unfortunately it’s nowhere near as reliable as a big, noisy, electricity-guzzling PC. I power cycled it and it forgot all it’s flash settings (inc. administrator password, MAC address..)

  2. John Says:

    My DVD sometimes reverts to PIO mode – some sort of bug if Windows gets into too many error recovery attempts on a too scratched DVD platter.

    On WinXP:
    Start / Control Panel / System / Hardware tab / Device Manager
    click / open IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers
    double click on Secondary (or Primary, if your case) IDE channel
    Advanced Settings tab
    That will indicate Current Transfer Mode (PIO or some DMA).

    After confirming PIO fallback has occured – simple, if annoying, solution.
    At the Device Manager window, *DELETE* the Secondary (or Primary, as the case may be) IDE Channel.
    yes, yes, yes, OK, Ok, Ok, ….


    Windows magically re-detects the controller and re-sets it to (the highest?) DMA mode.

    Probably ought to be a more direct Registry way to do it.
    Anyhow, this sledge hammer method works for me.

  3. Bloodshedder Says:

    Don’t have XP (have 2000) – but I imagine if I tried deleting the channel, it may have worked. But the VIA SUPER HIGH SPEED MEGA DELUX ULTRA ATA DRIVERS fixed the problem, anyways.

  4. Bob Says:

    I have 2 hard drives: 40gb and 160gb. The 40 is the master drive with the operating system. It crashed and I had to reformat, which changed the identification from “C” to “F” drive. The 2nd drive was given the letter “C”, and contained all my backup data. I was able to use the “C” drive for a few days, but suddenly the computer says “this disk is not formatted, do you want to format it?” I know it is formatted and need to retrieve the data on it. Can you help? If I buy a new computer, can I move the “C” drive to it and retrieve the data? Can you help?

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