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Old 04. Jul 2010, 02:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I think my HDD is dyin on me

Hi,

I think the HDD on my Win XP SP3 machine is dying on me.
It all started yesterday. It refused to shut down properly (got stuck at that "saving ..." screen for ever so I forced the shut down). That caused a check disk on bootup which resulted to a "deleting index entry tmp.edb ...". A later attempt to restart resulted again to improper shut down and another check disk at bootup, but with no errors this time.
I deleted the pagefile.sys from C: and made a new one on D: which (I think) led to a successful final shut down.
But since then bootup takes a long time (it stays for ages on the black screen with the Win logo), the security apps take ages to load and the cursor movement is a bit choppy from time to time. Othe than this, general speed doesn't feel degraded.
The HDD is an almost 7 years old WD Caviar EIDE, but hasn't reached its limit of PowerOn Count.
I run the Quick Test of WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic and it passed. CrystalDiskInfo also says HDD is good.
I'm planning on running the Extended Test as well.

Doing a little research, I read that it could also be a HDD Controller problem.

So, I have two questions:
1. How can I be sure which one is at fault? Are clean HDD test results evidence enough?
2. If it's time to replace the HDD, would it be wise to make & use an image of the current installation?

Thanks in advance

P.S. Forgot to add that scans for any malware with Emisoft Anti-Malware, Malwarbytes' & SuperAntispyware came clean
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Last edited by 26Dolphins; 04. Jul 2010 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 04. Jul 2010, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you suspect your HD, do NOT do an image backup of it. Why? An image backup will also "grab" any deficiencies in the disk and transfer them to your new disk. I know this to be true because it happened to me. For example, if you have bad sectors on your current HD, an image backup will copy or image these bad sectors onto your new HD.

This is ultimately what led me to have to buy a second HD because the first one I copied over an image from a previous HD and ended up with the same issues all over again.
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Old 04. Jul 2010, 07:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Try running chkdsk /f
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Old 04. Jul 2010, 07:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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No one is going to call you a bigot if you blame Windows.
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Old 04. Jul 2010, 11:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 26Dolphins View Post
Hi,
I think the HDD on my Win XP SP3 machine is dying on me.
It all started yesterday. It refused to shut down properly (got stuck at that "saving ..." screen for ever so I forced the shut down). That caused a check disk on bootup which resulted to a "deleting index entry tmp.edb ...". A later attempt to restart resulted again to improper shut down and another check disk at bootup, but with no errors this time.
I deleted the pagefile.sys from C: and made a new one on D: which (I think) led to a successful final shut down.
Doesn't look like a hardware issue at first glance, SMART test passed - right?
Generally when we click shutdown, windows allows certain time to programs to shut itself, there could be some issue..."possibly" something is not allowing windows to shutdown (anything in event log?). There should be free programs that can manipulate app. terminate signal, i am only aware of one paid one (30 day trial)...
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Old 05. Jul 2010, 08:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I will agree with tushR here, and say that the problem does not look hardware related, or hard disk related to me. The problem might be with some software. I have had some occasional problem with shutdown, which did not occur when I used the system again. You can take a look at Event Logs, to see if there are any indications of some other problem there. Did you install any new software lately?

Still, if you think the hard disk is failing, you should perform tests on it. Apart from the two software you mentioned, there are others too. I have used some of them, and I keep all in my inventory, in case I need them. I have had few hard disk failure before, and its not pleasant. So, its better to be on safe side. A backup would be advised as soon as possible. Here are the software to check the hard disk :

HDD Health : http://www.panterasoft.com/

HDD Scan : http://hddscan.com/

HD Tune Free : http://www.hdtune.com/download.html

DiskCheckup : http://www.passmark.com/products/diskcheckup.htm
(free for personal use)

Apart from these, Seagate SeaTools works good too. It works on hard disks other than Seagate too. So you can use that too. You can use either the Windows version, or the DOS version. The DOS version comes as an ISO file, and you will have to write it on a CD.

Good luck, and I hope the problem has nothing to do with your hard disk.
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Old 05. Jul 2010, 01:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi everyone.
Thanks for the replies and sorry for the late respond. As things seem to deteriorate, I spent a lot of time doing backups and downloading the latest versions of the apps I use daily/ often, just to be prepared - unfortunately I'm not quite done yet.
Shut down issue has gone away, bootup seems to do a little better but still pathetic in comparison to what it used to be. But, the mouse pointer thing's still here, security apps updates sometimes cause system-freaze (high CPU usage), Firefox is slower and scans take twice the time than before.
Course of action I'm planning:
1. Do more HDD tests/ "repairs".
2. If that fails, open tower, do connection checking & cleaning.
3. If that fails, format HDD and fresh install OS & apps.
4. If that fails, get a new HDD and fresh install OS & apps.
5. If that fails, dump machine for good - that'd be a shame as I was thinking of using it to learn Linux.

@Doobie
That was a good one. Now that I think about it, it might turn out to be the case, given it's been almost two years since my last format & fresh install.

@kendall
I was afraid of but also expected this reply.

@J.L.
It's on my To Do List, but I have to make sure first everything important is backed up and safe.

@tushR & Anupam
The only thing I got in Event Log was Event ID 55/ Source ntfs (The file system structure on the disk is corrupt and unusable. Please run the chkdsk utility ...) after the first failed shut down and only once. I also get Event ID 1005/ Source DCOM, but that's because I have Win Auto Update disabled.

@ Anupam
Why didn't I think about new S/W? I did install the last free version of Total Uninstaller on that day, but did not run it. My problems started many hours after the installation, so I made no connection. I'm going to uninstall it and see if that makes any difference, before trying anything else.

I already have the last tool you suggested and will do a few more tests.
By the way, the first link you provided is black listed by hpHosts under the classification of FSA (sites engaged in the selling or distribution of bogus or fraudulent applications): http://hosts-file.net/default.asp?s=www.panterasoft.com.

Thanks again, I'll try to report back a.s.a.p.
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Old 05. Jul 2010, 06:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Why would you decide to use Total Uninstaller 26Dolphins? Its a commercial software anyway. Did you get it via some offer? Can't say if that might be the cause, because you did not use it, but really don't know.

What security apps are you using for real-time protection? From the symptoms you describe... the mouse pointer, slow Firefox, high CPU usage... it seems like something is using high memory/CPU. Did you look in the Task Manager to see which process was causing this? Some software might be causing this.
I once had trouble with hard disk, and it had these symptoms... but these occurred in intervals.. not continuously. If you hear odd clicking noise(click of death) from the hard disk, then surely the hard disk is going to fail, and you should save the data as soon as possible. I really hope its not that.

Its better to do the tests on the hard disk first, and see if any problem is there. As the Event log had one entry of file system structure corrupt, so problem might be with the hard disk. But, in that case, it should have said bad block... so I am not so sure. If the problems do not go away, and the hard disk tests are OK... you can try reinstalling the system by formatting.

As per the long boot up, where the screen stays for long on the loading Windows screen... I have seen that happen often with me, and on other systems too. It happens when the Windows install has been quite old... and it might be caused by some software install, or something. I really don't know the reason for that. But, its not uncommon. I haven't found a solution for it though.

About HDD Health, I have used it before and did not notice any problems, so I don't know why the site on the bad list. Don't have any clue. Anyways, its not being developed I think, so you can avoid it.
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Old 05. Jul 2010, 06:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Try Windows' System File Checker

Assuming that it's not a HDD failure, run System File Checker to restore and/or repair all Windows files:
  • Start » Run » Type “sfc /scannow” without the quotes. There’s a space before the /.
  • Click OK.
  • Have your Windows CD ready to insert if prompted when repair is necessary. If you don’t have a Windows XP CD, you can borrow someone else’s for this purpose, although it will have to be the same XP version. i.e. If your install was XP Home SP1, that’s the CD you need.
    More detail about SFC here on my website.
If SFC doesn’t fix the problem:
Run an online antivirus check:

Just in case your antivirus program missed something

Housecall Online Scan is good.
http://housecall.antivirus.com/



Then:
Defragment your hard drive(s)

Start » All Programs » Accessories » System Tools » Disk Defragmenter

Repair installation of Windows.


If all else fails, this type of installation leaves all your programs and data intact while reinstalling Windows:
  1. Boot the computer from your XP CD (if this won’t boot, you may need to change the order of boot devices in BIOS setup).
  2. Eventually you will see the “Welcome To Setup” screen. Press the Enter key to start Windows Setup.
  3. Be careful NOT to choose R, which is “To repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console”. That is what you don’t want!
  4. Accept the License Agreement.
  5. Windows setup will search for existing Windows installations.
  6. Select the XP installation you want to repair (there is usually only one) and now press R to start the repair.
  7. Then just follow the prompts.
More complete instructions on how to do this, complete with pictures, are here on Michael Stevens’ excellent site .
Back up your data first, just in case!
Sadly, sometimes Windows gets so scrambled that the best solution, assuming that you have a Windows CD and a valid Product Key code, you just have to bite the bullet, reformat your hard drive and reinstall.
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Old 08. Jul 2010, 07:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi,
Sorry to come back so late, but did a lot of research and tried out a few things.

Here's the update from the past couple of days:
I think it's safe to say that it's not a HDD problem: chkdsk returned no errors, no bad sectors, nth. The Extended Test of WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic (which by the way took 6hrs) and DiskCheckup also show a healthy disk.

@Anupam
1. I said I installed the last free version of Total Uninstaller, I wanted to try it out. Anyway, uninstalling it made no difference.
2. I had Emsisoft Anti-Malware installed (got a license here last November). I uninstalled it with AppRemover, but that didn't make any difference either.
3. Windows installation is two years old, which is the average life span before it starts ringing the bell for a fresh install. Symptoms do occur in intervals, except for the bootup. Unfortunately they lead to frequent system freezing, sometimes so bad I have to force shut down or restart. Process Lasso reports "responsiveness" <100%, with high CPU usage but not Memory when I'm trying to do 2-3 things at once.

@mistywindow
I run TrendMicro HouseCall, which came clean. I even run gmer (just to be on the absolute safe side), nth there either.
Defragmentation is scheduled and runs once a month, so I doubt that has anything to do with the problem.
By the way, thanks for that link - was a trigger to do more research & reading.

I lean towards a really scrambled Windows, as I encountered three alarming things:
1. Hitting F8 to enter into Safe Mode takes me to a screen with text lines in unreadable characters (could even be Linear A, it looks that bad). No matter which line I choose (tried them all), I get a screen to only normal boot Windows.
2. The installed OS is a Win XP Home Edition, but while running sfc /scannow, besides the Win XP Home CD, I was also asked for a Win XP Pro one for some of the files. Totally inexplicable.
3. My installed printers don't show at every boot/ restart.

I'm now thinking of running a Repair, but with the above two issues, I doubt it'll work - even if it works, maybe it would be best to fresh install Windows.
If it's of any interest, I'll report back later - hopefully with some positive results.

Thanks everyone.
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